CHAPTER III. HOW CHRIST IS THE WAY IN GENERAL, "I AM THE WAY."
We come now to speak more particularly to the words; and, first, Of his being a way. Our design being to point at the way of use-making of Christ in all our necessities, straits, and difficulties which are in our way to heaven; and particularly to point out the way how believers should make use of Christ in all their particular exigencies; and so live by faith in him, walk in him, grow up in him, advance and march forward toward glory in him. It will not be amiss to speak of this fulness of Christ in reference to unbelievers, as occasion offereth, because this will help to clear the other.
Before we can clear up how any can make use of Christ, we must speak something of their necessity of him, and of his being furnished fitly, fully, richly, and satisfyingly for their case; and this will make the way of use-making of Christ more plain.
While Christ then says, "I am the Way," he points out those things to us:
1. That man is now estranged from the Lord, and in a wandering condition: He hath departed from God, he is revolted and gone. "They are all gone out of the way," Romans 3:12. "They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies," Psal. lviii.3.
2. Nay, not only so, but we love naturally to wander and to run away from God, as Jeremiah complaineth of that wicked people, Jeremiah 14:10. Naturally, with "the dromedary, we traverse our ways," Jeremiah 2:23, and run hither and thither, but never look towards him. Nay, we are like those spoken of, Job 21:14. "We desire not the knowledge of his ways, we will have none of him," Psalm 81:11; nor "of his reproofs," Proverbs 1:30.
Oh, how sad is this! And yet how is it more sad, that this is not believed, nor once considered. And that it is not believed, is manifest; for,
1. How rare is it to meet with persons that are not very well pleased and satisfied with themselves and their condition? They thank the Lord it was aye well with them. They have no complaints. They see no wants nor necessities. They wonder what makes folk complain of their condition, of their evil heart, or of their hazard and danger. They understand not these matters.
2. Do we not find people very quiet and at rest, though they remain in the congregation of the dead, Proverbs 21:16. They sleep in a sound skin, because they see no hazard. The thoughts of their condition never bereave them of one night's rest: No challenges have they; all is at peace with them, for the strong man keeps the house.
3. How rare is it to find people exercised about this matter, and busied with it in their thoughts, either while alone, or while in company with others; or once seriously thinking and considering of it, yea, or so much as suspecting the matter?
4. How rare is it to see any soul broken in heart, and humbled because of this; who is walking under this as under a load; whose soul is bleeding under the consideration of this! Is there any mourning for this?
5. Where is that to be heard, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?" How shall we enter into the right way? Where is that good old way, that we may walk in it? Few such questions and cases troubling consciences; and no wonder, for a deep sleep is upon them.
6. How cometh it then, that the pointing forth of the way is so little hearkened unto? Sure were this natural condition perceived, a report of the sure and safe way would be much more welcome than it is: Christ by his messengers would not be put to cry so often in vain, "This is the way, turn in hither."
Here is enough to convince of this ignorance and insensibleness; but it is his Spirit, which "convinceth the world of sin," John 16.that must bear home this conviction.
Secondly, It pointeth out to us this, that "the way of man is not in himself," Jeremiah 10:23, that is, that nothing, he can do can or will prove a way to him to the Father: For Christ is the Way, as excluding all other means and ways. And that man can do nothing to help himself into the way, is clear; for,
1. "His way is darkness," Proverbs 4:14. He knoweth no better, he is satisfied therewith; there he sleepeth and resteth.
2. He cannot nor doth not desire to return. He hateth to be reformed.
3. Yea, he thinketh himself safe; no man can convince him of the contrary: The way he is in "seemeth right to him, though the end thereof be death;" Proverbs 14:12, and xvi.25.
4. Every man hath his own particular way to which he turneth, Isaiah 53, 6; some one thing or other that he is pleased with, and that he thinks will abundantly carry him through, and there resteth he; and what these ordinarily are, we shall hear presently.
5. In this his way, which yet is a false way, "he trusteth," Hosea 10:13, he leaneth upon it, little knowing that it will fail him at length, and that he and his hope and confidence shall perish.
Is it not strange then to see men and women "gading about to seek their way," as it is said, Jeremiah 2:36. as if they could find it out; or as if they could of themselves fall upon the way. What a lamentable sight is it, to see people "wearying themselves with very lies," Ezekiel 24:12; "and wearied in the multitude of their own counsels," Isaiah 47:15.
But what are those false and lying ways which men weary themselves in, and all in vain; and which they chuse and trust unto, and yet are not the way which will prove safe and sure?
Ans. It will not be easy to reckon them all up, we shall name some that are principal and most ordinary; such as,
1. Good purposes and resolutions, with which many deceive themselves, supposing that to be all which is required: And, alas! all their purposes are like to Ephraim's goodness,—like the early cloud and morning dew that soon evanisheth; their purposes are soon broken off, and soon disappointed, because made without counsel, Proverbs 15:22. Many foolishly rest here, that they have a good mind to do better, and to amend their ways, and they purpose after such a time or such time, they shall begin a new manner of life; but their purposes never come to any effect, and so at length they and their purposes both perish.
2. Some convictions and inward challenges. The word now and then pierceth them so far, and sore and sharp dispensations from the Lord so far affect their heart, that they see it is not well with them; and they are made, with Saul, to cry out, "I have sinned," 1 Samuel 15:24, and they advance no further; those convictions either die out again, or work no further change: And, poor souls, they think, because at such a sermon, or such a communion, they had some such convictions and sharp challenges, therefore they imagine all is well with them; when a Judas may have convictions, sharper than ever they had, and a Felix, Acts 24:25.
3. Convictions followed with some sort of amendment. Some may dreadfully deceive themselves with this, and conclude that all is right with them, and that the way they are in is safe and sure; because they have had convictions, which have been so effectual as to cause them to amend many things, and become, as to many things, changed men and women, when, alas, their way is but a way of darkness still; it is not Christ; they have never come to him. Herod hearing John Baptist, had his own convictions and amendments; for "he did many things," Mark 6:20.
4. Many rest upon their outward civility and morality, or negative holiness. They cannot be challenged for gross faults, and that is all the way they have to rest in: Alas! could not a wicked Pharisee say as much as they, viz. "That he was no extortioner, unjust person, or an adulterer, nor such as the publican was," Luke 18:11. How many heathens, as to this, shall outstrip such as profess themselves Christians? and yet they lived and died strangers to the right way to happiness. See what that poor young man said, Luke 18:21.
5. Some may win to more than civility, and attain unto a kind of outward holiness, and outward performance of the duties of religion, such as hearing, reading, prayer, communicating, and rest there, and yet perish: For that is but their own way, it is not the right way. Had not the foolish virgins lamps? and did they not wait with the rest, Matth. xxv.; and will not many say, in that day, "We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets:" to whom Christ shall answer, "I know not whence you are, depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity?" Luke 13:26, 27. Were not the Jews much in duties and outward ordinances? and yet see how the Lord rejected them all, Isaiah 1:11-15, and lxvi.3.
6. Much knowledge doth deceive many. They think because they can talk of religion, speak to cases of conscience, handle places of Scripture, and the like, that therefore all is right with them; when alas, that is but a slippery ground to stand upon. The Pharisees sat in Moses' seat, and taught sometimes sound doctrine; and yet were heart-enemies to Jesus, Matth. xxiii. And will not many think to plead themselves into heaven, by saying, that they "have prophesied in his name," Matth. vii.22. There is "a knowledge that puffeth up," 1 Corinthians 13:2. Some there are whose knowledge seemeth to be operative and practical, and not merely speculative. Some may "escape the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," and yet again become entangled therein and overcome; so that "their latter end is worse than the beginning;" see 2 Peter 2:20, 21, 22. Knowledge, I grant, is good, but it is not Christ, and so it is not the way to the Father; and many, alas! lean to it, and are deceived at last.
7. A kind of seeming seriousness in the performance of duties, and in seeking of God, deceiveth many. They think, because they are not conscious to their own dissembling, but they look upon themselves as earnest in what they do, that therefore all is well. Sayeth not Christ, that not "every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of God?" Matth. vii.21; that is, not every one that reneweth their suits, and ingeminateth their desires, cry, and cry over again, and, as it were, will not give it over; and yet they come short of their expectation. Did not the foolish virgins seem earnest and serious, when they continued waiting with the rest, and at length cried "Lord, Lord, open unto us;" and yet they are kept at the door. Many consider not that there is a secret and close hypocrisy, that some may be under and not know it, as well as a gross hypocrisy and dissimulation, which may be easily observed; "Will not many seek to enter in that shall not be able?" Matth. vii.13. Luke 13:24.
8. Many deceive themselves with this, that they are looked on by other godly, discerning persons and ministers, as good serious Christians, and that they carry so handsomely and so fair, that no man can judge otherways of them, than that they are good serious seekers of God. But, alas! the day is coming which will discover many things, and many one will be deceived both of themselves and of others. "Not he who commendeth himself is approved, but whom God approveth," 2 Corinthians 10:18. Therefore, Paul exhorts Timothy, "to study to show himself approved unto God," 2 Timothy 2:15. Men look only on the outside, and cannot see into the heart; but God searcheth the heart; and it is an easy matter to deceive men, but God will not be deceived.
9. Some may suppose themselves in a safe and sure way, if they outstrip others in religious duties, and be much in extraordinary duties, when, alas! for all that, the heart may be rotten. "The Pharisee fasted twice a-week," Luke 18:12, and yet was but an enemy to Christ. O how deceitful is the heart of man!
10. Inward peace and quietness of conscience may deceive some; and they may suppose that all is right with them; because they do nothing over the belly of their conscience. Their heart doth not accuse them of falsehood and dissimulation in their way with God or man, but they do all things according to their light. No doubt that young man (Luke 18:21,) spoke according to his judgment and light, when he said, "All these things have I kept from my youth." And Paul saith of himself (Acts 23:1,) "that he had lived in all good conscience before God till that very day;" meaning, that even while he was a Pharisee unconverted, he had not tortured his conscience, nor done anything directly against it, but had always walked according to his light. See Acts 26:9.
11. A way of zeal may deceive many who may think their case unquestionable, because they are zealous for their way, and, as they think, their zeal is pure for God. Was not Paul, while a Pharisee, very zealous, when, out of zeal to his way, he persecuted the church, Philip. iii.6. See my zeal for the Lord, could I thus say, 2 Kings 10:16; and the Jews had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, Romans 10:2; and Christ tells us, that such as should persecute the Apostles unto death, would think they did God good service, John 16:2.
12. Some also may put it beyond question, that they are in the right way, because they are more strict in all their ways than others, and will not so much as keep fellowship or company with them; saying, with those, (Isaiah 65:5) "Stand by, I am holier than thou, come not near to me," who yet are but a smoke in God's nose, and a fire that burneth all the day.
13. Some may rest on, and deceive themselves with their great attainments, and more than ordinary experiences, when, alas! we see to what a height some may come, and yet prove nothing. Let such souls read with trembling that word of Paul, Heb. vi 4, 5, where we see some may come to be enlightened, to taste of the heavenly gift, to be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, to taste the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, and yet prove cast-aways; taking these expressions as pointing forth something distinct from real grace.
Many such false ways, wherein men please themselves, might be mentioned; by these every one may see cause of searching and trying over and over again. It is a dreadful thing to be deceived here, and it is best to put it to a trial, when there is a possibility of getting the matter helped. And many may fear and tremble when they see they are not yet come the length of many such as sit down without Christ, and lose all their labour. Oh, if this could put people to a serious examination and trial of themselves, and of the nature of that way wherein they are, and rest at present!
Thirdly, We might here observe, that this true and living way is but one for all. There is but "one Mediator between God and man," 1 Timothy 2:5. One Mediator for both Old and New Testament, the seed of the woman. Howbeit the Lord's dispensations with his people, in that one way, may be various, as his way with his people under the law is different from his way with his people under the gospel; and his dispensations with individual believers, whether under the law or under the gospel, is not the same in all things.
And this should teach us to relinquish our own ways, and to enter into this one only way; and it should move such as are in this way to study unity and agreement among themselves; and yet not infer or suppose, that God's way with them must be in all things alike. Yea, though the Lord's way with them be different from his way with others, and more dark, disconsolate, and bitter, yet let them be quiet and silent before the Lord, and acknowledge his goodness that hath brought them into the one only way, Jesus Christ, and keepeth them there.
But, fourthly, The main thing here, and which is obvious, is this, that Jesus Christ is the way to the Father, the one and only way, the sovereign and excellent way, and he alone is the way. There is not another. "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts 4:12.
For clearing of this, we shall speak a little to those four things, and shew,
1. What is our case, and what need we have of a way.
2. How Christ answereth this our case and necessity, and is a fit way for us.
3. How he alone is the way, and answereth this our case.
4. What are the rare advantages and specialities of this way.
And this will make way for our clearing up, how Christ is made use of as a way by poor sinners.
For the first of these, our present case and necessity, something was spoken to it before; we shall reduce all those to two heads. The first is, our state of guilt, and separation from God because of sin and guilt; the next is, our state of wickedness and enmity against God.
As to the first, we may take notice of those things:
1. That sin, original and actual, hath separated us from God, and cast us out of his favour, and out of that station of favour and friendship which once we were advanced to in Adam.
2. That we are under God's curse and wrath, and excommunicated from the presence of the Lord, by a sad, yet just, sentence according to law, and so are under death.
As to the next thing, we may take notice of those particulars:
1. That we are impure and polluted with sin and daily iniquity.
2. That we are ignorant of the right way of returning into favour with God, seeking out to ourselves many inventions.
3. That we are impotent for any good work or commanded duty.
That not only so, but we are unwilling to do any thing that is good, or to enter into the way when pointed out unto us; yea, we are enemies to God by wicked works, and have an innate hatred to all his ways.
5. We desire not to be out of the condition whereinto we are; there we love to lie and sleep, and desire not to be roused up or awakened.
6. We are under the power and command of Satan, who leadeth us out of the way, yea, and driveth us forward in the wrong way, to our perdition.
These things are plain and undeniable, and need no further confirmation; though, alas! it is little believed or laid to heart by many.
For the second, how Christ answereth this our case and necessity. He is a way to us to help us out of both these, both out of our state of guilt and separation, and out of our state of wickedness and enmity.
And, first, he helpeth us out of our state of guilt and separation:
1. By taking away our guilt and sin; "being made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Corinthians 5:21. He hath filled the great gap betwixt God and us, with his body, and hath made of it, as it were, a bridge, by which they may go over to the Father: "We enter now into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh," Hebrews 10:19, 20; "we are now brought near by his blood," Ephesians 2:13, so that through him we are restored again to friendship with God, and made one with him; for Christ the Mediator hath "made both one, reconciling Jews and Gentiles both unto God, in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity," Ephesians 2:16.
2. By taking away the curse and wrath that was due to us, being "made a curse for us," Galatians 3:13. So that he is become our peace, and "through him we have access by one spirit unto the Father, and are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," Ephesians 2:14, 18, 19. "He is set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood," Romans 3:25.1 John 2:2, and iv.10. "By him have we now received atonement," Romans 5:11.
Next, he helpeth us out of our state of wickedness and enmity,
1. By taking away our impurity and uncleanness, "by washing us and cleansing us in his blood," Ezekiel 16:6-9. Colossians 1:22, "having purchased grace for us," Ephesians 5:1, 3, "we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in him." He applieth his merits, and layeth the foundation of grace and holiness in the soul, and carrieth on the work of mortification and vivification; and so killing the old man by his Spirit, both meritoriously and efficiently, he cleanseth and washeth. Hence, we are said to be baptised with him in his death, and buried with him by baptism into death, that we should walk in newness of life. And so our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin, Romans 6:3, 4, 6. And for our daily infirmities and escapes, whereby we pollute ourselves, his blood "is a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness," Zechariah 13:1; and to this fountain he bringeth by the spirit of repentance, which he, as an exalted prince, bestoweth, Acts 5:31, and by faith. So 1 John 2:1, "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father," &c.
2. As for our ignorance and blindness, he taketh that away, being given for a light to the Gentiles, Isaiah 42:6, and xlix.6. Luke 2:32. He is sent to open the blind eyes, Isaiah 42:7; to bring out the prisoners from their dark prisons, Isaiah 42:7, and lxi.1. Yea, he is anointed for this end, so that such as walk in darkness see a great light, and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them the light hath shined, Isaiah 9:2. Matth. iv.15; and he hath eye-salve to give, Revelation 3:18.
3. He is qualified for taking away our impotency, so that through him we can do all things, Philip, iv.13; "when we are weak, we are strong in him who is our strength, and liveth in us," 2 Corinthians 12:10. Galatians 2:20. Hence, "he worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure," Philip. ii.13.
4. He also taketh away our natural averseness, unwillingness, wickedness, and hatred of his ways, making his people "willing in the day of his power," Psal. cx. So he taketh away "the enmity that is in us," Colossians 2:20, and reconcileth us to God and to his ways, that our hearts do sweetly comply with them, and we become most willing and glad to walk in them, yea, and "to run the way of his commandments through his enlarging of our hearts," Psal. cxix.22.
5. He likewise taketh away that desire and willingness, which we have, to lie still in our natural condition, by convincing us of the dreadful hazard thereof, through the spirit of conviction, whereby he convinceth the world of it, John 16:8, and circumciseth their ears to hear, and maketh them willing to hearken to the counsel of God.
6. As for the power and dominion of Satan, he breaketh that, by "leading captivity captive," Ephesians 4:8; Psal. lxviii.18; "and spoiling the strongman's house; for he is come to destroy the works of the devil," 1 John 3:8; "and he spoileth principalities and powers," Colossians 2:15. Thus, as a captain of salvation, he leadeth them out as a conqueror; having paid the price, he delivereth also by power and authority from the hand of this jailor.
And thus we see how he answereth our case and necessity, and is a fit way for us; and though this be not questioned, yet little is it believed and considered, and less put in practice.
And as for the third particular, that he alone is this way, and answereth our case herein, it needeth not be much spoken to, since it is clear and manifest, confirmed by the experience of all generations, and the disappointments of fools who have been seeking other ways. Angels in heaven cannot do our business, they cannot satisfy justice for us, nor have they any power over our heart to turn it as they will; nay, they are not acquainted with our secret thoughts, that cabinet is kept close from them, and reserved as the peculiar privilege of God alone. The blood of bulls and of goats cannot do it; for the apostle tells us, that it is impossible for that to take away sin, Hebrews 10:4. That blood shed according to the law did cleanse ceremonially, but it is only the blood of Jesus, typified by that, which cleanseth really; so that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, Hebrews 10:10. No pains or labour of ours can avail here. The Lord will not be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil. "He will not take our first-born for our transgression, nor the son of our body for the sin of our soul," Micah 6:7. Ordinance and means will not do it, nor any invention of our own: "no man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever," Psal. xlix.7, 8. He alone hath laid down the price; all our sufferings, prayers, tears, labours, penances, and the like, signify nothing here; they cannot satisfy justice for one sin.
As to the fourth particular, viz., the singularity of this way, those things make it manifest and apparent:
1. This is such a way as can discover itself, and make itself known unto the erring traveller. Christ Jesus is such a way as can say to the wandering soul, "this is the way, walk ye in it," Isaiah 30:25. No way can do this. This is comfortable.
2. This way can not only discover itself to the wandering traveller, but also it can bring folk into it. Christ can bring souls unto himself, when they are running on in their wandering condition. He can move their hearts to turn into the right way, put grace in their soul for this end, begin resolutions in them, and sow the seed of faith; and so stay their course which they were violently pursuing, and make them look about and consider what they are doing. As the former was good news to poor, blind, and witless creatures that were wandering and knew not whither they were going; so this is good news to poor souls that find their heart inclining to wander, and loving to go astray.
3. This way can cause us walk in it. If we be rebellious and obstinate, he can command with authority; for he is given for a leader and commander, Isaiah 55:4. How sweet should this be to the soul that is weighted with a stubborn, untractable, and unpersuadable heart, that he, as a king, governor, and commander, can with authority draw or drive, and cause us follow and run?
4. This way is truth, as well as the way; so that the soul that once entereth in here is safe for ever; no wandering here. "The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err in this way," Isaiah 35:8. "He will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and lead them in paths that they have not known; he will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight; those things will he do unto them, and not forsake them," Isaiah 42:16.
5. This way is also life, and so can revive the faint and weary traveller. "He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength; yea, he renews their strength, and makes them mount up with wings as eagles, and run and not be weary, and walk and not be faint," Isaiah 40:29, 31; "and so he giveth legs to the traveller, yea, he carrieth the lambs in his bosom," Isaiah 40:11. Oh! who would not walk in this way? what can discourage the man that walketh here? what can he fear? No way can quicken and refresh the weary man. This way can do it; yea, it can quicken one that is as dead, and cause him march on with fresh alacrity and vigour.
6. From all these it followeth, that this way is a most pleasant, heartsome, desirable and comfortable way. The man is safe here, and he may "sing in the ways of the Lord," Psalm 138:5. "For wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," Proverbs 3:17. He is a way that is food, physic, cordials, and all that the poor traveller standeth in need of till he come hence.
From all which, ere we come to particulars, we shall in general point out those duties, which natively result thence, by way of use.
1. O what cause is there here for all of us to fall a wondering, both that God should ever have condescended to have appointed a way how sinners and rebels, that had wickedly departed from him, and deserved to be cast out of his presence and favour for ever, might come back again, and enjoy happiness and felicity in the friendship and favour of that God that could have got the glory of his justice in our destruction, and stood in no need of us, or of any thing we could do: as also, that he appointed such a way, that Jesus Christ his only Son, should, to speak so, lie as a bridge betwixt God and sinful rebels, and as a highway, that they might return to the great God upon him. Let all the creation of God wonder at this wonderful condescending love of God, that appointed such a way; and of Christ, that was content to lout so low as to become this way to us, this new and living way; and that for this end he should have taken on flesh, and become Emmanuel, God with us, and tabernacled with us, that through this vail of his flesh, he might consecrate a way to us. Let angels wonder at this condescendency.
2. Hence we may see ground of being convinced of those things: (1.) That naturally we are out of the way to peace and favour with God, and in a way that leadeth to death, and so that our misery and wretchedness, so long as it is so, cannot be expressed. (2.) That we can do nothing for ourselves; set all our wits a-work, we cannot fall upon a way that will bring us home. (3.) That it is madness for us to seek out another way, and to vex ourselves in vain, to run to this and to that mean or invention of our own, and be found fools in the end. (4.) That our madness is so much the greater in this, that we will turn to our own ways that will fail us, when there is such a noble and excellent, and every way satisfying way prepared to our hand. (5.) That our wickedness is so desperate, that the way which is pointed out to us doth not please us, and that we will not enter into it, nor walk in it. (6.) That this way, which is also the truth and the life, is only worth the embracing, and is only safe and sure; we should be convinced and persuaded of the worth, sufficiency, and desirableness of this way. Reason, with ordinary light from the word, may teach these things; but grace can only carry them into the heart, and make them take rooting there.
3. We may read here our obligation to those particulars: (1.) To turn our back upon all other false and deceitful ways, and not rest there. (2.) To enter into this way, though "the gate be narrow and strait," Matthew 7:13. Luke 13:24, yet "to strive to enter in." (3.) To resolve to abide in that way as acquiescing in it, resting satisfied with it, and thus to be "rooted in him," Colossians 2:7, and "to dwell in him," 1 John 3:24, and "to live in him," or "through him," 1 John 4:9. (4.) To "walk in this way," Colossians 2:6. that is, to make constant use of him, and to make progress in the way in and through him; to go from strength to strength in him, drawing all our furniture from him, by faith, according to the covenant; and that the soul should guard against, 1. stepping aside out of this good and pleasant way; 2. backsliding; 3. sitting up, and fainting by the way.
In a word, this pointeth out our duty, to make use of Christ as our way to the Father, and only of Christ; and this leads us to the particulars we shall speak a little to.
There are two main things which stand in our way, and hinder us from approaching to the Father.1. Unrighteousness and guilt, whereby we are legally banished, because of the broken covenant, and the righteous sentence of God according to that covenant. And, 2. Wickedness, impurity, and unholiness, which is, as a physical bar, lying in our way; because nothing that is unclean can dwell and abide with him, who is of purer eyes than he can behold iniquity; and nothing that is unclean can enter in there where he is. So then there must be an use-making of Christ, as a way through both these impediments; we need justification and pardon for the one, and sanctification and cleansing for the other. Now Christ being the way to the Father, both as to justification, in taking away the enmity, in changing our state, and removing our unrighteousness and guilt, whereby we were lying under the sentence of the law, adjudging such sinners as we are to hell; and as to sanctification, in cleansing us from all our pollutions, renewing our souls, washing away our spots and defilements, &c. He must be made use of in reference to both.
In speaking to the first, we shall be the shorter, because through God's great mercy, the gospel's pure way of justification by faith in Christ is richly and abundantly cleared up by many worthy authors, of late, both as concerning the theoretical and practical part.