CHAPTER XXVIII. NO MAN COMETH TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.
This being added for further confirmation of what was formerly said, will point out unto us several necessary truths, as,
I. That it is most necessary to be sound and clear in this fundamental point of coming to God only in and through Christ. For,
1. It is the whole marrow of the gospel.
2. It is the hinge of our salvation, Christ is "the chief corner stone," Isaiah 38:16.1 Pet. i.5, 6; and,
3. The only ground of all our solid and true peace and comfort.
4 An error or a mistake here, is most dangerous, hazarding, if not ruining all.
5. Satan endeavours mainly against this, raiseth up heresies, errors, and false opinions, and prompteth some to vent perplexing doubts and objections, and all to darken this cardinal point. So doth he muster up all his temptations for this end, at length to keep poor souls from acquaintance with this way, and from making use of it, or entering into it.
6. Our corrupt hearts are most averse from it, and will close with any way, how troublesome, how expensive and costly soever it may seem to be, rather than with this.
7. There are a multitude of false ways, as we did shew above.
All which do clear up this necessity, and should teach us to be very diligent to win to acquaintance with it, and to make sure that we are in it, and to hold it fast, and to keep it pure in our practice, without mixing any thing with it, or corrupting of it.
II. That it is no small difficulty to get this truth believed and practised, that through Christ alone we come to the Father. Therefore is the same thing asserted and inculcated again upon the same matter; for,
1. Nature will not teach this way; it is far above nature.
2. Yea, our natural inclinations are much against it, opposing it, and fighting against it.
3. This way is altogether contrary to that high esteem which naturally all of us have of ourselves.
4. And is opposite to that pride of heart which naturally we are subject to.
5. Yea, there is nothing in us by nature that will willingly comply with this way; but, on the contrary, all is opposite thereunto.
6. And therefore it is the Christian's first lesson to deny himself.
The consideration of which should humble us, and make us very jealous of our own hearts and inclinations, and of all those courses which they are inclinable to and bent upon. And it should put us to try if ever we have overcome this difficulty; and have now all our hopes and comforts founded on him, and on nothing else; and are up and down in our peace and joy according as we win in to him, or are shut out from him; and in all our approaches to God, upon whatsoever account, are leaning to him and resting upon him alone, expecting access, acceptance, and a hearing, only in him; and are quieted under all our fears and temptations, with this,—that Christ is our way to the Father.
III. That even believers have need to have this truth inculcated often: For,
1. Satan is busy pulling them off this ground by all the wiles and temptations he can.
2. Their own corruption within, and the evil heart of unbelief, is always opposing this way, and drawing them off it.
3. Through the sleight of Satan and the power of corruption, they are oftentimes declining from this pure gospel way.
4. The experience of believers can tell, that when they are at their best, it is a great work and exercise to them to keep their hearts right in this matter.
5. Is it not too often seen, that they are the spiritual plague of formality, which stealeth them off their feet here?
6. And is it not found oftentimes that they are too ready to lean to something beside Christ?
How ought all to be convinced of this, and humbled under the sense of it! And see also how necessary it is to be often preaching on this subject, and to be often thinking upon and studying this fundamental truth.
IV. It should be a strong motive and incitement to us to make use of Christ as the way to the Father, that no man cometh to the Father but by him; for this may be looked upon as an argument enforcing their use-making of him as the way.
V. It discovereth the ground of that truth, that there are but few that are saved, for none cometh to the Father but by him; few, in respect of the whole world, once hear of him; and of such as hear of him, few have the true way of employing and applying him, as the way to the Father cleareth up unto them. And again, of such as have the truth, as it is in Jesus, preached unto them, O how few go to him and make use of him according to the truth, and believe and practise the truth!
VI. That in and through Christ alone we must come,
1. To the knowledge of the Father; "for no man knoweth the Father but the Son;" and he alone, who came out of the bosom of the Father, revealeth him.
2. To the favour and friendship of the Father; for he alone is our peace, and in him alone is the Father well pleased.
3. To the kingdom of the Father here; for here only is the door, John 10. and by his Spirit are we effectually called.
4. To the kingdom of the Father above; for he alone hath opened that door, and is entered into the holiest of all, as our forerunner, and is gone to prepare a place for us.
5. Through him alone must we address ourselves to the Father in our supplications, John 16:23. Revelation 8:3; in our thanksgiving, Romans 1:8. Colossians 3:17; and praise, Hebrews 13:15. Ephesians 3:21.
I shall only speak to one case here, viz.