Article of the Month
“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” John 3:35.
[What follows was delivered immediately before the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper at Dunfermline, June 27, 1731.]
It is in the holy and over-ruling providence of him, in whose hand all things and all hearts are, that I have been inclined to pursue this subject, on this solemn occasion. I have not found my mind determined to enter on any other theme; and, I suppose, no subject can be more suitable to the work of the day; for, we cannot commemorate the boundless love of Christ to us, in dying for our sins; nor can we remember it more effectually than by remembering the Father's bountiful love to him, for his so doing; and that evidenced by his giving all things into his hand. Nothing in the world, will sweeten the remembrance of Christ's love to us, so much as the believing remembrance of the Father's love to him; even as nothing can provoke us more to put honour upon Christ, than to see how much honour the Father puts upon him; and for this end, “That all men might honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”
OBSERV. “That the Father's love to the Son, evidenced by his giving all things into his hand, is a strong argument and encouragement for faith to believe in him.” The method laid down, for prosecuting this subject, was the following, viz.:
I. I would speak a little of the Father's love to the Son.
We have already discussed the doctrinal part of this subject, and likewise made some improvement thereof: what I now intend farther, upon this subject, is by way of Exhortation. And the exhortation I would offer this day from this doctrine, is, That all that hear me would come to this full and sufficient Saviour, believing that the Father hath furnished him with all things necessary for your everlasting salvation; for, he that thus believeth on the Son hath everlasting life in him. That which is the great matter and ground of faith, is also the great motive and argument for it, namely, that the Father hath, in love to him, and to sinners in him and through him, given all things into his hand. That I may, therefore, pursue and enforce this exhortation to believe in Christ, upon this ground, I shall, as the Lord may enable, observe the following method of discourse:
First, That our faith may be fixed in this truth, I shall offer some demonstrations of it; and evidence that all things are given into the hand of Christ, the Father's beloved.
First, The first thing I have proposed, that faith may be fixed, and settled, and assured of this truth, is to offer some demonstrations thereof. And, O that it may be in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power. I shall only premise, that when we say, All things are in the hand of Christ, we mean not only generally, all things in the kingdom of providence; because his kingdom rules over all; and, “He is the Head of all things unto the church,” Eph. 1:22, but also, particularly, all things in the kingdom of grace, of which he says, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:46. But blessed be God, he hath not said, his spiritual kingdom is not in this world; but it is not of this world: he hath his spiritual invisible kingdom in the hearts of his people in this world; who, though they are in it, yet they are not of it, but chosen out of the world; yet, sometimes this kingdom of his is visible, in the remarkable tokens of his spiritual presence in his ordinances. And, O for many such tokens this day! But now, that all things are in Christ's hand, will be evident from the following demonstrations:
1. Demonstration of it is this, “If they that inherit Christ, inherit all things; then all things are in his hand; but so it is, they that inherit him, inherit all things, 1 Cor. 3:21-23. For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come: all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” This golden chain, together with all things present, and all things to come, is linked to the believer, because he is united unto Christ. The believer hath an interest in Christ; by an interest in Christ, he hath an interest in God; and by an interest in God, he hath an interest in all things. As Solomon says, “Money answers all things;” because all things that are vendible may be procured by it; so Christ answers all things to the believer. He is meat and drink to them; “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” He is gold and silver to them: “The merchandize of wisdom is better than silver; and the gain thereof than pure gold.” Come, buy of me gold tried in the fire.” He is raiment to them when naked; and they put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is health to them when diseased: I am the Lord that healeth thee.” He is all things to them; He that overcometh shall inherit all things,” Rev. 21:7. Why? It is added. “I will he his God.”
2. Demonstration of this truth is, “If all things, without Christ, be but empty nothing, then all things only are in Christ's hand but so it is, all things are nothing without Christ: “Vanity of vanity, says the preacher, all is vanity,” Eccl. 1:2. All the riches, pleasures, profits, and preferments of the world are but emptiness; your wisdom, your parts, your children, your lands, your revenues, without Christ, can amount to nothing; they are but like zeros without a number. It is said of believers, 2 Cor. 6:10. Having nothing, they possess all things; because, though they had nothing in the world, yet, having Christ, they have all things; and on the other hand, it may be truly said of the wicked and unbelieving, that, having all things, they possess nothing; because, though they had all things in the world at their will, yet, being without Christ, they have nothing; all they have is but emptiness; yea, all they have is a curse, because they have not Christ. And thus all things, without him, are not only nothing, but worse than nothing.
3. Demonstration of this truth is, “If all things in the world be but a shadow of what is in Christ, then all things are in Christ's hand substantially; but so it is, all good things in the world are but shadows of what is in Christ.” Outward riches are but a shadow of the unsearchable riches of Christ; outward life is but a shadow of him who is the way, the truth, and the life; outward liberty is but a shadow of that freedom that is to be had in Christ; If the Son make you free, then are you free indeed,” John 8:36 importing that no freedom is freedom indeed, and in truth, but this; outward rest is but a shadow of the rest that is to be had in him; “Come to me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The sun in the firmament is but a shadow of the Sun of righteousness, and of his glory; roses and lilies are but shadows of his beauty, who is the rose of Sharon, and lily of the valley; rivers and fountains are but shadows of his fulness, who is the fountain of living waters; not a fountain closed, but a fountain opened to us: plants and trees are but a shadow of the verdure of him who is the plant of renown, the tree of life. All things that have any excellency in them are but shadows of him in whom all excellencies do concentre. All the stars of creature-excellencies are but shadows of him who is the bright and morning Star.
4. Demonstration of this truth is, “If the knowledge of all things be worth nothing, in respect of the knowledge of Christ; then all things are only in his hand; but so it is, that all things are but loss and dung in respect of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Phil. 3:5.” The great apostle desired to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified; yea, this is life eternal to know him, and God in him, John 17:3. The knowledge of Christ is the most certain, the most profitable, and the most comfortable knowledge. It is the most certain knowledge; we know other things only by their shape and species; but we know Christ by the Spirit; we know other things by the testimony of men; but we know Christ by the testimony of the Spirit; now, as the testimony of the Spirit is more certain than the testimony of man; so the knowledge of Christ is the most certain knowledge. It is the most profitable; it is a knowledge that gives us the possession of the things we know; by the knowledge of Christ we are possessed of Christ by our knowledge of his fulness, we are possessed of his fulness; By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many.” If it be life eternal to know him, surely it is most profitable. It is the most comfortable; all our lack of comfort and satisfaction flows from our lack of the knowledge of Christ; and all our true comfort arises from the knowledge and view of him. John wept, because he though none was able to open the seals of the book of God's decrees, concerning man's redemption; but, upon the revealing of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the weeping was stilled; he wept no more, Rev. 5:4, 5.
5. Demonstration, or scriptural argument for this truth is, if Christ can supply all wants; then all things must be in his hand; but so it is, he can supply all wants which we labour under, Phil. 4:19. “My God shall supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.” Whatever you labour under, there is that in Christ which can supply and support. Do you labour under desertion? Then, he says, “I will never leave nor forsake thee,” Heb. 13:5. Do you labour under corruption and bondage to sin? It is he that says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you,” Rom. 6:14. Do you labour under temptation? It is he who, as the God of peace, will tread down Satan under your feet, Rom. 16:20, and says, “My grace shall be sufficient for you.” Do you labour under weakness? It is he who says, “My strength shall he perfected in thy weakness, 2 Cor. 12:9. Do you labour under affliction, inward or outward? “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Do you labour under fears of public calamities upon the land? It is said of him, “This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land.” Do you labour under the fears of death? It is he who says, “O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction. Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.”
6. Demonstration of this truth is, if Christ can satisfy all the desires, suit all the conditions, and answer all the objections of sinners, then he must have all things; but so it is, he can satisfy all desires of sinners; for he is the Desire of all nations, and everything desirable is in him; `He is altogether lovely' (or all desires, as the word imports), Song 5:16, made up of desirable things.” Is worth desirable? He is the treasure hid in the field. Is wisdom desirable? In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom hath builded her house, Prov. 9:1; it is in the plural number, wisdoms. Christ is a compound of wisdom. He can suit all conditions of poor sinners; there is no condition you can be in, but he hath a promise suited to it; so that there is in Christ what suits all cases; for the promises are nothing else but the veins where the blood and fulness of Christ doth run. Are you wandering? Christ says, I am the way. Are you in darkness? Christ says, I am the light of the world. Are you in deadness? Christ says, I am the resurrection and the life. Are your guilty? Christ says, he is the Lord our righteousness. Are you polluted? Christ says, he is the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Are you dejected? Christ says, He will send the Comforter. Do you need protection? Christ affirms that he is the Rock of Ages, in whom is everlasting strength. Do you need direction? Christ is the wonderful Counsellor, and he says, I will lead the, blind by a way they know not. As Christ can satisfy all desires and suit all conditions, so he can answer all objections.
If any of you say, “Alas! I am a poor lost sinner, then Christ says, “I came to seek and to save that which is lost,” Luke 19:10. “Oh!” says another, “I am unrighteous, and I am a great sinner.” Well, Christ says, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Math. 9:13. Oh,” says a third, “but I cannot repent.” Well, it is answered, Him hath God exalted to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins, Acts 5:31, “Alas!” cries another, “but I cannot turn from sin.” It is answered, Christ is sent to bless you, in turning every one of you from your iniquities, Acts 3:26. It is his work to turn away transgression from Jacob; to turn you from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. “Ah! but I have no might or ability to come unto Christ.” It is answered, “He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might he createth strength,” Isa. 40:29,30, 31. He is the Author of faith, Heb. 12:2. “Oh! but I have sinned to the uttermost.” Why, then, he tells you he is able to save to the uttermost, Heb. 7:25. “Alas! I am a backslider, and bent to backsliding.” To this it is answered, “I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely,” Hos. 14:4. “Oh! but though I should come to him, I cannot follow him his sheep follow him.” Well, what says he to this? Even that He will carry the lambs in his arms, and gently lead those that are with young,” Isa. 40:11.
Whatever the objection is, he can answer it; whatever the case is, he can remede it; whatever the desire is, he can satisfy it: why then, all things must be in his hand; and no wonder, for all the treasures of divine plenitude and fulness are in his hand. This may suffice to demonstrate the truth hereof.
Secondly, The next thing proposed was, in order to clear our faith in this matter, to notice the beauty of this disposure of infinite wisdom, in giving all things into Christ's hand. And, 1. In this contrivance infinite wisdom hath consulted the Father's right and property, and manifested that he is the giver of all things, and the possessor of all things; insomuch that, when he gives all things, he cannot lose thereby the possession of any thing he gives; for, the Father's giving all things into Christ's hand doth not imply that he alienates his own right. It is true, when we give a thing to another, we lose a right to it; but it is not so with God; for when he gives all things to Christ, and when he gives Christ, and all things in him to us, he still keeps his right to all that he gives; “All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's,” 1 Cor. 3:22, 23. Thus, what the Father gives into Christ's hand, remains still in the Father's hand; “And I give unto them eternal life, and none shall pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one,” John 10:28.
2. In this contrivance infinite wisdom hath consulted the Son's right and title. This donative right that he hath, as Mediator, as it is well adapted to him, who, as God, hath the same essential right and title to all things with the Father and the Holy Ghost. For, as to his eternal Godhead, he is the everlasting Father, Isa. 9:6, whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting, Micah 5:2. “By whom are all things, and we by him,” 1 Cor. 8:6. And, as Mediator, his donative right is attended with an acquisitive right, by his purchase, by which he hath merited and obtained a name above every name, and a being head over all things to the church, Phil. 2:97 Eph. 5:23. A bellical right, by conquest, making the people to fall under him, Psalm 110:4; making them willing in a day of his power, Psalm 110:3.; and overcoming those that make war with him, Rev. 17:14. He is able to subdue all things to himself,” Heb. 2:8. An hereditary right, being the heir of all things, Heb. 1:2, and being the first-born, higher than the kings of the earth, Psalm 89:27; the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, Col. 1:18.
3. In this contrivance, infinite wisdom hath consulted the security of the stock and treasure, with which Christ is intrusted; and taken the best method for securing all things in his hand. We will find it is done with a special solemnity: It is done by solemn election, he being chosen to this trust; “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth,” Isaiah 42:1. It is done by solemn transaction between the Father and him, when the counsel of peace was between them both; “I have made a covenant with my chosen,” Psalm 89:3. It was done by a solemn call, a formal and legal call; “I the Lord have called thee, and given thee for a covenant of the people, a light to the Gentiles, Isa. 42:6; and so to be all things to his people. It was done by a solemn commission, under the broad seal of heaven, whereby he is authorised to be all things that sinners need Him hath God the Father sealed, John 6:27. All things are given to him with the solemnity of a promise; such as, Psalm 72:8-11, “His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” To the same purpose, Psalm 89:24, 25, “But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.” Yea, all things are given into his hand with the solemnity of an oath, Psalm 89:34, MY covenant will I not break, nor alter the word that hath gone out of my mouth; once have I sworn by my holiness, I will not lie unto David.” Psalm 110:4-7, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedeck, &c.; not only so, but a King, for ever, upon a throne, ruling over all things; “The Lord, at thy right hand, shall strike through kings in his wrath; he shall judge among the heathen; he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the head over many countries.” This vast treasure, then, is well secured.
4. In this contrivance, infinite wisdom hath consulted the fitness of the great Trustee, to whom all things are granted. O what wisdom is in this, that he who is, so to speak, the centre of the glorious Trinity, I mean, the middle person, should be the centre of all things: Thus he hath, as it were, consulted the convenience of all things. How fit is it that all things should move towards their centre, and meet there! He is the centrical place, not only the middle person of the glorious Trinity, but also the Mediator between God and man, that all things between God and man, they might have all things common between them, for his own glory and their good. Read concerning this, Eph. 1. 10, “That he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in him.” All things good and bad may be said to be given into his hand; all evil things, such as, the devil, the world, and sin, and death, that they may be ruled and overruled; and all good things, that they may be managed and secured. All our enemies are put in his hand, that they may be destroyed; and all our blessings put in his hand, that they may be preserved. None but Christ was capable of such a trust; no mere creature, among men or angels, was capable to bear this glory; “It is he that builds the temple of the Lord, and bears the glory,” Zech. 6:13. None but he was capable to be the disposer of all needs and dispenser of all blessings: therefore he is made the general receiver of all things.
5. In this contrivance, infinite wisdom hath consulted the pleasure of all parties, even the pleasure of all the persons of the glorious Trinity; “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, Col. 1:19, where you may notice that the word FATHER is not in the original; and, therefore, this work of reposing all things, all fullness in Christ, may be looked upon not only as the work of the Father, but the work of the whole glorious Trinity. It pleased Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that in Christ should all fulness dwell; that into his hand should all things be given; the Father proposed, the Son accepted, and the Holy Ghost consented, that in Christ, as Mediator, should all fulness dwell; and this was done with rapturous pleasure. It pleased the Father to propose it; for he says, “I have laid help upon One that is mighty.” It pleased the Son to accept, for he says, Lo! I come! It pleased the Holy Ghost to consent, for he rested on Christ, and furnished him for his work; “The Spirit of the Lord God was upon me, for he hath anointed me,” Isa. 61:1. This ravishing pleasure of the glorious Trinity is not only plainly imported in the words of our text, where it is the Father's love to the Son, as our Saviour and Surety, is made the spring of his giving all things into his hand; but you have it plainly expressed, Isa. 42:1, “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” And Prov. 8:30, “Then,” says Christ, namely, from all eternity, “I was by him, as one brought up with him; I was daily his delight.”
Now in what respect was he the Father's delight? Even in respect of his rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights being with the sons of men. The Father delighted in me, because I delighted in the sons of men, in the very prospect of saving and redeeming them by my blood. He delighted to see him delighting in this mediatorial service, for which all things were given into his hand, with infinite pleasure. And, as God consults his own pleasure herein, so the pleasure of all poor sinners, for whose sake and benefit all things were given unto him; and hence, whenever the glory of this method of salvation, through Christ, is open to the heart of any poor sinners, they are not only pleased and satisfied, but ravished and filled with sweet wonder, and strong consolation, Heb. 6:18, and rejoice with joy unspeakable, 1 Pet. 1:8. The soul is, by a glorious and ravishing power, carried out to rest in this device, as every way worthy of God, and every way suitable and satisfying to their case.
6. In this contrivance, infinite wisdom hath consulted the credit and honour of all concerned. He hath herein consulted the credit and honour of his own majesty and greatness, in giving all things into the hand of Christ, the second Adam, and not transacted any more with man, in his own person, now when turned rebel to his crown and dignity; but transacted immediately with Christ, a person of equal dignity with himself, giving all things to him, and through him to us. Thus we are taught to keep at a due distance from this infinitely glorious Sovereign, and to come and receive blessings, not immediately out of his hand, but by the hand of Christ, the Mediator; “I am the way, no man cometh to the Father but by me.” He hath consulted the credit of his name, and of all his glorious excellencies; the credit of his broken law, how it might not only be fulfilled, but magnified to the utmost; the credit of his offended justice, how it might not only be satisfied, but glorified to the highest. Why, infinite wisdom knew that there was nothing that the violated law, or the injured attributes of God, could demand for the reparation of their honour, but what the sinner's Surety, having all things given to him, could answer with ease, and to infinite satisfaction. The creditor well knew that the Surety was not only creditable, but responsible, abundantly able to pay all the debt; mighty to save, mighty to satisfy, mighty to give all the infinite satisfaction demanded; insomuch, that mercy vents to sinners, without any prejudice to justice; and the attributes of God, seemingly inconsistent one with another., are reconciled in Christ, “Mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other.” And God pardons and satisfies so as not only to be merciful, but even just, in justifying the ungodly. He hath consulted the credit of his Son Christ Jesus, who thus is honoured with a name above every name that can be named; all things being given into his hand, not only to furnish him with his mediatorial service, but also to reward him for it, Phil. 8:9. He is honoured with a goodly train, a throng court of supplicants, all things being given unto him, that the gathering of the people might be to him for supply, and that the revenue of praise might be given to him, through all eternity. Yea, he hath consulted the credit as well as the profit of ill the, redeemed, by giving all things into the hand of Christ. God never honoured the church, nor advanced them to greater dignity, than by giving them an universal plentitude, as head of the body the church; and every believer may say, “My Head, my Husband, my Lord, hath all things in his hand.” This is the honour of all the saints, they have all things in Christ; and he is made of God unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; yea, and all things, that he that glorieth may glory in him. So much for a hint at the beauty of this disposure.
Thirdly, The next thing proposed was, in order to enlarge and widen our faith in this matter, to speak of the Extent of this store and treasure that Christ hath; the Father having given all things into his hand. Why then, besides what we said on the doctrinal part, consider,
1. If all things are in his hand, then all the attributes of God are in him. There is nothing that the Father hath, excepting his personality, but the Son hath, as Mediator; “All things that the Father hath are mine,” John 16:15. All things that God hath, they belong to the Mediator also, the God-man. Here then is an ocean where you and I may dive for ever, and never get to the bottom. Having all things, he hath all the wisdom of God, Col. 2:3, “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Poor foolish sinner, who hath no wisdom, knowledge, nor understanding, here is a treasure for you: “Christ, the wisdom of God, made of God unto you wisdom,” 1 Cor. 1:30. Having all things, he hath all the power of God; “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the wisdom of God and the power of God,” 1 Cor. 1:24. Poor feeble soul, who can do nothing, here is a good bargain for you to lay hold upon; it is he that can work in you, both to will and do; and make his people willing in a day of his power. You are not called to come to Christ, but by the power of Christ, which is the power of God. You are to receive him that can give you power to receive him; and, as one absolutely weak, to take hold of his strength, and look to his power, to whom is given all power in heaven and in earth. Having all things, he hath all the holiness of God; he is said to be made of God unto as sanctification; and surely here is an immense fountain of sanctity, the infinite holiness of God. O poor, vile polluted sinner, who hath lost the image of God, by the fall of the first Adam, and the deficiency of his holiness, here is a better head and husband for You, in whom is all the fulness of the divine holiness, that you may be complete in him. Having all things, he hath all the justice of God, and all the righteousness of God in him, and justice satisfied in him, by his mediatorial righteousness; for, “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake;” yea, he that is the righteousness of God, is made unto us righteousness, 1 Cor. 1:30, and, O wonderful word! “He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. 5:21. O guilty, guilty sinner! here is a joyful sound in your ears, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” You may, in Christ, be more righteous in God's sight than ever you was guilty in his sight; yea, you may be the very righteousness of God in him. You may not only be justified, but find God to be just in justifying you, because the justice of God is in him; and it is satisfied in him, magnified in him, glorified in him. Having all things, he hath all the mercy of God in his hand; all the infinite love, pity, and compassion of God is in his hand, and in his heart. What is Christ, but the love of God wrapt up in a garment of flesh and blood? 1 John 4:9, 10, “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And Jude, ver. 21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God;” how? “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life.” O poor miserable sinner! Would you wish to find mercy in the moment of death, and mercy at the great day? Know that there is no mercy to be expected out of God's hand, unless you look to his mercy as in the hand of Christ; for, he will never shew mercy to the prejudice of his justice; and it is only in Christ that mercy and justice meet together and embrace each other. Having all things, he hath all the faithfulness and truth of God, “My mercy and my faithfulness shall be with him,” Psalm 89:24.
I have observed between thirty and forty places of scripture, where mercy and truth, mercy and faithfulness, are joined together; and here you see they are joined together in Christ. In him the mercy and love of God vents to the honour of divine truth, pledged even in all the threatenings of the law, as well as divine truth, pledged in all the promises of the gospel; because in him all the threatenings and curses of the law have spent their force; “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,” Gal. 3:13. And, “In him are all the promises, Yea and Amen to the glory of God,” 2 Cor. 1:20. He is the way and the truth; truth itself, the God of truth, and the truth of God. O perfidious, faithless, unfaithful, and treacherous sinner! who hath many times lied to the God of truth; wouldst thou have thy falsehood all done away, and swallowed up in the truth and veracity of God, and your salvation secured notwithstanding of your falsehood, fickleness, and instability? Here is a pillar on which you may stand firm and fixed, amidst all changes, whether in your outward lot or inward frame; for, “All flesh is grass; but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” The truth of God standeth unalterably the same.
Again, having all things, he hath all the authority of God in his hand. “My name is in him,” Exod. 23:21. O! poor lost sinner, when Christ, in this gospel, comes to seek and save that which was lost, say not, by what authority doth he these things? He is the Sent and Sealed of God, and he hath all the authority that God can give him. And if you ask by what authority we, poor sinful mortal worms like yourselves, do offer him and all his store to you? Indeed, we would have no authority if he had not said, “Go, preach the gospel to every creature; and lo, I am with you always unto the end of the world.” In a word, having all things, he hath all the fulness of God in his hand; “It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. 1:19. “In him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Not only all the attributes of God, but all the fulness of all the divine attributes. Not only the wisdom of God, but all the fulness of divine wisdom; not only the power of God, but all the fulness of divine power; not only the holiness of God, but all the fulness of divine holiness; not only the justice and righteousness of God, but all the fulness of divine righteousness; not only the mercy of God, but all the fulness of divine mercy; not only the truth and faithfulness of God, but all the fulness of divine faithfulness; not only the authority of God, but all the fulness of divine authority; not only is God in him, but all the fulness of the Godhead. O! poor empty sinner! here is unsearchable riches, a bottomless well of everlasting salvation for you.
2. If all things are in his hand, then all the reins of providence are in his hand; this must follow upon what hath been said, having all the perfections of God, surely his kingdom ruleth overall. What a vast field is here! I shall only touch at some of the border thereof. For all things in heaven, earth, and hell, are under his government as Mediator, Phil. 2:10, Eph. 1:22. All the reins of common providence, in the world, and special providence, in the church, and among the children of God, are wholly in his hand. Why then, having all things, he hath all kingdoms and churches in his hand; “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice,” Prov. 8:15. When he will, he cuts off the spirit of princes, and is terrible to the kings of the earth, Psal. 75:6, 7, “Promotion cometh neither from the cast, nor from the west, nor from the south, but God is the judge, he putteth down one and raiseth up another.” It is by him that the churches are planted and watered; and again displanted and turned into a barren wilderness when he pleases, Isa. 41:18. Whatever disorders and confusions be in the church of God, it is best for us to keep about the hand of Christ, who hath the overruling of all things to his Father's glory, and his people's good. Having all things, he hath all the stars of heaven in his hand; not only the sun, moon, and stars of these visible heavens; for, he could make the stars in their courses fight against Sisera; but also, all the stars in the church's firmament, Rev. 1:16, and he orders them to shine so long in this place, and so long in the other, as he pleases. Having all things, he hath all the winds of heaven in his hand. When the church and children of God pray, Song 4:16, “Awake, O north wind; come, thou south,” &c. Whence do they expect these winds of the Spirit's influences? Even from him who hath said of the blessed Comforter, “I will send him unto you,” John 16:7. It is he that prophecies unto the winds, Ezek. 37:9. “Thus saith the Lord, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” If there be little of this quickening wind blowing about your hearts, yet he can order the winds to arise when he pleases; for all the influences of the Spirit are in his hand, as well as the. natural winds, Psalm 135:7. Having all things, he hath all the waters of the sea, and all the dust of the earth, in his hand; “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span? and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure?” Isa. 40:12. Perhaps you have friends buried in the sea, or buried in the earth; whether the earth or sea be their graves, are they friends in Christ? Rejoice in the faith of their happy resurrection; “He will raise them up at the last day.” It is easy with him to command the earth and the sea to give up their dead; for he hath every drop of water, and every pile of dust within the view of his omniscient eye, and within the hollow of his omnipotent hand.
Having all things, he hath all the mountains and hills in his hand, as in the forecited, Isa. 40:12. He is said to weigh up the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. The mountains and hills are in his hand, both in a literal and metaphorical sense; they are in his hand and under his feet, so that it is easy with him to cast them out of the way with his hand, or tread upon them, and come skipping on the mountains, and leaping on the hills, Song 2:8. “Who art thou, O great mountain? before our Zerubbabel, thou shalt become a plain,” Zech. 4:7. How doth faith remove mountains, but by the hand of Christ? Possibly you may find mountains of sin and guilt, mountains of trouble and distress, mountains of fears and objections, mountains of difficulties and discouragements in your way; but let them not fright you from coming to Christ for he hath them all in his hand; and he can overturn the mountains as easily as he can turn his hand. Having all things, he hath all weathers in his hand, whether fair or foul, calm or stormy weather, as he pleases to order; whether prosperity or adversity, plenty or penury: In the day of prosperity be joyful in him; in the day of adversity consider that it is he also that hath appointed it; for God hath set the one against the other, Eccl. 7:14. Having all things, he hath all times and seasons in his hand; he hath given to the stork and swallow to know their appointed times, and to observe the times of their coming,” Jer. 8:7.
O sirs, how infinitely well then does he know the fit time of his own coming, and the proper season of visiting his people! “He waits to be gracious; and he is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him,” Isa. 30:18. The time of our sojourning here, and the number of our months is in his hand. The time of his approaches to the soul, and the time of his staying, is in his sovereign hand. Again, having all things in his hand, he hath all the chains of devils and of evil spirits in his hand; they are held in his chains, and under his check and control; they cannot touch a herd of swine without his permission; and his hand is famed for casting out devils; and, perhaps, there are many such here to be cast out; but he hath no more ado but, “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee to come out;” thou unclean spirit, I charge thee to come out; thou drunken spirit, I charge thee to come out; thou profane spirit, I charge thee to come out; thou atheistical unbelieving spirit, I charge thee to come out. All the chains wherewith poor prisoners of hope are held, are in his hand; and glory to God that hath anointed him to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, Isa. 41:1.
Again, having all things, he hath all the keys of hell and death in his hand; “I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death,” Rev. 1:18. When death and hell thought to have detained him prisoner, behold our mighty Samson came off with all the gates, and all the keys in this hand. Why, he had promised, saying, “O death, I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy destruction,” He& 13:14. And having done as he said, therefore his people, even staring death in the face, may, and sometimes do, sing that triumphant song, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. 15:55. Again, having all things, he hath all work upon his hand: having finished the work the Father gave him to do, even the work of redemption, by price; he hath yet upon his hand all the work that the redeemed have to do, even the work of redemption by power. In point of means, you are called to be much about his hand; but in point of power, you must put all in his hand; for, “Without him you can do nothing,” John 15:5. It is he who worketh in us, to will and do of his good pleasure, Phil 4:13. It is he that works all our works in us and for us, Isa. 16:12, therefore we should pray, with the psalmist, Psalm 109:21. “Do thou for me, O God the Lord, for thy name's sake;:and Psalm. Ivii. 2. I will cry unto God, most high, unto God that performeth all things for me.” But this leads me to another particular.
3. If all things are in Christ's hand, then all offices, all saving offices are in his hand. You know, the Father hath anointed him to the office of Prophet, Priest, and King. O sirs, what employment will you put in his hand? It is he, as a Prophet, that says, “They shall be all taught of God;” look to him for the promised teaching. It is he, as a Priest, that says, upon the ground of the sacrifice he hath offered, “I, even I am he that pardoneth thine iniquity, for my name's sake.” Look to him for remission in his blood. It is he, as a King, that says, “I will subdue your iniquities: Sin shall not have dominion over you.” O! ignorant sinner, will you find in your heart to refuse such a Prophet as Christ is? Who teaches like him? O! guilty sinner, will you refuse such a High Priest as this? O! enslaved sinner, will you refuse the help of such a King and Conqueror as this? If there be none of these offices to be dispensed with, then take hold of him in them all.
4. If all things are in his hand, then he is clothed with all relations that can contribute to the happiness of sinners. What friend or relation do you lack, O sinner? Lack you a father to pity you? Behold, here you may have an everlasting Father, that is his name, Isa. 9:6. “In him the fatherless findeth mercy.” Lack you a mother to be tender of you? Behold, here motherless children may have their loss made up: when father and mother. leaveth you, he is one to take you up, Psalm 27:10. He is one that can be a thousand times better to you than father and mother and manifests more love than the tenderest mother that ever was “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget you,” Isa. 49:15. Lack you a husband? O! What would you think to be married with the heir of all things? Wily if the ear of faith be open, you may hear him saying, “Thy Maker is thy Husband,” Isa. 54:5, and again, Hos. 2:19. “I will betroth thee unto me for ever.” If you say, “O! how will it be consistent with the justice of God for him to marry such a black bride?” Why, he says, “I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness; I will betroth thee unto me in wisdom; I will betroth thee unto me in judgment, in loving kindness; yea, and in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord;” thou shalt know God in Christ. How can he betroth thee to himself, and yet be infinitely just, and wise, and merciful, and faithful in doing so? Because mercy and truth have met together in Christ, the glorious Bridegroom; they struck up a match together, and embraced each other, that there might be nothing to hinder the match between Christ and you. Lack you a proper match then, O sinner, or a needed help, poor bankrupt, run in such deep arrears to the law and justice of God? Is not he that hath unsearchable riches a fit match for you? Poor dying creature, that will be food for worms in a little, here is a living Head for you, that can make you live for ever? O! mortal worm, here is an immortal Husband for you. Poor changeable creature, here is an unchangeable match for you “Christ the same yesterday to-day, and for ever.”
Lack you a lover? Are you an outcast, that reckons yourself despised by all the world, insomuch that none cares for you, or loves you? Behold, an infinitely loving and lovely Jesus, offering and boding his love upon you, saying, “I will heal your backslidings; I will love you freely,” Hos. 4:5. And he is seeking your heart, your conjugal love, saying, “My son, give me thy heart.” Lack you a leader through the dark and difficult steps of your way? A guide, a director, and counsellor in whatsoever affair you have upon your hand wherein it is needful to be directed? O! here is a wonderful Counsellor, who says, Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead the blind in a way they know not, and in paths that they have not known.” Lack you a shepherd to feed you, or a captain to fight your battles for you? Lack you a physician, when in sickness, to heal you? Lack you a refiner and purifier, when you are in the furnace, to purge away your dross? Behold he who hath all things in his hand, has all the relations that you can desire.
5. If all things be in his hand, then all graces are in his hand. This is a great part of the glory of the only begotten of the Father, that he is full of grace and truth, and, “Out of his fulness have all received, and grace for grace, John 1:14. Grace is poured into his lips,” Psal. 45:2, and I hope he is pouring grace from his lips by his word among some of you this day. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon him, for he hath anointed him.” He is anointed with the oil of gladness, anointed with the Spirit of all grace. Lack you grace to believe? Behold it is in his hand, as he is the Author of faith. Lack you grace to repent? Behold it is in his hand, as a Prince and Saviour exalted to give repentance. Do you lack grace. to pray? It is he that has the Spirit of prayer in his hand to give, Zech. 12:10. Do you lack grace to communicate? Grace to mortify sin? Grace to bear the cross? Grace to resist temptation? Grace to do and suffer? It is he that has all grace in his hand to give, and who says, “My grace shall be, sufficient for you:” hence his people are called to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
6. If all things are in his hand, then all blessings are in his hand to give. He is the Lord-dispenser of temporal blessings; for, “The earth is in his hand, and the fulness thereof;” the Lord-dispenser of spiritual blessings; for, behold heaven is in his hand, and the fulness thereof: the Lord-dispenser of eternal blessings; for eternal life is in his hand. It was promised of him, that men should be blessed in him; and accordingly he is sent to bless us, Acts 3:26, “God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” I might here enumerate many particular blessings. The blessings of illumination is in his hand; for, he is a Light to enlighten the Gentiles. The blessing of conversion is in his hand: for, he says, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” The blessing of justification is in his hand; for, “We are justified freely by his grace.” The blessing of reconciliation with God is in his hand; for, it is he that maketh peace by the blood of his cross. The blessing of sanctification is in his hand: for, “He is made of God unto us, sanctification.” The blessing of acceptance is in his hand; for, “By him we have boldness and access, with confidence, through the faith of him.” The blessing of consolation is in his hand; for, he is the Consolation of Israel. The blessing of a happy death is in his hand; for, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” The blessing of a happy resurrection is in his hand; for, He is the resurrection and the life. The blessing of a happy sentence at the great day is in his hand; for, All judgment is committed to him; and it is he that will say to the wicked, “Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;” and to the righteous, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world.” The blessing of eternal glorification is in his hand; for, as he is the glory of the higher house, so he says, “Father, I will, that those whom thou hast given me, be with me, where I am, that they may behold my glory: and so shall they be ever with the Lord.”
Can you tell me any spiritual blessing that is not in his hand? No: Eph. 1:3, “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, only in Christ.” And now, after all, what think ye of him? Have you no heart to join hand with a well-furnished Saviour, that hath all things in his hand? If you have got no heart to such a good bargain, this is very sad; but because it is a day of glad tidings, I will tell you among other things, that all hearts are in his hand, and it is his prerogative to open the locked heart. It is easy with him to create a clean heart, to melt the hard heart, to still the wandering heart, to cleanse the filthy heart, to elevate the drooping heart, to conquer the stubborn heart, to quicken the dead heart, to draw the backward heart, as I noticed on another subject; and if any thing draw your heart to him, it will be the revelation of his grace and fulness, as having all things in his hand. Thus much may suffice for a comprehensive view of the extent of this treasure.
Fourthly, I come to the fourth thing I proposed, which was, in order to the further assisting of faith, to consider the manner how all things are in Christ's hand. I have already told you, all things are in Christ's hand naturally as he is God; and donatively, as he is Mediator; but, besides, there are these following ways wherein all things given him of his rather are in his hand. 1. All things are in his hand substantially; not symbolically, as Christ is said to be in the elements of bread and wine in the sacrament; or, as God was said to be in the temple, by the symbol of his presence. It is not the shadow of all things, but the substance which is in his hand; therefore it is said, Col. 2:9, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;” that is, substantially, and so in a glorious, eminent, superlative, and transcendant way. Christ is the substantial All of his people; the substance of all the types, and sacrifices, and ceremonies under the law. They were but the shadow of good things to come, Heb. 10:1. All the good. things themselves are in Christ substantially.
2. All things are in him communicatively; his Mediatorial fulness is communicable and omnipotent. All shops are closed, but Christ's house stands open; and on it this inscription, Whosoever will, may come and share of this treasure. Christ's fulness is communicable; and therefore, out of this fulness we may all receive, and grace for grace, John 1:16. We needed not preach of this store that is in Christ's hand, if it was locked up in him. Why is it, that in him, as Mediator, dwells all fulness of the Godhead bodily? Why, but that we may be complete in him, Col. 2:9, 10. Christ is a cabinet of rich jewels and faith is a key to open the cabinet: we receive out of his fulness by faith. Prayer is a key, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God.” If these keys be not in your hand, surely they are in his, who hath all things in his hand. O solicit him to cast you the key, and give you the spirit of faith and prayer.
3. All things are in his hand sufficiently; there is bread enough and to spare, Luke 15:17. Fulness enough for the destitute; light enough for the dark; life enough for the dead: there is grace enough in him, pardon enough in him, help enough in him; bread enough and to spare. If you think there is none to spare for you, it is because you do not believe there is enough in him; but will you disgrace our infinitely noble and glorious Lord, by supposing that there is not enough in him? O! He can satisfy the longing soul, and fill the hungry soul with good things. Nothing in this world gives satisfaction to the soul: he was a fool that said, when he had a full barn, “Soul, take thy rest, thou hast goods laid up for many years.” We may as well dream of a coffer full of grace and glory, as of a soul full of corn and wine; it is only Christ that has in him suitable and satisfying fulness for the soul, and enough to give complete, solid, permanent, and everlasting satisfaction.
4. All things are in his hand efficiently and effectively, in so much, that he can make others to share of a Conformity to him, in that store that is in his hand. For example, hath he all comeliness? Well, what says he? “I have. made thee perfect through my comeliness which I put upon thee,” Ezek. 16:14. Hath he all righteousness? Well, the believer is made righteous through his righteousness. Hath he all glory? The believer is made glorious through his glory, and all glorious within Beholding his glory, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord,” 2 Cor. 3:18. There is a power and efficacy in every saving discovery of the glorious treasure that is in Christ, a smiling savour in his face; and, O happy they, that are smitten with a conformity to him: who, beholding the of his grace, are made gracious; beholding the glory of his holiness, are made holy; beholding the glory of his mercy, are made merciful.
5. All things are in his hand unchangeably; for he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, Heb. 13:18. He is always the same; and his stock and treasure is invariably the same. Whatever you get out of his hand, yet still the stock and store is in his hand. Let faith draw never so many bills upon him, for this and that supply, at this time and the other time, and get never so much rent, annual rent, or daily rent, out of the stock; yet still the stock and interest both are in his hand; and the believer hath his all to the fore; even when all that was in your hand is spent, yet all things remain as they were in Christ's hand; yea, and this well of salvation springs up for ever, and that to everlasting life. O great encouragement! The fulness of Christ, as it is in our hand, may ebb and flow; but as it is in Christ's hand, it is unchangeably the same. The believer may be sometimes full, and sometimes empty; sometimes up, and sometimes down; but Christ is always the same: “I am the Lord, I change not.” All believers, since the beginning of the world, have been always putting down their buckets of faith, and drawing water out of this well of salvation; yet still it is full, and running over; and no wonder, for his fulness is infinite; it is the fulness of God.
6. All things are in his hand eternally, Col. 1:19, “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell:” it is a dwelling fulness. In him it is, and in him it dwells for ever. “In him are durable riches and righteousness; and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Hence also the blessings he communicates are everlasting; everlasting peace, everlasting pardon, everlasting consolation, everlasting life: “He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life.” Here is a depth to dive into forever: Christ hath an eternity of all perfection in him. An eternity of all excellency, an eternity of all blessings: here is a portion that will make you up to eternity. Here is eternal wisdom, eternal power, eternal holiness, eternal happiness. He is the true God, and eternal life. Every thing is everlasting in him; his righteousness is everlasting righteousness; his strength is everlasting strength; his wisdom is everlasting wisdom. Poor dying mortal, here is an everlasting treasure. O! come here, come here, poor mortal, that art to die in a few days; and no matter though you give up the ghost shortly, when, instead of this short lasting life, here is everlasting life for you, as well as security from everlasting death. All things are in his hand eternally. But I shall go on,
Fifthly, To the next thing I proposed, which was, in order to the quickening and exciting of our faith, to offer some motives and considerations, arising from, and accompanying this truth, that all things are given into Christ's hand. O let us be exhorted to come to, and close with, and believe in, this glorious One. And, for motive, consider,
1. Is it possible that we can have or desire a better pattern to follow or imitate, in trusting in Christ, than his eternal Father, who hath entrusted him with all things? “Behold my Servant whom I uphold!” Isaiah 42:1; or, as the word is observed to signify, “My Servant whom I trust;” and accordingly hath entrusted him with all things. And, Oh! may not this shame us out of our distrust? Thus the Father entrusted him with all the great concerns of his everlasting glory? And may not we well trust him with all the concerns of our everlasting welfare? O sirs, is it not safest laying our help where God has laid it? Where the waters go, the fish will go; God and all his fulness is gone with Christ Is it not best going where God goes, and resting where he rests, and loving whom he loves, and trusting whom he trusts.
2. Consider, is it possible that we can have or desire a better hand for all things to be put into, than the hand of Christ, whom the Father thus loves? All things you need to make you for ever happy, are in the hand of a God-man. That your stock may be sure to you, it is in the hand of a God; and that it may be near to you, it is in the hand of a Man. How can it be surer to you than in his hand, who is God as well as man? How can it be nearer to you than in his hand, who is man as well as God? O then, is not the stock in a friend's hand? A great friend, a near friend? God could not choose a better hand, both for his own interest and yours. It is more honourable for God, more profitable for you, that all things are put in the hand of Christ, the second Adam, the new covenant head, than if all things had remained in the state they were in before. The covenant of works was broken: but if you look believingly towards Christ, not only will God get more glory this way than if he should damn you for your sins, and satisfy his justice upon you to eternity; but also more glory than if he should have rewarded you with life, for your righteousness, according to the tenor of the covenant of works, supposing it had never been broken. Why all the glory of God was designed to concentre in Christ as in a bright constellation; and will you cross this design, that tends so much more to God's honour, and your profit, than if matters had stood in their old primitive posture? See how Job was taken up with the way of grace, beyond that of works, Job 9:15, 20, 21, “Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer; but I would make supplication to my Judge. If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul, I would despise my life.”
3. Consider, as another motive, that as it is not possible to miss everlasting life, if you look believingly to him that hath all things in his hand, so it is not possible to escape everlasting wrath, if you believe not in him; read the verse immediately following the text, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting, life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” He that believeth cannot miss salvation; for, it is in the hand of Christ to give to all comers; he that believeth not cannot escape damnation: for, “How shall we escape, if we reject so great salvation?” So great a Saviour, who hath all things in his hand? It is established in heaven, and it stands now upon the honour of God to save all believers in Christ and to damn all unbelievers. Only, as God gets more honour and greater satisfaction in your salvation, through Christ, in a way of believing in him, than he can get in your damnation, if you remain in your unbelief; therefore, though you had no regard to your salvation or damnation, there is something here, of infinitely greater worth than your eternal life, or eternal damnation, that should move you to this glorious Jesus for all things; and. that is, for the sake of the eternal honour and glory of God and Christ; for, the Father hath put honour upon the Son, by giving all things into his hand. As you cannot put more honour upon Christ, so you cannot put more honour upon his Father that crowned him with this honour, than by putting all things you have ado in his hand, and coming to him for all things you stand in need of. Christ is glorified in such: for, they are his glory; yea, his crown of glory, Isa. 62:3. When you come to him and make use of this treasure that the Father hath put in his hand, you join with his Father in putting a crown of glory on his head.
Therefore let your heart say, “O! here is life and salvation, and all things in Christ's hand held out in this gospel for me; and even so I take it as offered to me.” If it were not for you, we could not preach the gospel to every one here; but, in his great name, I preach it to every creature that hears me, that the Father hath given all things into Christ's hand for you; and, therefore take him to you, and all things with him.
5. Consider, that Christ, having got all things put in his hand, for the behoof of sinners, it is not possible that he will keep all close in his hand, and give out nothing. No, no; it stands upon his honour as Mediator; it stands upon his credit as he is the church's treasurer, and the Father's trustee to give out of that treasure of grace and fulness, that is given to him, for our behalf; he would not be faithful unto his trust if he should give out none of that treasure to poor sinners; but, who can charge him with unfaithfulness? What mouth, but that of cursed unbelief, will charge him thus? When unbelief says, Oh! he will give out nothing to me; What is the meaning of it? It is in effect a saying, He is not so faithful to his trust, as that I can expect he will give out anything to the like of me. Alas! beware of blasphemy; let faith rather step in and say, I hope he will give out of his fulness to me, because his name is Faithful and true. And if you can believe his truth and faithfulness pledged in the promise, as the Father's Trustee for sinners, and that with particular application to yourself, then his faithfulness is engaged unto you believer, in particular, but here is a door of faith and hope even for sinners that are yet unbelievers, that there is a glorious and sweet necessity lying upon Christ, to give out of his grace and fulness to sinners of mankind; and why not to you? He must give out of his grace to make his people willing in a day of his power, and bring them to himself; “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold [namely, Gentiles as well as Jews], them I must bring; and they shall hear my voice,” John 10:16. We are told, John 4:4, “He must needs go through Samaria;” why, for what end? It was even to give out of his grace to a poor harlot, a vile sinful woman there:
Even so, I hope he must needs go through Dunfermline, this day, to give out of that store the Father hath given him, for the sake of poor vile sinners here. Was there a blessed necessity for his suffering at Jerusalem? Yea, there was; Luke 24:26, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Even so, there is a blessed necessity for his applying the virtue of his death and sufferings, by pouring out of his Spirit, and communicating of his grace for that end.
6. Consider, that though Christ be exalted to this honour and majesty, of having all things given into his hand, yet it is not possible that therefore he should be proud, and lordly, and disdainful, so as not to regard the case of poor sinners; for, the quite contrary is the truth, namely, because he is thus honoured, therefore he humbles himself. Some may think, “Oh! when Christ is exalted to such supreme dignity, as that all things are in his hand, surely he will reckon it below him to regard such a sinner as I am; and stoop so low as to wash such a leper as I am.” Alas! sirs, think not so: for he declares the contrary; read his mind on this with wonder and admiration, John 13:3-8, “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God, he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself; After that he powered water into a bason, and began to wash his disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me.” What was the reason, then, that Christ stooped down to wash his disciples feet? Even because he knew the Father had given all things into his hand. Was he therefore proud? No; he was therefore humble. Poor sinful men, that have nothing, are most proud; but the God-man, who hath all things, is most humble, and stoops to our infirmities, because he is clothed with infinite excellency. His excellency as Mediator, is the cause of his humility; and his humility prompts his excellency to be good to sinners. O wonderful, humble Saviour! There is a twofold humiliation of Christ;
First, He humbled himself to come down into our nature, and shed his blood for us.
Secondly, Being exalted, he humbles himself to come down into our hearts, our filthy hearts, and wash them in his blood. In the former, he humbled himself, that God might exalt him; in the latter, God exalts him that he might humble himself. He is exalted for this very end: to pardon and purge guilty and polluted sinners, Acts 5:31. It is no disparagement to his exalted state, for him to stoop down and wash your feet, and wash your heart: “Him hath God exalted, a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins:” This is the way he washes, by giving pardon and repentance. For as high and honourable as he is, he thinks it his honour to give out grace. Woe is me, that he is not employed, since he thinks it his honour to wash you! It is not below him; he does not think he will be dishonoured or affronted, no: he knows that the lower he stoops, the higher will he be honoured in the hearts of his people.
Sixthly, The next thing proposed, in order to the regulating and squaring of our faith, according to the gospel rule, was to offer some Directions. And,
1. Be convinced that, as all things are in his hand, so faith itself is in his hand to give; for he is the author of it, Heb. 12:2. And know, that nothing but the power of God can effectually work faith. The gospel must come, not in word only, but in power and in the Holy Ghost, 1 Thess. 1:5. Seek not for faith, then, out of your own bowels; for “faith cometh by hearing.” Why, the gospel that you hear, is the power of God to salvation; and this power works secretly and silently upon the heart, in hearing, when the person may be little knowing that it is the power of God that is dealing with his heart; and yet that power is perhaps working so effectually, that, in hearing of Christ there is a heart-beating towards him, a heart-bleeding towards him, a heart-bursting towards him, a heart-burning towards him. This power is sometimes an enlightening power, ravishing the heart with the glorious excellency of Christ, discovered in the word; and with this a softening power, so as the heart is melted like water, before the Lord, that was a hard rock before; and, perhaps with this a drawing power, so as the heart is panting after the Lord; and yet, perhaps, the person doth not know that the power of God is present; but, however, the gospel is the power of God; and faith comes by hearing of it, when it comes not in word only, but in power. Faith comes not by working, it comes not by doing, it comes not by forcing yourself up to the act of faith; but it comes by hearing the object, it comes by hearing of Christ, and of what he hath in his hand. The object of faith comes not from our act of faith; but the acting of faith comes from the object of faith; and so it comes by hearing of the glorious object. Why stand you poring then upon your lack of power to act faith, as if you were to pull it out of your own breast? You will be much nearer your purpose, if you will pore upon the object of it, Christ, who hath all things in his hand. If you be taken up with the object, there is no fear about the act of faith; for the soul, in believing, considers not what can I do? but what can Christ do? It considers not, what have I in my hand? but what hath Christ in his hand? And hence, when faith acts rightly upon Christ, it considers not itself, and its, own actings; it is taken up with nothing but Christ; and it is the best act of faith that loses itself, and is swallowed up in its object, saying, “Christ is all in all,” and I see all things in his hand.
2. Direction, in order to your closing with Christ who hath all things in his hand: O! be convinced that you have nothing in your own hand, no righteousness in your own hand, no strength in your own hand; this would pave the way for saying, “Surely in the Lord only have I righteousness and strength.” I fear there are some here who are rich and increased with goods, and are relying on some of these good things that they have in hand; even believers are in danger here; some are saying in their hearts, Perhaps I have some good duty and preparation-work I have been about, and I rest on that, and hope for favour on that account: I had a good frame yesterday, or yesternight, or this morning; and I got grace to pray, and I am hoping, on that account, to obtain favour at God's hand this day. O man, take care of Your hand; while you are relying on any thing in your own hand, you are too rich, and it will be a wonder if you meet not with a disappointment; for he that feeds the hungry with good things sends the rich empty away. There is more hope, if, notwithstanding all your best duties and best frames, you are entitled to nothing, and see you have no wisdom, no grace, no good thing in your own hand, no good frame to confide in. What! have you nothing at all? No, not a crumb to put in your mouth? Are you reduced to poverty and beggary? Why, then, “Blessed are the poor in spirit;” come, and welcome to a full Jesus, who has all things in his hand. The poor and needy come best speed here. Have you nothing to trust unto but the grace that is in his hand? the fullness that is in his hand? and have you no hope or confidence built anywhere else? I can promise, in his name, it shall not be long ere you be supplied; for, “The needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the expectation of the poor perish for ever.”
3. Direction I offer is, O man, woman, lay all things that you lack distinctly and directly over against all things he hath, and you lack out of his hand. For example, when you think on your own guiltiness, then look to his righteousness, and lay this over against that. When you apprehend your weakness, then apprehend the strength that is in his hand, and lay the one over against the other. When you consider your emptiness, then consider his fulness, and study Christ and your condition together; if you study your condition without studying Christ then you will be full of despair and discouragements; if you study Christ without studying your condition, then you will be full of pride and presumption. If you think of sin without Christ, you despair; if you think on Christ, without thinking of sin, you presume. If you be ignorant, think on Christ as a Prophet; if guilty, here think on Christ as a Priest; if enslaved, apprehend him as a King. Observe the attributes and titles of Christ that are most suited to your condition; and lay them and your condition together. It is remarkable, that all the epistles to the seven churches of Asia, begin with titles of Christ; and every title is suited to the condition of that church. For example, his title to the church of Smyrna is “The first and the last, that was dead and is alive, Rev. 2:8. Why so? Because they were to suffer hard things, and were called to be faithful unto the death, and so on; he shews that he hath a title suited to every case. Thus, set the names and titles of Christ, that suit your condition, directly over against it; and assure yourself that Christ will make good his titles? that he is clothed with. If the title be, “The Lord is my shepherd;” then I may certainly infer, “I shall not want,” Ps. 23:1. Thus do you, when you find there is distress among the saints, then remember his title, “King of saints.” When you find disorder and commotion among the nations, then remember his title, “The king of nations.” When you find darkness overspreading your soul, then remember his title, “I am the light of the world.” When you find death and deadness taking place, then remember his title? “I am the resurrection and the life.” When you are uneasy with the confusions and black aspect of affairs in the church, then remember his title, “The Head of the body the church, and Head over all things to it: “The government is upon his shoulders.” Know that as Christ and the promise is yours, in the gospel-offer and publication to be believed in, rested upon; so Christ is so far yours in possession, as you, through grace, improve and rest upon him. The promise is so far yours in possession as you improve it, and rest upon it.
4. Direction I offer is, since the Father hath given all things into his hand, then, O let him be improved and employed by you for all things. Do not think you can put too much work in his hand, or that you can give him too many things ado for you. If you believe the Father hath given all things into his hand, you may be sure you are welcome to employ him in all things; and the more business you have to put in his hand, the more welcome. You may come to him not only with all your spiritual affairs, and trust him for all things that concern wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: but also with all your temporal affairs; for the promise, in Christ is a promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. 4:8. Many profess to rely on Christ for eternal salvation, and yet they dare not trust unto him for their temporal provision; and so discover the rottenness of their faith, in that they cannot depend on him for all things. It is said, 1 John 4:20, “He that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?” So may we say, He that cannot trust in Christ for things temporal, in this world; how can he trust in him for things eternal, in the other world? Why then, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy steps.” You may go to his table with an eye to him for his conduct and blessing, even in temporal affairs: and if you can trust him in these, it will be a good evidence that you can trust him, indeed, in the affairs of your eternal salvation also. Is there any remarkable change of circumstances in your life and lot in this world, wherein you would have his conduct and countenance? Are you a minister? and would you be a blessing to the parish where God is ordering your lot? Are you a private Christian, and would you be a blessing to the place or family wherein God may appoint your lot? Why, behold he hath the blessing of Abraham to bestow upon you; “I will bless thee, and thou shalt be a blessing,” Gen. 12:2. If you own that the reins of providence are in his hand, as well as all things else, then come to him, and employ him in all things that pertain to life and godliness both.
5. Direction is, since the Father hath given all things into Christ's hand, then, in coming to him, not only come that he may give all things to you, that you need, but that he may be all things to you that you lack. Not only that he may give you life, but that he himself may be your life; not only that he may give you salvation, but that he himself may be your salvation; not only that he may bring you to rest and happiness, but that he himself may be your rest and happiness, both by the way here, and at the end of the way hereafter. Look to Christ, not only to give you all, but to be your all; for he is not only the way to life, but the life itself “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “As I desire, says one, never to be happy, if Christ be not able to bring me to happiness, so I desire no greater, no better happiness, than what Christ is, and can be to me.” O sirs, he is all, and there is all in him; all to justify, all to sanctify, all to glorify, all to fill and satisfy, all to delight and solace the largest faculties of the immortal soul; “In his presence there is fulness of joy.” The highest happiness here us, “Christ in us the hope of glory:” and the highest happiness hereafter is, Christ, even to be for ever with the Lord. The thief on the cross had this preached to him, “This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise:” to be in Paradise, is not happiness; to be with angels there, is not happiness; but to be with Christ there, this is heaven and happiness. The more distinct that faith is in choosing Christ to be the supreme rest, the more complete is that faith. The language of faith comes to maturity; “O! since God and all his fulness is in Christ; it is Christ alone that is my life, all my salvation, all my hope, all my righteousness, all my strength, all my comfort, all my confidence, all my happiness, and all my heaven: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none in all the earth whom I desire besides thee.”
6. Direction for regulating faith is, since all things are given into his hand, and are unchangeably and eternally in his hand, then let coming to him, through grace, be your continual exercise, your daily trade; the fountain is ever full and overflowing; and the oftener you come with your empty vessels, so much the better. Think not faith lies in one single act; if you would be very sure of Christ, you should believe in him, and embrace him every day; yea, and as oft as, through grace, you can every day. Having once come to Christ, your life should be a life of coming closely and constantly to him, 1 Pet. 2:4. It is not only to be acted at the table of the Lord, when you sit there; it may be acted, perhaps, as profitably and pleasantly before you go to the table, or afterwards, in hearing, or singing, in public or in secret; and, as the second edition corrects the errors of the first, so after acts of believing, many times correct the defects of the first act. We are told, John 5:13, “The man that was healed, wist not who it was that healed him;” and the man cured of his blindness, John 9:36, knew not who he was, till the Lord met with him again: and, indeed, the longer a man hath Christ's company, the longer and sweeter are his manifestations of himself: every day's renewing of our application to Christ by faith, and closing with him, would make every day to be a day of espousals; and every day of espousals would be a day of the gladness of his heart, and of yours too. I think there is ground for this in that promise, “I will betroth thee unto me for ever,” Hos. 2:19. What is that I suppose we may take this view of it, not only shall the marriage-relation be indissolvable; but also the marriage-solemnity shall be perpetual: I will be for ever betrothing thee unto me; the manifestations of my love shall never fade, never languish, but be always fresh and full, like that of the day of espousals; and every new manifestation thereof like anew espousals. So much for directions in this matter.
Now, my friends, to come to a close, may I ask, What entertainment have you given to the Son of God, who hath all things given into his hand? Or, what room hath he made for himself into your heart? If you should hear of a sovereign water that could cure all diseases, what flocking of people would there be to that water? Here is that sovereign water, Christ alone, that can cure all diseases, yea, and supply all lacks; and he is the great ordinance of God, the great institution and appointment of the Father to., the relief of sinners, in all cases, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting, which the Son of man shall give unto you,” John 6:27. There is the hand from which you may have it. But how shall I get it from him? Why, it follows, “Him hath God the Father sealed,” Him hath God the Father appointed. He is the great ordinance and appointment of the Father for the very things you lack: “God hath set him forth to be a propitiation;” set him forth to be a righteousness for guilty sinners; set him forth to be a robe for naked sinners; set him forth to be a laver for filthy sinners; set him forth to be a ladder between heaven and earth, that sinners may get up to the everlasting enjoyment of God. He hath set him forth to be all things; to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, and all things for us; and this is infinite love to him and us “The Father loves him, and hath given all things into his hand.”
Why, say you, but I cannot see his hand with all things in it. Why, man, by this gospel which you hear, he is reaching down his hand with all things in it, that you may take hold of it in this word of grace. Will you tell me, what way would you have the invisible God to put out his hand towards you: Infinite wisdom has thought this the best way; and if you be not so grossly ignorant as to think of seeing the infinite invisible God, with bodily eyes, what better way can you conceive for him to stretch out his arm, and reach out his hand to you? Would you have him speaking to you by some glorious angel of heaven? Why, this way hath been tried, and their appearance was terrifying. Would you have him putting out his hand in a flame of fire? Why, this was once done to Moses in the bush; but the poor man fell a quaking. Or, again, would you have God putting out his hand, or uttering his voice to you by thunder and lightning, and thick clouds, and darkness? Why, this was the way he took at mount Sinai, and all the camp of Israel fell a trembling and crying, “O! let not God speak, but Moses; if he will speak to us, let him do it by a man like ourselves:” and, O sirs, if you knew God, this is just the very way you would have him speaking to you; and behold it is just by a poor mortal worm like yourselves, that you may not be frightened at his words. It is true, it may be, the devil and the world have been busy, to fill your hearts with prejudices against the poor feeble instruments, who preach this gospel to you; but whatever you think of us, and, for Christ's sake, I beg you reckon no more of us than of poor earthen vessels, bearing a treasure to you; only, never let the view of the baseness and insignificancy of the vessel make you to despise and reject the treasure we are bearing to you; a treasure worth ten thousand, thousand, thousand worlds; and wo is me, if you be only staring upon the poor preacher, and have not your eyes open, your understandings enlightened to see the treasure of unsearchable riches brought to your hand by this gospel, and brought to the very door of your heart! Rom. 10:8.
My friends, I look upon you, as I do upon myself, to be a company of dying worms: and am dealing with you in the name of the living God, the living Jesus, that you may live for ever in him. We are all going to the grave, where our nearest friends and forefathers have gone before us. I suppose there are few here but have either a father or a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a child, a near and dear friend, lying in the cold bed of the grave; and, in a few years, or days, these bodies of yours will lie rotting in the dust with them. Now, O man, woman, when your body is to be laid in the dust, would you have your soul laid in the bosom of Christ? Behold he is now opening his bosom, and opening his heart, that you may enter in; and if your heart were opening to let him in this day, it might yield such a joyful reflection in the hour of death, “O! I think glorious Christ drew out my heart to him, at such a communion in Dunfermline; and therefore, “O death, where is thy sting?” I hope to live for ever in spite of thee.
My dear friends, it is not only a door of utterance to speak to you that we have been seeking to have at this occasion, but a door of entrance; and Christ's entering into your heart by the power of his eternal Spirit. And O is he come? Is he come; yea or not? Are you welcoming the Father's Beloved, that hath all things in his hand, saying, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” When he is welcoming you to come to him, are you welcoming him to come to you? Can you say, He hath persuaded me, and I am persuaded! Have you found him riding in this chariot of the word of grace; riding into your heart, and making it fly open to him, saying, “None but Christ none but Christ; O! a thousand worlds are not to be laid in balance with him.” Is there never a heart here set a burning and glowing in your bosom towards a precious Christ? I am confident there is some; but wo is me, that all the hearts in this house are not set in a fire of love towards a lovely Jesus! O what a joyful sound may this be in the ears of poor sinners! Christ, and all things in his hand, as a pledge of his Father's love to him and you! And this blessed bargain offered freely to you! “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come to these waters; he that hath no money come; come without money, and without price!”
O sirs, the best penny-worth, the noblest bargain that ever mortal ears heard tell of! All things for nothing! all things for nothing! and this to be had by you, sinner, who are less than nothing, and worse than nothing! Though you have an empty purse, yet you need not be a bashful merchant here; for the more poor and empty that you are, the welcomer to him that hath all things in his hand. Christ requires nothing as a price of his fulness, but lack, and worthlessness, and misery. It is for the supply of such that he hath this fulness. Say not then that you have no right to it; for God offers it to you, and you need it; and there is right enough. If you say, Was he able, in his humbled state, when he came in the flesh? And is he not able in his exalted state, when he comes in the Spirit, to destroy the works of the devil? I am not only poor, but perverse. and am afraid of hell, because I have sinned to the uttermost. Why, he that hath all things, hath all power, and is able to save to the uttermost; your uttermost is great, but God's uttermost is infinitely greater.
Say not, Satan hath confirmed his right to you by your long trade of sinning; for, Christ owns no prescription of that kind; and it is his errand here this day to come and destroy the works of the devil; for this cause was the Son of God manifested. Is any here thinking, “Yea, but I am an apostate; guilty of many relapses; may not I despair?” No, no, man; he that hath all things in his hand has a plaster for all sores, and one for this fall-sickness among the rest; “I will heal your backslidings, and love you freely. Though you have played the harlot with many lovers, yet return though you have run to the devil, to your lusting and idols, yet come to me.” “But is it possible that there is a door of hope for me, when, notwithstanding all that you have said, I find all things wrong with me?” Why, man, will you tell me what state were all things into when the Father put them in Christ's hand? I suppose all things were wrong by the fall of Adam; the devil was rejoicing, sin was raging death was reigning, justice was flaming, hell was gaping, and all things were wrong; and then the Father put them all in Christ's hand, that he might set them right. Why, then, did the Father love the Son, and give all things into his hand, even in that state? Then, for the love of Christ Jesus, put all things that are wrong with you into his hand, that he may right them, for well can he do it. And as the Father did put honour upon him by doing so, and glorified his Son; so this is the way for you to honour and glorify Christ; and as in this way you shall have everlasting life by him, so he shall have everlasting honour by you.
If, after all, you say, “You cannot receive him, you cannot believe, you cannot come to him.” Well, it is true you can do nothing; but there is something I would ask, if you can do, and that is, “Can you refuse him? Can you reject him? Can you stand out against him? Can your hearts say, for all that you have, heard of him, that you care not for him, that you are better pleased with the world and your lusts?” If you cannot for your heart do these things, then I hope you shall be able to believe in him; for faith does not lie in your doing any thing, but in your employing Christ to do all, and saying, “He that hath all things in his hand must do all things for me.” Faith is never truly acted under a sense of ability to believe, but under a sense of utter inability; and therefore, if you can say, “Though I find my own weakness and inability to believe, yet I think, by this revelation of Christ, made to me, God hath made me willing, that Christ who hath all things in his hand, should be all things to me, and do all things for me; willing, with a thousand good wills, that he should put all things that are evil out of me, and put all things that are good within me and willing that he should be all things that relate to wisdom, and illuminate all things that relate to holiness and sanctification; and all things that relate to happiness and complete redemption.” Is it so with you? Then you have got a heart to join hand with him that hath all things in his hand; and you may gladly go to a communion table, and get the bargain sealed between him and you; and you may boast and glory in your all-sufficient Head and Husband, whom God hath furnished in this manner. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.”
Ralph Erskine (1685-1752), Scottish divine, brother of Ebenezer Erskine (q.v.), was born on the 18th of March 1685. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, he was ordained assistant minister at Dunfermline in 1711. He homologated the protests which his brother laid on the table of the assembly after being rebuked for his synod sermon, but he did not formally withdraw from the establishment till 1737. He was also present, though not as a member, at the first meeting of the associate presbytery. When the severance took place on account of the oath administered to burgesses, he adhered, along with his brother, to the burgher section. He died after a short illness on the 6th of November 1752. His works consist of sermons, poetical paraphrases and gospel sonnets. The Gospel Sonnets have frequently appeared separately. His Life and Diary, edited by the Rev. D. Fraser, was published in 1842.
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