Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
~ Isaiah 8:18, John 6:39, John 10:27-30, John 13:18a-b, John 15:16
That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
~ John 18:9, 1 Peter 1:5, Hebrews 2:13-14
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
~ John 17:1-26
The Prayer of the Lord Christ Jesus, by Robert Traill. Sermon I.
Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
~ John 17:24
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
~ John 18:1
You have heard many a good text taken out of the word of God; but though all be good, there is none better than this. Love the text, and love, above all, the blessed first speaker of it; and you will be the fitter to profit by what you hear spoken in his name from it.
The best of all sermons, in chaps xiv, xv, xvi. is concluded with the best of all prayers in this chap. xv ii. In this prayer, properly the Lord’s prayer, (for that in Matth. vi. 9. is rather the pattern given for our praying, than the Lord’s prayer), there are but few petitions, but they are all great ones. He prays, 1. For himself and his own glory, ver. 1, to 6. 2. Then for his people, to the end of this chapter. This ver. 24. contains his last petition for them. And passing the “compelation” Father, five times used in this prayer, thrice singly, as in rev. 1, 5, and 24. twice with an addition, Holy Father, ver. 11. Righteous Father, ver. 25. I take up two things in this petition.
The manner of our Lord’s asking, I will,; a singular way of praying. The matter of Christ’s prayer. And in it are four things.
1. The party he prays for; they whom thou host given me. Only Jesus Christ could pray thus for the elect, as elect.
2. The blessing he prays for to them: that they may be with me where I am. Where was Christ when he said this? He was going to the garden, to his agony, be taken that night, and to be crucified next morning, and laid in his grave the next evening. But here our Lord is praying as one in heaven. See ver. 11, 12. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name. And he prays to have his people with him in heaven. He loved them so well, that he came to the world where they were; he loved them so well, that he endured what they deserved: and here he expresseth his love in desiring that they may be with him where he is. Christ and his people must be together.
3. In the matter of this prayer of Christ, we have the end why Christ prays for this blessing to them; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me. Why would Christ have his people with him where he is? That they may behold his glory. Are they to receive no glory of their own? Yes, a great deal, surely; yea; they have got some already, verse 22. The glory which thou gavest me (to give), I have given them; and a great deal more they are to receive in heaven: but it stands in, and is advanced to their beholding of Christ’s glory. Had they not beheld Christ’s glory before? John i. 14. We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, 2 Cor. iii. 18. We all with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord. Isaiah, chap. vi. saw his glory, and spake of him, John xii. 41. Why then doth our Lord speak of the necessity of his people’s being with him where he is, that they might behold his glory, since he can manifest his glory, and they by grace can behold it, even when they are where they are, and not yet where he is? The reason is this, Because believers now, though by faith they can see something of Christ’s glory, yet it is but a very little they do, or can see. The light is small, and their eye but weak; but in that day that our Lord prays for, the discoveries of his glory will be greater, and the seeing eye of the glorified will be stronger, than now we can conceive.
4. In the matter of this prayer, we have the argument on which our Lord prays for this blessing to his people: For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. You know, that this phrase, before the foundation of the world, is an usual scripture-word for eternity: for the foundation of the world and time began together; creatures and time began together. Time is properly the measure of the duration of a creature; but God inhabiteth eternity, Isa. lvii. 15. Creatures dwell or sojourn in time. So that this argument of our Lord’s is, For thou lovedst me from eternity. And it hath a mighty force in it. If our Lord had said, “I pray that they may be with me where I am, for thou lovedst them before the foundation of the world” he had spoke what he had oft told them, for they were given to Christ in love. But the argument is stronger, as Christ expresseth it. For thou lovedet me. “I love them, and would have them where I am; they love me, and would be with me where I am; thou lovest them, and wilt have them where I am.” But here is one argument more, For thou lovedst me. Jesus Christ the Son of God, as intrusted with the office of a Saviour, and charged with the chosen, was, and is the object of the Father’s eternal delight and love; and on this love the salvation of all the elect stands more firm than the pillars of heaven or earth.
So much for the words of this verse. And from this little glance I have given you of them, you may plainly perceive, that here is a rich and deep mine, better than of gold that perisheth. The Lord help us to dig and find treasure, and to be enriched by it.
Head I. To begin with the first thing in the text, the manner of Christ’s praying here, I will: a singular manner: About it I would premise three things:
l. This is a way manner of praying, that we never read the like of it used by any saint in the word. Some of them have been very familiar with God, 2nd the Lord hath encouraged them much by his condescendence to them; yet nothing of this I will is to be heard or read of in their prayers. I will is too high for a supplicant at God’s footstool. Abraham was a great intimate with God, the first believer honoured with the noble name of the friend of God; yet this great friend, when pleading for Sodom, Gen. xviii. with what deep humility is his confidence mixed? Again, when pleading for Ishmael, Gen. xvii. 18. he saith, O that Ishmael might live in thy sight! Nothing like this I will. Abraham’s grandson Jacob came a little nearer to this, Gen. xxxii. 26. Let me go, (saith the angel), for time day breaketh; Jacob answers, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me; “Give me thy blessing, and go when thou wilt.” When he had got the blessing, he got an halting thigh, and a humbled heart whilst he lived, as he hints in Gen. xxxii. 30. I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. Not a word or thought of this, “ I have seen God face to face, I have wrestled with him hand to hand, and I have prevailed.” No; he rather wonders that he got alive cut of God’s hands, Right Jacobs, true Israels, in and on their greatest prevailings with God, and blessings from him, are lowly, humble believers, yea, humbled by God’s advancing of them. Moses, that great wrestler with God for Israel, though he expressed a holy resolvedness, yet nothing appears like this I will. Exod. xxxii. 10. Let me alone, (saith the Lord), that my wrath: may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them. It is strange, that one man should as it were hold the Lord’s hands, that one man’s faith should stop the execution of a just sentence against a sinful people. Surely you may conclude, that the Lord is easy to be entreated. Again, in Exod. xxxiii. 15. Moses said, if thy presence go not with me (or us), carry us not up hence. It is as good for us to die here, as to go any whither without thy presence. The wilderness, though waste and howling; and Canaan, though the glory of all lands, are alike to Moses without God’s presence. Again, in Numb. xiv. 12. Moses hath a great offer from the Lord I will destroy this people, and make of thee a greater nation, and mightier than they. Moses, in his zeal to God’s glory, refuseth this proffer, and pleads still, and prevails; yet never I will is in all his importunity. No believer ever did, or ought to speak so to God; they should all ask according to his will, and forget and deny their own will. Yet Christ did say, I will, and might well say so.
2. This I will is not in a promise to us, but in a prayer to his Father. When the Lord promiseth to do, or give good to his people, it is very becoming to use this style, I will do, or give, or be so and so to my people. And it is this I will in a promise that faith fixeth on; as Jacob did, Gen. xxxii. 12. Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good. But our Lord is here praying; though I own that there is a great promise implied in it, as we shall hear.
3. There is nothing like this in all the account we have of Christ’s prayers at other times, and other occasions. We find, that our blessed Saviour was much given to prayer alone. Bless him for it, and love secret prayer the better, that he used it himself, and thereby hallowed it to our use. How our Lord spent those nights in the mountain in prayer, and what he prayed for, and how, we cannot tell, except by that in Heb. v. 7. There are prayers and supplication: offered up, with strong crying and tears. Believers, you, sometimes when your hearts are full, want to be far from all company, that you may pour out your complaint to the Lord. Blessed Jesus did so in the days of his flesh, and filled the silent night with his crying; and watered the cold earth with his tears, more precious than the dew of Hermon, or any moisture (next to his blood) that ever fell on God’s earth since the creation. Never were such sinless and precious tears in God’s bottle, Psal. lvi. 8. Let yours drop, believers, and mix in the same bottle with his; and on this account sow them in hope, and you shall reap in joy, Psal. cxxvi. 5. But for Christ’s prayers recorded in the gospel, we find our Lord prayed very humbly, though confidently. When he prays in his agony, not a word of I will; but, Abba, let this cup pass from me, if thou wilt; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. Christians, behold the amazing difference betwixt Christ’s way of praying against his own hell, (so I may call it), and his praying for our heaven. When praying for himself, it is, Father, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me. And no wonder; for every drop in that cup, was wrath, and curse, and death. One drop of it is everlasting poison to all that taste it, but to Jesus the Prince of life. This cup he drank cheerfully; John xviii. 11. The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? But when Christ is praying for his people’s heaven, it is, Father, I will that they may be with me where I am. Again, when our Lord is dying on the cross, he prays, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And again, just at dying, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, Luke xxii. 34, and 46. All humble supplications; none of them so high and lofty (but yet it well became him) as this I will. I own, that Christ, in one instance on the cross, put forth his Divine power, and acted like a King and God, Luke xxiii. 42, 43. One of the malefactors that was crucified with him, (the happiest death ever man had, next to dying for Christ, was to die with the Saviour, and to die receiving Christ’s grace, and Christ’s pass to heaven), whatever Thomas meant in his words, John xi. 16. Let us go, that we may die with him; this happy malefactor had the best of it fulfilled on him: he died with Christ, and got eternal life on the same day. Surely that word was eminently fulfilled in this man, Eccl. vii. 1. Better is the day of death, than the day of one’s birth. This man prays marvellously, Lord, remember me when though comest into thy kingdom. Our Lord answers more marvellously, VeriIy I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. As if Christ had said, “Can thy faith take me up as a King, and the disposer of heaven, notwithstanding this thick and dark vail that is now upon me? I will act as a God and Saviour “to thee:” To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. These words have no small aspect on this text, I will that they be with me where I am.
Now let us see what may be in this singular word in Christ’s prayer, I will. No saint ever prayed so; Christ himself in this prayer only here useth this word. There must be some singular things that made our Lord use this word in prayer, I will; and them I would look into.
1. We may lawfully conceive, that herein there is a breaking out of his divine glory as the Son of God equal with the Father, as in Phil. ii. 6,-10.; where the apostle marketh three things about Christ, none of which must be forgotten by Christians. (1.) The divine dignity of his person, ver. 6 (2.) The depth of his low and humbled state, ver. 7, 8. (3.) The height of his exalted state, ver. 9, 10, 11. So doth the apostle to the Hebrews, chap. i. 3. Now, though Christ’s humbled and exalted state had, and have their several and distinct appearances; yet as his divine dignity was still the same in both states, in his lowest and at his highest, so there were now and then some beamings of his glory, even in his lowest state, John ii. 11.; and in his triumphant entry to Jerusalem, even when he was going to be crucified. So we may think, that this singular word, I will, is used by Christ to display his divine glory; for it is a word that no mere man may use.
2. Our Lord had promised it to his disciples in John xiv. 2, 3.; and therefore prays thus for it. And we must think, that the doctrine delivered by Christ in his last sermon of consolation, and this last prayer of his, though in the first place designed for his apostles, yet are the common portion of all believers on Jesus Christ. Now Christ had promised, John xiv. 2, 3. that where he was, there his people should be also. If a poor believer have at any time a firm hold on a promise of God, how will he cleave to it, plead upon it, and urge it ? as 2 Sam. vii. 27, 28, 29. But who can conceive what confidence of faith Jesus Christ the Son of God had, and did use, in pleading with his Father for the fulfilling of all his own promises to his people? Besides, all Christ’s promises to his people were made by him in his Father’s name. No wonder then that our Lord says, I will.
3. Christ here gives us a copy and pattern of his intercession in heaven, that so much is spoke of. Christ here speaks as within the vail, ver. 4, 11, 12. as if he had done all his work, and were no more in the world. He had done so much, had but a little more to do, which also was speedily to be dispatched. Christ’s intercession in heaven, is a kind and powerful remembrance of his people, and of all their concerns, managed with state and majesty; not as a supplicant at the footstool, but as a crowned prince on the throne, at the right hand of the Father. So is it expressed, Rom. viii. 34. Heb. i. 3. viii. 2. x. 12, 13. and xii. 2. This may be one reason of this great I will.
4. Here our Lord is making his will; and therefore I will is fitly put in. Christ is making his last will and testament, and praying it over to his Father, which is sealed next day with his blood; and here he tells what he wills to his people, even that they may be with him where he is. And nothing greater or better can be willed for them. Blessed for ever-more are they that have this willed and bequeathed to them. And you have a word like this in Luke xxii. 29. I appoint unto you a kingdom: “I bequeath, dispose it, make it over to “you;” as the word may be rendered.
5. Our Lord had the price of this glory in his hand, ready now to lay down; and therefore he demands the purchase for Christ was taken this night, and died next day. The price of the redeemed and of their salvation, a price agreed upon in the everlasting covenant, a price of infinite value in itself, a price the Father’s wisdom and justice demanded, a price the Son promised to lay down in the fulness of time, a price on the payment whereof so great things were promised to Christ and his seed; this price is now in Christ’s hand ready, presently to be told down. No wonder then, if Christ demand the purchase in this high word, I will. Believers, it passeth all your thoughts, it passeth the highest flights of your faith, to conceive that high assurance and confidence that our Lord Jesus had of the acceptance and success of that sacrifice of himself that he was now upon offering to his Father. Hence cometh this great I will.
6. This I will is but an echo to the known will of his Father. It doth not become us to say in our prayers, I will, because we do not perfectly know God’s will; and when our desires clash with his will, we do but dash against a rock. But Christ knew perfectly., that the thing he prays for, was the will of his Father, John vi. 38, 39, 40. When a believer hath a sure knowledge of God’s will, his faith may plead boldly on it. We read of one bold word of blessed Luther. He hearing of the dangerous sickness of an eminent minister of the gospel, prayed for him, prevailed with the Lord for his life ; and wrote to him, that he was assured, that the Lord would restore him, and preserve him to outlive Luther; which came to pass. In the close of this letter he writes, Fiat voluntas mea; mea, Domine, quia tua. “Let my will be done; mine, Lord, because thine.”
7. Lastly, This I will in Christ’s prayer for his people, shews how much his heart was set upon the eternal happiness of his people. He prays for it with all his heart. On this sweet theme I would offer a few things.
1st, Let us consider how Christ’s love and will was on the necessary price of their salvation. How dear soever it was to him, whatever it cost him, his love was on laying it down Luke xii. 50. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened (or pained) till it be accomplished? and it was a baptism in his own blood; and Luke xxii. 15. With desire have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: and it was his last meal. Love to his Father, and love to his sheep, made our Lord long greatly to pay the price of redemption.
There are several thoughts in men’s hearts about Christ’s dying. 1. Some think of Christ’s death as brought about by the wicked hands of sinners. This is a poor thought, if there be no more. This thought is natural to any that read the history of his death. Carnal men may hate Judas that betrayed him, Pilate that condemned him, the priests that cried Crucify him, and the people that did it. If this be all, I may say, the devils have a higher thought of Christ’s death, and that which comes nearer to the truth, than this sorry one. 2. Some go further, and think of Christ’s death as it was a fulfilling of the purpose and word of God concerning him. This Christ teacheth us in Luke xxiv. 26, 44., 46.; and the apostles frequently in their preaching of Christ. 3. There is a higher thought of Christ’s death; and that is, That Christ died, by the stroke of God’s law and justice, for his people. Justice roused itself against our Lord: Zech. xiii. 7. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd. This sword was drawn and furbished, and did enter into his soul: Isaiah liii. 5. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. Better were it that a man had never heard of Christ and of his death, than to hear; and not to know that his death was for his sins. This is Paul’s first doctrine he taught; and he is an ignorant and proud preacher that follows not this pattern: I Cor. xv. 3. For I delivered unto you first of all, that which also I received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures. 4. The best thought of Christ’s death is, That he died out of love to his people. Love made him come in the way of justice. Justice and the law saith, as it were, “Thou, or they must die. They have sinned, the law must be fulfilled, justice must be satisfied.” Blessed Jesus answers, “I love them too well to let them die; I will rather die for them, that they may live.” Christ’s death is still laid on his love, John x. Gal. ii. 20. Eph. v. 25, 26. He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Rev. i. 5.; that is, He loved us so that he shed his own blood for our sins; and then in the same love he washed us from our sins, in and by that blood which he shed in love. O such love! such blood! such washing! Here is salvation, and here only. it is a damning dream to expect it any where else.
2dly, Consider, as Christ’s love was much set on the pay-ing the price of redemption, so was his love and will as much set on the persons of the redeemed. He laid down the price, in love to the purchase. How can it enter into a man’s thoughts, that the Son of God should lay down so great a price, and not know what he was to take up for it? that he should die, and not know for whom, nor who should be the better for it? His dying was in love; and did he not know whom he loved! His love is still spoke of as distinguishing and particular; for his body, his people, his sheep, whom he knew, John x. 27.
3dly, The ways and means of bringing his redeemed to glory, were also much in Christ’s love and will: John xvii. 6, 26. I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them; and John x. 16. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, (are not of the Jews, but of the elect Gentiles): them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Every mean of grace, every blessing of the means, every drop of grace you receive, as Christ is the giver, so his love and will is in the bestowing it on you. All things that accompany salvation, are given with the love and will of Christ.
4thly, lastly, Christ’s will is upon the end itself, eternal glory. It is first in his design, though it be last in our enjoyment, as in this text. He will have his people with him where he is.
Application. There is one thing I would exhort you to from this doctrine, That Christ’s love and will is fixed on the eternal glory of his people; and it is this: — Let believers learn to own their eternal salvation as springing from the will of Christ, as well as from the blood of Christ. There was a Saving will in. Christ in shedding his saving blood: Heb. x. 10. By the which will we are sanctified, (i.e. justified and saved, in the style of that epistle, specially) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. What this will is, is declared in the foregoing verses; to be the Father’s will commanding the true sacrifice, and the Son’s will in offering this commanded sacrifice. By this will we are saved; this will, thus fixed, thus accomplished in Christ’s death.
There are three great advantages, which we shall reap by this looking on heaven, the prize of our calling, as willed by Jesus Christ.
1. It will stir you up to praise and glorify him. He that took on him the burden of our souls, and the care of our salvation, should surely bear the burden of all our songs for salvation, and for the hope of it. So the apostle sings, Rev. i. 5. Hearty praise to Jesus Christ for salvation can never be given, unless men know that all their salvation is owing to him alone; to his will, and to his blood. If a man ascribe any bit of his salvation to any thing or person. besides Christ, that thing or person will bear away, or rob somewhat of the glory of salvation. But since all salvation is from Christ, all the glory of it should be given to him.
2. This will make your faith in Christ strong. What is strong faith? Christians Usually think, that strong faith hath in it peace, joy, and comfort. But these are but the effects of it; and separable also, as in Psalm xxii. 1. Never was faith near so strong in any Saint, as it was in the man Christ on the cross: and yet no joy or comfort was tasted. by him then. But as to faith in believers, strong faith is when a believer gets far in, into the love and will of Jesus Christ. Now, this doctrine opens up Christ’s love and will about our salvation; let us then enter into it. Faith makes several approaches to Christ for and about salvation.
1st, It seeketh, and findeth, and seeth atoning, reconciling blood, flowing from Christ’s love: Rom. iii. 25. God hath set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. Eph. i. 7. In whom we have redemption through his blood.
2dly, Faith seeth life springing and growing out of Christ’s grave. Alas! many are busy about Moses’ grave, and have no business with Christ’s grave. A believer seeth eternal life springing from Christ’s death and grave.
3dIy, Faith goes further; and through this blood of atonement, and this life-giving death, it enters into Christ’s love and will that was in his redeeming. As there was life to us in his death, so there was love to us in his dying for us, Gal. ii. 20. Rev. i. 5. But can faith go any further? Yes. Only one step more; and that is to the highest fountain of all this; even God’s eternal purpose which he purposed in Jesus Christ our Lord, Eph: iii. 11. So that faith begins at Christ’s death, riseth with him in his resurrection, seeth the virtue and power of all in Christ’s love, and then riseth to the love of the Father that sent him, to that purpose of grace from which the Saviour and all salvation doth proceed. Can faith go any further? No. Here faith is at a stand. The believer is saved, and yet sinks and is overwhelmed in this depth; and, like one swallowed up, cries out, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Rom. xi. 33. When faith gets a view of The unsearchable riches of God’s grace in, by, and through Jesus Christ, then the believer longs to be in heaven, to behold the fountainhead of all grace and glory. Faith longs to cease to be faith. This is a strange and strong act of faith, a strange desire in a believer, “ O when shall I cease to be a believer, and become a seer! when shall the glass be done away, and the full-eyed vision of glory succeed! 1 Cor. xiii. 10, 11, 12. When shall both faith and hope cease, and love fill their room?”
3. This seeing of Christ’s heart and will about your salvation, will enable you to pray and labour rightly for glory. What is it to do it rightly? It is to labour with courage, and to labour with humility. And Christians work prospereth, when those are united, they always should be. How boldly may a believer say, I would be in heaven, Since Christ wills it? And how humbly should he say, I would be there; since his own will about it signifies nothing, and Christ’s will is all?
Obj. How shall I know, that I am in Christ’s will for salvation? If I did know it, then I would give thanks, I would believe firmly, and would labour hard to obtain the possession of this glory.
Answ. To this I offer three things. 1. Consider how they behaved themselves, that with their own ears heard those very words from Christ s own mouth. It is a vain thought that readily riseth in all our hearts, that if we had been present, and had heard Christ praying thus for us in a special, particular way, that we might be with him where he is, that then we would believe our salvation if we were in the saddest distress. But. now consider what great encouragement to faith Christ gave them. He told them, chap. xiv. 2, 3. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. What more could they desire, than to have Christ telling them to their faces, “You and I must indeed part “for a little while; but you and I shall quickly meet again, never to part more?” They did also with their ears hear Christ praying over his promise to them, to his Father, I will that they be with me where I am. Could such believers under all those advantages, so great, so singular, ever stagger again? Yes. Almost as soon as this encouraging sermon and prayer is ended, their faith was almost at an end too: John xvi. 31, 32. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone. I speak this, to check the vanity of that thought in Christians, that if they had but sufficient ground of the assurance of Christ’s love, and of eternal glory, they would believe in every difficulty and trial. Yet you see how they behaved that had such grounds of faith from Christ’s own lips, whilst bodily present with them, which you cannot expect or desire. And I hope none of you will imagine, that if ye had been in have behaved better than they did. Grounds of faith, if never so great, yet if not attended with the influence of the Spirit of faith, will never keep faith in life and vigour.
Answ. 2. What reason have you to doubt your interest in this prayer of Christ? You may say, I am so vile and unworthy, that I cannot believe that Christ willed me to be with him. If, this be all, it is nothing, yea worse than nothing 1. Hath not Christ willed eternal glory to many as bad as, ever you were? Did he ever will heaven for worthiness in the persons that are to receive it? Is it not always willed to the praise of his own grace and love as the giver, and never as recompence to the worth and loveliness of the receiver? 2. Christ will mend you ere be bring you to heaven. And great work it is to make you meet for it, Col. i. 12.; a work that must be done, and that he only can do, and he can easily do it. 3. Right preparation for glory, flows from the faith of Christ’s good-will to give it. It is a weak and ignorant, but common thought of Christians, that they ought. not to look for heaven, nor trust Christ for eternal glory, till they be well advanced in holiness, and meetness for it. But as the, first sanctification of our natures flows from our faith and trust in Christ for acceptance, so our farther Sanctification and meetness for glory flows from the renewed and repeated exercise of faith on him. The hope of glory is purifying, 1 John iii. 8.
Answ. 3. Every believer hath the witness in himself, that he hath an interest in Christ’s heart and will in this prayer: I John v. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself. The. apostle is speaking of the many witnesses that are given to Jesus Christ as the Saviour. Three in heaven, ver, 7. three on earth, ver. 8. All are divine witnesses, and sufficient grounds of faith in Jesus Christ; ver. 9. Now, saith the apostle, ver. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God, (that trusts his soul, and its salvation, to this so well attested Saviour), he hath the witness (or testimony) in himself. 1. There are witnesses in heaven. 2. Witnesses on earth. 3. A testimony in the heart of a believer in Christ. Whoever believeth on Christ, that faith is an evidence sufficient (if he will require it to speak, and will regard its testimony, and both of them require actings of faith) to persuade him, that he hath an interest in Christ’s prayer here. On this. I would glance at four things, and conclude.
1. Believers in Christ, what do you do when you believe? O that all believers did but know what they do when they believe! Do ye nor, in every distinct act of faith, betrust your guilty perishing soul to the saving, arm of Jesus Christ, upon the warrant of all that grace, mercy, and power; that belongs to Christ in his office of a Saviour? And is not this his willing of eternal glory, a great and glorious beam of that grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which ye believe to be saved? Acts xv. 11.
2. How came you by this your faith? Is it not his gift? He is the author of it, Heb. xii. 2. It is given on Christ’s behalf Phil. i. 29. Whenever you have an evidence in your heart, (and it is your own fault if you have it not daily), that you have true faith in Jesus Christ; if it be but weak, and cannot mount so high as it ought, raise it by this consideration, Whence came this spark of faith to be kindled in my heart? Did it naturally grow in my heart? No. Time was when I was without it, Eph. ii. 12. and loved to be without it. Did Satan plant it? No. I find him to be the great enemy of it; and I never felt his enmity, till I began to trust Jesus Christ; and it is that in me he mainly assaults. Did ministers, and the means of grace, plant faith in me? No! I enjoyed them when no faith was wrought in me; and when it is wrought, all their power, without Christ’s grace and Spirit concurring, cannot raise this faith to act and exercise. Therefore, surely, this faith came from Jesus Christ himself. Was it not from the work, and will, and love, of Christ? How easy and native is the inference? If faith in Christ be the work of his love, how warrantably may I look, by that faith, for all the good that this love purposeth, promiseth, and prayeth for to me?
3. Can you call him to witness with a good conscience, that your great desire and will is to be with Christ in heaven? If the Lord should try you with this question, “Name that one thing that you would have above all?” every believer hath his answer ready; it is, “ Lord, that I may be ever with thee, where thou art;” as David said, Psalm xxvii. 4. of God’s house on earth. This I infer, If thy love be set on being with Christ where he is, be assured that Christ’s love is set on the same blessing for thee; yea, thy desire after it, flows from his desire of it for thee.
4. Are you willing, yea pleased and delighted, to hold your title to eternal glory, by the will and testament of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to have and hold the crown by this tenure only, that it was bought by his blood, and willed to you by his testament? Every believer would be in heaven, because Christ is there; and is pleased to get and keep his place there, as willed to him by Jesus Christ. Heaven is a lovely name, and a more lovely thing; but not at all known by many, and but little by the best; but yet believers look for it, and expect it, as the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. vi. 23. They plead for it as such; at last they receive it as grace, and eternally wear the crown as a crown of grace, as well as a crown of glory. The glorified saint, as soon as he receives this crown, casts it at Christ’s feet, Rev. iv. 10. or sets it on Christ’s head as if ashamed to wear a crown, where Christ the only Worthy is. Upon Christ’s head are many crowns, Rev. xix 12. His Father puts a crown on him, Heb. ii. 9. crowned him with glory and honour: his mother, the church, crowns him, Cant. iii. 11. with a crown of salvation; and every saved person puts on Christ’s head the crown of the glory of their particular salvation. To conclude: They that are not willing to give the glory of all salvation to Jesus Christ, shall never receive any salvation from him. But for you that are willing to receive all from him, and are delighted to render the glory of all to him, his heart is towards you; his best wishes are for your good; and he will give you what he hath prepared for you, which is exceedingly above all that can be told you. Amen.