(Owen. The Glory of Christ, Part 1. File 13)

(... continued from File 12)

Chapter 13. The Second Difference between our Beholding the Glory of  
Christ by Faith in this World and by Sight in Heaven.  
 Faith is the light wherein we behold the glory of Christ in this  
world. And this in its own nature, as unto this great end, is weak  
and imperfect, like weak eyes, that cannot behold the sun in its  
beauty. Hence our sight of it differs greatly from what we shall  
enjoy in glory, as has been declared. But this is not all; it is  
frequently hindered and interrupted in its operations, or it loses  
the view of its object by one means or other. As he who sees any  
thing at a great distance, sees it imperfectly, and the least  
interposition or motion takes it quite out of his sight, so is it  
with our faith in this matter; whence sometimes we can have little,  
sometimes no sight at all of the glory of Christ by it. And this  
gives us, as we sha11 see, another difference between faith and  
 Now, although the consideration hereof may seem a kind of  
diversion from our present argument, yet I choose to insist upon it,  
that I may evidence the reasons whence it is that many have so  
little experience of the things whereof we have treated, - that they  
find so little of reality or power in the exercise of this grace, or  
the performance of this duty. For it will appear in the issue that  
the whole defect is in themselves; - the truth itself insisted on is  
great and efficacious  
 Whilst we are in this life, the Lord Christ is pleased, in his  
sovereign wisdom, sometimes to withdraw, and, as it were, to hide  
himself from us. Then do our minds fall into clouds and darkness;  
faith is at a loss; we cannot behold his glory; yea, we may seek  
him, but cannot find him. So Job complains, as we observed before,  
"Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I  
cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he does work, but I  
cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I  
cannot see him," chap. 23: 8, 9. Which way soever I turn myself,  
whatever are my endeavours, in what way or work of his own I seek  
him, I cannot find him, I cannot see him, - I cannot behold his  
glory. So the church also complains, "Verily thou art a God that  
hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour," Isa. 45: 15; and the  
Psalmist, "How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever?" Ps. 89:  
46. This hiding of the face of God is the hiding of the shining of  
his glory in the face of Christ Jesus, and therefore of the glory of  
Christ himself, for it is the glory of Christ to be the  
representative of the glory of God. The spouse in the canticles is  
often at a loss, and herein bemoans herself, that her Beloved was  
withdrawn, - that she could neither find him nor see him, chap. 3:  
1, 2; 5: 6.  
 Men may retain their notions concerning Christ, his person and his  
glory. These cannot be blotted out of their minds but by heresy or  
obdurate stupidity. They may have the same doctrinal knowledge of  
him with others; but the sight of his glory does not consist  
therein. They may abide in the outward performance of duties towards  
him as formerly; but yet all this while, as unto the especial  
gracious communications of himself unto their souls, and as unto a  
cheerful refreshing view of his glory, he may withdraw and hide  
himself from them.  
 As under the same outward dispensations of the Word he does  
manifest himself unto some, and not unto others - ("how is it that  
thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" John  
14: 22), - whereon they to whom he does so manifest himself do see  
him to be beautiful, glorious, and lovely (for "unto them that  
believe, he is precious"); whilst the others see nothing hereof, but  
wonder at them by whom he is admired, Cant. 5: 9; - so, in the same  
dispensation of the Word he sometimes hides his face, turns away the  
light of his countenance, clouds the beams of his glory unto some,  
whilst others are cherished and warmed with them.  
 Two things we must here speak unto.  
 1. Why does the Lord Christ, at any time, thus hide himself in his  
glory from the faith of believers, that they cannot behold him?  
 2. How we may perceive and know that he does so withdraw himself  
from us, so that, however we may please ourselves, we do not indeed  
behold his glory.  
 1. As unto the first of these, though what he does is supposed an  
act of sovereign, unaccountable wisdom, yet there are many holy ends  
of it, and consequently reasons for it. I shall mention one only. He  
does it to stir us up in an eminent manner unto a diligent search  
and inquiry after him. Woeful sloth and negligence are apt to  
prevail in us in our meditations on heavenly things. Though our  
hearts wake (as the spouse speaks, Cant. 5: 2), in a valuation of  
Christ, his love, and his grace, yet we sleep as unto the due  
exercise of faith and love towards him. Who is it that can justify  
himself herein? - that can say, "My heart is pure, I am clean from  
this sin?" Yea, it is so far otherwise with many of us, that he is  
for ever to be admired in his patience, - that on the account of our  
unkindness and woeful negligence herein, he has not only withdrawn  
himself at seasons, but that he has not utterly departed from us.  
Now, he knows that those with whom he has been graciously present, -  
who have had views of his glory, although they have not valued the  
mercy and privilege of it as they ought, yet can they not bear a  
sense of his absence and his hiding himself from them. By this,  
therefore, will he awake them unto a diligent inquiry after him.  
Upon the discovery of his absence, and such a distance of his glory  
from them as their faith cannot reach unto it, they become like the  
doves of the valleys, all of them mourning every one for his  
iniquity, and do stir up themselves to seek him early and with  
diligence. See Hosea 5: 15. So wherever the spouse intimates this  
withdrawing of Christ from her, she immediately gives an account of  
her restless diligence and endeavours in her inquiries after him  
until she have found him, chap. 3: 1-4; 5: 2-8. And in these  
inquiries there is such an exercise of faith and love, though it may  
be acting themselves mostly in sighs and groans, as is acceptable  
and well-pleasing to him.  
 We are like him in the parable of the prophet that spake unto  
Ahab, who having one committed unto him to keep, affirms that whilst  
he was busy here and there, he was gone. Christ commits himself unto  
us, and we ought carefully to keep his presence. "I held him," saith  
the church, "and would not let him go," Cant. 3: 4. But whilst we  
are busy here and there, while our minds are overfilled with other  
things, he withdraws himself, - we cannot find him. But even this  
rebuke is a sanctified ordinance for our recovery, and his return  
unto us.  
 2. Our second inquiry is, how we may know when Cheat does so  
withdraw himself from us, that we do not, that we cannot, behold his  
 I speak herein unto them alone who make this observation of the  
lively actings of faith and love in and towards Jesus Christ their  
chiefest concern in all their retirements, yea, in their whole walk  
before God. concerning these, our inquiry is, how they may know when  
Christ does in any degree or measure withdraw from them so as that  
they cannot in a due manner behold his glory.  
 And the first discovery hereof is by the consequent of such  
withdrawings. And what are the consequent of it we can know no  
otherwise but by the effects of his presence with us, and the  
manifestation of himself unto us; which, as unto some degrees, must  
necessarily cease thereon.  
 (1.) Now the first of these is the life, vigour, and effectual  
acting of all grace in us. This is an inseparable consequent and  
effect of a view of his glory. Whilst we enjoy it, we live;  
nevertheless not we, but Christ lives in us, exciting and acting all  
his graces in us.  
 This is that which the apostle instructs us in; while "we behold  
his glory as in a glass, we are transformed into the same image,  
from glory to glory," 2 Cor. 3: 18; - that is, whilst by faith we  
contemplate on the glory of Christ as revealed in the gospel, all  
grace will thrive and flourish in us towards a perfect conformity  
unto him. For whilst we abide in this view and contemplation, our  
souls will be preserved in holy frames, and in a continual exercise  
of love and delight, with all other spiritual affections towards  
him. It is impossible, whilst Christ is in the eye of our faith as  
proposed in the Gospel, but that we shall labour to be like him, and  
greatly love him. Neither is there any way for us to attain unto  
either of these, which are the great concernments of our souls, -  
namely, to be like unto Christ, and to love him, - but by a constant  
view of him and his glory by faith; which powerfully and effectually  
works them in us. All the doctrinal knowledge which we have of him  
is useless, all the view we have of his glory is but fancy,  
imagination, or superstition, which are not accompanied with this  
transforming power. And that which is wrought by it, is the increase  
and vigour of all grace; for therein alone our conformity unto him  
does consist. Growth in grace, holiness, and obedience, is a growing  
like unto Christ; and nothing else is so.  
 I cannot refrain here from a necessary short digression. This  
transforming efficacy, from a spiritual view of Christ as proposed  
in the Gospel, being lost, as unto an experience of it, in the minds  
of men carnal and ignorant of the mystery of believing (as it is at  
present by many derided, though it be the life of religion), fancy  
and superstition provided various supplies in the room of it. For  
they found out crucifixes and images with paintings to represent him  
in his sufferings and glory. By these things, their carnal  
affections being excited by their outward senses, they suppose  
themselves to be affected with him, and to be like unto him. Yea,  
some have proceeded so far as, either by arts diabolical, or by  
other means, to make an appearance of wounds on their hands, and  
feet, and sides; therein pretending to be like him, - yea, to be  
wholly transformed into his image. But that which is produced by an  
image is but an image. An imaginary Christ will effect nothing in  
the minds of men but imaginary grace.  
 Thus religion was lost, and died. When men could not obtain any  
experience in their minds of the spiritual mysteries of the gospel,  
nor be sensible of any spiritual change or advantage by them, they  
substituted some outward duties and observances in their stead; as I  
shall show, God willing, elsewhere more at large. These produced  
some kind of effects on their minds and affections, but quite of  
another nature than those which are the real effects of true  
evangelical grace. This is openly evident in this substitution of  
images instead of the representation of Christ and his glory made in  
the gospel.  
 However, there is a general supposition granted on all hands, -  
namely, that there must be a view of Christ and his glory, to cause  
us to love him, and thereby to make us conformable or like unto him.  
But here lies the difference: - those of the church of Rome say that  
this must be done by the beholding of crucifixes, with other images  
and pictures of him; and that with our bodily eyes: we say it is by  
our beholding his glory by faith, as revealed in the Gospel, and no  
otherwise. And, to confess the truth, we have some who, as they  
reject the use of images, so they despise that spiritual view of the  
glory of Christ which we inquire after. Such persons on the first  
occasion will fall on the other side; for anything is better than  
 But, as we have a sure word of prophecy to secure us from these  
abominations, by an express prohibition of such images unto all ends  
whatever; so, unto our stability in the profession of the truth, an  
experience of the efficacy of this spiritual view of Christ  
transforming our souls into his own likeness, is absolutely  
necessary. For if an idolater should plead, as they do all, that in  
the beholding of the image of Christ, or of a crucifix, especially  
if they are sedulous and constant therein, they find their  
affections unto him greatly excited, increased, and inflamed (as  
they will be, Isa. 57: 6); and that hereon he endeavours to be like  
unto him; what shall we have to oppose thereunto? For it is certain  
that such images are apt to make impressions on the minds of men;  
partly from the readiness of the senses and imagination to give them  
admittance into their thoughts; and partly from their natural  
inclinations unto superstition, their aversion from things spiritual  
and invisible, with an inclination unto things present and visible.  
Hence among them who are satisfied that they ought not to be adored  
with any religious veneration, yet some are apt, upon the sight of  
them, to entertain a thoughtful reverence, as they would do if they  
were to enter into a Pagan temple full of idols; and others are  
continually making approaches towards their use and veneration, in  
paintings, and altars, and such outward postures of worship as are  
used in the religious service of them. But that they do sensibly  
affect the minds of men carnal and superstitious, cannot be denied;  
and as they suppose, it is with a love unto Christ himself. However,  
certain it is in general, and confessed on all hands, that the  
beholding of Christ is the most blessed means of exciting all our  
graces, spiritualizing all our affections, and transforming our  
minds into his likeness. And if we have not another, and that a more  
excellent way of beholding him, than they have who behold him, as  
they suppose, in images and crucifixes, they would seem to have the  
advantage of us; for their minds will really be affected with  
somewhat, ours with nothing at all. And by the pretence thereof,  
they inveigle the carnal affections of men ignorant of the power of  
the gospel, to become their proselytes. For having lived, it may be,  
a long time without any the least experience of a sensible  
impression on their minds, or a transforming power from the  
representation of Christ in the gospel, upon their very first  
religious, devout application unto these images, they find their  
thoughts exercised, their minds affected, and some present change  
made upon them.  
 But there was a difference between the person of David and an  
image with a bolster of goat's hair, though the one were laid in the  
room and place of the other; and there is so between Christ and an  
image, though the one be put into the place of the other. Neither do  
these things serve unto any other end, but to divert the minds of  
men from faith and love to Christ; giving them some such  
satisfactions in the room of them, as that their carnal affections  
do cleave unto their idols. And indeed it does belong unto the  
wisdom of faith, or we stand in need of spiritual light, to discern  
and judge between the working of natural affections towards  
spiritual objects, on undue motives by undue means with indirect  
ends, - wherein all Papal devotion consists, - and the spiritual  
exercise of grace in those affections duly fixed on spiritual  
 But, as was said, it is a real experience of the efficacy that  
there is in the spiritual beholding of the glory of Christ by faith,  
as proposed in the Gospel, to strengthen, increase, and excite all  
grace unto its proper exercise, so changing and transforming the  
soul gradually into his likeness, which must secure us against all  
those pretences; and so I return from this digression.  
 Hereby we may understand whether the Lord does so withdraw himself  
as that we do not, as that we cannot, behold his glory by faith in a  
due manner; - which is the thing inquired after. For if we grow weak  
in our graces, unspiritual in our frames, cold in our affections, or  
negligent in the exercise of them by holy meditation, it is evident  
that he is at a great distance from us, so as that we do not behold  
his glory as we ought. If the weather grow cold, herbs and plants do  
wither, and the frost begins to bind up the earth, all men grant  
that the sun is withdrawn, and makes not his wonted approach unto  
us. And if it be so with our hearts, that they grow cold, frozen,  
withering, lifeless, in and unto spiritual duties, it is certain  
that the Lord Christ is in some sense withdrawn, and that we do not  
behold his glory. We retain notions of truth concerning his person,  
office, and grace; but faith is not in constant exercise as to real  
views of him and his glory. For there is nothing more certain in  
Christian experience than this is, that while we do really by faith  
behold the glory of Christ, as proposed in the Gospel, the glory of  
his person and office, as before described, and so abide in holy  
thoughts and meditations thereof, especially in our private duties  
and retirements, all grace will live and thrive in us in some  
measure, especially love unto his person, and therein unto all that  
belongs unto him. Let us but put it to the trial, and we shall  
infallibly find the promised event.  
 Do any of us find decays in grace prevailing in us; - deadness,  
coldness, lukewarmness, a kind of spiritual stupidity and  
senselessness coming upon us? Do we find an unreadiness unto the  
exercise of grace in its proper season, and the vigorous acting of  
it in duties of communion with God, and would we have our souls  
recovered from these dangerous diseases? Let us assure ourselves  
there is no better way for our healing and deliverance, yea, no  
other way but this alone, - namely, the obtaining a fresh view of  
the glory of Christ by faith, and a steady abiding therein. Constant  
contemplation of Christ and his glory, putting forth its  
transforming power unto the revival of all grace, is the only relief  
in this case; as shall farther be showed afterward.  
 Some will say, that this must be effected by fresh supplies and  
renewed communications of the Holy Spirit. Unless he fall as dew and  
showers on our dry and barren hearts, - unless he cause our graces  
to spring, thrive, and bring forth fruit, - unless he revive and  
increase faith, love, and holiness in our souls, - our backsliding  
will not be healed, nor our spiritual state be recovered. Unto this  
end is he prayed for and promised in the Scripture. See Cant. 4: 16;  
Isa. 44: 3, 4; Ezek. 11: 19; 36: 26; Hos. 14: 5, 6. And so it is.  
The immediate efficiency of the revival of our souls is from and by  
the Holy Spirit. But the inquiry is, in what way, or by what means,  
we may obtain the supplies and communications of him unto this end.  
This the apostle declares in the place insisted on: We, beholding  
the glory of Christ in a glass, "are changed into the same image,  
from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord." It is in the  
exercise of faith on Christ, in the way before described, that the  
Holy Spirit puts forth his renewing, transforming power in and upon  
our souls. This, therefore, is that alone which will retrieve  
Christians from their present decays and deadness.  
 Some complain greatly of their state and condition; none so dead,  
so dull and stupid as they; - they know not whether they have any  
spark of heavenly life left in them. Some make weak and faint  
endeavours for a recovery, which are like the attempts of a man in a  
dream, wherein he seems to use great endeavours without any success.  
Some put themselves unto multiplied duties. Howbeit, the generality  
of professors seem to be in a pining, thriftless condition. And the  
reason of it is, because they will not sincerely and constantly make  
use of the only remedy and relief; like a man that will rather  
choose to pine away in his sickness with some useless, transient  
refreshments, than apply himself unto a known and approved remedy,  
because, it may be, the use of it is unsuited unto some of his  
present occasions. Now this is, to live in the exercise of faith in  
Christ Jesus. This himself assures us of, John 15: 4, 5, "Abide in  
me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except  
it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am  
the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him,  
the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do  
 There is a twofold coming unto Christ by believing. The first is  
that we may have life; - that is, a spring and principle of  
spiritual life communicated unto us from him: for he is "our life,"  
Col. 3: 4, and "because he liveth, we live also," John 14: 19. Yea,  
it is not so much we that live, as he liveth in us, Gal. 2: 19, 20.  
And unbelief is a not coming unto him, that we may have life, John  
5: 40. But, secondly, there is also a coming unto him by believers  
in the actual exercise of faith, that they may "have this life more  
abundantly," John 10: 10; that is, such supplies of grace as may  
keep their souls in a healthy, vigorous acting of all the powers of  
spiritual life. And as he reproacheth some that they would not come  
unto him that they might have life, so he may justly reprove us all,  
that we do not so come unto him in the actual exercise of faith, as  
that we might have this life more abundantly.  
 (2.) When the Lord Christ is near us, and we do behold his glory,  
he will frequently communicate spiritual refreshment in peace,  
consolation, and joy unto our souls. We shall not only hereby have  
our graces excited with respect unto him as their object, but be  
made sensible of his acting toward us in the communications of  
himself and his love unto us. When the Sun of Righteousness ariseth  
on any soul, or makes any near approach thereunto, it shall find  
"healing under his wings;" this beams of grace shall convey by his  
Spirit holy spiritual refreshment thereunto. For he is present with  
us by his Spirit, and these are his fruits and effects, as he is the  
Comforter, suited unto his office, as he is promised unto us.  
 Many love to walk in a very careless, unwise profession. So long  
as they can hold out in the performance of outward duties, they are  
very regardless of the greatest evangelical privileges, - of those  
things which are the marrow of divine promises, - all real  
endeavours of a vital communion with Christ. Such are spiritual  
peace, refreshing consolations, ineffable joys, and the blessed  
composure of assurance. Without some taste and experience of these  
things, profession is heartless, lifeless, useless; and religion  
itself a dead carcass without an animating soul. The peace which  
some enjoy is a mere stupidity. They judge not these things to be  
real which are the substance of Christ's present reward; and a  
renunciation whereof would deprive the church of its principal  
supportments and encouragements in all its sufferings. It is a great  
evidence of the power of unbelief, when we can satisfy ourselves  
without an experience in our own hearts of the great things, in this  
kind of joy, peace, consolation, assurance, that are promised in the  
Gospels. For how can it be supposed that we do indeed relieve the  
promises of things future, - namely, of heaven, immortality, and  
glory, the faith whereof is the foundation of all religions, - when  
we do not relieve the promises of the present reward in these  
spiritual privileges? And how shall we be thought to believe them,  
when we do not endeavour after an experience of the things  
themselves in our own souls, but are even contented without them?  
But herein men deceive themselves. They would very desirously have  
evangelical joy, peace, and assurance, to countenance them in their  
evil frames and careless walking. And some have attempted to  
reconcile these things, unto the ruin of their souls. But it will  
not be. Without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we  
shall never enjoy the grace of consolation. But we must speak  
somewhat of these things afterward.  
 It is peculiarly in the view of the glory of Christ, in his  
approaches unto us, and abiding with us, that we are made partakers  
of evangelical peace, consolation, joy, and assurances. These are a  
part of the royal train of his graces, of the reward wherewith he is  
accompanied. "His reward is with him." Wherever he is graciously  
present with any, these things are never wanting in a due measure  
and degree, unless it be by their own fault, or for their trial. In  
these things does he give the church of his loves, Cant. 7: 12. "For  
if any man," saith he, "love me, I will love him, and will manifest  
myself unto him," John 14: 21; - "yea, I and the Father will come  
unto him, and make our abode with him," verse 23; and that so as to  
"sup with him," Rev. 3: 20; - which, on his part, can be only by the  
communication of those spiritual refreshments. The only inquiry is,  
by what way and means we do receive them? Now, I say this is in and  
by our beholding of the glory of Christ by faith, 1 Peter 1: 8, 9.  
Let that glory be rightly stated, as before laid down, - the glory  
of his person, his office, his condescension, exaltation, love, and  
grace; let faith be fixed in a view and contemplation of it, mix  
itself with it, as represented in the glass of the gospel, meditate  
upon it, embrace it, and virtue will proceed from Christ,  
communicating spiritual, supernatural refreshment and joy unto our  
souls. Yea, in ordinary cases, it is impossible that believers  
should have a real prospect of this glory at any time, but that it  
will in some measure affect their hearts with a sense of his love;  
which is the spring of all consolation in them. In the exercise of  
faith on the discoveries of the glory of Christ made unto us in the  
Gospel, no man shall ever totally want such intimations of his love,  
yea, such effusion of it in his heart, as shall be a living spring  
of those spiritual refreshments, John 4: 14; Rom 5: 5. When,  
therefore, we lose these things, as unto a sense of them in our  
souls, it is evident that the Lord Christ is withdrawn, and that we  
do not behold his glory.  
 But I cannot here avoid another short digression. There are those  
by whom all these things are derided as distempered fancies and  
imaginations; yea, such things have been spoken and written of them  
as contain a virtual renunciation of the gospel, the powers of the  
world to come, and the whole work of the Holy Ghost as the comforter  
of the church. And hereby all real intercourse between the person of  
Christ and the souls of them that do believe is utterly overthrown;  
- reducing all religion to an outward show, and a pageantry fitter  
for a stage than that temple of God which is in the minds of men.  
According unto the sentiments of these profane scoffers, there is no  
such thing as the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts  
by the Holy Ghost, nor as the witnessing of the Spirit of God with  
our spirits that we are the children of God, from which these  
spiritual joys and refreshments are inseparable as their necessary  
effects; - no such thing as the lifting up of the light of God's  
countenance upon us, which will put gladness into our hearts, that  
gladness which compriseth all the things mentioned; - no such thing  
as rejoicing upon "believing, with joy unspeakable and full of  
glory;" - no such thing as Christ's showing and manifesting himself  
unto us, supping with us, and giving us of his loves; - that the  
divine promises of a "feast of fat things, and wine well refined,"  
in gospel mercies, are empty and insignificant words; - that all  
those ravishing joys and exultations of spirit that multitudes of  
faithful martyrs of old and in later ages have enjoyed, by a view of  
the glory of God in Christ and a sense of his love, whereunto they  
gave testimony unto their last moments in the midst of their  
torments, were but fancies and imaginations. But it is the height of  
impudence in these profane scoffers, that they proclaim their own  
ignorance of those things which are the real powers of our region.  
 Others there are who will not deny the truth of these things. They  
dare not rise up in contradiction unto those express testimonies of  
the Scripture wherewith they are confirmed. And they do suppose that  
some are partakers of them, at least there were so formerly; but as  
for their parts, they have no experience of them, nor do judge it  
their duty to endeavour after it. They can make a shift to live on  
hopes of heaven and future glory; as unto what is present, they  
desire no more, but to be found in the performance of some duties in  
answer unto their convictions, - which gives them that sorry peace  
which they do enjoy. So do many countenance themselves in their  
spiritual sloth and unbelief, keeping themselves at liberty to seek  
for refreshment and satisfaction in other things, whilst those of  
the gospel are despised. And these things are inconsistent. While  
men look for their chief refreshment and satisfaction in temporal  
things, it is impossible they should seek after those that are  
spiritual in a due manner. And it must be confessed, that when we  
have a due regard unto spiritual, evangelical consolations and joys,  
it will abate and take off our affections unto, and satisfaction in,  
present enjoyments, Phil. 3: 8, 9.  
 But there is no more sacred truth than this, that where Christ is  
present with believers, - where he is not withdrawn for a season  
from them, where they live in the view of his glory by faith as it  
is proposed unto them in the gospel, - he will give unto them, at  
his own seasons such intimations of his love, such supplies of his  
Spirit, such holy joys and rejoicings, such repose of soul in  
assurance, as shall refresh their souls, fill them with joy, satisfy  
them with spiritual delight, and quicken them unto all acts of holy  
communion with himself.  
 Let no such dishonour be reflected on the gospel, that whereas the  
faith of it, and obedience unto it, are usually accompanied with  
outward troubles, afflictions, persecution, and reproaches, as we  
are foretold they should be, - that it does not by its inward  
consolations and divine refreshments, outbalance all those evils  
which we may undergo upon the account of it. So to suppose, is  
expressly contrary to the promise of Christ himself, who has assured  
us that even "nun en toi kairoi toutoi", "even now in this life," in  
this world, distinct from eternal life in the world to come, we  
shall receive a hundred-fold recompense for all that we can lose or  
suffer for his sake, Mark 10: 30; - as also unto the experience of  
them who, in all ages, have "taken joyfully the spoiling of their  
goods, as knowing in themselves" (by the experience which they have  
of its first-fruits) that they "have in heaven a better and an  
enduring substance," Heb. 10: 34. If we come short in a  
participation of these things, if we are strangers unto them, the  
blame is to be laid on ourselves alone, as it shall be immediately  
 Now, the design of the Lord Christ, in thus withdrawing himself  
from us, and hiding his glory from our view, being the exercise of  
our grace, and to stir us up unto diligence in our inquiries after  
him, here lieth our guidance and direction in this case. Do we find  
ourselves lifeless in the spiritual duties of religion? Are we  
strangers unto the heavenly visits of consolation and joys, - those  
visitations of God whereby he preserves our souls? Do we seldom  
enjoy a sense of the "shedding abroad of his love in our hearts by  
the holy Ghost?" We have no way of recovery but this alone, - to  
this "strong tower" must we turn ourselves as "prisoners of hope,"  
unto Christ must we look, that we may be saved. It is a steady view  
or contemplation of his glory by faith alone that will bring in all  
these things in a lively experience into our hearts and souls.  
 Again, in the second place, it is from ourselves principally, if  
we lose the view of the glory of Christ, and the exercise of faith  
be obstructed therein. All our spiritual disadvantages do arise from  
ourselves. It is the remainder of lusts and corruptions in us,  
either indulged by sloth and negligence or excited and inflamed by  
Satan's temptations, that do obstruct us in this duty. Whilst they  
are in any disorder or disturbance, it is in vain for us to expect  
any clear view of this glory.  
 That view of the glory of Christ whereof we treat consists in two  
things, - namely, its especial nature, and its necessary adjunct or  
effect. The first is, a ritual perception or understanding of it as  
revealed in the Scriptures. For the revelation of the glory of his  
person, office, and grace, is the principal subject of them, and the  
principal object of our faith. And the other consists in multiplied  
thoughts about him, with acting of faiths in love, trust, delight,  
and longing after the full enjoyment of him, 1 Peter 1: 8. If we  
satisfy ourselves in mere notions and speculations about the glory  
of Christ as doctrinally revealed unto us, we shall find no  
transforming power or efficacy communicated unto us thereby. But  
when, under the conduct of that spiritual light, our affections do  
cleave unto him with full purpose of heart, our minds are filled  
with the thoughts of him and delight in him, and faith is kept up  
unto its constant exercise in trust and affiance on him, - virtue  
will proceed from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness,  
strengthen our graces, and to fill us sometimes "with joy  
unspeakable and full of glory." This is the just temperature of a  
state of spiritual health, - namely, when our light of the knowledge  
of the glory of God in Christ does answer the means of it which we  
enjoy, and when our affections unto Christ do hold proportion unto  
that light; and this according unto the various degrees of it, - for  
some have more, and some have less. Where light leaves the  
affections behind, it ends in formality or atheism; and where  
affections outrun light, they sink in the bog of superstition,  
doting on images and pictures, or the like. But where things go not  
into these excesses, it is better that our affections exceed our  
light from the defect of our understandings, than that our light  
exceed our affections from the corruption of our wills. In both  
these is the exercise of faith frequently interrupted and obstructed  
by the remainder of corruption in us, especially if not kept  
constantly under the disciplines of mortification, but some way  
indulged unto. For, -  
 First, The steam of their disorder will cloud and darken the  
understanding, that it shall not be able clearly to discern any  
spiritual object,- least of all the greatest of them. There is  
nothing more acknowledged, even in things natural and moral, than  
that the disorder of the passions and affections will blind, darken,  
and deceive the mind in its operations. And it is much more so in  
things spiritual, wherein that disorder is an immediate rebellion  
against its proper conducting light; that is, against the light and  
rule of grace.  
 There are three sorts of them unto whom the goes is preached, in  
whom there are various obstructions of this view.  
 1. There is in obstinate unbelievers a darkness, that is an effect  
of the power of Satan on their minds, in blinding them, which makes  
it impossible for them to behold any thing of the glory of Christ.  
So the apostle declares it, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them  
that are lost: in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds  
of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of  
Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them," 2 Cor. 4:  
3, 4. Of these we do not speak.  
 2. There is in all men a corrupt, natural darkness; or such a  
depravation of their minds by nature, as that they cannot discern  
this glory of Christ in a due manner. Hence "the light shineth in  
darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not," John 1: 5. For "the  
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they  
are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are  
spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. 2: 14. Hence it is, that although  
Christ be preached among us continually, yet there are very few who  
discern any glory or beauty in him for which he should be desired,  
as the prophet complaint, Isa. 53: 1, 2. But I speak not of this  
natural darkness in general. But even these persons have their minds  
filled with prejudices against the gospel, and darkened as unto the  
glory of Christ, according as corrupt lusts and affections are  
prevalent in them. See John 1: 46; 12: 43. Hence is the difference  
that is among the common hearers of the Word. For although no man  
can do any thing of himself for the receiving of Christ and the  
beholding of his glory, without the especial aid of the grace of God  
(Matt. 11: 25; John 6: 44, 45), yet some may make more opposition  
unto believing, and lay more hindrances in their own way, than  
others; which is done by their lusts and corruptions.  
 3. There are those in whom both these evils are cured by faith,  
wherein the eyes of our understandings are enlightened to perceive  
and discern spiritual things, Eph. 1: 16-18. But this cure is  
wrought in this life but in part, 1 Cor. 13: 12. And in this cure,  
by a supply of a principle of saving light unto our minds, there are  
many degrees. For some have a clearer light than others, and thereby  
a more clear discerning of the mystery of the wisdom of God, and of  
the glory of Christ therein. But whatever be our attainments herein,  
that which obstructs this light, which hinders it from shining in a  
due manner, that obstructs and hinders faith in its view of the  
glory of Christ. And this is done by the remainders of corrupted  
nature in us, when they act in any prevalent degree. For they darken  
the mind, and weaken it in its spiritual operations. That is, where  
any corrupt and inordinate affections, as love of the world, cares  
about it, inclinations unto sensuality, or the like spiritual  
disorders, do prevail, faith is weakened in its spiritual acts,  
especially in discerning and beholding the glory of Chris. For the  
mind is rendered unsteady in its inquiries after it, being  
continually distracted and diverted with vain thoughts and  
 Persons under the power of such distemper may have the same  
doctrinal knowledge of the person of Christ, his office, and his  
grace, with other men, and the same evidence of its truth fixed on  
their minds; but when they endeavour a real intuition into the  
things themselves, all things are dark and confused unto them, from  
the uncertainty and instability of their own minds.  
 This is the sum of what I do design. We have by faith a view of  
the glory of Christ. This view is weak and unsteady, from the nature  
of faith itself, and the way of its proposal unto us as in a glass,  
in comparison of what by sight we shall attain unto. But, moreover,  
where corrupt lusts or inordinate affections are indulged unto,  
where they are not continually mortified, where any one sin has a  
perplexing prevalence in the mind, faith will be so far weakened  
thereby, as that it can neither see nor meditate upon this glory of  
Christ in a due manner. This is the reason why the most are so weak  
and unstable in the performance of this duty; yea, are almost  
utterly unacquainted with it. The light of faith in the minds of men  
being impaired, clouded, darkened, by the prevalence of unmortified  
lusts, it cannot make such discoveries of this glory as otherwise it  
would do. And this makes the preaching of Christ unto many so  
unprofitable as it is.  
 Secondly, In the view of the glory of Christ which we have by  
faith, it will fill the mind with thoughts and meditations about  
him, whereon the affections will cleave unto him with delight. This,  
as was said, is inseparable from a spiritual view of his glory in  
its due exercise. Every one that has it, must and will have many  
thoughts concerning, and great affections to him. See the  
description of these things, Phil. 3: 8-10. It is not possible, I  
say, that we should behold the glory of his person, office, and  
grace, with a due conviction of our concernment and interest  
therein, but that our minds will be greatly affected with it, and be  
filled with contemplations about it. Where it is not so with any, it  
is to be feared that they "have not heard his voice at any time, nor  
seen his shape," whatever they profess. A spiritual sight of Christ  
will assuredly produce love unto him; and if any man love him not,  
he never saw him, - he knows him not at all. And that is no love  
which does not beget in us many thoughts of the object beloved. He,  
therefore, who is partaker of this grace, will think much of what  
Christ is in himself, - of what he has done for us, - of his love  
and condescension, - of the manifestation of all the glorious  
excellencies of the divine nature in him, exerted in a way of  
infinite wisdom and goodness for the salvation of the church.  
Thoughts and meditations of these things will abound in us, if we  
are not wanting unto the due exercise of faith; and intense,  
inflamed affections unto him will ensue thereon; at least they will  
be active unto our own refreshing experience. And where these things  
are not in reality (though in some they may be only in a mean and  
low degree), men do but deceive their own souls in hopes of any  
benefit by Christ or the gospel.  
 This, therefore, is the present case: - Where there are prevailing  
sinful distemper or inordinate affections in the mind, such as those  
before mentioned, as self-love, love of the world, cares and fears  
about it, with an excessive valuation of relations and enjoyments, -  
they will so far cumber and perplex it with a multitude of thoughts  
about their own objects, as shall leave no place for sedate  
meditations on Christ and his glory. And where the thoughts are  
engaged, the affections, which partly excite them and partly are led  
by them, will be fixed also," Col. 3: 1, 2.  
 This is that which, in the most, greatly promoteth that  
imperfection which is in our view of the glory of Christ by faith,  
in this life. According to the proportion and degree of the  
prevalence of affections, corrupt, earthly, selfish, or sensual,  
filling the heads and hearts of men with a multitude of thoughts  
about what they are fixed on or inclined unto; so is faith  
obstructed and weakened in this work and duty.  
 Wherefore, whereas there is a remainder of these lusts, as to the  
seeds of them, in us all, - though more mortified in some than in  
others, yet having the same effects in the minds of all, according  
to the degree of their remainder, - thence it is, as from an  
efficacious cause of it, that our view of the glory of Christ by  
faith is in many so weak, imperfect and unsteady.  
 Thirdly, We have interruption given unto the work of faith herein  
by the temptations of Satan. His original great design, wherever the  
gospel is preached, is to blind the eyes of men, that the light of  
the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not  
shine unto them, or irradiate their minds, 2 Cor. 4: 4. And herein  
he prevails unto astonishment. Let the light of the gospel in the  
preaching of the Word be never so glorious, yet, by various means  
and artifices, he blinds the minds of the most, that they shall not  
behold any thing of the glory of Christ therein. By this means he  
continues his rule in the children of disobedience. With respect  
unto the elect, God overpowers him herein. He shines into their  
hearts, to give them the knowledge of his glory in the face of  
Christ Jesus, verse 6. Yet will not Satan so give over. He will  
endeavour by all ways and means to trouble, discompose, and darken  
the minds even of them that believe, so as that they shall not be  
able to retain clear and distinct views of this glory. And this he  
does in two ways.  
 1. With some he employs all his engines, uses all his methods of  
serpentine subtlety, and casts in his fiery darts so to disquiet,  
discompose, and deject them, as that they can retain no comfortable  
views of Christ or his glory. Hence arise fears, doubts, disputes,  
uncertainties, with various disconsolations. Hereon they cannot  
apprehend the love of Christ, nor be sensible of any interest they  
have therein, or any refreshing persuasions that they are accepted  
with him. If such things sometimes shine and beam into their minds,  
yet they quickly vanish and appear. Fears that they are rejected and  
cast off by him, that he will not receive them here nor hereafter,  
do come in their place; hence are they filled with anxieties and  
despondencies, under which it is impossible they should have any  
clear view of his glory.  
 I know that ignorance, atheism, and obstinate security in sensual  
sins, do combine to despise all these things. But it is no new thing  
in the world, that men outwardly professing Christian religion, when  
they find gain in that godliness, should speak evil of the things  
which they know not, and corrupt themselves in what they know  
naturally, as brute beasts.  
 2. With others he deals after another manner. By various means he  
seduceth them into a careless security, wherein they promise peace  
unto themselves without any diligent search into these things.  
Hereon they live in a general presumption that they shall be saved  
by Christ, although they know not how. This makes the apostle so  
earnest in pressings the duty of self-examination on all Christians,  
2 Cor. 13: 5, "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove  
your own selves: know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ  
is in you, except ye be reprobates?" The rule of self-judging  
prescribed by him is, whether Christ be in us or no; and in us he  
cannot be, unless he be received by that faith wherewith we behold  
his glory. For by faith we receive him, and by faith he dwelleth in  
our hearts, John 1: 12; Eph 3: 17.  
 This is the principal way of his prevailing in the world.  
Multitudes by his seduction live in great security under the utmost  
neglect of these things. Security is granted to be an evil  
destructive of the souls of men; but then it is supposed to consist  
only in impenitence for great and open sins: but to be neglective of  
endeavouring an experience of the power and grace of the gospel in  
our own souls, under a profession of religion, is no less  
destructive and pernicious than impenitence in any course of sin.  
 These and the like obstructions unto faith in its operations being  
added unto its own imperfections, are another cause whence our view  
of the glory of Christ in this world is weak and unsteady; so that,  
for the most part, it does but transiently affect our minds, and not  
so fully transform them into his likeness as otherwise it would.  
 It is now time to consider that sight which we shall have of the  
glory of Christ in heaven, in comparison of that which we have here  
below. Now this is equal, stable, always the same, - without  
interruption or diversion. And this is evident, both in the causes  
or means of it, as also in our perfect deliverance from every thing  
that might be a hindrance in it, or an obstruction unto it.  
 1. We may consider the state of our minds in glory. The faculties  
of our souls shall then be made perfect, Heb 12: 23, "The spirits of  
just men made perfect." (1.) Freed from all the clogs of the flesh,  
and all its influence upon them, and restraint of their powers in  
their operation (2.) Perfectly purified from all principles of  
instability and variety, - of all inclinations unto things sensual  
and carnal, and all contrivances of self-preservation or  
advancement, - being wholly transformed into the image of God in  
spirituality and holiness. And to take in the state of our bodies  
after the resurrection; even they also, in all their powers and  
senses, shall be made entirely subservient unto the most spiritual  
actings of our minds in their highest elevation by the light of  
glory. Hereby shall we be enabled and fitted eternally to abide in  
the contemplation of the glory of Christ with joy and satisfaction.  
The understanding shall be always perfected with the vision of God,  
and the affections cleave inseparably to him; - which is  
 The very essential faculties of our souls, in that way and manner  
of working which, by their union with our bodies, they are confined  
unto, are not able to comprehend and abide constantly in the  
contemplation of this glory. So that, though our sight of it here be  
dim and imperfect, and the proposal of it obscure; yet, from the  
weakness of our minds, we are forced sometimes to turn aside from  
what we do discern, as we do our bodily eyes from the beams of the  
sun when it shines in its brightness. But in this perfect state they  
are able to behold and delight in this glory constantly with eternal  
 But "as for me," saith David, "I will behold thy face in  
righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy  
likeness," Ps. 17: 15. It is Christ alone who is the likeness and  
image of God. When we awake in the other world, with our minds  
purified and rectified, the beholding of him shall be always  
satisfying unto us. There will be then no satiety, no weariness, no  
indispositions; but the mind, being made perfect in all its  
faculties, powers, and operations, with respect unto its utmost end,  
which is the enjoyment of God, is satisfied in the beholding of him  
for evermore. And where there is perfect satisfaction without  
satiety, there is blessedness for ever. So the Holy Spirit affirms  
of the four living creatures, in the Revelation, "They rest not day  
and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," chap. 4: 8.  
They are continually exercised in the admiration and praises of God  
in Christ without weariness or interruption. Herein shall we be made  
like unto angels.  
 2. As our minds, in their essential powers and faculties, shall be  
enabled to comprehend and acquiesce in this glory of Christ; so the  
means or instrument of the beholding of it is much more excellent  
than faith, and in its kind absolutely perfect; as has impart been  
before declared. This is vision or sight. Here we walk by faith;  
there, by sight. And this sight is not an external aid, like a glass  
helping the weakness of the visive faculty to see things afar off;  
but it is an internal power, or an act of the internal power of our  
minds, where with they are endowed in a glorified state. Hereby we  
shall be able to "see him face to face, - to see him as he is," in a  
direct comprehension of his glory; for this sight or visive power  
shall be given us for this very end, - namely, to enable us so to  
do. Hereunto the whole glory of Christ is clear, perspicuous, and  
evident; which will give us eternal acquiescence therein. Hence  
shall our sight of the glory of Christ be invariable and always the  
 3. The Lord Christ will never, in any one instance, on any  
occasion, so much as one moment, withdraw himself from us, or  
eclipse the proposal and manifestation of himself unto our sight.  
This he does sometimes in this life; and it is needful for us that  
so he should do. "We shall ever be with the Lord," 1 Thess. 4: 17, -  
without end, without interruption. This is the centre of good and  
evil as to the future different states of men. They shall be for  
ever. Eternity makes them absolutely good on the one hand, and  
absolutely evil on the other. To be in hell under the wrath of God  
is in itself the greatest penal evil; but to be there for ever,  
without the intermission of misery or determination of time, is that  
which renders it the greatest evil unto them who shall be in that  
condition. So is eternity the life of future blessedness. "We shall  
ever be with the Lord," without limitation of time, without  
interruption of enjoyment.  
 There are no vicissitudes in the heavenly state. The new Jerusalem  
has no temple in it; "for the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are the  
temple thereof," Rev. 21: 22. There is no need of instituted means  
of worship, nor of ordinances of divine service; for we shall need  
neither increase of grace nor excitations unto its exercise; the  
constant, immediate, uninterrupted enjoyment of God and the Lamb  
supplieth all. And it has no need of the sun nor of the moon to  
shine in it; for the glory of God does enlighten it, and the Lamb is  
the light thereof. The light of the sun is excellent; howbeit it has  
its seasons; - after it has shone in its brightest lustre, it gives  
place to the night and darkness. So is the light of the moon of  
great use in the night; but it has its seasons also. Such is the  
light we have of the glory of God and the Lamb in this world.  
Sometimes it is as the light of the sun, which, under the gospel, is  
sevenfold, as the light of seven days in one in comparison of the  
Law, Isa. 30: 26; sometimes as the light of the moon, which giveth  
relief in the night of temptations and trials. But it is not  
constant; we are under a vicissitude of light and darkness, - views  
of Christ, and a loss of him. But in heaven the perpetual presence  
of Christ with his saints makes it always one noon of light and  
 4. This vision is not in the least liable unto any weakening from  
internal defects, nor any assaults from temptations, as is the sight  
of faith in this life. No doubts or fears, no disturbing darts or  
injections, shall there have any place. There shall no habit, no  
quality, no inclination or disposition remain in our souls, but what  
shall eternally lead us unto the contemplation of the glory of  
Christ with delight and complacency. Nor will there be any defect in  
the gracious powers of our souls, as unto a perpetual exercise of  
them; and as to all other opposing enemies, we shall be in a  
perpetual triumph over them, 1 Cor. 15: 55-57. The mouth of iniquity  
shall be stopped for ever, and the voice of the self-avenger shall  
be heard no more.  
 Wherefore, the vision which we shall have in heaven of the glory  
of Christ is serene, - always the same, always new and indeficient,  
wherein nothing can disturb the mind in the most perfect operations  
of a blessed life. And when all the faculties of the soul can,  
without any internal weakness or external hindrances, exercise their  
most perfect operations on the most perfect object, - therein lies  
all the blessedness which our nature is capable of.  
 Wherefore, whenever in this life we attain any comfortable,  
refreshing view of the glory of Christ by the exercise of faith on  
the revelation of it, with a sense of our interest therein, we  
cannot but long after, and desire to come unto, this more perfect,  
abiding, invariable aspect of it. 

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