JOHN xvii. 24.
I HAVE spoken to the first two things in the matter of Christís prayer in this verse. 1. His naming of the persons he prayed for: Those whom thou hast given me. 2. His name of the blessing he prays for to them: That they may also be with me where I am. Christ would not be in heaven alone; he cannot be without his ransomed ones. He had sent many to heaven by his grace, before he came into the world, Acts xv. 11. He hath been still drawing multitudes of them, since he went back to heaven, John xii. 32. And he will shortly return again from heaven, to gather them all and every one, in soul and body, and carry them all home to his Fatherís house, John xiv. 2, 3.
It follows to speak of the third thing in the matter of this prayer. And that is, The end for which Christ desires this blessing for those persons. It is, That they may behold my glory which thou hast given me. Deep words! and deeper matter! What is rendered, my glory, is in the original, the glory that is mine, with a special emphasis. This being the main and deepest thing in these words, I must insist the more upon it.
There are three expressions in this prayer of Christís glory.
1. In ver. 5. The glory I had with thee before the world was. This he prayeth for. This glory that the Son had from eternity with the Father, was that glory which he had as the eternal, natural, and essential Son of God, which far passeth created understanding. But now this Son of God had taken on manís nature, and in that nature had done his work of redemption, and fulfilled his Fatherís will and commission to him: (for our Lord speaks as if he had done all, when it was so near finishing): now, I say, when he is going again out of the world to his Father, as John xvi. 28. he prays, that he, as man, and successful Mediator, may be admitted to, and possessed of that glory, which he, as the Son of God, from eternity possessed with the Father; and which was not interrupted, but vailed only, in and by his bumbled state on earth. But this is too deep for us; but well understood by him that prayed for it, and who hath been long possessed of it.
2. In ver. 22. we have another expression of Christís glory: And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them. This is another glory than the former. This was given to him by the Father, and given to his people by the Son. It was given to him, that it might be given to others by him; as his receiving gifts for men, Psal. lxviii. 18. is called his giving gifts to men, Eph. iv. 8. He received, that he might give. And great is Christís glory, both in the fulness he received, and in his giving, and our receiving out of his fulness. All fulness dwelleth in him, Col. i. 19.; and all the receiving of his people are out of that fulness, John i. 16.
3. In our text we have the third expression of Christís glory. And it is spoke of in three words. 1. It is my glory; ďmine specially and properly.Ē 2. It is my glory which thou hast given me. 3. It is a glory to be beheld by his people. And this is what I would speak unto.
This prayer of Christ, that his people may behold his glory, doth respect three things; which I would first dispatch.
1. It respects Christís glory in itself. It wants (if I might say so) to be displayed and seen. This Sun of Righteousness (as he is called, Mal. iv. 2.) wants a dark world to shine upon, and would have eyes to look to his glorious light. He calls men to behold him: Isa. lxv. 1, 2. I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. He at last will be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe; and he cometh in his glory for that end, 2 Thess. i. 10. And all he doth in and for his people, is, ver. 12. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. What a vast difference is there betwixt the glory that Christ gives us, and the glory he gets from us! We have nothing to give; or if we had, and gave, we can add nothing to his glory; but he not only gives to us, and adds to us, but he is all in all to us, Col. iii. 11. Yet so gracious is he, that if you put a perishing soul into his hand to save, if you bring your vile sores to him to be healed, therein he will be glorified. Christ is honoured in his calling specially.
2. This word respects his people and their happiness. Not only is Christ glorified in his peopleís beholding of his glory, but in this beholding of it, they are made happy. There was never a believer that ever had so large a faith, or a heart so enlarged and inflamed with love, as to be able fully to take up what warm love, and what a high and great design was on our Lordís heart in putting up this petition for them. Believers on Jesus Christ, make no doubt but that he means well for you. Great things are designed by him for you, and more than you can imagine, in this prayer for you, that you may behold his glory when you are with him where he is.
3. This word respects the eternal work and employment of his people, when they are with him where he is. If any ask, What shall they do? how shall they be employed through the ages of eternity? Christ answers it here, They shall behold my glory; work that they shall never come to an end of; work they shall never weary in; and work that they shall have as little mind to weary of, as they shall have cause or reason to be weary in: for every view of his glory will dart in fresh bliss unto the beholders of it.
There are two things to be discoursed on from this part of the text. 1. What is the glory of Christ given, to him to be beheld in heaven? 2. What is the beholding of this glory by his people in heaven?
I shall not enter on any of them this day; but would prepare your hearts to think of them. These two questions, What Christís glory is? and, What the beholding of it in heaven is? are neither of them to be fully answered in this life. Christís glory would be but a small glory, if either the heart of man could conceive it fully, or the tongue of man could express it all. If the glory that Christ hath prepared for his people be such as 1 Cor. ii. 9. how much more must Christís own glory be? There was a man as able to tell as ever any was; and that was Paul. He had been long exercised in the study of Christ, and in preaching of him: yet he, when an old man, and in bonds for Christ, Eph. vi. 20. speaks thus, Eph. iii. 8. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And surely the riches of Christ are both those riches of grace and glory that he is possessed of, and the riches that he enricheth his people with here and in heaven. Is not this a strange text? and is it not a strange preaching that is made on an unsearchable theme? Yet, for all he knew, and for all he taught, Christís riches were still unsearchable even to Paul; though it is just to think, that he did dive deeper in them than any man since. Christís riches, in Paulís eyes, were like a vast heap of gold, that no man could count; or like the vast ocean, whose drops none can measure or tell: and Paul did preach them the better that he saw them to be unsearchable. But if this man should be caught up to heaven, and come again to the earth, would he not be able to tell strange things then? So it was with Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 1,-7. But what saith he of it? ver. 4. He heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Any Christian may safely think, that though there be a vail cast on these visions and revelations of the Lord, to Paul, as he calls them, ver. 1. yet the main thing revealed, was the glory of Christ. But it was revealed in such a light, as was not fit to shine on earth; and therefore the apostle saith no more of it, but only tells us what he felt after it; both his great danger, and his sharp cure, ver. 7, 8, 9.
But though Christís glory in heaven, and the beholding of it, be things within the vail, and cannot be fully known by us till we be there; yet we must not lay aside all thoughts and inquiries about them while we are here. There are means and ways that God hath appointed, that we should use for knowing them. By his blessing some knowledge of them is got: and this knowledge is necessary to all, and of great advantage to them that attain it.
I would therefore give you a few things more remotely about this great subject.
1. There is a discovery made to us in the word, of the glory of Christ. And there only are we to study it. It is the glory of the written word of God, that the glory of Christ is revealed in it, and to us only in and by it. We must not study to know Christ, we must not search into his glory, but in that light. There are three ways that some use, that are vain and unprofitable. 1. One is, by the works of Godís creation and providence, Psalm xix. l,-7. These do discover plainly the being of God, and his eternal power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20. and declare his wisdom and goodness. But nothing of Christís glory is, or can be learned in and by the old creation. Such as talk of a gospel preached to the heathen by sun, moon, and stars, give them an office their Creator never made them for, or put them in. And if they that teach such doctrine, pretend to be Christians, surely they must have both a low and a false scheme of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, as it is called, 1 Tim. i. 11. 2. Another way is, by menís own wisdom. That noble power in man is quite dark, and dull, and blind, about Christ and his glory. It can do somewhat in its own sphere and orb; it can search into the earth, and mount up to heaven, and can contemplate Godís glorious works. But it can never find out Jesus Christ, nor see his glory: 1 Cor. i. 20, 21. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? for after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, (that is, savingly), it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. The gospel is, the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, 1 Cor. ii. 7.; and the substance of it, Christ, is the main and greatest part of this mystery, 1 Tim. iii. 16. Both these are weak, vain means to know Christ by. 3. There is another way, that is not only unprofitable, but wicked; and that is the way of idolatry. And the whole of Popery is of this sort. They use many crafty devices to discover Christís glory to the blind people. They have pictures of Christ, as on the breasts, as on the cross; as in glory in heaven. But instead of making Christís glory known to men, they, by these cursed devices, darken his glory, disgrace the Lord Christ, crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame.
The word of God then is the only light in which Christís glory shineth; and in this only light must we inquire into it. In other matters, there are many truths and things that are demonstrable by light, as well as they are asserted in the word of God. But about Christ and his glory, natureís light, works of creation, and manís natural wisdom, can give no help; and therefore we should not call in their assistance. It is only Godís word that can help in this great inquiry, and it we should use.
2. The only eye wherewith Christ and, his glory can be seen, is the eye of faith. The only mental eye by which. the spiritual glory of Christ can be seen, is faith. ó Faith is sometimes opposed to sight, as sight is taken for full enjoyment, 2 Cor. v. 7.; and faith is sometimes expressed by sight, as faith is a real apprehending of its object; as Heb. xi. 1, 13, 27., 2 Cor. iii. 18., and iv. 18. and in innumerable places, both in the Old and New Testament. And this eye is simply needful, even where the light of Godís word shineth most. The Jews had the Old Testament; and yet knew not Christ, and saw no glory in him, as was foretold of them, Isa. liii. 2, 3. They saw him, and yet believed not, but hated him. So it is with all men to whom the gospel cometh, until faith be given. No eye but that of faith, can see and take up Christ and his glory; for two causes. 1. Christ and his glory is out of our sight now. And, 2. It is always beyond the reach of any power in us, but faith given by God. Christís glory did once pass before menís eyes; but none saw it but believers, John i. 14. and 1 John i. 1, 2. Could any thing but faith take up Christís glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth? Could any but a believer see him, and call him eternal life, when he was made of no reputation? At the last day Christ and his glory will make a great appearance, when he comes in his glory, and sits on the throne of his glory, Matth. xxv. 31. But at that day (though all the nations be gathered together) there will be no faith, neither on his right nor left hand. What a strange word is this? and what a strange day will that be? All the saved will have no faith, nor have any need of it, nor use for it. Sight and love puts an end to their faith. And all the damned shall be no more unbelievers; for sight and fear of Christís glory will eternally remove their unbelief: Rev. i. 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him; and all kindred, of the earth shall wail because of him; even so, Amen. But from Christís going to heaven, till his return to judge the world, faith is the only eye that can savingly take up Christ and his glory.
3. This eye of faith is only of Christís giving. No man is born with it; it grows up in no man by nature; no means, nor minister, nor any creature, can give it. It is only Christís gift; it is by his Spirit, Eph. i. 17, 18.; it is the fruit of his eye-salve, Rev. iii. 18. All men are darkness, till made light in the Lord, Eph. v. 8. There are two things always done by Christ together, when he works faith. 1. He manifests and reveals himself and, 2. Gives an eye to see him and his glory. No man can see Christ by his own power, nor can he see Christ against Christís will: If he hide himself, who then can behold him! Job xxxiv. 29. If the sun shine, and the man have eyes, and them opened, he doth and must see, and never until then.
4. This eye of faith that Christ giveth, is of great advantage and use to them that receive it; as 1 John v. 20. And we know that the Son of God is come, (how do you know it?), and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true; (that understanding, and the knowing of Christ, is faith): and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. I would name some advantages that attend the gift of faith, to the praise of the giver, and the profit of the receivers of this gift.
1st, The first life comes in this way. When Christ works faith in the heart, the new life is begun in the soul. The man that gets faith, and is made a believer, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life, John v. 24.: and this life is from the hearing of the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear, shall live, ver. 25; Christ hath a voice to send forth, that can make the born deaf hear, and the dead live. But how is it in the acting of this faith wrought by Christ? We have a notable place for this in John iii. 14, 15. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that, whosoever believeth: in him, should not perish, but have eternal life. Our Lord is here teaching Nicodemus, a weak but honest beginner, and he teacheth him wisely, and teacheth him great things. He teacheth the corruption of nature, the absolute necessity of regeneration; that this regeneration is from the Holy Spirit of God, who therein works sovereignly, secretly, and effectually. He then preacheth himself to him, as he that came down from heaven, and was in heaven, ver. 13. He did not understand Christís doctrine of regeneration: Christ puts him to greater mysteries about his person, and his mission from heaven. We may think, that he that said about the former, How can these things be? might be more puzzled to know how Christ was to save sinners, and how they were to use him for salvation. Both these Christ teacheth him in ver. 14, 15. and more fully afterwards in that chapter to ver. 22. And this he doth by a type, that no Israelite was ignorant of, though few masters in Israel did rightly understand it. The plain and full sense of it is this: As Moses (at Godís command and appointment) lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, that every Israelite, stung by the fiery serpents, might look to it and live, as in Numb. xxi. 6,-9.; so Christ, the Son of man, is lifted up upon the cross, that every sinner, stung by sin, and the curse of Godís law, might look to him by faith, and live for ever. The Israelites were to use the lifted-up serpent, by looking on it, as the only ordinance of God for their healing: and were to use neither salve nor plaister for the fiery serpentís deadly stings. So the stung sinner must use a crucified Christ, as the only ordinance of God for life, and eternal life; and that life comes to him only by this look of faith.
2dly, All the believerís growth and increase in grace and life, is by believing beholding of the grace and glory of Christ. When the apostle is exhorting to growth in grace, as the sure preservative against apostasy, 2 Pet. ii. 8. he adds, Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As if he had said, ďIf you would grow in grace, you must also grow in the knowledge of Christ.Ē Yea, when he is speaking of the greatest attainments in grace, 2 Pet. ii. 18. he tells this is the fruit of them: They make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But more directly Paul teacheth us, how faith advanceth the Christian in his new life; 2 Cor. iii. 18. But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. We all: it is not only I, Paul, whom you may think singularly privileged: but all we, who under the dispensation of the gospel, have had the vail taken off our hearts and eyes, we all behold the same glory of Christ, and with the same sort of fruit. Though we do not all behold it in the same clearness and brightness, nor with the same measure of fruit; yet all that do truly behold his glory, are truly made conformable to him. If no likeness to Christís image be wrought in you, you make it to be justly suspected, that it is, either not the right Lord you behold, or not the right eye you behold him with, or that it is not a right glass you behold him in. For where all three are right, the fruit of likeness to Christ never faileth.
3dly, All the peace, and comfort, and joy of heart, which believers have in this life, come in by believing beholding of Christ, and of his grace and glory. Joy and peace fills the heart by believing, Rom. xv. 13. What can distress a believer when Christís glory is seen? and what can quiet his heart, when a dark cloud and vail is on his glory? No storm can be on a Christian, and no fear can disquiet him so, but that word, spoke with Christís power will comfort, Matth. xiv. 27. Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid. Thus were they made to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, who loved him, and believed on him they had not seen, 1 Pet. i. 8.
So much for the fourth thing, That the eye of faith, and its exercise is of great advantage to a Christian.
5. The beholding of the glory of Christ by the eye of faith, is the greatest and surest test of menís state that can be. They that have it, are true Christians; for thus are they made such; as 1 John v. 20. They that never saw Christís glory, remain still in the pit of condemned nature, where darkness and death do rule.
6. and lastly, The beholding of Christís glory by faith, as it is revealed in the gospel, is a good help to understand what the beholding of his glory in heaven is: for it is the same Christ, the same glory of Christ, that is beheld in earth and in heaven. Only this glory shines in another manner in heaven, and is beheld with another and higher eye than faith; though faith is the best eye, and the gospel the best glass, on earth. On this I would shew how impossible it is, that an unbeliever, that never saw Christís glory in the gospel, can have any right apprehension of the beholding his glory in heaven.
1st, Consider what heaven is. The Lord of it tells us, it is in being with him where he is. Now, that man that never knew what Christís company on earth is, can never know what his company in heaven is. Speak to him of heaven, as a state of rest and happiness, where no crosses, nor death, nor trouble, can be; this the natural man can know and relish. But Christís true heaven, and Christís picture of it in the word, are as dark and disgustful to an unbeliever, as Christís yoke and burthen is. But to a believer, whom the Lord hath chosen, and caused to approach to him, Psal. lxv. 4.; who hath been oft made to say, Psal. lxxiii. 28. It is good for me to draw near to God; and can say, as 1 John i. 3. Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: to such, I say, being with Christ where he is, hath another light in his mind, and another gust in his heart.
2dly, The work of heaven, to behold Christís glory, cannot be understood by an unbeliever, no more than a born blind man can know what pleasure and profit is in beholding the glory and light of the sun. And if such would and could search their hearts, they would find; and if they were ingenuous, they would own the truth, (as some of them in blasphemy do say), that the gospel-discovery of heaven is dark and disgustful to them; they neither know it nor love it. It is hid from their blinded eyes, and cross to their carnal hearts.
3dly, They know not the title to heaven; how a man comes by a right to it, and enters into the possession of it. And that is, by free grace in Jesus Christ. And this is no small part of Christís glory, and of believersí happiness, that it is so. This title is only to be perceived by faith. The same grace that we owe the forgiveness of sin to, we owe the possessing of glory to, Acts xxvi. 18. By that same grace that we are welcomed to Christís house of grace on earth, Rom. v. 2. by the same grace we are welcomed into Christís house of glory above. It is grace brought to us, 1 Pet. i. 13.; it is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, Jude, ver. 21. But an unbeliever, who hath no knowledge nor relish of this blessed tenure to glory by free grace, what fit and right thoughts can he have of heaven? All men are by nature ignorant of the true heaven, of the true way to it, of the true work and bliss in it, and of the only title to it, and tenure of it ; and therefore need what the apostle prays for in Eph. i. 17, 18, 19.
APPLICATION. Although you may think it preposterous, to speak any thing in application, before we enter upon the doctrine itself; yet, as what hath been said, is but introductory to what I intend (if the Lord will) further to speak on this great subject, so what I say now in application, shall be accordingly managed.
The text we have before us, is about the beholding of Christís glory in heaven. I have been shewing you, that it is simply necessary to any right understanding of this great bliss, that a man do know, in his experience, somewhat of the beholding of Christís glory by faith in this life. Without this, no words that men can speak about this, can be understood by natural men 1 Cor. ii. 14. For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned. I may truly say, that no natural man doth, or can understand this verse. It is grievous and shameful, to see and read what blundering confused work many wise and learned men, but destitute of that mind and Spirit of Christ that led Paul in writing of it, make of this verse; when it is plain and bright, though deep, to every ordinary Christian. Now, the glory of Christ, and the beholding of it, are of the deepest of the deep things of God, ver. 10. How then can a natural man receive them, know them, or discern them? He is without that spiritual faculty by which only they can be rightly entertained. It is a dangerous and hurtful practice to the church of God, to the souls of men, and to the truths of God (and not a few are guilty of it, and many smart by it), for men to endeavour to bring down the deep mysteries of the gospel unto the sense and gust of a natural unrenewed man. It is sure, that they that teach, should teach plainly; and they that write, should make the vision plain, that he may run that readeth it, Hab. ii. 2. But they must still speak, or write, as the oracles of God, 1 Pet. iv. 11. and as stewards of the mysteries of God, 1 Cor. iv. 1. If, as it is undoubted, we cannot bring up the natural manís understanding unto the deep things of God; we must not essay to bring down the depths of God unto their natural blindness. This were to degrade the things of the Spirit of God, and to delude the sinner. But let us study to declare Godís mind in his word, as plainly as we can, to natural men that hear us; and withal tell them, that the things themselves, of which we speak as plainly as we can, are beyond their reach; that they may know that the things of God are deep, and they themselves are blind, till the Spirit of Christ open the understanding, and open the scriptures unto them; as he did to his disciples, Luke xxiv. 32, 45.
My work at this time shall be, to offer you some helps to try yourselves, and to find this out, Whether ever you have beheld the glory of Christ in the gospel? You have the gospel-glass, and most of you think you have the eye of faith also. My question that I put to your consciences, is, Have you seen his glory in the gospel by faith? If you have, then you will find three things:
1. Wherever Christís glory is seen by faith, it is always seen as singular, transcendent, and matchless. So it is in itself, and so it is seen by all that do behold it. Paul calls his knowledge of Christ, the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord, Phil. iii. 8. And that you may not think that he thought he had a great deal of it, and that you might know that Paul is rather commending Christís excellency, than the measure of his attainments in the knowledge of Christ; he tells us in ver. 10,-14. how small an opinion he had of what he had attained, in respect of what he wanted, and followed, and pressed after. If ever you had a true view of Christís glory, you will judge, that there is no glory like it. What you formerly thought glorious, you will then say of it, as 2 Cor. iii. 10. For even that which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excelleth. And the apostle is there speaking of the most outwardly glorious appearance that ever God made in the world, in giving the law. And as he saith again, of that that is most glorious in the eyes of one that knows not Christ, his own righteousness, in Phil. iii. 8, 9. he calls it, and all things else, loss and dung, compared with Christ. And so will every man that seeth Christ with any thing of Paulís eye. For illustration: Suppose a man blind from the womb, had his eye-sight given him by God, as it was, in John ix.; suppose that his sight were given him in the night, and in the house, he would doubtless wonder at the light of candles: but if he went abroad, and saw the stars in the firmament, or if the moon did shine, this would be more glorious still: yet when the morning dawneth, and when the sun riseth and shineth, would not the man think, ďSurely I never saw such a glorious light before?Ē Fire and candles on earth, and moon and stars in heaven, have no such light as the sun. So will it be unto them to whom the Sun of Righteousness ariseth with healing in his wings, Mal. iv. 2. with salvation in his beams. He will say, ďNo glory like Christís glory, no man like him; no angel, no creature, like him.Ē If Christís glory hath not disgraced all other glory save his own, you have either seen little of it, or none at all.
2. When the glory of Christ is seen by faith, desires of seeing more of it rise in the heart. What the preacher saith in general about seeing, in Eccl. i. 8. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, is justly applicable to this spiritual eye in beholding Christís glory. It is not satisfied, nor ever will, till the believer is with Christ where he is, and beholds his glory there. Paul had many and singular views of Christís glory, and yet is studying Christ still. If you knew Christ as well as Paul did, you would be of his mind: yea, if you have any right beholding of his glory, you will still desire more.
3. He that beholds Christís glory truly, he perceives his own darkness and blindness, and is humbled thereby. You may think this a strange mark; but it is a sure one. It is strange, but most true, that an unbeliever, who hath never heard Christís voice, nor seen his shape, (as Christ saith to the Jews concerning his Father, John v. 27.), may, and many of them do think, that they know Christ, and may say, as Hos. viii. 2. My God, we know thee; ďMy Saviour, I know thee;Ē when a true beholder of Christís glory thinks, that he doth not know him at all, or next to nothing. And those thoughts, are proofs, that the one is quite ignorant of Christ, and that the other is begun to know him. What the apostle saith, 1 Cor. viii. 2. If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know, holds good especially in the knowledge of Christ. A proud conceit of a manís knowing Christ, is a demonstration that the man never saw his glory. Even as if a man should say, ďI have seen the sun in his noon-day glory, and I can stare upon it steadily.Ē Would not any man think, that either this man hath not right eyes, or that he hath not seen the right sun, but only a picture of it, that hath or can have nothing of the true sunís light, and heat, and influence; or that the man lieth grossly? for all know, that the glory of the sun is too great and bright for the sharpest and strongest eye. When a man from the top of a high mountain looks round about him, he can see many miles and many things, if this man have high thoughts of his eyes and sight, you cure him, or he cures himself of that fancy, by trying his sight with the sun; then he seeth what a disproportionate faculty his eye is to this glorious object. So is it with men when they approach Christís glory; then their darkness and blindness is discovered. As in his light we see light, Psal. xxxvi. 9. so by and in this light we see our own darkness. A very wise and good man said, in Prov. xxx. 2, 3, 4. Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have (or know) the knowledge of the holy. ó What is his name, and what is his sonís name, if thou canst tell? It is impossible, that any ray and beam of Christís glory can be rightly taken up by the eye of faith, but the beholder of it is humbled by the sight of it. And the brighter the discovery be, the more humble will it make the man to be. Perfect humility is only in heaven, where the perfect discovery of Christís glory is made by him, and got by the inhabitants. What said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him, John xii 41.? Wo is me, for I am undone, Isa. vi. 5. Why undone? Because I am unclean, and have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. What did the beloved disciple when he had a vision of Christís glory? When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead; and he might have died quite at the sight, unless Christ had laid his right hand upon him, and spoke comfortably to him, Rev. i. 17, 18. What was the fruit of Jobís seeing of the Lord with the seeing of the eye, far beyond all he had heard by the hearing of the ear? Was not this the fruit and effect of it, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes? Job xlii. 5, 6. Thus will it be with you, if you obtain any true discoveries of Christís glory.
Robert Traill (1642-1716): Friend of William Guthrie of Fenwick, attendant of James Guthrie of Stirling on the scaffold, son of the Greyfriars Church manse where the 1638 Covenant was signed, Scot ordained in England, exile in Holland, prisoner on the Bass Rock, scholar, preacher and saint ó Robert Traill lived to span the ripest period of the Puritan age. Distinguished in the classes at Edinburgh University, Traill early felt the inner constraint to preach Christ. Too intimate an association with the younger John Welsh drew the swift displeasure of the civil arm upon him. Denounced as a ĎPentland Rebelí he fled to join the bright galaxy of British divines weathering the storm of Stuart Absolutism in the Low Countries (1667).
Traillís literary output began there. As assistant to Nethenus, professor at Utrecht, he prepared Samuel Rutherford's Examination of Arminianism for the press. Back in London in 1692 he took up his pen, as Isaac Chancy (Owenís successor) and the younger Thomas Goodwin were having to do, to defend the doctrine of Justification against the new Legalism. After serving Presbyterian charges in Kent and London he died at the age of 74.
The Works of Robert Traill are available through the Banner of Truth