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hath declared him," John i. 18. that is, the Son of God assuming our nature, and in that nature forming a medium of communication, hath come forth from the invisibility of Jehovah to make known the mind and will of God. He is himself the visible Jehovah, God made visible through the medium of the manhood, according to that scripture, ,66 in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," that is, personally. Colos. ii. 9. Hence Christ, as God-man, is the decursus et recursus, gratiarum ; that is, the channel of all communication : for all streams of mercy flow from God, and all returns of praise flow to God in and through him
While, then, all blessings are unceasingly dispensing to the church, here in grace, and above in glory, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ; surely it must form one of the highest sources of enjoyment, as well as give the finishing relish to the whole, to eye him from whom they are received, and through whom they
That union of nature Christ hath with his church, and through whom, be the mercy what it may, it comes to his church, cannot fail to give a double sweetness to it. We receive it personally from Jesus. He is one in our own nature. And the mercy is so peculiarly his to impart, as none but Jesus can impart; so especially the act of his, as God and man to give, as he only who is possessed of both natures can give. So that when at any time the Lord Jesus is making known these love-tokens to any of his people, they may know them, and receive them, and enjoy them as his. The gift is the joint act of both natures in one person. It is the divine love manifested through the medium of human nature, and human love rendered infinitely great and blessed from its union with the divine. His Godhead gives a divine property to all that he bestows; and his manhood, an human quality, so as to assimilate in some measure the blessings he imparts to the nature of those to whom he imparts them; and by both, all become so peculiarly his, and so personally communicable only by himself, as no other could be competent to perform. And while all and every one of them bring with them the fullest love-tokens whose they are, and from whom they come, they manifest no less the pleasure of Jesus in bestowing them on his people, who are “ members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
If I have been happy enough to explain myself on this most interesting subject, and in agreement to divine truth, I need not attempt by any form of words, to observe further the great blessedness which must be for ever opening to the souls of the Lord's people who live in the constant enjoyment of it. Surely to know the Lord Jesus in this personal apprehension of him, cannot fail of becoming in itself a source of unspeakable delight. And when that knowledge is brought into daily, yea, sometimes hourly enjoyment, nothing this side heaven can be equally blessed. This is what John calls fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ," 1 John i. 3.
It is under the conviction of these things that I have ventured to intrude one labour more of mine, in this little work, upon the church of Christ. Hastening fast as I now am to the close of life, these intrusions will soon be over. I see enough to lament in the imperfections of many of those writings of mine gone before, and more especially in my earlier productions, and which I pray the Lord to pardon. The present yolume is, I hope, the result of a more ripened judgment. And though conscious as I am that many errata will be found in it, yet I rather wished to send it forth as it is, than not send it at all. If the Lord, the gracious Head of his church, shall deign to smile upon it, so as to make it in the smallest degree useful to one of his little ones which believe in him, and to make the savour of his name precious by it, I shall find abundant cause to bless him for his mercy.
I beg, however, it may be perfectly understood, (though I should hardly think it necessary to make the observation) that the very idea of visits to and from Jesus, must be supposed to imply the knowledge of and acquaintance with Jesus. For even in the common circumstances of life, men do not visit those to whom they are unknown, and with whom they are unacquainted. Unbidden, uninvited visitors, and more especially if their sentiments and manners differ from
our own, can expect no welcome ; yea, there could be · no pleasure in such society. To whom Jesus is unknown, he cannot be beloved. And where there is no love, there will be no real fellowship. It is the world's ignorance of him, which is the cause of all the world's sorrow. But where there is a oneness of heart and affection between Jesus and the soul, if what he loves we love, and what he hates we hate; if his Father be our Father, and his people our people; this sameness of mind will carry with it a sameness of affection, and we shall take part in all that belongs to him. The language of our hearts will go forth in words like those of Ruth to Naomi, when she said, “ intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me,” Ruth i. 16, 17.
And as the church now below will shortly join the church which is above, and in the mean time the interests, connections, and rights of both, are one and the same; all one in him, and all by him, who is the glorious head of his whole body the church; it must form a very blessed part of church communion, to keep
up and maintain, by every possible means the Lord affords, an intercourse while here upon earth with the great objects of heaven. Ere long we hope eternally to dwell with the blessed society of that happy country. Shortly we shall see the King in his beauty, face to face, and know even as we are known. And what so sweet as now by anticipation to realize by faith, what then will be manifested in open vision ? Visits to and from Jesus will blessedly tend to make familiar the knowledge of Jesus. And when death comes and takes away every intervening object to the sight of Jesus, our disembodied spirits will then behold him, with whom by faith we have been daily accustomed to converse, and a fulness of joy will break in upon the soul. It was blessedly said by an old disciple of this kind, when dying, “ I shall change my place (said he) but not my company." And we have it upon record of one still higher taught, who in the near prospect of Jesus in glory, cried out,“ as for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness,” Ps. xvii. 15.
I will detain the reader no longer by way of introduction, than only to add a prayer to Him, the welfare of whose church (if I know any thing of my own heart) I desire above all things to seek; that his blessing may go before and follow after this humble work, and cause the sweet savour of Jesus' name from its ministry, to be spread in the church upon earth, as the Lord's presence becomes the everlasting perfume of the whole church in heaven. Precious, precious Lord Jesus! I would say, realize in the daily, hourly visits of thy grace, all the sweet love-tokens of thy favour to thy people. Cause thereby in my poor soul, and in the souls of all thy redeemed, an increasing, acquaintance with thee, and an increasing desire after thee. And let the daily visits of my Lord upon earth make me long for the hour when my God will come to take me home to the
everlasting enjoyment of himself in heaven. And oh! when the chariot wheels of Jesus are heard approaching, and that well known voice, though never sweetly and loudly heard before, shall be heard once more through all the chambers of my soul, “ the master is come, and calleth for thee!” Oh! then for faith's last act in the strength of the Lord, to go forth in the disembodied spirit to meet “ the Lord in the air, and so for ever to be with the Lord.” Surely, saith Jesus, I come quickly! Amen, may my soul answer, even so come Lord Jesus !
A MORNING VISIT FROM JESUS.
It was in a moment of sweet spiritual enjoyment, when grace was in lively exercise, that the church exclaimed," it is the voice of my beloved ! behold he cometh."
How is the voice of Jesus discernible? There must be a certain somewhat by which it is known from every other. Jesus saith, “ my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me!" John X. 27. Indeed, the love calls of Jesus cannot be mistaken. When a prince condescends to visit any of his poor subjects, the thing is soon known by the train of servants which he brings with him. And when the Lord Jesus comes to the habitations of his redeemed ones, the graces which follow him soon manifest Jehovah-shammah, the Lord is there, Ezek. xlviii. 35.
Let the reader ascertain this point by his own standard. He that knows the Lord can be no stranger to the visits of the Lord. Sometimes he comes in a word of power : and then how easily discoverable is his presence ? He opens our heart as he opened the heart of Lydia, to attend to the things spoken, Acts xvi. 14. " I shall never forget thy precepts,” said one of old.