John Brown.

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"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man
cometh unto the Father, but by me." - JOHN XIV. 6.

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* * * * *


The Author to the Reader



Introduction, with some general observations from the cohesion.


Of the words themselves in general.


How Christ is the Way in general. "I am the Way."


How Christ is made use of for Justification as a Way.


How Christ is to be made use of, as the Way, for sanctification in


How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to the killing and
crucifying of the Old Man.


How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to growing in grace.


How to make use of Christ for taking the guilt of our daily
out-breakings away.


How to make use of Christ for cleansing of us from out daily spots.


Some generals proposed.


More particularly in what respect Christ is called the Truth.


Some general uses from this useful truth, that Christ is the Truth.


How to make use of Christ as the Truth, for growth in knowledge.


How to make use of Christ, as Truth, for comfort, when truth is
oppressed and borne down.


How to make use of Christ for steadfastness, in a time when truth is
oppressed and borne down.


How to make use of Christ as the Truth, when error prevaileth, and the
spirit of error carrieth many away.


How to make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may get our case and
condition cleared up to us.


How we shall make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may win to right
and suitable thoughts of God.


"And the Life." How Christ is the Life.


Some general uses.


How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the believer is so sitten-up
in the ways of God, that he can do nothing.


How Christ is to be made use of as our Life, in case of heartlessness
and fainting through discouragements.


How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the soul is dead as to duty.


How shall the soul make use of Christ, as the Life, which is under the
prevailing power of unbelief and infidelity.


How Christ is made use of as the Life, by one that is so dead and
senseless, as he cannot know what to judge of himself, or his own case,
except what is naught.


How is Christ, as the Life, to be applied by a soul that misseth God's
favour and countenance.


How shall one make use of Christ as the Life, when wrestling with an
angry God because of sin?


No man cometh to the Father but by me.


How should we make use of Christ, in going to the Father, in prayer, and
other acts of worship?


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Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the
building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;
as it ought to be the principal concern of all who have not sitten down
on this side of Jordan to satisfy their souls (once created for, and in
their own nature requiring, in order to satisfaction, spiritual,
immortal, and incorruptible substance,) with husks prepared for beasts,
to be built in and upon this corner-stone, for an habitation of God,
through the Spirit; so it ought to be the main design and work of such
as would be approven of God as faithful labourers and co-workers with
God, to be following the example of him who determined not to know
anything among those he wrote unto, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.
O! this noble, heart-ravishing, soul-satisfying mysterious theme, Jesus
Christ crucified, the short compend of that uncontrovertibly great
mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the
spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the
world, received up into glory, wherein are things the angels desire to
look unto, or with vehement desire bend, as it were, their necks, and
bow down their heads to look and peep into, (as the word used, I Pet. i.
12, importeth) is a subject for angelical heads to pry into, for the
most indefatigable and industrious spirits to be occupied about. The
searching into, and studying of this one truth, in reference to a
closing with it as our life, is an infallible mark of a soul divinely
enlightened, and endued with spiritual and heavenly wisdom; for though
it be unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,
yet unto them who are called, it is Christ the power of God, and the
wisdom of God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the
weakness of God is stronger than men. O what depths of the manifold
wisdom of God are there in this mystery! The more it is preached, known,
and believed aright, the more it is understood to be beyond
understanding, and to be what it is - a mystery. Did ever any preacher or
believer get a broad look of this boundless ocean, wherein infinite
wisdom, love that passeth all understanding, grace without all
dimensions, justice that is admirable and tremendous, and God in his
glorious properties, condescensions, high and noble designs, and in all
his perfections and virtues, flow over all banks; or were they ever
admitted to a prospect hereof in the face of Jesus Christ, and were not
made to cry out, O the depth and height, the breadth and length! O the
inconceivable, and incomprehensible boundlessness of all infinitely
transcendent perfections! Did ever any with serious diligence, as
knowing their life lay in it, study this mysterious theme, and were not
in full conviction of soul, made to say, the more they promoved in this
study, and the more they descended in their divings into this depth, or
soared upward in their mounting speculations in this height, they found
it the more an unsearchable mystery! The study of other themes (which,
alas! many who think it below them to be happy, are too much occupied
in) when it hath wasted the spirits, wearied the mind, worn the body,
and rarified the brain to the next degree unto a distraction, what
satisfaction can it give as to what is attained, or encouragement as to
future attainments? And when, as to both these, something is had, and
the poor soul puffed up with an airy and fanciful apprehension of having
obtained some great thing, but in truth a great nothing, or a nothing
pregnant with vanity and vexation of spirit, foolish twins causing no
gladness to the father, "for he that increaseth knowledge increaseth
sorrow," Eccles. i. 18. What peace can all yield to a soul reflecting on
posting away time, now near the last point, and looking forward to
endless eternity? Oh the thoughts of time wasted with, and fair
opportunities of good lost by the vehement pursuings and huntings after
shadows and vanities, will torment the soul by assaulting it with
piercing convictions of madness and folly, in forsaking all to overtake
nothing; with dreadful and soul-terrifying discourses of the saddest of
disappointments, and with the horror of an everlasting and irrecoverable
loss. And what hath the laborious spirit then reaped of all the travail
of his soul, when he hath lost it? But, on the other hand, O what
calmness of mind, serenity of soul, and peace of conscience, because of
the peace of God which passeth all understanding, will that poor soul
look back, when standing on the border of eternity, on the bygone days
or hours it spent in seeking after, praying and using all appointed
means for some saving acquaintance with, and interest in this only soul
up-making, and soul-satisfying mystery; and upon its yielding up itself,
through the efficacious operations of the Spirit of grace, wholly,
without disputing, unto the powerful workings of this mystery within;
and in becoming crucified with Christ, and living through a crucified
Christ's living in it, by his Spirit and power. And with what rejoicing
of heart, and glorious singing of soul, will it look forward to
eternity, and its everlasting abode in the prepared mansions,
remembering that there its begun study will be everlastingly continued,
its capacity to understand that unsearchable mystery will be
inconceivably greater; and the spiritual, heavenly and glorious joy,
which it will have in that practical reading its divinity without book
of ordinances, will be its life and felicity for ever? And what peace
and joy in the Holy Ghost, what inward inexpressible quiet and
contentment of mind will the soul enjoy in dwelling on these thoughts,
when it shall have withal the inward and well-grounded persuasion of its
right through Christ, to the full possession of that all which now it
cannot conceive, let be comprehend; the foretastes whereof filleth it
with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the hope of shortly landing
there, where it shall see and enjoy, and wonder and praise, and rest in
this endless and felicitating work, making it to sing while passing
through the valley and shadow of death? O if this were believed! O that
we were not drunk to a distraction and madness, with the adulterous-love
of vain and airy speculations, to the postponing, if not utter
neglecting, of this main and only up-making work, of getting real
acquaintance with, and a begun possession of this mystery in our souls,
Christ, the grand mystery, formed within us, living and working within
us by his Spirit, and working us up into a conformity unto, and an
heart-closing with God manifested in the flesh, that we may find in
experience, or at least in truth and reality, have a true transumpt of
that gospel mystery in our souls! Oh, when shall we take pleasure in
pursuing after this happiness that will not flee from us, but is rather
pursuing us! when shall we receive with joy and triumph, this King of
glory that is courting us daily, and is seeking access and entry into
our souls! Oh, why cry we not out in the height of the passion of
spiritual longing and desire, O come Lord Jesus, King of glory, with
thine own key, and open the door, and enlarge and dilate the chambers of
the soul, that thou may enter and be entertained as the King of glory,
with all thy glorious retinue, to the ennobling of my soul, and
satisfying of all the desires of that immortal spark? Why do we not
covet after this knowledge which hath a true and firm connexion with all
the best and truly divine gifts. O happy soul that is wasted and worn to
a shadow, if that could be, in this study and exercise, which at length
will enliven, and, as it were, bring in a new heavenly and spiritual
soul into the soul, so that it shall look no more like a dead
dis-spirited thing out of its native soil and element, but as a free,
elevated, and spiritualized spirit, expatiating itself and flying abroad
in the open air of its own element and country. O happy day, O happy
hour that is really and effectually spent in this employment! What would
souls, swimming in this ocean of pleasures and delights care for? Yea,
with what abhorrency would they look upon the bewitching allurements of
the purest kind of carnal delights, which flow from the mind's
satisfaction in feeding on the poor apprehensions, and groundlessly
expected comprehensions of objects, suited to its natural genius and
capacity? O what a more hyperbolical exceeding and glorious satisfaction
hath a soul in its very pursuings after (when it misseth and cannot
reach) that which is truly desirable! How doth the least glimpse through
the smallest cranie, of this glorious and glorifying knowledge of God in
Christ, apprehended by faith, raise up the soul to that pitch of joy and
satisfaction which the knowledge of natural things, in its purest
perfection, shall never be able to cause; and to what a surmounting
measure of this joy and contentation will the experiencing and feeling,
by spiritual sense, the sweet and relish of this captivating, and
transcendently excellent knowledge raise the soul unto? O must not this
be the very suburbs of heaven to the soul! When the soul thus seeth and
apprehendeth God in Christ, and that as its own God through Christ, (for
as all saving knowledge draweth out the soul unto an embracing and
closing with the object, so it bringeth in the object to the making up
of the reciprocal union and in-being) it cannot but admire with
exultation, and exult with admiration, at that condescendence of free
grace that hath made it, in any measure, capable of this begun glory,
and will further make it meet, by this begun glory, to be a partaker of
the inheritance of the saints in light. And what will a soul that hath
tasted of the pure delights of this river of gospel manifestations, and
hath seen, with soul-ravishing delights, in some measure, the manifold
wisdom of God wrapped up therein; and the complete and perfect symmetry
of all the parts of that noble contexture, and also the pure design of
that contrivance to abase man, and to extol the riches of the free grace
of God, that the sinner, when possessed of all designed for him and
effectuated in him thereby, may know who alone should wear the crown and
have all the glory; what, I say, will such a soul see in another gospel
(calculated to the meridian of the natural, crooked, and corrupt temper
of proud men, who is soon made vain of nothing, which, instead of
bringing a sinner, fallen from God through pride, back again to the
enjoyment of him, through a Mediator, doth but foster that innate plague
and rebellion, which and procured his first excommunication from the
favour, and banishment out of the paradise of God,) that shall attract
its heart to it, and move it to a compliance with it? When the poor
sinner that hath been made to pant after a Saviour, and hath been
pursued to the very ports of the city of refuge by the avenger of blood,
the justice of God, hath tasted and seen how good God is, and felt the
sweetness of free love in a crucified Christ, and seen the beauty and
glory of the mystery of his free grace, suitably answering and
overcoming the mystery of its sin and misery; O what a complacency hath
he therein, and in the way of gospel salvation, wherein free grace is
seen to overflow all banks, to the eternal praise of the God of all
grace. How saltless and unsavoury will the most cunningly-devised and
patched-together mode of salvation be, that men, studying the perversion
of the gospel, and seeking the ruin of souls with all their skill,
industry, and learning, are setting off with forced rhetoric, and the
artifice of words of man's wisdom, and with the plausible advantages of
a pretended sanctity, and of strong grounds and motives unto diligence
and painfulness, to a very denying and renouncing Christian liberty,
when once it is observed, how it entrencheth upon, and darkeneth lustre,
or diminisheth the glory of free grace, and hath the least tendency to
the setting of the crown on the creature's head, in whole or in part?
The least perception, that hereby the sinner's song, "ascribing
blessing, honour, glory, and power unto him that was slain, and hath
redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation; and hath made them, unto their God, kings and
priests," shall be marred, will be enough to render that device
detestable, and convince the soul, that it is not the gospel of the
grace of God and of Christ, but rather the mystery of iniquity. What a
peculiar savouriness doth the humbled believer find in the doctrine of
the true gospel-grace, and the more that he be thereby made nothing, and
Christ made all; that he in his highest attainments be debased, and
Christ exalted; that his most lovely peacock feathers be laid, and the
crown flourish on Christ's head; that he be laid flat, without one foot
to stand upon, and Christ the only supporter and carrier of him to
glory; that he be as dead without life, and Christ live in him, the more
lovely, the more beautiful, the more desirable and acceptable is it unto
him. O what a complacency hath the graced soul in that contrivance of
infinite wisdom, wherein the mystery of the grace of God is so
displayed, that nothing appeareth from the lowest foundation-stone to
the uppermost cope-stone but grace, grace, free grace making up all the
materials, and free grace with infinite wisdom cementing all? The
gracious soul can be warm under no other covering but what is made of
that web, wherein grace, and only grace, is both wooft and warp; and the
reason is manifest, for such an one hath the clearest sight and
discovery of his own condition, and seeth that nothing suiteth him and
his case but free grace; nothing can make up his wants but free grace;
nothing can cover his deformities but free grace; nothing can help his
weaknesses, shortcomings, faintings, sins, and miscarriages but free
grace. Therefore is free grace all his salvation and all his desire. It
is his glory to be free grace's debtor for evermore; the crown of glory
will have a far more exceeding and eternal weight, and be of an
hyperbolically hyperbolic and eternal weight, and yet easily carried and
worn, when he seeth how free grace and love hath lined it, and free
grace and free love sets it on and keeps it on for ever; this makes the
glorified saint wear it with ease, by casting it down at the feet of the
gracious and loving purchaser and bestower. His exaltation is the
saint's glory, and by free grace, the saints receiving and holding all
of free grace, is he exalted. O what a glory is it to the saint, to set
the crown of glorious free grace with his own hands on the head of such
a Saviour, and to say, "Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thee, even
unto thee alone, be the glory for ever and ever." With what delight,
satisfaction, and complacency will the glorified saint, upon this
account, sing the redeemed and ransomed their song? And if the result
and effect of free grace will give such a sweet sound there, and make
the glorified's heaven, in some respects, another thing, or at least, in
some respect, a more excellent heaven than Adam's heaven would have
been; for Adam could not have sung the song of the redeemed; Adam's
heaven would not have been the purchase of the blood of God; nor would
Adam have sitten with Christ Redeemer on his throne; nor would there
have been in his heaven such rich hangings of free grace, nor such
mansions prepared by that gracious and loving husband, Christ, who will
come and bring his bought bride home with him. Seeing, I say, heaven,
even upon the account of free grace, will have such a special, lovely,
desirable, and glorious lustre, O bow should grace be prized by us now!
How should the gospel of the grace of God be prized by us! What an
antipathy to glory, as now prepared and dressed up for sinful man, must
they shew, whose whole wits and parts are busied to darken the glory of
that grace, which God would have shining in the gospel; and who are at
so much pains and labour to dress up another gospel, (though the apostle
hath told us, Gal. i. 7, that there is not another,) wherein
gospel-grace must stand by, and law-grace take the throne, that so man
may sacrifice to his own net, and burn incense to his own drag, and may,
at most, be grace's debtor in part; and yet no way may the saved man
account himself more grace's debtor, than the man was who wilfully
destroyed himself in not performing of the conditions; for grace, as the
new gospellers, or rather gospel-spillers mean and say, did equally to
both frame the conditions, make known to the contrivance, and tender the
conditional peace and salvation. But as to the difference betwixt Paul
and Judas, it was Paul that made himself to differ, and not the free
grace of God determining the heart of Paul by grace to a closing with
and accepting of the bargain. It was not grace that wrought in him both
to will and to do. It was he, and not the grace of God in him; what is
more contradictory to the gospel of the grace of God? And yet vain man
will not condescend to the free grace of God. Pelagianism and
Arminianism needeth not put a man to much study, and to the reading of
many books, to the end it may be learned, (though the patrons hereof
labour hot in the very fires, to make their notions hang together, and
to give them such a lustre of unsanctified and corrupt reason, as may be
taking with such as know no other conduct in the matters of God,) for
naturally we all are born Pelagians and Arminians. These tenets are
deeply engraven in the heart of every son of fallen Adam. What serious
servant of God findeth not this, in his dealing with souls, whom he is
labouring to bring into the way of the gospel? Yea, what Christian is
there, who hath acquaintance with his own heart, and is observing its
biasses, and corrupt inclinations, that is not made to cry out, O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from these dregs of
Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Jesuitism, which I find yet within my
soul? Hence, it may seem no wonderful or strange thing (though, after so
much clear light, it may be astonishing to think, that now, in this age,
so many are so openly and avowedly appearing for this dangerous and
deadly error,) to us, to hear and see this infection spreading and
gaining ground so fast, there needeth few arguments or motives to work
up carnal hearts to an embracing thereof, and to a cheerful acquiescing
therein; little labour will make a spark of fire work upon gunpowder.
And, methinks, if nothing else will, this one thing should convince us
all of the error of this way, that nature so quickly and readily
complieth therewith. For who, that hath an eye upon, or regard of such
things, seeth not what a world of carnal reasonings, objections,
prejudices, and scruples, natural men have in readiness against the
gospel of Christ; and with what satisfaction, peace, and delight they
reason and plead themselves out of the very reach of free grace; and
what work there is to get a poor soul, in any measure wakened and
convinced of its lost condition, wrought up to a compliance with the
gospel-way of salvation? How many other designs, projects, and essays
doth it follow, with a piece of natural vehemency and seriousness,
without wearying, were it even to the wasting of its body and spirits,
let be its substance and riches, before it be brought to a closing with
a crucified Mediator, and to an accounting of all its former workings,
attainments, and painful labourings and gain, as loss for Christ, and
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and as dung that it may
win Christ, and be found in him, not having its own righteousness, which
is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 7-9. And may it not
seem strange, that now, after so many have found, through the grace of
God, the sweet experience of the gracious workings of the gospel-grace
of God upon their hearts, and so are in case, as having this witness
within them, to give verdict against those assertions, yea, more, and
many more than were in several ages before; yet Satan should become so
bold as to vent these desperate opinions, so diametrically opposite to
the grace of God declared in the gospel, and engraven in the hearts of
many hundreds by the finger of God, confirming, in the most undoubted
manner, the truth of the gospel doctrines. This would seem to say, that
there are such clear sunshine days of the gospel, and of the Son of Man
a-coming (and who can tell how soon this night shall be at an end?) that
all these doctrines of nature shall receive a more conspicuous and
shameful dash than they have received for these many ages. Hithertil
when Satan raised up and sent forth his qualified instruments for this
desperate work, God always prepared carpenters to fright these horns,
and thus gospel truth came forth, as gold out of a furnace, more clear
and shining: And who can tell but there may be a dispensation of the
pure grace of God, in opposition to these perverting ways of Satan, yet
to come, that, as to the measure of light and power, shall excel

Online LibraryJohn BrownChrist: The Way, the Truth, and the Life → online text (page 1 of 28)