Excerpted from Sermon 7 of Christ’s Eternal Existence, Published 1685.
John 20.27,28: Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him,
My Lord and my God.
Those that are rightly conversant about Christ, and the mysteries of his death and resurrection, should take Christ for their Lord and their God. Every one of them should say, My God, on whom I depend; my Lord, to whose use I resign myself. I shall—
1.Explain in what sense these words may and ought to be used.
2.Give you the reasons why it becomes Christians to be able to say, ‘My Lord, my God.’
1.In what sense these words may and ought to be used, ‘My Lord, and my God.’ There are two things considerable in those words:—
[1.]An appropriation or a claim, and challenge of interest in him.
[2.]A resignation or dedication of ourselves to his use and service.
Both are implied in these titles, ‘My Lord, my God.’ Christ was his God or benefactor, and also his Lord and Master. However that be in the mutual stipulation of the covenant, it is evident:Cant. 2.16, ‘I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.’ There is the appropriation of faith, and the resignation of obedience: Ezek. 36.28, ‘Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God;’ Zech. 13.9, ‘I will say, It is my people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God.’
(1.)The one is the fruit and effect of the other. God saith, ‘Iam thy God;’ and the soul answereth, ‘I am thy servant.’ As when Christ said, ‘Mary,’ she presently said, ‘Rabboni.’ God awakeneth us by the offer of himself and all his grace to do us good, and then we devote ourselves to his service, and profess subjection to him. If he will be our God, we may well allow him a dominion and lordship over us, to rule us at his pleasure. We choose him, because he chooseth us, for all God’s works leave their impression upon our hearts—he cometh with terms of peace, and we with profession of duty. God loveth first, and most, and purest, and therefore his love is the cause of all.
(2.)The one is the evidence of the other. If God be yours, you are his. He is yours by gift of himself to you, and you are his by gift of yourselves to him. The covenant bindeth mutually. Many will be ready to apply, and call God their God, that do not dedicate and devote themselves to God. If you be not the Lord’s, the Lord is not yours. He refuseth their claim that say, Hosea 8.2, ‘Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good.’ In their distress they pleaded their interest in the covenant, but God would not allow the claim, because they denied obedience.
(3.)The one is more sensible and known to us than the other. A believer cannot always say God is mine, but he will always say, I am his: Psalm 119.94, ‘I am thine, save me.’ I am thine, and will be thine, only thine, wholly thine, and always thine. Appropriation hath more of a privilege in it, resignation is only a duty. We have leave and allowance to say God is my God, but we cannot always say it without doubt and hesitancy, because our interest is not always alike evident and clear. When you cannot say, My God, yet be sure to say, My Lord. We know God to be ours by giving up ourselves to be his. His choice and election of us is a secret till it be evidenced by our choice of him for our God and portion—our act is more sensible to the conscience. Be more full and serious in the resignation of yourselves to him, and in time that will show you your interest in God.
(4.)God’s propriety in us by contract and resignation speaketh comfort,as well as our propriety and interest in God. You are his own,and therefore he will provide for you and care for you: 1 Tim. 5.8,‘If any provide not for his own, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’ Interest doth strangely endear things to us. ‘The world will love its own,’ John 5.19; and will not God love his own, and Christ love his own? John 13.1. You may trust him, and depend upon him, and serve him cheerfully, for you are his own. So that if we had no interest in God established by the covenant, if God had not said to us, I am yours, yet our becoming his would make it comfortable. For every one taketh himself to be bound to love his own, provide for his own, and to defend his own, and do good to his own. Indeed, God is ours, as well as we are his; but our being his draweth along with it much comfort and blessing. But to speak of these apart:—
(1st.)The appropriation or claim of interest is a sweet thing. If God be your God, why should you be troubled? Psalm 16.5,6, ‘The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, and of my cup. Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage.’ You have a right to God himself, and may lay claim to all that he hath for your comfort and use. His attributes yours, his providences yours, his promises yours, what may not you promise yourselves from him? Support under all troubles, relief in all necessities. You may take hold of his covenant, Isa. 56.4, and lay claim to all the privileges of it. It is all yours.
(2nd.)This dedication, this resignation of ourselves to God’s use, to beat his disposing without reservation or power of revocation, is often spoken of in scripture: Isa. 44.5, ‘One shall say, I am the Lord’s,another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand to the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.’ The meaning is, to give up their names to God, to be entered into his muster-roll, and to be listed in his service: Rom. 6.13, ‘Yield up yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead.’ It is the immediate fruit of grace and new life infused in us. A natural man liveth to himself, to please himself, and give satisfaction to his own lusts. Grace is a new being and life, that inclines us to live and act for God. As soon as this life is begotten in us by the power of his Spirit, our hearts are inclined towards God, and you devote yourselves to serve and please him. As your work and business was before to serve the devil, the world, and the flesh, so now to please, serve, and glorify God.
Secondly,The reasons why it becometh Christians to be able to say, ‘My Lord,my God.’
1.Because our interest in him is the ground of our comfort and confidence. It is not comfortable to us that there is a God,and that there is a Lord, that may be terrible to us. The devils believe, and the damned spirits feel there is a God and there is a Lord; but their thoughts of God is a part of their misery and torment, James 2.19. The more they think of God, the more their horror is increased; to own a God, and not to see him as ours, the remembrance of it will be troublesome to us: 1 Sam. 30.6, ‘David comforted himself in the Lord his God.’ There was the comfort, that he had a God to go to when all was lost, and that God was his God. So Hab. 3.18, ‘I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.’ If God be our God, we have more in him than trouble can take from us. So Luke 1.47, ‘My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’ When you make particular application to yourselves, it breeds strong comfort.
2.Because nothing strikes upon the heart with such an efficacy, as what nearly concerns us affects us most. The love of Christ to sinners in general doth not affect us so much as when it is shed abroad in our own hearts by the Spirit: Gal. 2.20, ‘He loved me,and gave himself for me;’ that draws out our hearts to God again,and is a quickening motive to stir us up to the life of love and faith. So Eph. 1.13, ‘In whom ye trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.’ It is not sufficient to know that the gospel is a doctrine of salvation to others only,but to find it a doctrine of salvation to themselves in particular,that they may apply the promises to their own heart. A Christian is affected most with things according as he is concerned in them himself. It bindeth our obedience the more firmly when we know that we are particularly engaged to God, and have chosen him for our God and our Lord.
3.Because without a real personal entering into covenant, the covenant doth us no good; unless every one of us do choose God for our God and Lord, and particularly own him. Every man must give his hand to the Lord, and personally engage for himself. It is not enough that Christ engage for us in being our surety, but we must take a bond upon ourselves. Something Christ did for us and in our name, he interposed as the surety of a better testament, Heb. 7.22. Something must be done personally by us before we can have benefit by it. You must give up yourselves to the Lord. It is not enough that the church engage for us, but every man must engage his own heart to draw nigh to God: Jer. 30.21, ‘Who is he that engageth his heart to draw nigh to me?’ It is not enough that our parents did engage for us, Deut. 29.10-12. They did in the name of their little ones avouch God to be their God, as we devote,dedicate, and engage our children to God in baptism; but no man can savingly transact this work for another. We ratify the covenant in our own persons, 2 Cor. 9.13, by a professed subjection to the gospel of Christ. This is a work cannot be done by a proxy, or assignees; unless we personally enter into covenant with God for ourselves, our dedication by our parents will not profit us, we shall be as children of the Æthiopians unto God, Amos 9.7; though children of the covenant, all this will not serve—these are visible external privileges. But there is something required of our persons,every one must say for himself, ‘My Lord, and my God.’ And this must not only be done in Words, and by some visible external rites that may signify so much. As for instance, coming to the Lord’s Supper, that is the new testament in Christ’s blood, Luke22.20. It is interpretativè—a sealing the new covenant between Christ and us. God giveth, and you take the elements as a pledge and token that God and you are agreed. That he will give you himself, his Christ, and all his benefits; and you will walk before him in newness of life. Now to rest in the ceremony, and neglect the substance, is but a mockery of God. As many rend the bond yet prize the seal, care much for the sacrament, that never care for the duty it bindeth them unto. If your hearts be hearty and well with God, you come now personally to enter into covenant with him; but this business must not be done only externally, but internally also. It is a business done between God and our souls, though no outward witnesses be conscious to it. God cometh speaking to us by his Spirit in this transaction: Psalm35.3, ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ And we speak to God, Lam. 3.24, ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.’ There is verbum mentis, as well as verbum oris. This covenant is carried on in soul language: Psalm 16.21, ‘O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord.’ So Psalm 27.8, ‘When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.’ The Lord offereth or representeth himself as our Lord,and we profess ourselves to be the Lord’s. No eye seeth, or ear heareth what passeth between God and the soul. Now, without this personal inward covenanting, all the privileges of the covenant will do us no good. And this personal inward covenanting amounts to full as much as ‘My Lord, my God.’ Therefore it concerneth every one of us to see whether we have thus particularly owned Christ; if there have been any treaty between God and our souls; and whether it came to any conclusion, and particular soul engagement; that you could thus own Christ, not only as God and Lord,but as your God and your Lord.