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cxix. 132, “ Look thou upon me,” that is, with a propitious, favourable aspect, “and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.” All have mercies, but all have not tender mercies, of which David makes great account : * this distinguishing kindness and especial favour create a spiritual life.
4. There is one thing more which this favour imports, namely, the sense and feeling of this favour of God in the soul, produced by a delightful and satisfying manifestation of it to the soul. This David intends, Psalm cxix. 58, “I entreated thy favourt with my whole heart,” that is, David longs not only for the fruits of God's favour in his soul, but the shining of God's face upon him, the sweet assurance of God's special love: Psalm xxxi. 16, “ Make thy face to shine upon thy servant,” which elsewhere is called the beauty of the Lord. † This David makes the reason of that one thing begged, that he might dwell in God's house ; and all God's servants have sought for it, and looked upon it as their life, light, help, and health. Psalm lxxx. 3, “ Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.” And Psalm lxvii. 1, 2, “ God be merciful to us, and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.” It is an expression borrowed from men, that when they are well pleased with their friends, they look cheerfully upon them, which begets joy and comfort in their drooping acquaintance : Prov. xvi. 15, “ In the light of the king's countenance is life, and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.” Even so when God beholds his children with a cheerful countenance, it animates, exhilarates, and revives their drooping spirits. So * Psalm lxix. 16. + Heb. face. # Psalm xc. 16, 17. xxvii. 4.
saith David, Psalm iv. 6, 7, “ Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us : thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.” David opposeth God's favour to the vast multitudes of his enemies, and instead of armies, he begs God's favour may be lifted up on his soul as a banner, for so the words import; as if he had said, men have their friends and confederates to be kind auxiliaries to them, but I desire no other comfort than thy favour for me, * and the sense and assurance of thy love to me; shew that thou hast a regard for me, and the brightness of thy smiling face will scatter mine enemies as a mist, or at least dispel those black clouds that sit upon my benighted spirit, and will bring day-light. O the joy that this creates! not in face, but in heart, true, full, intimate, and satisfying: this is the only reviving aqua vite to the fainting spirits, that fetcheth a soul from death to life; the storms of God's wrath kill the soul's comfort, and nip the buds of our hopes, but the sweet beams of divine love in the spring-time of God's gracious return, put life into the disconsolate soul; even as a child is thunderstruck by his angry Father's frowns, but revived by friendly, affectionate smiles. This favour of God begets another life of divine joy, pleasure, and satisfaction: this is the life of heaven, a feeding upon the grapes of Canaan ; this is a blessed paradise, a little corner in the heavenly Jerusalem ; this is with the beloved disciple to lie on Jesus' bosom; this is to have the joys of his salvation. It is true, this is not every one's privilege, but sometimes God doth graciously indulge his servants with the comfort of these sensible foretastes of heaven. When that eminent Scotch divine, Mr. Robert Bruce, in his dying moments, was asked by his friends
* Attolle in vexillum lucem vultus tui.
how it was with him, he answered, "When I was young I was diligent, and lived by faith in the Son of God; but now I am old, and not able to do much, yet he condescends to feed me with sensible enjoyments. And indeed this kind of life is, as it were, a kind of life of spiritual sense: Psalm lxxxix. 15–17, “ Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound : they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.—In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.” These two things, I suppose, are meant in this text, namely, the favour of distinguishing mercy which begets spiritual life in real saints, and the favour of God manifested to the soul, which creates a comfortable, joyful life: both these David intends here, especially the latter. If you ask further, whose favour this is in which is life? I answer, the favour of all the persons in the sacred Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost : you have them all mentioned in the valedictory benediction prescribed for the Priests, Numb. vi. 24–26. The Lord bless thee and keep thee: “Let God the Father, the fountain of blessings, the preserver of his creatures, bless thee with spiritual blessings, give thee grace, and preserve it in thee.” The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee : “ Let God the Son, the Sun of Righteousness irradiate thy soul with beams of gospel light and love, and shine into thy heart with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."* The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace : “ Let the good Spirit of God the Comforter bring the report of God's love to thee, make thy calling and election sure, apply to thee
2 Cor. iv. 6.
redeeming grace, and give thee the comfort thereof.” The apostle expresses himself thus: “ The peace of God that passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen." This New Testament benediction answers to that in the Old, and both imply the peculiar blessings proper to these persons of the Trinity, and which are distributed to God's people. Yet withal we must take that rule which divines have laid down, that the works of the Trinity ad extra, with respect to things without, are undivided, and common to all the persons of the Trinity ;t because the essence is common to all the persons, so are essential works. Hence creation is ascribed to the Son, redemption to the Father, sanctification both to Father and Son, as well as to the Holy Ghost. Hence divines lay down another rule, that one and the same operation in reference to the creature, in different respects may be either personal or essential ; so Christ's incarnation inchoatively is an essential operation common to the Trinity, but terminatively, it is the personal operation of the Son alone. But how we may conceive of God in worship, or how to expect good from the persons of the Trinity, I shall say no more; but refer you to that choice man of God, and great instrument of good, Mr. Durham, in his Exposition of Revel. on ch. i. fol. 9–20.
One thing more I must add, that there is no saving favour shown by God to men, but only through Jesus Christ the sole mediator of the covenant. It is only by Christ that God is reconciled to sinners, Christ is the
* Phil. iv. 7. 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
+ Opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa, seu omnibus personis communia.
great propitiation by whom an atonement is made : * God is through his sufferings and intercession pacified, and now at last shews himself friendly and favourable to believing souls; for he saith, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”—Matt. iii. 17. In whom, not only with his person, actings, sufferings, but through him, with all that come to God by him; Eph. i. 6, “ To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted, or acceptable, in the beloved,” that is, in Jesus Christ the Son of his love. Never did one stream of grace issue out for sinners since the fall, but in this channel; never did
any beam of God's favour savingly enlighten, enliven, or rejoice a believer's heart, but in the face of Jesus Christ. Man having lost God's favour by the fall, he will not act propitiously towards him again or receive him into favour, but in this gospel way of atonement.
THE FAVOUR OF GOD CONSIDERED AS LIFE.
II. How is the favour of God said to be life ? As his favour and life have been already described, I proceed to observe, that his favour is
The cause, the object, the rule, and the end of life.
1. God's favour is the cause of life ; for “ every good thing comes down from the Father of lights.”— James i. 17. Every good gift of nature, accomplishment or accommodation, owns God's favour for its author, and every perfect gift of special grace, comfort
* 2 Cor. v. 18. Col. i. 20, 21. Rom. iii. 25.