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Full text of "The complete works of Stephen Charnock"

OCT i i 1988 

BX 9315 .C427 1864 v. 4 
Charnock, Stephen, 1628- 

The complete works of 

O^-^^U^^ i^U-,*». 









W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University, 
' Edinburgh. 

D. T. K, DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas's Episcopal Church, 

WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby- 
terian Church, Edinburgh. 

6fnfral ©Uitor. 
REV. THOMAS SMITH, M.A., Edinburgh. 


















Christ. ..... John XVII. 3. . 110 

A Discourse op Conviction of Sin. . . John XVI. 8, 9. 164 

A Discourse of Unbeuef, proving it is the 

GREATEST SiN. . . . . JoHN XVI. 9. . 220 

A Discourse of the Misery of Unbelievers. John III. 36. . 296 

A Discourse shewing who are Unbelievers. John VI. 64. . 348 

A Discourse OF THE End of THE Lord's Supper. 1 Cor. XI. 26. . 392 

A Discourse of the Subjects of the Lord's 

Supper. ..... 1 Cor. XL 28, 29. 427 

A Discourse of the Unworthy Receiving of 

the Lord's Supper. . . . 1 Cor. XL 27, 29. 472 

A Discourse of Self-Examination. 
A Discourse of the Knowledge of Christ 
Crucified. .... 

A Discourse of Christ our Passover. 

A Discourse of the Voluntariness of Christ's 
Death. ..... 

A Discourse of the Acceptablenessof Christ's 
Death. ..... 

A Discourse of Obedience. . 

2 Cor. XIII. 5. . 


1 Cor. II. 2. . 


1 Cor. V. 7. . 

, 507 

Eph. V. 2. 


Eph. V. 2. 


John XV. 14. . 




And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus 
Christ, whom thou hast sent. — John XVII. 3. 

This chapter contains Christ's last prayer with his disciples, after his fare- 
well sermon, which began after Judas his departure, John xiii. 31, and ends 
at the end of the 16th chapter. The design of his sermon and that of his 
prayer was one and the same; his discourse to them was, that they might 
have peace in him, John xvi. 33 ; that they might acquiesce in him for 
peace with God ;* that peace of conscience was only to be possessed by the 
knowledge and love of Christ. His prayer for them in their hearing was, 
that they might have a firm and full joy, ver. 13; that they might have an 
antidote against all their fears and troubles they should meet with in the 
world, and a strong foundation for their own supplications to God. Zanchy 
calls it the foundation of the church from the beginning of the world to the 
end of it. It always had, and always will have, its eflScacy for every believer; 
it is a copy left upon the earth of what he doth intercede for as an advocate 
in heaven. By an inspection into it, we may know what Christ is doing 
above ; for it was that his people might have a full joy, a strong cordial in 
all afflictions, desertions, temptations. 

Some think it to be the same with that prayer in the garden ; but that 
opinion hath no firm foundation. f 

(1.) The matter of the prayer is difierent. In this, our Saviour prays for 
his own glorification, for assistance in his approaching passion, and an un- 
loosing afterwards the bands of death by an happy resurrection ; in that, ha 
prays for a removal of the cup which was brewed for him. 

(2.) The gesture is difierent. In this, he lifts up his eyes to heaven, in 
token of a confidence in his Father for the answer of his prayer, with such 
confidence as he hath in heaven in his intercession; in the garden, he fell 
prostrate upon the earth: Mat. xxvi. 39, 'He fell on his face, and prayed.' 
His eyes were towards the earth. 

(3.) His company were not the same. In this, his disciples were with 
him ; in that, he withdrew from his disciples, taking only three with him, 
Mat. xxvi. 37, and presently went aside from them also by himself, ver. 39. 
This prayer they all heard, the other they did not, for sleep had possessed 

* Ferus. f Gerhard, Harm. cap. clxxx. 

4 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

(4.) In this, he prays as Mediator, and pleads the terms of the mediatory- 
covenant, which had been agreed upon before his coming into the world ; 
in that, he prays more like a man from the stragglings of the flesh, as though 
there had been a contest between human nature and his mediatory office. 
In the one, he declares his deity ; in the other, evidenceth his humanity, in 
the infirmities of the flesh. In this, his soul was free from disturbance ; in 
that, * his soul was sorrowful and very heavy, even unto death,' Mat. xxvi. 
37, 38. He prayed then as one standing charged with all our sins, which 
made him bow his head to the ground ; he prayeth here as one that hath 
satisfied for our sins, triumphed over his enemies, and performed his 
Father's will : John xvii. 4, ' I have finished the work which thou gavest 
me to do.' In fine, this prayer in regard of the matter he doth still pursue 
in heaven, the other petition he never did afterwards, nor ever shall reassume 
into his lips. 

If any part of Scripture be to be magnified above another, this seems to 
claim the pre-eminence, it being the breathing out of Christ's heart before 
his departure, for the comfort of his disciples, and the succeeding church to 
the end of the world ; a standing monument of his whole mediatory design, 
and his unalterable love. 

Ver. 1, 'These words spake Jesus, and lift up his eyes to heaven, and 
said. Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also 
glorify thee.' Christ first acted with man in the name of God by teaching,* 
he now acts with God in the name of man by praying. It is a miraculous 
prayer in the person of Christ, who is essentially one with the Father, to 
whom he prays ;f personally one with the Son of man, who prays here to the 

Father. Not our Father, as he had taught us to pray, but Father, to shew 
that the paternity of the Father to him was in another manner than that to 
his people. He was the natural Son of God, believers adopted ones. 

Thy Son. In a way of eminency and peculiarity above others ; thy Son 
by eternal generation, thy Son in his humanity by the grace of personal 

The hour is cotne. The hour of my passion, the hour of thy satisfaction; 
the hour of thy expectation, the hour of my victory and thy glory. I am 
coming to the last upshot of my humiliation, I have managed an obedience 
to thee hitherto with all care and diligence; I am now come to perfect it by 
my death, I will not decline the last act of it; decline not thou, Father, 
the glorifying of me, while I stand as the butt of all thy wrath for the sins of 

Glorify thy Son. Glorify him in his death, by accepting it as the death 
of thy Son for the sins of the world; glorify him in his death, by manifest- 
ing at that time that I am thy Son. God did so by miraculous testimonies 
of his innocency in the time of his passion, by rending of the temple's veil, 
obscurity of the sun, quaking of the earth, and the cleaving of the rocks, 
which made the centurion that guarded him pronounce him to be ' truly the 
Son of God,' Mat. xxvii. 54. 

Glorify him in a resuiTection ; glorify thy Son in his deity, by a manifes- 
tation of it ; glorify thy Son in his humanity, by conferring new endowments 
of honour and immortality upon it. He prays here for a manifestation of 
the glory of his deity, which had been obscured, for an addition of glory to 
- his humanity, which had not been yet enjoyed, by a resurrection and exalta- 
tion of it to the right hnnd of the Father. He prays for a manifestation of 
his deity: * Glorify thy Son.' He was the Son of God by eternal genera- 
* lUyric. in loo. t Gerhard, Harmon, cap. clxxx. 

John X"VII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 5 

tion ; it is the glory of his deity therefore which is here desired by him. 
Not the essential glory of the Deity, for that could not be interrupted ; not 
any addition to it, for, being infinite, he was not capable of it, but a mani- 
festation of it ; not simply in itself, but in his humanity, which had been 
veiled by the flesh ever since he emptied himself into it. He prays to be 
glorified in that state wherein he prays, which was a state of union with the 
human nature. His essential glory could suffer no detriment, his manifes- 
tative did. As the sins of men are said to dishonour God, not that they 
detract from the glory of his essence, which cannot suffer any diminution 
by the sins of men, but as they deny and obscure the manifestation of his 
glory ; the sun suffers no loss of light in its body by the veil of a thick 
cloud, but the brightness of his beams is masked. As the Father was to be 
glorified by Christ, so was Christ to be glorified by the Father. Now, the 
Father could not be glorified by the Son in a way of addition, but manifes- 
tation, causing the glory of God to break out upon the world, which had so 
long been obscm-ed by an universal idolatry. He glorified the Father by a 
manifestation of his name, ver. 4; and in like manner is glorified by the 
Father in the manifestation of his deity. 

That Christ prays here for the glory of his deity as well as of his humanity 
is evident,* because he prays as mediator and priest, desiring a mediatory 
glory ; but he was mediator and priest according to his divine as well as 
human nature, and therefore desires that he might be known to the world, 
not only to be a just and innocent man, but the eternal Son of God, the 
Redeemer of the world, the expiator of sins, and in that work infinitely 
delightful to the Father. 

Glorify thy Son. Glorify him as thy Son, that as thy Son he may glorify 
thee. The Son of God was in the world as a great light in a dark lantern, 
clouded and covered with clay, that though the candle burned, it did not 
appear, but through some crannies. He desires that this thick mist might 
be dispersed, that the glory of his divinity might shine forth in his humanity, 
as a candle through polished glass. The gloiy of Christ was to be manifested 
to be the Son of God : John i. 14, ' We beheld his glory, the glory as of the 
only begotten of the Father;' a gloiy in his resurrection, his ascension, in 
the" mission of the Spirit, which declared him to be no other than the only 
Son of God ; and so verse 22 of this chapter is to be understood, ' The 
glory which thougavestme I have given them.' As it is my glory to be the 
Son of God, so I have given them this glory, to be the sons of God by adop- 
tion, ' that they may be one, as we are one ;' in the same relation of sonship, 
though in a different manner. 

His petition for this gloiy he urgeth by two arguments : 

(1.) One in ver. 1, ' That thy Son also may glorify thee.' The glory of 
the Father was concerned in it, whose justice, wisdom, love (and all the 
attributes so signally manifested in redemption), had lain under as great a 
disguise without the gloiy of Christ, as the deity of the Son did under the 
veil of his flesh. 

(2.) Another,! taken from the happiness and salvation of the elect, ver. 2, 
' As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal 
life to as many as thou hast given him.' Unless the humanity had been 
glorified by a resurrection, there would have been no assurance that the debt 
had been satisfied, and no sure ground of fiiith ; unless he had been exalted 
to the right hand of God as an advocate, there had been no security for our 
debts. His resurrection was necessary to make men believers for what was 
passed, his exaltation was necessary to make them comfortable believers for 
* Zanch. de tribus Elohim, part. i. 1. 4. c. 10. t Zanch. ut supra. 

6 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

the time to come ; and unless hia divine nature had been manifested in the 
mission of the Spirit, and the collation of miraculous gifts, there had been 
no foundation for the propagation of the doctrine of redemption, and so that 
glorious work had lain wrapped up from human view. The other was neces- 
sary as a ground of faith, and this was necessary to the declaration of the 
doctrine of faith, and an incentive to the embracing of it. Since he was 
shortly to die, and be executed under the notion of a criminal, a blasphemer, 
and a wicked man, if he were not raised again, not one would believe in him 
as mediator, and so the glory of the Father, and the salvation of the elect, 
had sunk with the glory of the Son. 

1. The inexpressible care of Christ for the comfort of his people before he 
went out of the world. He had preached to them, he would pray for them 
in their hearing, that their joy might be full. He could not manifest his 
care in an higher manner than by using his power with his Father for their 
good ; here he gives an assurance of the efficacy of his mediation, the certain 
terms wherein he stood with the Father. They might before have ques- 
tioned the truth of those things which he had said unto them ; but there was 
no room for any doubt, when they find him, a little before his death, assert- 
ing the same things to his Father, begging the accomplishment of them. 
Howsoever some of them might suspect the declarations of a man, they would 
not suspect his appeals to God. 

2. The consideration of God's being a Father is the highest ground of 
confidence in prayer, and a strong argument to excite the kindness of God 
towards us. ' Father, glorify thy Son.' It is a glory Christ hath purchased 
for, and given to, every believer, to call God Father : John xx. 17, ' My 
Father and your Father;' before his passion it was, ' I go to the Father,' 
now ' your Father ' as well as mine. Not our Father, but my Father and 
your Father, mine by nature, yours by grace ; yet as really yours by grace, 
as mine by nature. Our addresses are to be to God as a Father, since the 
relation is real, really purchased, really confirmed. Members should imi- 
tate the head, use their privileges, since the Redeemer hath taken our 
infirmities that we might partake of his dignity. With what confidence may 
a child ask, with what bowels will a father give. Christ had the sense of 
his Sonship when he prayed, and we should have the sense of our adoption. 

3. The passion of Christ was the determination of God. ' The hour is 
come,' the time pitched to a moment, the hour and the work of the hour 
agreed on and determined, between the Father and the Son, in an eternal 
council ; all the consultations of the Jews against him were successless till 
this hour. Times and events are in the hands of God. 

4. Christ was a voluntary Redeemer. The hour is come. I am ready to 
perform what thou hast enjoined and I have promised. He sought no shelter 
from sufi'eriag; he expressed here no sorrow for it, no grief at it ; he looks 
beyond the hour of suffering to the hour of glory. We should be voluntary 
subjects, and look through the cloud of suffering to the glory of the crown. 

6. The full assurance of obtaining what we want must not chill our sup- 
plications for it. Who can have greater assurance of supply than our 
Redeemer had of assistance in his task, and exaltation after it ? Insured by 
the promises to him, backed by the oath of God, that he should be a priest 
for ever, of which he had at this time a sense and impression upon his heart, 
John xiii. 1, 3, he knew that he should ' depart out of this world unto the 
Father;' and ' knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, 
that he was come from God, and went to God,' yet he prays for that glory. 
Promises are not damps, but incentives and guides, to prayer; they are to 

John XVII, 3.] the knowlzdge of god. 7 

inflame us, not to cool us. How can we pray in faith without a promise, 
which is the ground of faith, since prayer is nothing but a putting promises 
in suit ! Precepts command us to pray, and promises direct us what to pray 
for, with hopes of success. The promises of a seed to Christ stand firm, yet 
he is now in heaven an advocate interceding for it. As Christ, though 
assured, hath nothing without asking, so neither can his members. Pro- 
mises encourage to put in our claim to them, and not our waiving it. "When 
Daniel knew that the term of the church's captivity was near expired, accord- 
ing to the promise of God, he buckles more to prayer, Dan. ix. 2, 3. 

6. The glory of God must be principally in our minds, and nearest our 
hearts in all our suppHcations. Christ prays first for his own glory, but as 
a means for the glory of his Father, before he prays particularly for the good 
of the church : ' Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee ;' and 
only for such a glory for himself, whence the glory of the Father might spring 
with a greater brightness upon the Son ; for, by the raising Christ, and 
manifesting the glory of his deity, the Father would be glorified in full declara- 
tions of himself, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the author of the 
great redemption, as a God that so loved the world as to send his Son into 
into it for the redemption of it. ' Hallowed be thy name,' is the first peti- 
tion in the Lord's prayer. The glory of God must weigh more in our 
thoughts than our private interest : his glory is to be our end in our common 
actions, 1 Cor. x. 31, much more in acts of religious worship. If another 
end be higher in our hearts, in our prayers, though we pray to God, we 
really worship an idol, viz. self; though God be the object, yet he is not the 
end. We must seek to God for all blessings, with the same end for which 
God gives them ; he gives us the highest for his glory : Eph. i. 6, ' He hath 
accepted us in his beloved, to the praise of the glory of his grace.' We 
must beg for self subordinately, but for God's glory ultimately. Our Saviour 
begged glory for himself, that he might retui-n glory to his Father. To beg 
any thing for ourselves principally, is the prayer of some lust, ambition, or 
covetousness ; to beg any thing for God's glory is a prayer of grace, like that 
of our Saviour's. 

7. The glory of the Father and the Son are linked together. The Father 
cannot be glorified without the Son, nor the Son without the Father. They 
are in conjunction in all the actions of redemption, and therefore in the glory 
redounding from it. The Father glorified the Son when he declared him to 
be Saviour of the world ; and by this declaration was the Father discovered 
to be full of bowels to the world. The sun in the heavens is not glorified 
but in his beams, and the beam is not glorified but by the communication of 
Ught from the sun ; what glory the sun hath is discovered in the beam, what 
glory the beam hath redounds to the sun. The Father was glorified in all 
his acts which concerned the glory of Christ ; his wisdom, in finding out so 
full and efficacious a remedy; his justice, in his death; his power, in the sus- 
tentation of him in his sufl'erings, and his resurrection fi-om the grave ; his 
veracity, in every circumstance which had been foretold ; his love and kind- 
ness, in the mission of the Spirit, to spread his wings over the world, who 
was before confined to the Jews. As the glory of both is linked in itself, it 
must be linked in our services ; we must honour both, one as the object of 
worship, the other as the medium ; the Father as the rector, Christ as the 
ambassador. As the Father is not glorified by Christ, but by fii'st glorifying 
Christ, so neither is the Father glorified by us without our glorifying Christ 
first by believing. When we glorify Christ as the Son of God, we glorify God 
as the Father of Christ ; we cannot glorify the paternity without acknowledg- 
ing a fiUation, nor acknowledge a filiation without honouring the paternity. 

8 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

8. Christ's prayer being argumentative, teacheth us the manner of our 
praying, which should consist of arguments for God's glory and our happi- 
ness : not that arguments move God to do that which he is not willing of 
himself to do for us (as Christ's pressitig arguments to his Father was not to 
inform God of the necessity of what he prayed for), as though the infinitely 
wise God needed information, or the infinitely loving God needed persuasion, 
but it is for strengthening our faith in him. All the prayers in the Scripture 
you will find to be reasoning with God, not a multitude of words heaped 
together ; and the design of the promises is to furnish us with a strength of 
reason in this case : Dan. ix. 16, ' Now, according to all thy righteousness, 
I beseech thee, let thy anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city 
Jerusalem.' He pleads God's righteousness in his promise of the set time 
of deliverance ; after he had settled his heart in a full belief of the promise 
of dehverance, he shews God's own word to him. The arguments you will 
find drawn from the covenant in general, or some promise in particular, or 
some attribute of God, or the glory of God. All this prayer of Christ is lull 
of arguments drawn from several heads ; the first petition is backed by i>ne : 
ver. 2, ' As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give 
eternal life to as many as thou hast given him,' which is another reason he 
urgeth for his sustentation in his passion, and his resurrection and exalta- 
tion ; and the sense runs thus : — It is necessary I should be glorified, 
since thou hast given me a power to give eternal life to as many as thou hast 
given me, which was not given me as an empty title and useless power; give 
me therefore such a glory which may make that power I am endowed with 
significant for those ends for which it is conferred ; the giving eternal life 
was the great end of my coming into the world, which life cannot be had 
without the knowledge of thee the true God, and of Jesus Christ as mediator. 
The glory of my humanity and the manifestation of my deity are necessary 
to the exercise of this power, and the attainment of the end thereof, that 
those which thou hast given me may know who I am, that I am a priest and 
mediator of thy appointment, thy Son, in whose hands their happiness is 
secure, that so they may trust me and believe in me ; and herein, Father, 
thou wilt be glorified, for by this they will understand how wise, holy, true, 
good, merciful, loving thou art to the sons of men. 


1. The glory of Christ, and the glory of the Father in and by Christ, is 
the security of the glory of the church and every believer. The glory of the 
Father is the first link in the chain, upon which all the other benefits Christ 
desires for the church do depend. The first reason he presseth for his own 
glory is the glory of the Father, the next is the salvation of the elect. As 
they are joined in Christ's prayer, they are also knit together in themselves. 
It is the glory of God that the whole lower creation, made to set forth his 
praise, should not be the triumph of the devil, that he should not boast that 
he had frustrated God's design. Is it not the glory of God that his eternal 
counsel should have its full accomplishment, that the beauty of his beUeving 
creatures should be restored, the honour of God established, and the enemies 
of God put to confusion ? This hath the same bottom as the glory of the 
Father hath, viz., the glory of Christ. Since this is established, the other 
will be completed, and the eternal glory of believers stand as firm as the 
glory of the Father. The perseverance of a believer is secured, for if it be 
the honour of God to snatch souls out of the devil's hand, it is for his hon- 
our to keep them, that they may not be regained by the enemy from whom 
they have been delivered. 

2. The glory of Christ was necessary for the salvation of beUevers. It is 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. ^ 

upon this account Christ pleads for it. Had he not been raised, sin had not 
been expiated ; had he not ascended, heaven had not been opened ; had he 
not been set at the right hand of God, the atonement of sin had not been 
secured ; had not the Spirit been sent into the world for the glory of Christ, 
the knowledge of this expiation had not been propagated. 

3. The infinite love of Christ shines forth in this. A power was given 
him. He desires no glory of his Father but what was necessary for the 
good of his people, and what he would lay out wholly for their interest. 
Christ esteems not any glory but as it is of use to his elect ; and his chiefest 
glory consists, not in possessing a power, but in exercising it for their benefit. 
Take notice of the love of the Father too ; this power was given by him to 
this end, that he should give eternal life to those that were his Father's 
donatives. Upon this the salvation of the elect stands firm. The end ot 
God's giving authority to Christ, and the end of Christ desiring a glory for 
the exercise of that authority, is one and the same ; Christ will not be un- 
faithful to his Father, to neglect the end of the power he is entrusted with, 
nor will he cross the end of his own petition. What stronger argument can 
a believing soul ui-ge in prayer, and embrace as a ground of laith ? Ihe 
Father's gift and the Son's request centering in one end, which will be 
denied by neither, affords a strong consolation. As the end of the righteous- 
ness Adam had was to convey it to his posterity, so the end of the power 
Christ hath is to convey righteousness and secure happiness to his spiritual 
seed, who hath the immutable strength of the Deity surmounting the weak- 
ness and mutability of Adam's humanity, and will be as faithful to his trust 
as Adam was false to his. 

4. How large and extensive is the kingdom and authority of Christ ! It 
is not Hmited to narrow confines. It extends over every creature, over all 
flesh, not one exempted ; he hath a throne above the greatest monarchs ; he 
is King of kings and Lord of lords. They cannot escape his iron rod who 
refuse to subject themselves to his gracious sceptre. All that are fallen 
under the power of the devil by sin are now under the dominion of Christ in 
grace or justice. All nations are subjected to him, as his inheritance and 
possession. Ps. ii. 8. 

6. The kingdom of Christ is by a divine authority. Thou hast given him 
power : Ps. ii. 8, ' Ask of me and I will give thee.' It is not usurped, but 
by an eternal grant, and perpetual. Whatsoever he doth in his kingdom, in 
order to the eternal life of believers, is ratified by God the Father, the donor 
of this power to him. 

6. The whole scene of the government of the world is for the promoting 
the eternal life of the elect. All the world is in the hands of Christ. He 
hath power over all flesh for this end, to give eternal life to those that God 
hath given to him. Every act of his government tends to this end. What 
is the end of his power is the true end of the exercise of that power, in every 
act of it in the world. It must needs be so by consequence ; and how sweet 
will it be at last to see the whole combination ; how unanimously every 
providence did conspire to this end, which our ignorant souls cannot now 
discern ! 

7. We see what is the right way to gain eternal life. The power of be- 
Btowing it is invested in Christ ; we must have recourse to him not only as 
the purchaser, but as the donor, by authority from the Father. We must 
believe in him as the purchaser upon the cross, call upon him as the dis- 
tributor upon his throne. He had power given to merit it, as he was one 
Bent ; he had power given him to confer it, as he was one exalted. 

8. One mercy sometimes is a strong plea for the obtaining of another. 

10 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

The gift of a power over all flesh is an argument used by Christ for a further 
glory. The power would be a fruitless gift ; God would lose the honour of 
it, the praise of it, the improvement of it, if Christ were not put into a full 
capacity for the exercise of it. How often may we find logic enough in one 
mercy to argue for more, with that God who is not willing the honour of his 
mercy should be lost, when the desires of his creatures are to glorify him. 
To what purpose should God justify and sanctify, if he did not intend to 
glorify ? He would else lose the glory of his former mercy, and his people 
would lose the comfort of it. If God lays the foundation, it is a strong plea 
for his raising the building to its full height. 

We come now to the text, ' This is eternal life,' &c. 

This is a transition from his prayer, declaring what eternal life was. 
Some understand it of the intuitive knowledge of God in heaven ; but it 
rather seems to be meant of the knowledge of God here in this state of 

1. The reason of the petition evinceth it.* Since thou, Father, hast 
designed me to give eternal life, I can never accomplish this unless thou dost 
glorify me, because eternal life can only be conferred on those who acknow- 
ledge thee, and the mediator thou hast sent. If I be not raised, none can 
be rationally induced to believe me to be mediator ; and if I do not ascend 
to heaven, the Spirit cannot come into the world, and consequently all 
means of manifesting thee in the mediator will be wanting, and the eternal 
life I was designed to give be kept from those thou hast designed for it. 

2. He declares that those apostles who were then with him had known 
that he came out from God, and had believed that God had sent him, ver. 8, 
and so had the root of eternal life in them, who yet were without an intuitive 
knowledge of God, of a blessed vision, which belongs only to a state of 
glory. It must therefore be meant of a knowledge of God by faith in this 

But it is the effect for the cause ; the knowledge of God is not formally 
eternal life, but the cause of it, and the antecedent means to it. It is not 
eternal life in the formality and nature of it, but in the infallibility of causa- 
tion ; because if men had the true knowledge of Christ impressed upon them, 
it could not be but they must believe in him, and consequently have both a 
right to eternal life and the foretaste of it. It is frequent in the Scripture to 
put the effect for the cause, as John iii. 19, ' This is the condemnation, that 
light is come into the world,' i. e. this is the cause of condemnation. 

This knowledge of God is not only a knowledge of God and Christ in the 
theory, but such a knowledge which is saving, joined with ardent love to 
him, cordial trust in him, as 1 Cor, xiii. 12, ' Then I shall know even as also 
I am known,' i. e. I shall love and rejoice, as I am beloved and delighted in 
by God. It is not only a knowledge of God in his will, but a knowledge of 
God in his nature ; both must go together ; we must know him in his nature, 
we must be obedient to his will. The devil hath a greater knowledge of 
God's being than any man upon earth, but since he is a rebel to his will, he 
is not happy by his knowledge. It must be such a knowledge as leads to 
eternal life, and hath a necessary and infallible connection with it, as the 
effect with the cause, which is not between a speculative knowledge and sal- 
vation. It must be therefore such a knowledge which descends from the 
head to the heart, which is light in the mind and heat in the affections ; 
such a knowledge of God as includes faith in him. 

Two things constitute this knowledge : 
^ 1. We must know God, the true God, as the gospel discovers him, in 
* Gerhard. Harm. cap. 180. 

John XVII. 3. J the knowledge of god. H 

opposition to all false gods ; that he is spiritual, just, powerful, merciful, 

2. We must know God as the Father of Christ ; we must know him in 
that relation to Christ, without which knowledge we can have no right con- 
ceptions of the economy of redemption, because all proceeds from the Father 
through the Son. 

That which is the greatest stumbling-block in the text is that clause, 
' thee the only true God,' whereby some would exclude the deity of Christ. 
Christ prays to the Father, and acknowledgeth him the only true God ; if 
the Father therefore, say some, be the only true God, then Christ is not 
God, and they tell us that Christ is Dens /actus, Dens constitiUus. But to say 
a made God, is as great nonsense as to say an uncreated creature. Both 
carry a contradiction in the terms. The Scripture doth frequently and 
plainly assert the deity of Christ : no creature can be equal with God. But 
Christ was ' in the form of God,' and ' thought it no robbery to be equal 
with God,' Philip, ii. 6. He was equal to God in his deity, though inferior to 
God in his humanity ; the form of God stooped to the form of a servant,^ 
but the form of a servant despoiled him of nothing essential to the form ot 
God ; he ceased not to be what he was before, when he became in the womb 
of the virgin what he was not before. * All things that the Father hath are 
mine,' saith Christ, John xvi. 15 ; what is more the Father's than his 
essence and deity ? The essence, therefore, and deity of the Father is the 
essence and deity of the Son. Austin argues well upon John i. 3, ' All things 
were made by him,' by the Word ; therefore, himself was not made, for 
nothing can make itself ; and, it is added, ' without him nothing was made.' 
Therefore, the Xoyog is not ex rebus factis. He is therefore God, for there is 
no medium ; and he is called ' God blessed for ever :' Rom. ix. 5, ' Of whom 
as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.' 
Where the Greek article 6 is added, which the adversaries of this truth deny 
to be added to ^shg when it is attributed to Christ ; and John, as if he had 
foreseen what work would be made of this solum against the deity of Christ, 
gives us an antidote against it : 1 John v. 20, ' We are in him that is true, 
in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal hfe ;' where the 
article also is added. 

The answer to this is various. 

1. Some* understand the word [lovoione, not alone, or only, and so trans- 
late it, that they may know thee the one true God ; and the word is often of 
that signification. 

2. Others say Christ here acknowledgeth the Father the only true God, 
because the Father is the fountain of the Deity. In regard of the essence, 
there is no prerogative, but only in respect of the persons, which consists 
only in order and personality, as the Father is said to beget and the Son 
said to be begotten. That may be affirmed in one respect, which cannot in 
another ; as Mark xiii. 32, the Son is said not to know the day of judgment, 
but the Father ; not the Son of man, but the Son absolutely ; he kntew it 
not as man, but he knew it as God. 

3. Others say, to omit many other answers, that this particle onhj is put 
»to exclude false gods, which is most satisfactory. It excludes none that are 

of the same essence, but all that are not. The Son is not excluded from be- 
ing God, as Deut. xxxii. 12, ' So the Lord alone did lead them,' Jehovah. 
The Son is not excluded by that name Jehovah, for Christ led them, and in 
their murmuring they are said to tempt Christ, 1 Cor. x. 9. It was Christ 
who is called the angel of the Lord that conducted them, Exod. xxiii. 20, 
* Zanch. de trib Eloh. part. 1, lib. 4, cap. 10. 

12 ciiarnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

Exod. xxxii. 34, Isa. kiii. 9. The word only^ doth not exclude the Son ; 
for then, when it is joined with the Son, it should exclude the Father from 
being God. But it is joined with the Son, Isa. xlv. 22, ' Look unto me, and 
be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, nd there is none else ; 
I have sworn by myself, that unto me every knee sha'l bow, i.nt every tongue 
shall swear.' That this is understood of Christ by the best interpreter is 
evident, Rom. xiv. 10, 11, where, speaking of the standing of all before the 
judgment-seat of Christ, he proves it by this place. 'For as it is written, As I 
live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall con- 
fess to God.' In Isaiah, it is spoken in opposition to idols, as appears by 
the 20th verse ; and according to the apostle's understanding, it was Christ 
that spake there, asserting three times there was no God besides him, ver. 
21, 22. Shall the Father therefore be excluded from the Deity, because 
Christ saith so positively there is no God besides him ? There is no place 
to which that in the Romans can refer, but to that in Isaiah. 

Again, worship is due only to God : Mat, iv. 10, ' Thou shalt worship the 
Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.' Doth this exclude Christ 
from being worshipped, to whom it is due from the angels as well as from 

Again, this word only in other cases doth not. exclude, but include, those 
that have the same respect with the person spoken of, as Deut. i. 85, 36, 
God swears that not one of that generation should see the good land save 
Caleb; yet Joshua is not excluded, who manifested the same integrity in the 
report of Canaan after they had been to view it. 

Again, when Paul saith, he ' determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, 
and him crucified,' 1 Cor. ii. 2, doth he exclude the knowledge of God the 
Father, and the knowledge of Christ glorified as well as crucified ? No, 

Again, what is attributed to the Son, the Spirit is not excluded from ; 
therefore what is attributed to the Father, neither the Son nor the Spirit are 
excluded from. As when it is said. Mat. xi. 27, * None knows the Father 
but the Son,' is the Spirit excluded, who ' searcheththe deep things of God,' 
and 'knows the things of God'? 1 Cor. ii. 11. And indeed, in common 
expression, the word only is not exclusive of any that are in conjunction with 
a person we speak of ; as when we speak of a tradesman that usually hath 
the choicest commodities of this or that sort, we say he is the only man in 
London for such wares ; we exclude not those that are partners with him in 
his trade, but all that are not in conjunction with him in it. 

4. The scope of the place doth evidence that the Father is called the true 
God, in opposition to idols ;\ for when Christ saith all power was given to 
him, that he might give eternal life to as many as were given to him, — those 
that were given to him were among the Gentiles as well as the Jews, — he 
here respects them both. The Gentiles worshipped many gods, the Jews 
worshipped one God, but rejected Christ as mediator. Now the knowledge 
of bofh is necessary to salvation. In the first clause, he respects the multi- 
pHcity of heathen gods; in the other, the Jewish contempt of the mediator. 
So then the expression excludes only the heathen idols. In 1 Thes. i. 9, 
' How you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God,' 
God is called the true God in opposition to idols. 

5. The deity of Christ is asserted in every verse almost before and after, 
and therefore is not excluded in this. He hath ' power over all flesh, to give 
eternal life' to them ; too great a power to be entrusted in the hands of a 
mere creature, and too great a gift to spring from a mere creature. The one 

* Gerhard. Harm, cap 180. t Ibid. 

John XVII. 3.1 the knowledge of god. 13 

is an infinite power, and cannot be managed by a finite head and hand ; it 
requires omniscience to the due exercise of it ; the other is an infinite 
happiness, and cannot be bestowed and secured by a finite strength. This 
eternal life is the knowledge of God ; there must be a work upon the under- 
standing and upon the will to produce this saving knowledge. These two 
faculties 'in spiritual things lie open only to the touch of an infinite power. 
The power over all creatures extends to their inward motions, thoughts, 
turnings of their heart for the good of the elect, which is only the prero- 
gative of God, not of a creature. He had a glory with the Father before the 
world was, ver. 5 ; not in his humanity before it was in being, therefore in 
the deity ; and the glory conferred upon his humanity cannot be managed 
without a conjoined divinity. 

Again, the knowledge of the Son is made a cause of eternal life, as well 
as the knowledge of the Father. It is not to be thought that the knowledge 
of any creature should be counted equally necessary to salvation with the 
knowledge of God ; if our happiness consist in the knowledge of both, then 
both the Father and the Son are of the same nature. The term Father 
manifests it ; God was the Father of Christ from eternity ; Christ was with 
him before any creature was in being ; if the Father were the eternal 
Father, the Son must be an eternal Son. 

6. I might offer another consideration of this place, viz., that the true 
God may refer to the veracity of God the Father in his covenant with Christ, 
and his promises to us (the Syriac seems to carry it this way ; ' To know 
thee to be the only God of truth '). A fiducial knowledge is here meant, a 
knowledge accompanied with faith and trust in God, the ground whereof is 
particularly the veracity and faithfulness of God in his promise ; and the 
truth of God in his promise to man is founded upon the truth of God in 
performing his covenant with Christ, which Christ insists upon, ver. 4, 5, 
where he speaks of his own office performed by him in the manifestation of 
God's name, as a work God gave him to do, and claims a glory as due by a 
former transaction between them. Or thus, I cannot give eternal life unless 
I be glorified : by this thou wilt evidence thyself to be a true sincere God, not 
giving me an empty power ; and men's knowing and understanding this, 
and thereby knowing me to be thy Christ, sent by thee, will be their way to 
eternal life. Or it may be understood of the promises declared by the 
prophets of exalting him after the performance of his work upon the earth ; and 
by the glorifying of him after he had made himself a sacrifice, God would 
declare himself a God of truth in the performance of the covenant made 
with him, and the promises published by the prophets, the knowledge whereof 
would be a motive to and ground of faith, and so the means of eternal life. 
So it is life eternal to know and believe in God as a God of truth in his 
promises made to and concerning Christ, not only in his mission but his 
exaltation. The word dX'i^9ivog is many times taken so* as dXr,divoi Xoyoi 
(Plutarch), and dXridmi (plXoi, true friends, that do not deceive. The Father 
so may be said to be the only true God, as he was the person promising 
Christ to us, and covenanting with Christ about the work of redemption, and 
the person to whom the mission of Christ is ascribed. Christ was the person 
promised to us as a Redeemer, and the person covenanting with God the 
Father about redemption. Christ now being upon a plea for himself and 
his people, that he might be enabled to glorify God, urgeth the declaration 
of God's veracity, as the only means whereby eternal life might be conveyed 
to men. And since veracity is an essential attribute, neither the Son nor 
the Holy Ghost are excluded from being the true God ; but the Father is 
* Stephani Thesaurus. 

14 chaenock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

considered here in a personal transaction, as standing in the present economy. 
I will not urge it, because it is an untrodden path, but leave it to considera- 
tion, which perhaps it may somewhat deserve. 

We may see in the text, 

First, The cause or nature of happiness, knowledge, by way of excellency 
and exclusion of everything else as the cause of happiness. 

Secondly, The object of this knowledge, God and Christ. 

1. God : to know him in his nature, perfections, effluxes in and through 
Christ ; to know him as one. 

2. Christ : to know him as commissioned and sent by God ; in his person 
and in his offices. 

3. Conjunctly : God and Christ, God in Christ. It is h Bia hoTv, as 2 
Pet. i. 2, ' through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ,' i. e. through 
the knowledge of God in Christ ; and Rom. i. 6, ' grace and apostleship,' 
i. e. the grace of apostleship. 


1. Knowledge of God and Christ is the life and happiness of the soul. 
What meat is to the body, that, and more, are divine truths to the soul. In 
the clear sight of God as the supreme good, the understanding is satisfied, 
the will filled with love, and all the desires of the soul find the centre of 
their rest. The vision of God in heaven is the satisfaction of the soul, and 
the imperfect knowledge of him here is our imperfect felicity. It is the root 
of eternal life, which will spring up in time to mature fruit, to the knowledge 
of him above, which is the complete happiness. True happiness ariseth 
from truth known and goodness beloved.* 

2. Eternal life and happiness consists not in any worldly thing, not in 
riches or honours. The soul is a more excellent part of a man than the 
body ; the happiness of it must consist in something which is the proper 
object of it ; and more excellent in the rank of beings than the understanding 
is in the rank of faculties. The operations of that conduce more to felicity 
than the actions of sense. 

3. The knowledge of Christ is as necessary to happiness as the knowledge 
of God. If a man had the knowledge of God in as clear a manner as tlae 
angels have, yet without a knowledge of Christ he were as remote from 
happiness as the devil. Though the knowledge of Christ be not simply 
necessary to the angels who never fell, and so needed not a mediator, yet it 
is necessary to us, who are obnoxious to God's wrath, and so need a recon- 
ciler, because of the enmity ; a redeemer, because of our slavery ; a refiner, 
because of our filthiness ; a mediator, because of our distance to bring us to 

4. The true knowledge of Christ is not only a knowledge of his person, 
but a knowledge of his commission as sent. It is a material question that 
the pharisees asked our Saviour, ' By what authority doest thou these things ?' 
though they asked it maliciously, to get advantage against him by his answer. 
We could have no comfort if we did not know and consider by what authority 
he acted in this great afi'air. Our security in Christ lies in his authority 
from God. Faith hath comfort in him as he is the Son of God ; comfort in 
him as he is God's commissioner, but higher comfort as he is both joined 
together. As being the Son of God, he hath ability; as being sent of God, he 
hath authority. He might have been the Son of God without authority to 
such a work, had he not been commissioned ; he might have been sent of 
God, and commissioned by him, and not have done the work he was ap- 
pointed, had he not been the Son of God, and so had an infiniteness of 

* Senault. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 15 

ability. Christ sets out both these as the ground of faith to us : * Glorify thy 
Son,' ver. 1 ; ' whom thou hast sent,' in the text. 

Those which I insist upon are. 

Bod. I. The knowledge of God, and Christ the mediator, is the necessary 
means to eternal life and happiness. 

Boct. II. The true and saving knowledge of God is only in and by Christ. 

I. For the first. The knowledge of God and Christ the mediator is the 
necessary means of eternal life and happiness. It is the knowledge of God 
as discovered, not in the creatures, but in the Scripture ; a knowledge of God 
through faith in Christ, which is able to make us wise to salvation. The 
tree of knowledge in paradise became our death, and the tree of know- 
ledge in the gospel becomes our life. The knowledge of God and Christ 
doth not only free us from a dark and obscure walk, but is * the light of life,' 
John viii. 12. The true knowledge of God and Christ is an effectual and 
infallible means of salvation, because upon such knowledge faith doth depend : 
Psal. ix. 10, ' They that know thy name will put their trust in thee.' Though 
no man can come to Christ unless the Father draw him, yet God draws 
every man by the cords of a man, by such means as are proportioned and 
fitted to the principles of his nature. Now it is as proper for a man to be 
led and drawn by the light of knowledge, as it is for a spark to fly upwards, 
or a stone to move downward. The drawing by the Father to Christ 
is explained by God's teaching of men, and men's apprehension of that 
teaching ; and between men's thus learning of that which God teacheth, and 
their coming to Christ, there is an essential connection : John vi. 45, ' Every 
one that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me.' 

This knowledge is a certain, full, and persuasive assent to the unity of 
God, his nature, his word ; to the mediation of Christ, and God's communi- 
cations through him grounded upon a divine light, as plain and evident to 
the mind as any natural light is. 

I. In general, what kind of knowledge this is. 

II. That this is necessary. 

III. In what respects it is necessary. 

rV. What are the properties of this knowledge, whereby it is distinguished 
from other knowledge which is not saving. 
V. Use. 

I. What kind of knowledge in general this is. 

1. There is a speculative knowledge : a study and knowledge of God 
upon the same account that men study and desire to know other things that 
are excellent and delightful ; as both the contemplation of God in creation, 
and the contemplation of God in redemption, afford notions very gustful to 
a delicate understanding. Thus a man speculatively knows God and Christ 
when he is well skilled in the revelation of God, the history of Christ, the 
analogy between the types and predictions of Christ in the Old Testament, 
and the accomplishment of them in the New, in the person of Christ. A 
knowledge of God by creation many of the wiser sort of heathens had, who 
have discoursed excellently of the nature of God : Rom. i. 21, they are said 
to * know God.' A knowledge of God by revelation, the Jews had in the 
Old Testament, who yet rejected the Son of God ; a knowledge of Christ 
many learned men professing Christianity have, who know Christ in the bark 
of the letter, not in the sap of the Spirit ; as the Jews knew him under the 
veil of types, but were ignorant of his person when he came among them. 
This is such a knowledge which men have of a beautiful picture, or a comely 
person with whom they have no acquaintance ; or as an astronomer knows 

IQ chaenock's works. [John XVII. 8. 

the stars without receiving any more special influence from them than other 
men, or the inanimate creatures. 

(1.) This knowledge is natural. In regard of natural education, whereby 
thev suck in and vent those notions rooted in them ; in regard of natural 
principles in the soul, which conclude something of God, though nothing of 
Christ. There are some fragments of the broken tables of the law in the 
hearts of men, whereby they know the being of a God, and something of his 
nature, helped by reason and discourse, removing imperfections from him in 
their conceptions of him, and comparing him with things that are most 
excellent in their apprehensions. But there is no natural knowledge of 
Christ ; for all the sparklings of creatures, and all the letters of the law laid 
in them and put together, present not a syllable of a mediator. But this 
natural, educative, and historical knowledge, is not that here meant. It is 
a spiritual knowledge our Saviour intended ; for he intended that which hath 
a connection with eternal life, which must have a principle framed by an 
higher hand than that of nature. As things visible in themselves cannot be 
seen without a visive faculty and eye, and that well tempered, and rightly 
disposed for the perception of the object, so neither can God, who is wholly 
spiritual, be spiritually known by evangelical revelation, without the cure of 
the mind from those films which are upon it by corruption. A spiritual 
principle is as necessary to a saving knowledge of God, as a visive faculty is 
to the discerning of visible objects. 

(2.) This is not enough. A man may know an artificer by the excellency 
of his workmanship, without any affection to his person : Eom. i. 21, ' They 
glorified him not as God, nor were thankful.' Not one of all those philo- 
sophers, as one observes,* though they discoursed of one God, had some 
Yioht apprehensions of bis nature, yet ever composed one hymn in the praise 
of him ; iln'Ugh there be among their poets some hymns writ in the praise 
of their fabulous deities. They pleased themselves barely in those inquiries 
and reasonings, without descending to that piety which is the true end of 
knowledge ; and though their understandings had some glimmerings of hght, 
Iheir wills sunk under their imperious unrighteousness. If a speculative 
knowledge were our felicit}^ the devil, who is in the deepest misery, would 
be seated in the highest happiness. He knows God, because once he enjoyed 
him ; he knew Christ, because he most feared him ; be did profess his 
knowledge of him, when scarce any upon earth well understood what he was : 
Luke iv. 34, ' I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God ;' yet, not- 
withstanding that knowledge, was desirous to continue in the exei'cise of his 
government, and the practice of his impieties : ' Let us alone.' His know- 
ledge is not his eternal life, but his eternal death. Since, therefore, God is 
known in his perfections more by the devils, his professed enemies, than by 
any of the sons of men, this knowledge of God, which is the way to eternal 
life, is such a discovery which never did nor ever can enter into the hearts 
of devils. Speculative knowledge of God, without any further relish, is hke 
the knowledge of the nature of meat in the brain of a starved philosopher, 
that hath not a bit of bread to put into his stomach. Speculations are often 
a torment without affections. No man could find a repose in the knowledge 
of God in heaven without love in his will, as well as light in his mind. Light 
without heat preserves not a man from chillness and shaking. 

(3.) Yet though this speculative knowledge be not saving, it is useful in 
the world. It is a promise that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of 
the Lord : Isa. xi. 9, ' They shall not destroy in all my holy mountain, for 

* Estius in ^oc. ; 'AVliat they knew naturally, in those things they did corrupt 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 17 

the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.' Not a saving know- 
ledge, because it is of another kind than the knowledge in the mountain of 
the Lord, and subjectively, in the earth, the carnal part of the world, as 
distinguished from the holy mountain. By such a knowledge in man, God 
secures his people from the evil of the world, and justifies his proceedings 
in the hearts and consciences of the world. It is also useful to the person 
that hath it ; for without this he could never have a saving knowledge ; it 
is the foundation of a spiritual : though a speculative might be without a 
spiritual, yet a spiritual cannot be without a speculative ; a foundation may 
be without a superstnicture, but a superstructure can never be without a 

2. There is a practical knowledge of God and Christ, which is not onl) 
an acquaintance with God, but a laying up his words in our hearts. Job xxii. 
21, 22; which is not a floating knowledge in the head, but a knowledge 
sinking to the heart ; not a knowledge in the brain, but efiicacious to make 
an union with him : 1 John v. 20, * He hath given us an understanding 
that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true,' where 
union follows upon knowledge. The speculations of God may fill the head, 
and the heart be empty of a sense of him, and the life barren of an imita- 
tion of God. This doth not deserve the name of a knowledge, but in the 
apostle's account is truly an ignorance : 1 John ii. 3, 4, ' Hereby we know 
that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith I know 
him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in 
him.' Such answer not the end of knowledge ; and it can no more rationally 
be called a knowledge of God, since it hath no life and soul in it, than a dead 
carcase can be called a man. Such a knowledge, that hath no life in it, 
cannot be the means to eternal life : what hath not life cannot convey life. 
The devil's knowledge is a dead knowledge, but the knowledge of God in an 
angel, joined with obedience to God in his practice, is his eternal life. The 
other is knowledge floating in the brain, buoyed up by some corrupt lust 
from sinking further. This is wisdom ' entering into the soul,' ' truth in 
the hidden parts,' Ps. li. 6 ; not a flourish in the paper, but a letter ; the 
knowledge of the object, and an embracing the end of that knowledge. For 
though it may be a clear knowledge in the head, yet it is really a deep igno- 
rance, a fluttering bubble, because the notion of God is not sucked in for 
that end for which it is let out ; it is made known, that it may be melted 
into an afiectionate practice, and not lie like a hard lump in the head. Every 
man ought to know God in order to his embracing him ; and without this 
afiection and love he knows nothing as he ought to know : 1 Cor. viii. 2, 
' If any man think that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought 
to know.' For a man may have knowledge enough to stuff his head, but if 
barred from his heart and afi'ections, it stands but begging in the outward 
court for admittance. The thinking of God and Christ with the head, and 
embracing Christ with the heart, are two distinct things ; as the seeing a 
country in a map, and by travelling over it with our feet, are diflerent kinds 
of knowledge. The one is a knowledge of the truth, the other ' an acknow- 
ledgment of it as it is after godliness,' Tit. i. 1. When the notion of God 
is not only pictured in the head, but the image of God engraven upon the 
heart ; when the stamp in the heart is like that in the word, as a counter- 
part of a writing : a heart to be his people, as God hath a heart to be our 
God : Jer. xxiv. 7, ' I will give them an heart to know me ; they shall be 
my people, I will be their God : for they shall return unto me with their 
whole heart.' The evangelical promise is not so much to give us an head 
(though that is included), as a heart to know God. 


18 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 3. 


(1.) This is an enlivening knowledge. A spiritual knowledge is always 
attended with a spiritual life ; a new man, and such a knowledge as is after 
the image of God, go together : Col. iii. 10, ' Having put on the new man, 
which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.' 
As the natural image of God consisted in understanding and will, so the 
spiritual image of God by grace consists in a rectifj-ing those faculties ; the 
understanding with a spiritual knowledge, and the will with a spiritual bias. 
The faculties we have from God as creator by nature, the operation of those 
faculties about their proper spiritual objects we have by gi-ace. As the 
apostle distinguisheth * the form of godliness ' from ' the power,' 2 Tim. iii. 
5, so he doth a form of knowledge from the life of it, Rom. ii. 20, which is 
a knowledge in the letter, not in the spirit, verse 29 ; the one is a picture 
wherein every limb is painted, the other is quickened and animated with a 
divine life. Speculative knowledge is as the light of torches, guiding, not 
heating ; this as the sun, which both directs and warms ; a fire felt as well 
as seen ; truth known, and truth used as a compass to sail by. When the 
knowledge of the nature of God is impressed upon us for imitation, and is, 
as the conference of Christ with his disciples, inflaming the heart, Luke 
xxiv. 32, and driving away the cold affections towards God ; when righteous- 
ness is understood as well as judgment, and that as a path, and a good path, 
to walk in ; when we are not only directed to the path, but are pleased with 
the goodness of it, and the approving wisdom enters into the heart, and the 
knowledge of it becomes pleasant to the soul, Prov. ii. 9, 10 ; when there 
is not only a knowledge of God, but a liking to retain it ; a sight of the sun, 
and a delight in his beams ; a knowledge of the fire, and approach to its 
heat ; a mighty pleasure in God and Christ, as a sweet ointment poured 
forth ;* when God is known and embraced as the chief good and ultimate 
end ; Christ known and embraced as the way to be at peace with God, and 
an honourer of him : such a knowledge as is not only like animal spirits in 
the brain, but vital spirits in the heart enabling for action ; not like a cloud 
hanging in the air, but distilling in fruitful showers for the assistance of the 

(2.) A likening knowledge. When we know Christ crucified in the con- 
quest of our sins by his death, Christ glorified in the elevation of our souls 
by his ascension. To know a living God with a dead heart is at best but a 
carnal knowledge, a dead knowledge, unsuitable to a living object, which 
calls for lively actions. To know Christ crucified, and have no efiicacy of 
his death ; to know Christ risen, and lie closed up in the grave of sin ; to 
know Christ is ascended, and have creeping afiections upon the earth : this 
is a notion of Christ, not a knowledge of him. That is the teaching of 
God, when the truth is learned ' as it is in Jesus,' Eph. iv. 21. Powerfully 
directive, conforming the soul, as it did the human nature of Christ, to the 
will and mind of God, when the understanding is not forced to comply with 
the corrupt appetite of the will, but the will conformed to the true notions 
of an enlightened understanding. Such a knowledge, which ravisheth the 
mind, quickens the prayers, seasons the converse, and fortifies against temp- 
tations. Such a knowledge as wraps up the soul in admiration, spirits the 
will to operation, allures it to a close union with the truth discovered, till it 
be like a leaven working in the will, and shaping the whole man according 
to its own mould. The fixing our eye on God by a spiritual knowledge 
derives a tincture from him, dyeing our souls into his own likeness ; if the 
* By knowledge, the Jews for tlie most part, if not always, un('erstand a practical 
knowledge ; and by wisdom, a theoretical. — Jacchiades in Dan. i. 4. 

John XYII, 3.] thk knowledge of god. 19 

life doth not differ from that of an infidel, the knowledge, though as high as 
an angel's, is no more saving than that of a devil. 

And if knowledge be not thus, 

[1.] It is useless. No knowledge in the world is commendable but as it 
is digested into will and reduced into practice. Should the eye direct the 
hand and foot, and they never move, what advantage would the body have 
by the eye's direction ? It is all one to be blind, and not to have the end 
of the visive faculty answered by the motion of the members. 

[2.] It is not commensurate to divine revelation. It is not a knowledge 
according to the word, if it be not like the word, the instrumental cause of 
it ; if it be not ' sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing 
asunder of the soul and spirit,' the rational part from compliance with the 
corrupt affections of the sensitive, and so a destroyer as well as * discerner 
of the sordid thoughts and intents of the heart,' Heb. iv. 12. No material 
thing is perfectly known, unless it leave an impression upon those senses 
which are requisite for the knowledge of it ; neither is divine truth known, 
unless it leave a full and commanding impression upon the mind, the faculty 
of knowledge. And because divine things are revealed for their goodness as 
well as for their truth, and the truth revealed in order to the apprehension 
of their goodness, it is not knowledge suitable to the intent of divine revela- 
tion, if the goodness be not swallowed and digested, as well as the truth 

3. There is an experimental knowledge of God. Speculative knowledge 
is a sound of words and thoughts, experimental a sense of them, and God 
hath not left the soul without a spiritual relish, any more than he hath left 
the body without a tasting palate. And, therefore, one* calls it well gus- 
tiis spiritiialis judicii ; it is a witness of the truth in us, 1 John v. 10. There 
is a knowledge of Christ after the flesh, an admiration and esteem of him, as 
some excellent moralist that hath published eminent precepts for the regula- 
tion of human conversation. This is no more a saving knowledge of Christ 
than the knowledge of a philosopher's thesis, or Seneca's moral aphorisms, 
amount to. It is a putting Christ in the same balance with them. But a 
spiritual knowledge of Christ is not only a relish of those precepts, but a 
draught of Christ in the soul, a receiving the spiritual emanations of God 
and Christ upon the heart. It is to know God in the power of his grace, 
and Christ in the virtue of his life, Philip, iii. 10 ; God in the streams of his 
love, and Christ in the sweetness of his blood ; when we see him upon the 
cross, and taste him in the soul, which is not only a knowledge by the under- 
standing, but a knowledge by a spiritual sense, Philip, i. 9. 

There is such a knowledge as this. The Scripture expresseth the know- 
ledge of God by the acts of sense, as well as by the acts of reason ; for we 
have more experience of things by sense than we have by discourse. After 
the discourse of anything with all the reason in the world, there must be 
recourse to sense to make it plain and evident ; hence ariseth the advantage 
of similitudes drawn from sensible objects, which clear what mere reason is 
not able to do. We find the knowledge of God set out by the acts of sense ; 
as by tasting, 1 Pet. ii. 3, ' If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gra- 
cious ;' or relishing. Mat. xvi. 23 ; by smelling, 2 Cor. ii. 14, ' The savour 
of his knowledge ;' by feeling, 1 John i. 1 ; often by seeing, which, being 
the quickest and most piercing sense, represents things to the understanding 
more clearly than bare report. And this kind of knowledge is necessary to 
happiness, for without it we can have no clear nor worthy notions of God, 
but more likely disparaging ones ; as a man that never saw the stateliness 
* Junius. 

20 chabnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

of London, or any city like it, cannot mount higher in his conceptions of it 
than that it may be a Httle better than the best market town which he hath 
seen in his country, but he is not like to have conceits of it according to the 
greatness of the place, the magnificence of the buildings, the gallantry of the 
people. When once he comes to behold it, he will find his former. concep- 
tions of it to be vastly short of the beauty of the place. He would scarce 
be convinced of it without a sight. Indeed, this knowledge of God is im- 
perfect here because of our present state. But some experience there is 
here answering to the vision hereafter, as a map of that which the soul is 
travelling to a sight of. This kind of knowledge of God is banished from 
the unclean spirits ; they have lost the savour of what they knew of God, 
and feel nothing but the power of his wrath. 

This differs from a speculative knowledge, 

(1.) In the means and manner of knowing ; not in the object. The 
object is the same in both God and Christ, the difi'erence lies in the manner 
of their apprehension. One is by a common created understanding, the 
other is by an understanding given for that peculiar end : 1 John v. 20, 
' The Son of God hath given us an understanding, that we may know him 
that is true.' One is a conception of God, the other a taste ; one knows 
God as a man by human strength, the other knows God as a Christian by. 
sense and a divine knowledge ; one is by ' feeling after God,' Acts xvii. 27, 
the other is by God's breaking out in divine beams upon the soul, Hke a 
* day star arising in the heart,' 2 Peter i. 19. One is by the natural strength 
of the understanding, improved by hearing, meditation, discourse ; the 
other is the efiect of an infused faith and the Spirit's operation ; one knows 
God in the Scripture by reading, the other by relish, and finds something 
in his own heart agreeing with it ; what he reads with his eye is drawn by 
a divine pencil in the soul. There is a knowledge of a thing without us, 
and a knowledge of a thing within us. Men know there is a happy heaven, 
and heathens entertained it as an universal notion ; but a believer knows it 
in himself by some beamings upon his heart, — Heb. x, 34, ' Knowing in 
yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance,' — 
which do more powerfully break in upon him in the time of sufierings. So 
there is a knowledge of God from reason, nature, report, and a knowledge of 
God in ourselves by the workings of his grace. A man may know this or 
that meat to be sweet by report, yet not have the knowledge of it by taste ; 
the one depends upon the strength of his head to conceive, the other upon 
the goodness of the palate to relish it. Though both have the same object, 
yet they are not the same knowledge ; he that prays from right principles, 
and he that prays from wrong, have the same object of prayer ; both pray to 
God, but they differ in the manner of their praying, which makes one 
acceptable, the other not, and therefore the object doth not make our prayer 
right; so neither doth the object make our knowledge saving. Yet the first 
knowledge makes us in a capacity for this, but it is frequently without it ; a 
man may know that which he doth not spiritually desire, but he can never 
spiritually desire that which he doth not know. As the manner of Adam's 
knowing sin before and after his fall was diflerent, so is the manner of know- 
ing God. Adam knew sin in the theory before he was guilty (for, knowing 
the law, he could not but know what was contrary to the law, and what acts 
would violate it), but when he turned offender he knew the power of sin, felt 
the evil of that which he did before but understand. A natural man knows 
God as Adam did ir'm before his fall, he understands something of his 
nature ; but a gracious man feels the influences of God, and finds himsel 
under the power of divine grace. 


(2.) In the clearness of knowing. This is such a knowledge that can 
better describe God, from his spiritual illapses into the soul, than the clearest 
reasons of men with all their speculative notions. A blind man may know 
something of the reasons of colours, but he cannot know them so feelingly 
as he that hath eyes in his head. A man may know wine by the sight and 
smell, but not so clearly as when he tastes the sweetness, and feels the 
cordial warmth of it in his stomach. Speculative knowledge is such a 
knowledge as Peter and John had of Christ's resurrection upon the report of 
Mary Magdalene, John xx. 2, 3, &c. They saw the linen clothes, and no body 
there, which increased their belief and knowledge ; this was a dim-sighted 
knowledge to that which Christ gave them by his apparition. When they 
could see both his hands and his sides, this was an experimental knowledge ; 
and when he pronounced peace to them, this wis a knowledge of interest, an 
assurance given that they were interested in the happiness and fruits of his 
resurrection. There is an excellency in divine knowledge that cannot be 
discovered by the tongues of men or angels ; an experience and spiritual 
sensation renders a man more intelligent than all discourses can. As the 
natural sense best judgeth of sensible objects, so doth the spiritual sense of 
divine. He that hath tasted honey hath a more lively knowledge of it than 
the most learned man that never tasted the sweetness, or felt the operations 
of it. Nor can any conceive so clearly of the excellency of the sun, by 
the discourses of the richest fancies, as by seeing its glory and feeling the 
warmth of its beams. A man's own sense will better inform him of the 
beauty of the heavens than the elevated reasonings of philosophers. Divine 
truth acted upon the heart, and felt in its influence, is more plainly known 
than by discourse and reason. I would rather have the feeling which a 
sincere soul hath of God, than all the descriptions of him by a notional 
apprehension. One is knowledge in the notion, the other in reality ; the 
one is the effect of well-educated nature and common grace, the other the 
fi-uit of a spiritual eye-salve. Rev. iii. 18, and an inward breathing ; the 
one is a shining upon the head, the other a shining into the heart, 
2 Cor. iv. 6. 

(3.) In regard of the effects. This works the effects which the other is 
too weak to produce. A little experimental sense of the majesty of God 
brought Job more upon his knees than all the pressing discourses of his 
friends, or his own knowledge before his affliction : Job xlii. 5, 6, 'I have 
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see thee ; where- 
fore I abhor myself.' A glimpse of God will bring forth more saving fruits 
than all the reports of him to the ear, or speculations in the mind. God 
and Christ felt, refresh the soul more than the lifeless notions of them. The 
inward virtue of bread tasted and digested refresheth the body more than the 
colour and figure can delight the eye. The contemplation of meat may 
please a philosophical understanding, but the turning it into our nature, the 
having it in our body, strengthens and cherisheth the whole man. There is 
a pleasure in the historical knowledge of God and Christ, a pleasure in the 
meditation of the nature of God, the ends of the coming, passion, and resur- 
rection of Christ, the nature of his mediation. But what is this to the 
powerful operation in our hearts, and the conveyance of his life into our 
souls ? Just as meditation of health by a sick man comes short of the 
pleasure of feeling health in his veins, and every member of his body. The 
one is like the delight a man takes in seeing a city in a map, the other like 
the contentment he takes in seeing the strength of the place, the beauty of 
the buildings, the harmony of the government, and the observations he 
makes thereupon. 

22 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

4. There is a knowledge of interest ; or an interested knowledge of God 
and Christ. Experimental knowledge Peter and John had of Christ's resurrec- 
tion when Christ appeared to them, interested knowledge when he pro- 
nounced peace to them. Though the knowledge of the excellency of God, 
and of Christ's going to heaven, is a ground of comfort, yet an interest in 
this is the formal part of our felicity. What satisfaction can we have, if we 
have no part in God, if Christ went not to heaven /or its ? The devil hath 
a knowledge of God in the theory, but a torment from that knowledge in 
the reflection. The knowledge of God, without hopes of an interest in him, 
is terrifying. While Adam retained his purity, the attributes of God were 
cordials to him, he could delight in his goodness, have access to his power, 
refresh himself by the faithfulness of God ; innocence and interest see 
nothing but what is highly ravishing in God ; but all the divine perfections 
which took the part of innocent man, while he continued faithful to the law 
of his creation, render God terrible to fallen nature ; there can be no 
happy knowledge of God, with a satisfaction to the soul, without a recovery 
of his lost interest. That knowledge which renders us as happy as we can 
be in this world, is to know God in covenant our God ; to know God as our 
Father, Christ as our Mediator ; to know Christ as a surety paying our 
debts, and God as a creditor accepting the payment for us ; to know God in 
his eternal counsels as a Father ; to know Christ in all his offices as our 
perfect Redeemer, settling and securing our happiness upon a stable bottom ; 
to know Christ as our Lord, John xx. 28 ; to know God so as to be accepted 
by him, and to know Christ so as to be * found in him,' Philip, iii. 8, 9 ; to 
know God not only as a pardoning God in his nature, but a pardoning God 
to our souls (such a knowledge Godpromisetb, Jer. xxxi. 34, ' They shall all 
know me, from the least of them unto the greatest : for I will forgive their 
iniquity'), as also a knowledge of him as our Saviour and Redeemer, Isa. 
Ix. 16. That is a happy knowledge, when we can say with Paul, ' Christ, 
who loved me, and gave himself for me,' Gal. ii. 20, when we can feel Christ 
dwelling in us by faith, ' the hope of glory,' Col. i. 27. A speculative 
knowledge is contemplation, this is fruition ; that elevates us in admiration, 
this springs up in affection ; that is like the knowledge of a picture, where 
the features of the person are commended by strangers to them, this like the 
knowledge of the friend, whose picture it is, and the remembrance of the 
sweetness of his disposition, his cordial affections, &c.,| which possesseth 
the soul with a more sensible delight than others can take in the comeliness 
of the piece. 

These four sorts of knowledge are not equally necessary. The speculative 
is necessary as b, foundation ; practical, essentialhj necessary ; experimental 
and interested, necessary to the comfort of knowledge. The two first are neces- 
sary to the being of a Christian ; the two latter, to the well-being. The 
two first together, constitute our happiness ; the two latter sweeten our im- 
perfect happiness in this world. Indeed, experimental knowledge and inte- 
rested are necessary in regard of the matter of the knowledge, though not in 
regard of the actual sense and knowledge. We cannot have any initial 
happiness, without the influence of God's grace, without a share in his 
favour ; but both these may be without the actual sense and perception of 
them. Speculative, is knowledge received; practical, knowledge expressed; 
experimental, the relish of it ; and interested, the foretaste of happiness. A 
speculative knowledge is like that of the queen of Sheba's, at a distance ; 
an experimental is like her sight of the order and glory of Solomon's court, 
that left no more spirit in her. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 23 

II. This knowledge of God is necessary. Eeligion and true grace is called 
wisdom, in the Proverbs. Wisdom is the knowledge of the highest things. 
No wisdom without the knowledge of truth, therefore no wisdom without the 
knowledge of God, the prime truth, the chiefest good, whence all truth and 
goodness in other things flow. This is the portal.* No happiness can be 
without truth and goodness ; all religion consists of them, all felicity is com- 
posed of them : truth to be known, goodness to be embraced, by the crea- 
tm-e, else no communication of happiness to it. Knowledge and love fit us 
for acquaintance with, and enjoyment of, God. We actually embrace him 
by love, after we perceive him fit for our embraces by knowledge. Know- 
ledge imprints the similitude and idea of the object upon the understanding ; 
love draws out the soul to close with the object so understood. By knowledge, 
God conveys himself in his glorious perfections to our view ; by love, we give 
up ourselves to him. By knowledge, we see God ; by love, we enjoy him. ^ By 
knowledge, we see what is enjoyable, and worthy our affection and fruition ; 
by love, we enjoy what we see. Still, remember that this is not to be under- 
stood of a common knowledge of God, where the gospel is preached ; it is 
such a knowledge which is given by Christ to those he hath a charge of; it 
is such a knowledge that is not only the effect of Christ's universal power 
over all flesh (for so the general preaching of the gospel is, whereby men 
attain a common knowledge) ; but such a knowledge as those only have who 
are ' sanctified by faith,' Acts xxvi. 18. He had ' power over all flesh, that 
he should give eternal life,' i. e. he had power to propagate the gospel among 
the Gentiles, that the knowledge of God might be given to those that had 
been given him by his Father ; whereby it is manifest that it is a knowledge 
different from the common knowledge of the gospel. 

1. This was the subject-matter of the ancient gospel promises. This God 
promised in the evangelical dispensation, when he would manifest himself in 
the riches of his glory, and treasures of his goodness to his creatures : Isa. 
xlix. 23, ' Thou shalt know that I am the Lord ;' and the chief happiness of 
the church in the confluence of the Gentiles to her, as the foundation of all 
religion, is his manifestation to them, and their clear view of that manifesta- 
tion : Isa. xix. 21, ' And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyp- 
tians shall know the Lord in that day.' It is the peculiar of the gospel : 
Hos. vi, 3, ' Then shall we know the Lord.' When the knowledge of God 
shall be spread over the world by the great prophet, in the teachings of his 
Spirit, then should men have an ardent zeal to increase in the knowledge of 
God ; and in this knowledge our spiritual Ufe consists. We shall live in his 
sight. How ? By the knowledge of the Lord. By the knowledge of God 
in this life, men have foretastes of the life to come. It is by the knowledge 
of God in Christ that we see the sword of justice sheathed, which guarded 
heaven against us, the bowels of mercy enlarged to open heaven for us. 
It discovers God calmed and appeased, gives us delightful views of him, and 
a secure and complete happiness. 

2. There is no way of conveying happiness can be conceived without this. 
Our ignorance must be removed, whereby we may understand God, as well 
as our perversity, whereby we may seek him. All sin begins in folly, igno- 
rance, and forgetfulness of God : Ps. xiv. 2, ' None that did understand and 
seek God.' First, ' The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.' From 
that ignorance sprung up corruption and abominable works. What the 
psalmist speaks of one, ver. 1, he speaks of all, ver. 2, 3, ' They are all gone 
aside,' and the not understanding of God was the root of it, Rom. iii. 11. 

* Nulla res, qualiscunque est, intelligi potest, nisi Deus prim intelUgatar, is a maxim 
in the schools. 

24 charnock's woeks. [John XVII. 3. 

The root of our misery must be removed, to plant that of our happiness. Gcd 
hath ordered knowledge to be the first step to salvation, so that none s re 
saved that come not in by the way of the knowledge of God revealed in the 
gospel : 1 Tim. ii. 4, ' Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unio 
the knowledge of the truth.' The gospel being nothing else but a manifesta- 
tion of God in Christ, a knowledge of this precedes the application of salva- 
tion. As the sun doth not make his heat to be known but by his beams,* 
so God doth not save according to his ordinary dispensation, but by the 
knowledge of himself, though the discovery of himself, in divers ages, hath 
been various and by degrees. As the light at the dawn is more obscure than 
that which is near the approach of the sun to the horizon, so there was a 
more obscure knowledge of God, and the Redeemer, at the time of the first 
promise. Adam might not know well what to think of God when he saw 
himself expelled paradise, just after a gracious promise of a dehverer. It 
was somewhat brighter at the giving the law, when God would give man 
some dark shadows and pictures of Christ, and when himself would be knov.u 
by his name Jehovah, and the conduct of his angel. It was clearer, in the 
times of the prophets, when the chariot of the Sun of righteousness was 
approaching to the world, and the light broke out before him ; but a more 
glorious discovery, when this Sun did arise and appear in the earth ; yet, 
from first to last, every dispensation was made up of some discovery of God, 
the manifestation of his name, the declarations and representations of the 
Messiah. The knowledge of God and the Redeemer, being the design of God 
in every age of the world, is no less necessary now than it was then ; and, 
indeed, the knowledge of no other thing can confer a blessedness upon us. 
Whatsoever makes another happy, must be greater and better than that which 
is made happy ; but, since nothing in the world is better than the soul of 
man, all the knowledge of inferior things cannot constitute him blessed. The 
knowledge of God and Christ can only fill the insatiable mind, satisfy the 
vast desires, and settle the staggering soul. 

3. The happiness of God consists in the knowledge of himself, his own 
perfections, and delight in them. God is the object of his own happiness. f 
The knowledge of God himself is the felicity of God. No being is really 
happy without reflection upon, and knowledge of, that happiness. If God 
should be happy by the knowledge of anything else but himself, that which 
he did contemplate and know would be greater and better than God, because 
his happiness would depend upon it. Felicity can never be in anything 
inferior. God hath nothing higher and better than himself to contemplate. 
This gave him a satisfaction before the world was, and this would still be his 
blessedness, if all things should be reduced to the depths of nothing. Since, 
therefore, he created the world, to communicate himself and his own happi- 
ness to the rational creature, felicity cannot be attained by anything less than 
the knowledge of the supreme good according to the creature's measures. 
The angels themselves are only blessed in the contemplation of him, and 
affection to him. In being encompassed with his bright rays, and having 
their affections inflamed by him. Mat. xviii. 10, ' they behold the face of 
God.' As God's knowledge and fruition of himself makes up his fehcity, so 
the knowledge and fruition of God composeth our happiness. 

4. The happiness of heaven, which is the ultimate and complete happiness 
of the soul, consists in a knowledge of God. The sight of God is made by 
our Saviour the reward of purity of heart : Mat. v. 8, ' The pure in heart 
shall see God ;' and to see him as he is, in the glory of the other world, 

* Amyraut de I'Evangile, pp. 148, 149, 

t Eugul.in. de perenui Philos. lib. iv. cap. 13. 

John XVII. 3.j the knowledge of god. 25 

1 John iii. 2, 3, when all the rational faculties shall be satisfied with light, 
and the desires replenished with love. The privation of this knowledge is 
hell ; the punishment consists in a banishment ' from the presence of the 
Lord,' 2 Thess. i. 9. If felicity, in the highest region, consists in a sight 
and knowledge of God, the happiness of the soul must consist in the same, 
according to the imperfect degrees. If a perfect happiness cannot be without 
a perfect knowledge, imperfect cannot be without a partial knowledge. 'When 
we are acquainted with him, we are not only at peace, but we can delight 
ourselves in the Almighty, and lift up our faces unto God, Job xxii. 21, 26. 
Knowledge of God here is the dawn of heaven ; knowledge hereafter, the 
meridian of it. 

5. This is that the devil endeavours most to hinder. He is the enemy of 
man's happiness ; he envies man a better state than himself hath ; his time 
is spent in barring the door against it. The course he takes is to bemist the 
understanding faculty, ' that the light of the gospel of Christ might not shine 
iuto it,' 2 Cor. iv. 4. He put our first parents upon the knowledge of other 
things to deprive them of the knowledge of God. He is always pecking at 
this seed of knowledge. If he cannot kill it, he will sow some cockle to 
choke it. All errors in the mind have the devil's blessing, and knowledge 
his curse. His kingdom is a kingdom of darkness. Light is an enemy to 
his dominion, and he to light. When the knowledge of God breaks in upon 
the heart, the devil falls hke lightning from heaven, as well as at the preach- 
ing of the gospel by the disciples, Luke x. 18. It expels his, and introduceth 
another empire. This is our happiness, which is the devil's grief. That 
must be necessary for us, which God's and our great enemy took all the pains 
to stifle. 

III. In what respects is this knowledge of God necessary ? We owe 
duty to God as we are creatures ; we are unable to perform it as we are 
guilty oftenders. We must know God to know our duty ; we must know 
Christ to know the way of performing it ; we must know God, therefore, in 
the perfections of his nature, and Christ in the sufiiciency of his mediation. 
We must know God in his ravishing goodness, his afirighting justice, his 
condescending mercy, his adorable wisdom, his unshaken veracity ; we must 
know him as ofiended by sin, as pacified by Christ. Without the one, we 
shall not be humbled ; without the other, we shall not approach to him. We 
must know him in his precepts, else how can we obey him ? in his promises, 
else how can we trust him ? We must know Christ in his ofiices, as an 
atoning priest, as an instructing prophet, a protecting and governing king. 
We must know him in his transaction with his Father, descent to the world, 
his return to heaven, in his humiliation on earth, exaltation in heaven ; 
we must know him upon the cross and upon the throne, and the ends of 
both his states : Philip, iii. 10, ' Know him, and the power of his resurrection, 
and the fellowship of his sufierings.' How else can we be ' conformed to his 
death,' or have confidence in his hfe ? We must know him in his nature, 
without which we cannot have a knowledge either of the truth or efiicacy of 
his satisfaction. The truth of it depended upon the reality of his humanity ; 
the efficacy upon the strength of his divinity. Without this knowledge, how 
can we believe in him ? how can we love him ? how can we perform those 
acts which are necessary to our salvation ? This is a knowledge above the 
knowledge of nature ; that is too muddy to be a spring of any spiritual 
action, raised love or hearty reliance. It is not a knowledge of God by 
rational deductions, but spiritual illuminations. The knowledge of God in 
the creatures is as the dawn ; the knowledge of God in the Scripture is as 

26 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

the day-spring. But what is either dawn or day-spring to a blind eye ? 
The day-spring may be in the world, yet not in our hearts ; we cannot work 
without light, and though there be the greatest light, we cannot work without 

That which is precedent to eternal life cannot be without the knowledge 
of God. 

1. Without it there can be no motion towards God, or for God. Without 
a natural knowledge of God we can never think of him, or have any natural 
motions to him ; without a spiritual knowledge, we cannot perform any 
spiritual action. Without knowledge, we cannot act as rational creatures, 
because all actions tend to rest. No creature acts for that end that it may 
always act, but acts for some end wherein it may acquiesce. That which is 
our proper rest must be known, we can never else order our motions to it. 
Everything that hath rational or sensitive life must have some kind of know- 
ledge, to act suitable to its station in the world, and the nature it is endowed 
with. A beast cannot live without some knowledge, by natural instinct, 
of the proper food for the maintaining the life of it ; a man cannot act 
rationally, though he have the shape and life of a man, without a habit of 
first principles which is by nature put into him. So neither can a man act 
spiritually without truth put into the heart by grace, as an indwelling and 
abiding habit, a truth known, and a truth dwelling in us and abiding with 
us for ever, 2 John ver. 2. There are the ' first principles of the oracles of 
God,' and of 'the doctrine of Christ' to be known, Heb. v, 12, vi. 1, 
before we can go on to a spiritual perfection ; answering in a spiritual 
creature to those first principles which are in every man by nature, without 
which he cannot act as a rational creature. The apostle implies the neces- 
sity of those principles, while he blames them for sticking there without 
making a further progress. As knowledge is necessary to the being of any 
action, so a various kind of knowledge is necessary to the various kinds of 
actions. Natural knowledge is necessary to natural actions, moral know- 
ledge to moral actions ; so supernatural knowledge is necessary to super- 
natural actions. As the acts are, so must the knowledge be ; supernatural 
acts cannot flow from an understanding stufled only with natural principles, 
no more than rational acts can be the products of a brutish fancy and 
instinct ; that is, as a beast cannot act rationally unless he had the reason 
of a man, so a man cannot act spiritually unless he hath the understanding 
of a Christian, an understanding given whereby to ' know him that is true,' 
who ought to be the proper centre of all our actions, 1 John v. 20. The 
whole body is dark if the eye be so. Mat. vi. 22, 23 ; the whole body of a 
man's acts are acts of darkness if the mind be blind. As the mind is, so the 
nature is ; corruption of nature began in wrong notions received in the mind, 
whence those actions sprung which laid Adam and his posterity as low as 
hell without the grace of God. There must be then other notions in the 
mind, and other principles in the heart, before we can be fit for recovery 
out of natural misery. While the eye of the soul remains muddy, all our 
perceptions will be tinctured with that corruption ; a suftusion in the eye 
will cause a confusion in the acts ; what the eye is to the body, that is the 
understanding to the soul. The truth was in Jesus, it must be in us as it 
was in him ; not as a loose notion, which would have engendered staggering 
motions in the service of God and work of his mediation, but as a rooted 
habit, a law in his heart, established as firm in his heart as it was in the 
sanction. Since, therefore, all our actions towards God are to be both a 
reasonable and a spiritual service, there must be a reasonable and a spiritual 
knowledge as the foundation, to raise up action as the building. 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 27 

(1.) There can be no worship of God without it. Since God made us 
for his own glory, that we might do those things whereby he might be hon- 
oured, we must know the excellency of his nature, and what is suitable to 
him. It is impossible to glorify him whose honour and greatness we 
are wholly ignorant of, Ps. cxix. 25. David was God's servant, had a 
desire to serve him, and therefore desires God to * give him understand- 
ing, that he might know his testimonies.' Worship is the fruit of knowledge. 
God promises to be known of the Egyptians in the time of the gospel, and 
then they should do sacrifice and oblation, Isa. xix. 21. The Egyptians 
knew there was a God, a supreme God, but they never worshipped him till 
they came to know him in the gospel revelation. ' In that day ' he would 
be known to them. In what day ? In the day when they should speak 
the language of Canaan, ver. 18 ; in the day when he should send them a 
Saviour, ver. 20. There is no worship acceptable to God without the know- 
ledge of Christ, and access by him. Daniel opened his window, and prayed 
to God ' towards the temple,' a type of Christ. He that comes to God 
must not only know that he is, but he must know that he is a rewarder, 
Heb. xi. 6, not by a natural knowledge, for so the heathens both knew the 
being of God and the bounty of God, biit a distinct knowledge of God as a 
rewarder and accepter in Christ ; for that the apostle means when, in describ- 
ing this way of worship, and giving examples of it, he gives instances of the 
faith of the worshippers and their respecting God in Christ. 

[1.] Without this knowledge of God we should never worship him in a 
right manner. We must know that he is, before we can direct any religious 
act to him ; so we must know what he is, before we can direct any religious 
act to him in a right manner. If we would worship him out of love, we 
must know that he is amiable ; if with fear, we must know that he is power- 
ful and just. Whatsoever the principle of the worship is, it must have 
knowledge for the foundation. Without a knowledge, we cannot affect him; 
without a strong knowledge, we cannot love him ardently. If our love be 
low, our worship will be slight, and want that affection which is a necessary 
ingredient in it. According to the weakness of our knowledge is the slight- 
ness of all our acts towards God. "When we understand not his justice, we 
shall presume upon him ; when we are ignorant of his glorious majesty, we 
shall be rude with him ; unless we understand his holiness, we shall leap 
out of sin to duty ; and the steams of our lusts will be as nimble as the 
desires of our souls. If we are ignorant of his excellency, we shall want 
humility before him ; if we have not a deep sense of his omnisciency, we 
shall be careless in his presence, full of roving thoughts, guilty of vain 
babbling, as if he wanted information. Mat. vi. 6, 7. Ignorance renders a 
worship false, as well as a zeal erroneous, Rom. x. 2. If we worship God 
from custom, and not from knowledge of him, we render him no better a 
worship than we should render to the impostor Mahomet, if his religion were 
the religion of our country. 

[2.] We should be apt to worship some falsity and fancy instead of God. 
Such an one that knows not God would be as easily induced to worship some 
angel or saint in a glorious apparition, as a man that comes to court to see 
the king, and knew him not, might be apt to imagine that some person of 
quality he saw richly dressed, and bravely attended, might be the prince. 
The heathens, having not the knowledge of God, stamped every great bene- 
factor a deity, and adored every one that was highly useful to their country 
as a god. Without a knowledge of him, we shall be apt to seize upon any- 
thing from which we find assistance as a god ; and, like some heathens, 
worship the first thing we meet in a morning: If we know not God, yet 

28 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

since we have naturally a notion that there is a God, we shall be apt to have 
false conceptions and misrepresentations of him. To worship what we 
misconceive, is not to worship the true God, but a god coined and moulded 
by our own fancy ; and since false conceptions of God are degradings 
and disparagements to him, all worship guided by them is a worship of that 
notion and image we have set up in our mind, and not a worship of the true 
God. It is at best a worship like that of the Athenian idolaters, a worship 
of an ' unknown God,' Acts xvii. 23 ; they knewnot who he was, and they knew 
not why they worsbipped him. Certainly, as worship is a flower in the crown 
of the Deity, so a worship of him according to his infinite perfections is a debt 
we are bound to pay, and therefore bound to know him, that we may give him 
his due; otherwise we shall worship, not a Scripture God, but a fancy god, a 
god made up by the capricios of our own brains, and modelled according to 
our own genius. It is an observable and difficult place, Amos v. 25, ' Have 
you offered to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, 
house of Israel ? ' Did they not offer sacrifices to God ? The worship of 
Moloch was entertained in the following ages. God denies that they wor- 
shipped him all that forty years. What if we^should conjecture tbis as the 
reason, because all the while they had notions of God according to the 
Egyptian idols ? The adoring the calf was but an imitation of the Egj'ptian 
worship ; while they had a false notion of God, likening him to the Egj'ptian 
Apis, all the worship they performed to the true God being tainted with this 
notion and conceit, was not a worship of God. ' Did you offer to me,' when 
you had such ridiculous and unwortLy conceptions, that you could find out 
nothing in the whole frame of nature as an image to represent me, but that 
of a calf ? It was a sign what unworthy conceits of me did lodge in your 
minds, which rendered your worship unacceptable and displeasing to me ; 
which conceits were not displaced from their heads by the breaking of the 

[3.] Such an ignorant worship is certainly idolatry. It is not only a 
wrong object draws upon men the guilt of idolatrj^ but a right object wor- 
shipped in a wrong manner. "When we worship him not suitably to his 
perfections, or not accordmg to his command. Lev. xvii. 3, 4, 7. God 
commanded that an ox, or lamb, or goat, intended for sacrifice, should be 
brought to the door of the tabernacle ; not killed in the camp, or out of it ; 
if they did, he would count them guilty of blood, and, verse 7, esteems it 
no more tban as a sacrifice offered to devils. The tabernacle being a type 
of Christ, Heb. ix. 11, this command signified, that whatsoever was offered 
to God out of Christ was of no value to him ; as hateful as murder, and 
esteemed by him as if it had been offered to devils. 

Since, therefore, nature cannot represent God'" in his brightest apparel 
to us, w'e cannot worship God by all our natural knowledge of him ; for as 
by nature we rather know what God is not than what he is, so by nature we 
may rather tell what worship is not worthy of him than what is. We can- 
not then worship God without the knowledge of him. We cannot know him 
in Christ, by all the strength of nature, without divine revelation ; and in- 
deed it was a natural notion among the heathens, not to receive a form of 
worship but what had a stamp of a divine authority ; therefore all those 
lawgivers who settled any religion among them, pretended an intimate 
acquaintance with some of their esteemed deities, to make tbeir form of 
worship entertainable. There is a necessity, therefore, of the knowledge of 
God, and of Christ, to present a worship to Gud' acceptable to him. 

(2.) No obedience to God, without the knowledge of him. The will of 
* Mornse. verit. Kelig. Christian, cap. 20, pp. 388, 390, 391. 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 29 

God is the rule of obedience, and Christ is the pattern of obedience. Obedi- 
ence to God is an iroitation of God in righteousness and holiness ; we must 
therefore know the perfections of God, which we are to imitate, as well as 
the law of God, according to which we are to regulate our actions. Obe- 
dience therefore is described* to be nothing else but knowledge digested into 
will, affections, and practice. The motion of the will cannot be regular 
without a touch of the understanding. If the spring of the will's motion be 
from the affections and appetite only, it is an erroneous motion in regard of 
the order of nature, though to a right object. Now, where there is a defect 
in the first concoction, there will be a defect in the second and third : defect 
in knowledge will cause an error in practice. Alienation from God's life, 
i. e. from an imitation of his life, as well as animation by a living principle 
contrary to him, is rooted in the ' blindness of the heart,' Eph. iv. 18 ; and 
the reason men take steps from one sin to another, and are fruitful in ini- 
quity, is because they know not the Lord, Jer. ix. 3. When men are 
ignorant of the true God, they will not want Pharaoh's apology for their 
sin : ' Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go ?' 
Exod. V. 2. The whole mass of vice in the world ariseth from the false 
ideas of God, whom men shape according to their depraved fancies ; as the 
Ethiopians paint the image of their gods black, according to their own dark 
colour. Hence men receive encouragements to all kinds of vice, when they 
think God such an one as themselves. There is no truth nor mercy among 
the ten tribes, because there was ' no knowledge of God in the land,' Hos. 
iv. 1, 2. Had they known the nature of God, they could not have sinned 
at such a rate, as if they had passed beyond the limits and censure of any 

All obedience ariseth from knowledge. As error in knowledge was the 
first deformity of man, and the cause of all the rest, so the knowledge of 
God is the first line the Spu'it draws upon the soul, whence, as from the first 
matter, all those beautiful graces that appear in every region of the soul are 
formed. Every action of obedience, as it must be quickened with grace, so 
it must be informed with knowledge. Holiness must be a holiness of truth, 
springing up as a branch from truth as a root, Eph. iv. 24. True holiness, 
or in the Greek, ' holiness of truth.' As all rebellion against God steams 
up from a false conception of him, so goodness and holiness break out of the 
womb of a sound notion of him. The mind is first renewed ere the ' new 
man is created in righteousness,' Eph. iv. 23, 24. The apostle renders it 
impossible for a man to know God and willingly break his commands, and 
gives such a pretender to divine knowledge no better term than that of a 
liar : 1 John ii. 4, ' He that saith I know him, and keeps not his commands, 
is a liar, and the truth is not in him ;' he hath not a grain of a divine habit 
of truth resident in his heart. ' Know thou the God of thy fathers, and 
serve him with a perfect heart,' is David's directory to Solomon, 1 Chron. 
xxviii. 9. No service without knowledge, no sincere service without a 
spiritual knowledge of God in covenant. As ignorance of God is the cause 
of sin, so the knowledge and sense of him is the best antidote against it. 
Men cannot sin freely under an acquaintance with infinite fury. The com- 
mon knowledge of God and Christ brings forth some fruits of a sort of 
obedience in men, and cleanseth them from the common and barefaced pol- 
lutions of the world ; the common knowledge of God hinders many wicked 
men from hurting in his holy mountain. What more glorious fruits than 
bare appearances would the spiritual knowledge of God and Christ produce 
and ripen 'n the world ! 2 Pet. ii. 20. If we know him in the glory of his 
* Sibbes's Bruised Reed, p. 241. 

80 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 8. 

grace, in the amiableness of his nature, what a choice delight should we have 
in our approaches to him, and our actions for him ! The more clearly he 
is understood, the more he is beloved ; and the more he is beloved, the more 
readily he is obeyed. The angels that behold his face run most cheerfully 
to perform his errands, Ps. ciii. 20 ; and no doubt but the perfect illumina- 
tion of the glorified souls is a partial cause of the steadiness of their wills. 
Whatsoever looks like obedience, and is not informed by knowledge, is no 
more an act of true obedience than the action of a man in his sleep can be 
called a human action, since it is no product of his reason, but a start of 
his volatile fancy. Paul's questions were orderly wben he was charged by 
Christ, first, ' Who art thou ? ' then, ' What wilt thou have me to do ? ' 
Let me know whom I am to obey. 

(3.) No grace can be without the knowledge of God. Some knowledge 
of God may be without grace. The devils are as much filled with one as they 
are empty of the other. But it is not conceivable how grace can be without 
knowledge. The knowledge of God in the text may be called eternal life, 
because all graces, which are the seed of eternal life, grow up from that as a 
root. In the change of the soul there is an act of vision before an act of 
transfiguration ; the removing the veil before the turning the heart, 1 Cor. 
iii. 16. The eye is opened, light darts upon the understanding, and thence 
beams upon the will. The glory of God is beheld before the frame of the 
heart is changed, 1 Cor. iii. 18. The whole work of grace is therefore called 
' liffht,' as the whole state of nature is called * darkness,' 1 Peter ii. 9 ; as 
the understanding is the leading faculty, so knowledge, the privilege of the 
mind, is the directing principle that leads, and the will follows : the enlight- 
enings of the one make men immediately capable of the quickenings of the 
other. As the common knowledge of God makes men capable of sin, which 
a beast, because of the want of understanding, is not, so the special know- 
ledge of God in Christ puts men in a capacity for grace. The philosopher 
determines that moral virtues cannot be without intellectual. All divine 
motions in the soul are regular : every wheel in the watch moves in due 
order ; the faculties are not jumbled together ; the understanding commands, 
and the will obeys. Light first discovers, and will embraceth. The new 
creation,* as well as the old, begins with dijiat lux, whence all the creatures 
were to derive their beauty, and are more excellent and serviceable as they 
are endued with a more sparkling light. The knowledge of God and Christ 
is the chief ingredient which makes the composition of the inner man. As 
without light there could not be a visible world, so without this there cannot 
be a spiritual. As the common engrafted notions of God, left in men's 
hearts by nature, are the root from which common moral virtues grow, so 
the spiritual knowledge of God in the gospel is the root from whence divine 
graces branch themselves. No form without matter, no grace without know- 
ledge of God. No active principle can be without an object ; God is the 
object of grace. Whence the new creation of a man is called a ' translation 
from darkness,' Col. i. 13, and renewed men are called * light in the Lord,' 
Eph. V. 8 ; w^hen the mind, which was stufied with base and unworthy 
opinions of God, is made by the Spirit the candle of the Lord, spreading its 
licht through the whole man. All those things which ' pertain to godli- 
ness,' whereof grace is not the meanest, are * given through the knowledge 
of him,' 2 Peter i. 2, 3. This knowledge of God and Christ, shining upon 
the heart of a natural moral man, makes his moral virtues to commence 
spiritual graces ; as the more generous and commendable acts of a beast 
would cease to be brutish actions, and become human, if he had a rational 
* Vines' Impostures. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 31 

understanding infused into him. Without the knowledge of God's justice, 
we shall not fear him ; without knowledge of his ability and fidelity, we shall 
not trust him. Without knowledge of his goodness we shall not seek to him, 
and without a knowledge of his majesty we shall not humble ourselves before 
him. So that, without the knowledge of God, there will be no grace in the 
principle or habit. 

As to instance in particular graces. 

[1.] Faith cannot be without the knowledge of God and Christ. Without 
the knowledge of God, we know not the ultimate object of faith; without the 
knowledge of Christ, we know not the immediate object of faith and the way 
to come to God. This grace therefore is set in a double seat by divines, in 
the understanding and will ; it is properly a consent of the will, which cannot 
be without assent in the mind. Knowledge is antecedent to faith in order 
of nature : 2 Tim. i. 12, ' 1 know whom I have believed ;' Isa. xliii. 10, 
' That you may know and beheve that I am he.' Who can read that doth 
not know his letters ? who can believe that understands nothing of the per- 
fections of God or offices of Christ ? What image is in the inward sense 
was first in the outward organ ; what fiducial frame there is in the will was 
first ushered in by assent in the understanding: Heb. xi. 6, ' He that comes 
to God must know that he is.' The knowledge of the bare existence of God 
will not bring the creature to him ; but the knowledge that he is a rewarder 
will, because this knowledge includes an apprehension of some good in the 
object known, and so hath a spirit of life in it to quicken the aftections and 
elevate the heart, which was before dead to any such motion. That know- 
ledge which acquaints a man with no good in the object known will never 
excite any motion to it. No man can come to God, who is infinitely above 
him, unless he knows him to be infinitely good and ready to receive him. 
Who will apply himself to a prince or any other man for help, whom he 
thinks to be severe, sour, tyrannical, one more like to scofl' at his misery 
than relieve him ? There is, therefore, a necessity of the knowledge of God 
as a God of tender bowels, and therefore a necessity of the knowledge of 
Christ, in whom only he discovers himself to be a gracious Father. The 
spiritual knowledge of him in Christ is as an emission of virtue from the 
loadstone, that draws the iron to cleave to it. We must know the goodness 
the fountain, and his faithfulness the executor, of promises, and his power 
that enables him to be as great and good as his word. We never reasonably 
trust a man that we know not fit to be trusted : we cannot trust a God whom 
we know not to be the highest goodness. Men by reason know that there is 
a God, but it is so dim in the discovery of his perfections that it sees not 
light enough to raise it up to any close act of a fiducial dependence on him. 
The discovery of God in Christ in the heart sets the whole man a-crying out, 
Soul, return to thy rest ! 

[2.] No desire for God without it. The Israelites' stomachs were never 
sharpened for Canaan, but wambling towards Egypt, till they tasted the 
grapes of the country. The apprehension of God as true makes us adore 
him ; the apprehension of God as good makes us desire him. The more 
clearly we know his perfections, the more fervently we shall desire both to 
enjoy him and imitate him. How soon will such knowledge bud in desires, 
and blossom and flower in good affections ! ' If thou hadst known, thou 
wouldst have asked,' John iv. 10 ; if thou hadst a clear knowledge, thou 
wouldst have had an eager affection. The clearer the representations, the 
more nimble the desires. Doubtful and wavering conceits of the goodness 
of a thing keep back the appetite from any motion. If we know not how 
full a spring God is, and ready to emit bis streams, how can we thirst for 

82 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

his boundless communications to us ? Where there hath been a reUsh there 
will be an appetite, 1 Pet. ii. 3 ; desire of the word riseth from a taste that 
the Lord is gracious. Knowledge of a thing always precedes our appetite to 
it. A toad, not having the knowledge of its own venomous nature and the 
excellency of other creatures, can never desire the being stripped of his own or 
invested with the other. This desire after God springs not from a bare 
speculation, but a strong impression, a spiritual taste ; for a bare speculation 
hath no more strength to make a motion in the will than the poetical de- 
scriptions of far countries can persuade a potent prince to take a long voyage 
for the conquest, or a merchant to venture his stock thither for a trade. 
The more distinct and savoury our notions of God and his goodness are, the 
more ardent flame will be in our wills. The more distinctly a man conceives 
of the excellent relish and wholesomeness of this or that kind of meat, the 
more will his appetite be invited to taste of it, especially if before he hath 
sensibly enjoyed a satisfaction in it. And indeed, a strong appetite is a great 
sign of a spiritual illumination. It is ignorance of God chokes any longing 
for him, and makes us either not to desire the enjoyment of him, or beg for 
it very faintly. Men that never put up a quick prayer to him, never had 
any knowledge of God in them ; and when any of us pray faintly, our know- 
ledge of God is not actuated in us. Without some knowledge of God, men 
will rather shake ofi" all thoughts of him, all wishes for him, and no more 
desire the fruition of him than a blind mole desires to see the light of the 
sun. Their language is with those in Job, ' Depart from us,' not Come unto 
us. Job sxi. 14. Where there is no knowledge, there can be no fruition ; 
and where no desire of knowledge, there can be no desire of enjoyment. 

[3.] No love to God without knowledge of him. Though a thing be made 
up of delights, and hath an aniiableness interwoven in every part, yet, if it 
be not known, it cannot be aliected. We cannot love God ' with all our 
hearts,' with the afi'ective part, till we first love him ' with all our minds,' 
with om- reason and intelligent part, Mark xii. 30. Love always supposeth 
the knowledge of the beloved object, since it is nothing else but j^^'ffctim 
judicium de bono amato. Good cannot allure the affections, unless it be 
apprehended, and knowledge cannot inflame the affection unless the object 
be imagined as good : both must concur to the exciting love. None can 
pay a debt of love to anything till he knows it justly deserving and challeng- 
ing that love. No man in the world can be beloved by another till some- 
thing ba seen in him as lovely, either the wisdom of his head, the sweetness 
of his nature, the beauty of his person, or the obligingness of his carriage. 
How can we have any elevated affection to God, unless we understand the 
amiableness of his nature, the infiniteness of his perfections, and the expres- 
sion of them for the good of mankind ? How can it be expected any can 
have a heave of afiection to Christ, who understands nothing of those trea- 
sures of knowledge, grace, and wisdom wherewith he is replenished, who 
knows nothing spiritually and feelingly of the design of his coming, his low 
condescension, his yearning compassion, his full goodness, and his sincere 
affection ? Without it, we shall value God and Christ no more than a swine 
doth a pearl, a child a learned book, or a prince a heap of rubbish, no more 
than the Jews did the divinity of our Saviour hid in the weak casket of his 
humanity. The beams must be united together in the burning-glass, and 
shine directly upon the heart, before the affections will take fire. The daugh- 
ters of Jerusalem seemed to scorn him, and reproach the hot affections of the 
spouse, as if unworthily placed, or too fond in their exercise, till a glimpse of 
knowledge by her description quickened them with some heat of love, which 
kindled in them desires of seeking him : Cant. v. 9, ' What is thy beloved 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge: of god. 33 

more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us ?' whereupon she 
begins a description of his beauty, and then, Cant. vi. 1, they desire to seek 
him with her : so soon may a little spiritual knowledge of Christ dropped 
into the heart turn a scoffer into an admirer. Had the Jews known Christ 
to be the Lord of glory, they had never crucified him, 1 Cor. ii. 8 ; they had 
turned adorers instead of murderers. The mind must be spiritually illu- 
minated to see God in an evangelical lustre ; it must be filled with astonish- 
ing and affecting notions, of God before the heart can have a valuation of 
him, and a disesteem for the things of this world. The apostle indeed saith, 
1 Peter i. 8, ' Whom having not seen you love,' but he doth not say, ' whom 
having not known you love.' There is a knowledge of invisible things by 
faith, which takes possession of the heart by the ear, and attracts the affec- 
tions. Ignorance of God must be removed before an affection to him will 
take place, since it is not only a cause but a part of our enmity to him, Eph. 
iv. 18. We may have the knowledge of a scholar without the love of a Chris- 
tian, but we cannot have a Christian love without a Chi'istian knowledge and 
savoury apprehension of God and Christ. Unless we know the nature of God, 
we may love some false thing instead of God; and unless we know the nature 
of Christ, the union of his two natures, and the fulness of grace, we can never 
love him after a right manner. 

[4.] Joy and delight in God. I mean that delight which is a duty, not 
that which is only God's dispensation ; an active, not a passive, delight. 
Who can delight in music that cannot hear it, or be pleased with the scent 
of a rose that cannot smell it ? Who can delight in God that hath no sense 
of the goodness of his nature, and the happiness of fruition ? Who can 
delight in his ways, who doth not understand him as good and indulgent in 
his precepts, as he is sweet and bountiful in his promises ? If we did know 
him, we should be as easily drawn to rejoice in him, as by ignorance ws are 
induced to run from him. Such charms would be transmitted to our hearts 
as would constrain a joy in them, in spite of all other delights in perishing 
pleasures. Knowledge of God is a necessary preface to a spiritual joy in 
him, Ps. civ. 34. First, by a sweetness tasted in meditation, and then a 
delight in God, the object of it; and according to the apprehension we have 
of the object, are the degrees of our delight in it. It is all one to a blind 
man, be he in a palace richly furnished, or a dungeon hung with cobwebs. 
What pleasure can a man ignorant of God's nature and delightful perfections, 
and that represents him through some mistaken glass, which imprints un- 
worthy notions of God in his mind, what pleasure can such a man take in 
approaching to God, or what greater freedom can he have in coming to him, 
than a malefactor in being brought before a judge ? 

[5.] No repentance without the knowledge of God. The times of ignorance 
and impenitence are one and the same. Acts xvii. 30. If there be no right 
conception of the nature of God, there can be no sense of the evil of sin, and 
the contrariety of our nature to him ;* but when the soul sees God and sees 
itself, it will be filled with self-abhorrency. How can we bewail our offences 
if we understand not the purity of his holiness, the severity of his justice, 
the tenderness of his mercy, the irresistibleness of his pouer, and the iu- 
evitableness of his wrath ? 

[6.] No fear of God without it. As the justice of God and his anger must 

be apprehended before he can be feared slavishly, so the majesty of God and 

his goodness must be understood before he can be feared filially. Who can 

stand in awe of a majesty he is ignorant of ?f Men, not knowing God's 

* Gontraria juxta se posita magis illucescunt. f Barlow on Tim. par. i. p. 29, 


34 oharnock's works. [John XVII . 3. 

nature, have often presumed so much upon his mercy, that they have been 
destroyed by his justice ; as some, through ignorance of the true quahty of a 
fruit, have found their death where they expected their pleasure. 

[7,] No true patience without it. Since true blessedness consists in the 
spiritual and affectionate knowledge of God as the supreme good, no man 
can be truly content under crosses, who doth not apprehend the goodness 
and fulness of God and Christ. All patience not founded upon this bottom 
is a brutish stupidity. The apostle lays the courage of the believing Hebrews 
upon their spiritual illumination : Heb. x. 82, * After you were illuminated, 
you endured a great fight of afflictions.' When their light was great, their 
patience was steady ; and they had not only a contentedness under sufferings, 
but a joy in them, because they had an experimental sense and knowledge 
of God as a rewarder, and had some sweet foretastes of the rich inheritance 
be had provided for them : ver. 34, ' You took joyfully the spoiling of your 
goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and more 
enduring substance.' The feeling of Christ, and the tasting his sweetness, 
is the best antidote against temptation. He that knows no richer sweetness 
than is in the devil's baits, wdll easily be exposed to the danger of them. 
Without this knowledge, the slight impressions on men will be like a few 
heat drops, dried up by a scorching temptation almost as soon as they fall. 

As none of these graces can be without the knowledge of God and 
Christ, so 

(2.) Without it there can be no acting of any grace. All grace is nothing 
else but an imitation of God, a resemblance of God's perfections in the crea- 
ture, and the acting of it a representation of the lineaments of his divine 
virtues: Eph. v. 1, 'Be ye followers of God, as dear children.' The copy 
must be known before it can be imitated. It is a conformity to the image 
of Christ, Rom. viii. 29. All grace is summed up in a conformity to God 
and Christ ; for it is nothing but a restoration of the divine image, a re- 
implantation of that in the soul, which was defaced and lost by Adam. As 
the seal leaves the whole print upon the wax, even the least point engraven 
upon it, so doth God and Christ upon the heart. Every grace is a member 
and part of the "divine image, and answers in some proportion to some imit- 
able perfection of God. If we know nothing of the lineaments of God, how 
can we make a report of his excellency to the world in our actions ? How 
can we express ourselves in any virtue, if we know not the prototype, the 
first pattern ? The want of the knowledge of God made all the heathen 
virtues trivial things, mere shadows; the knowledge of God and Christ could 
only tincture and dye them into divine graces. Humility proceeding from 
some sordid humour or by-respects is not a grace, but when it springs from 
a knowledge of the condescensions of God, or contrariety to God, or a know- 
ledge of the humility of Christ, it is then a grace. 

How can we return lively affections to him, if we know not the emanations 
of his love ? How should we be at a loss for holiness if we understood 
nothing of the holy nature of God, and his hatred to sin ? How would the 
consideration of God's justice against sin help us in the exercise of our 
justice, in the mortification of our affections to it ; and the knowledge of the 
patience of God under affronts received by us make us patient and submis- 
sive under strokes inflicted by him ! It is this makes the Christian more 
signal in gracious actions towards others. How readily would his love 
break out to others in an imitation of God's love to man ! What a tender 
and compassionate disposition would be manifested to men if there were an 
actuated knowledge of God's mercy and compassion to us ! The considera- 
tion of God's veracity would render men faithful in promises ; the perfec- 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 35 

tions of God, if more spiritually known, would bring forth more of those 
pleasing fruits in the soul. It is impossible an act can be without an 
object ; nothing is grace but as it is conversant about God, or hath a respect 
to God. There can be no act about an unknown object. There can be no 
form without matter, nor any acting of that form but in matter ; no grace 
without knowledge, no acting of grace but in knowledge. The frame of 
grace is raised upon the infused notions of God ; illumination precedes 
renovation of the will. As the right motion of the will supposeth an en- 
lightened mind, so the acting of grace in the will implies a present and 
actuated knowledge of the object about which it is conversant. There is no 
faculty excited in any act but by some object ; that object is not entertained 
at first in any power of the soul, but in the understanding, that first pro- 
pounds the object as worthy and suitable to be followed by the other powers 
of the soul, whose office it is to act. All impressions upon the lower facul- 
ties are made by the highest, as all motions depend upon the highest sphere 
in the heavens. There must therefore be a distinct knowledge of God. 
God abstracted from his perfections, his power, holiness, faithfulness, love, 
is not the object about which any grace can be conversant, but God as 
revealing himself, clothed with such excellency as suit and answer the crea- 
ture's necessities. If I act faith, I must conceive of his power to relieve 
me ; if I act faith upon his promise, I must conceive of his faithfulness and 
truth to make good his word. We cannot work without light, nor act grace 
without the knowledge of God and Christ. If we must be ' perfect as God 
is perfect,' we must know the perfection of the copy we are to follow. The 
more knowledge we have of God, and of the nature, offices, and communi- 
cations of Christ, the more distinct are the actings of grace. 

(3.) No growth in grace without it. As the degrees of our knowledge 
are, so are the degrees of our grace : Rom. xv. 14, 'You are full of good- 
ness, filled, with all knowledge.' 'Growth in grace' is promoted by 'the 
knowledge of Jesus Christ,' 2 Peter iii. 18. The one is the root, the other 
the branch ; the root may be without the branch, but the branch can never 
grow without a root. As the root is strengthened, so are the branches ; 
what is in the root is communicated to the branches. If love flames more 
vehemently, it is by the addition of the fuel of knowledge : Philip, i. 9, ' That 
your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge, and in all judg- 
ment.' Love, which is a grace that adorns us in the world, and is a part 
of the glory of heaven, burns hotter as our knowledge is clearer. A firm 
and stable knowledge is as necessary to the increase of love as to the being 
of love ; 'E'^r/vuGii signifies a clear knowledge. Fruitfulness in every good 
work depends upon the increase of the knowledge of God, as the fruit of the 
ground upon the dew of heaven : Col. i. 10, ' Being fruitful in every good 
work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.' The strength of grace is 
promoted by the increase of knowledge : ' A man of knowledge increaseth 
strength,' Prov. xxiv. 5. The strengthening the foundation is a strengthen- 
ing the building. All graces depend upon the increase of faith, and faith is 
the firmer by an increase of knowledge. ' The path of the just,' or his walk 
in the ways of God, is expressed by a 'shining' or growing ' light,' Prov. 
iv. 18. As there was more truth, so there was more grace by Christ than 
by Moses, John i. 17. As there was but obscure truth under the law, bo 
there was but weak grace ; when truth shone, grace flourished ; as the plants 
renew their strength with the spring's sun. The law made no such dis- 
coveries of God as were revealed by Christ. The con mniacation of lhe 
greatest knowledge of God was reserved for the hcnour of the great Prophet, 
and the full eflusion of grace was reserved for the honour of l.is royalty. 

36 charnock's works. [John XYII. 3. 

All the declarations by the law could not give so much knowledge of truth 
as the gospel, and therefore make no such impression of grace upon the 
soul. Truth and grace go hand in hand together, and spur on one another. 
Truth excites grace, and grace spurs on to the inquiry after truth. Chrig, 
himself had not been full of grace unless he had been full of truth, thoroughly 
acquainted with the nature of God and mysteries of his will : John i. 14, 
' full of grace and truth.' It is the fulness of his human nature, for he 
speaks of the Word as made flesh and dwelling among us. And accordingly, 
when he prays for the increase of the disciples' graces, and their progressive 
sanctification, he prescribes the means : John xvii. 17, ' Sanctify them through 
thy truth ; thy word is truth.' The word is nothing else but a discovery of 
God, which aftbrds motives to holiness, and can strengthen the soul against 
all the invasions of the devil, that envies grace, and endeavours to rifle it. 
A spiritual knowledge of God would spring up in delightful thtjughts of him, 
and those would be as a refreshing influence to all the graces of the new 

(4.) No continuance in grace without it. True grace cannot be totally 
lost, but it may miserably decay. True grace will decay, and pretended 
grace will quite wither without it. As it is impossible any man can close 
with God in Christ without a knowledge of him, so it is as impossible that he 
can persist in that state without the continuance of that knowledge. Know- 
ledge of God is part of the ' anointing of the Spirit, which teacheth the be- 
liever all things,' 1 John ii. 27. Grace is the divine lamp in the soul, which 
lives and burns by the oil of the Spirit's teaching ; a lamp will out without 
oil to feed it, and grace will burn dim without knowledge to supply it. The 
apostle owns the knowledge of Christ to be the anchor that keeps us from 
being tossed to and fro like children, Eph. iv. 18, 14. Ignorance is the 
mother of inconstancy in the ways of God ; the unlearned and unstable go by 
couples, 2 Peter iii. 16. Where there is no knowledge of God to ballast, 
there is no security against the force of winds and waves. Those that are 
unlearned in heavenly wisdom will be unstable in heavenly ways. The want 
of root made the temporaries wither : unless we know God, we cannot/oZ/oji; 
on to know him, Hosea vi. 3. It is as natural for a saving knowledge ot 
God to press on farther as it is for a counterfeit knowledge to draw back. 
But an experimental sense will preserve the soul from apostasy : John iv. 14, 
* Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst,' 
i. e. he shall never thirst for anything else ; for this he cannot but thirst, 
till he comes to a full fountain. It is not a savoury knowledge of Christ it 
it be not attended with a thirst for more. Where there is only a sensitive, 
carnal apprehension of God and his truth, there may be some resolutions, 
some pangs, but the fit will quickly cease. The silly conceit of a bread and 
water from heaven, that should satisfy their hunger and quench their thirst, 
which might free them from toil and sweat in the world, made some Jews 
with lively affections cry out, John vi. 34, ' Evermoi'e give us this bread.' 
Christ by bread meant himself, and by eating he meant faith ; they under- 
stood it of earthly bread, and had their aff"ections accordingly ; but when 
they understood the truth of the case they ' turned their backs upon him,' 
ver. 66. How soon were their affections extinguished, which had nothing 
but a carnal apprehension for a foundation ! It is a ' full assurance of 
understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God the Father, and 
of Christ,' that preserves a soul from seduction by enticing words. Col. ii. 2, 4, 

3. No comfort can be without the knowledge of God and Christ. Peace 
as well as grace is multiplied by this, 2 Peter i. 2. Acquaintance with God 
is the channel through which the blessings of peace flow into our souls, Job 

John XYII. 3. J the knowledge of god. 37 

xxii. 21, 22, &c. All joy in or from God presupposeth a knowledge of him, 
for spiritual joy is seated in the mind, not in the sensitive part of the soul. 
All the pleasure that rational creatures have is by an act of their understand- 
ing. The light of knowledge begets the light of joy and peace in the heart, 
as the light m the body of the sun begets the light and shine in the air. The 
assurance of understanding doth arise from the ' acknowledgment of the 
mystery of God the Father, and of Christ,' Col. ii. 2 ; because the know- 
ledge of those is a means to beget assurance. In the light of God we enjoy 
the light of comfort : Ps. xxxvi. 9, ' In thy light we shall see light. There 
may be a knowledge of God, and a terror with it. The devils' knowledge 
renders them less at ease in themselves than an ignorance would ; though 
their knowledge of God be greater than others', yet it is more distasteful to 
them ; they have only a knowledge of God in his justice to terrify them, but 
no hopes of his mercy to pacify their troubles. Yet without it we can no 
more have any fruition of God, than a man whose senses are bound up with 
sleep can rejoice in the presence of beautiful pictures. As the operations of 
the will depend upon the touch of the understanding, so the comforts of the 
soul depend upon the clearness of the understanding contemplating the 
object. The best good, though never so near us, cannot be comfortable to 
us while we are under the darkness of ignorance ; nor can there be any com- 
fort without the knowledge of Christ. There was in Adam no necessity of 
the knowledge of Christ, because there was no necessity of his knowledge of 
a mediator in his innocent estate. He knew (Jod in his nature, and in his 
personal relations, and his works of creation ; but what a misery are we in 
without the knowledge of Christ as well as God ! What pleasure can we 
have in the apprehensions of an oflended and injured God, unless we know 
him in the methods of his reconciliation, which cannot be understood but by 
the knowledge of Christ, because no atonement is made by any but him ? 
The more any knows of God without Christ, the more he knows of a de- 
plorable contrariety to him. "What spark of joy can he have unless he can 
see a way of bringing God down to him, or of his ascent to God, unless God 
would strip himself of his nature to converse with him, or he be uncloihed 
of his corruption to be fit to converse with God ? He sees terror as well as 
sweetness, wrath as well as grace. The knowledge of Christ, as receiving 
the darts of God's wrath upon himself, to reflect upon the soul the beams of 
his grace, must step in before the thoughts of God can be comfortable any 
more to us than to devils. 

(1.) No comfort in this life. Without godliness there can be no rational 
satisfaction, and sensitive comforts deserve not the name of a rational con- 
tentment. Godliness and contentment are coupled together by the apostle, 
1 Tim. vi. 6. Godliness is nothing but the spiritual and practical know- 
ledge of the mysteries of God. Nothing can have any real comfort without 
answering and attaining the end of its being. The end ot our creation was not 
simply to enjoy the creature, cr satisfy our sense, but to glorify God, to ob- 
serve the prints of God's goodness, and return the praise to him. The 
world was made for the manifestation of God's goodness ; ' the heavens de- 
clare the glory of God ' m-iterially, man is to give God the glory of it form- 
ally ; without this, man hath not a pleasure suitable to the end of his crea- 
tion. What praise now can any one render to God who knows not the 
excellency stamped upon his works, knows not his glory and goodness mani- 
fested in redemption ? All praise of God without understanding is not 
pleasant to the offerer, and as unwelcome to God as the ;-craping of a lute by 
an ignorant hand is to a delicate ear. We are to ' praise God with under- 
standing,' Ps. xlvii. 7, i.e. with a knowledge of his nature, his works, hia 

38 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

excellencies in him. We lose the comfort of our being by not answering the 
end of our creation, and this we cannot do without a knowledge of God and 
Christ, and so lose ihe pleasure of those raptures and ecstasies of joy, which 
an observation and praise of God fills the soul with in secret. What rise 
is there for this, if we are unacquainted with the matter and object of this 
praise ! 

(2.) No pleasure and comfort to one ignorant of God, if he were admitted 
into heaven. The happiness of heaven consists in a clear knowledge of God, 
and a pure affection to him. It is as impossible for a man remaining igno- 
rant of God to take any pleasure in him, were he admitted into the local heaven 
where God displays his glory, as for a blind man placed upon a high tower 
to relish a delight in the beautiful prospect, so long as he wants eyes to be- 
hold it. Such an one would want happiness in the midst of an ocean of it, 
as a millstone in the midst of the sea wants moisture in the centre, because 
of the thickness and harshness of its parts. He that takes no pleasure in 
inquiring after God, and seeing him in the gkss of the gospel, would take 
as little or less in seeing him face to face. An unenlightened mind could have 
as little delight in heaven, by reason of its ignorance, as an unrenewed will 
could, by reason of its impurity. A swine that understands not the delicacies 
of a musical air would rather run away affrighted at a loud concert than 
diligently listen, and take more satisfaction in a puddle or heap of garbish, 
things suited to his sense and nature, than in those objects he hath no con- 
ception of. 

IV. What are the properties of this knowledge of God and Christ, where- 
by it is distinguished from that knowledge, which is not saving and eternal 

1. Negatively. 

(1.) It is not an immediate knowledge of God and Christ. As we are 
acquainted with a man face to face when we see his person, and view his 
features ; we have no such knowledge of angels, much less of God. Nay, 
the things of the world which are visible to us are not known so much in 
their formal nature as by their operations ; we do not immediately know the 
sun so much as by his beams enlightening the earth, and quickening and 
refreshing the spirits of all creatures. It is more especially true of our 
knowledge of God, who is not known immediately in his nature, so much as 
by his excellent works of creation, providence, redemption, and the revela- 
tion of invisible mysteries in his word. The invisible things of God are 
understood, not by immediate speculations about the nature of them, but by 
the things that are made, Rom. i. 20.* Those things that are invisible in 
God, and that cannot be known or seen with an immediate view, do shine 
forth in his works, both in the first forming them and the constant preser- 
vation of them, wherein he discovers such marks of an infinite power and 
unexpressible goodness, which is the glory of his Godhead, that if they were 
represented in a glass they could not be more visible. He is encircled with 
that ocean of light through which no mortal eye ever did pierce, or can ap- 
proach to : 1 Tim, vi, 16, ' He dwells in light to which no man can 
approach ; whom none hath seen, or can see.' It is used to express the 
impossibility of an immediate knowledge of God. We see the created light 
of the sun overpowers the eyes of our body ; how much more the glori- 
ous light of God the eyes of our souls, since he ' clothes himself with light 
as with a garment!' Ps. civ. 2. As the sun, though it discovers other 
things to us by its light, yet by reason of the greatness of its light hinders 
* Amyraut, in loo. 

John XVII. 3.j the knowledge of god. 39 

us from an immetliate sight of itself ; so, though God discovers himself in 
other things to us by his light, yet it is too immense for us to have an im- 
mediate knowledge of God. In his appearance to the Israelites, he was 
covered with a cloud, to shew the weakness of our understandings about 
divine things ; and how easily is it dazzled at his ineffable brightness ! 

(2.) Nor is it a comprehensive knowledge. When the psalmist had 
floods of precious thoughts of God in the day, the next morning he was as 
far from finding him out to perfection as before : Ps. cxxxix. 17, 18, ' When 
I awake, I am still with thee,' i. e. I am where I was ; I have made no fur- 
ther progress, but am to begin again, so infinite are thy perfections. Moses, 
that was dignified with the greatest familiarity with God, could arrive no 
higher than the sight of his back parts. A beast, by seeing our actions, 
may better comprehend our nature than we comprehend the nature of God. 
To know comprehensively is to contain, and the thing contained must be 
less than that which contains, and therefore if a creature could comprehend 
the essence of God, he would be greater than God. It is infinitely more 
difficult for any creature to comprehend the nature and perfections of God, 
than it is easy, upon the sight of his works, to acknowledge there is such an 
incomprehensible being ; he makes darkness his pavilion and hiding-place. 
The comprehensive knowledge of himself is only within himself, and none 
can know God as he knows himself, unless he were God ; his name is secret : 
Judges xiii. 18. 

God is the highest in the rank of beings, the chiefest in the scale of good, 
the supreme in the nature of the intelligent ; man is the lowest of intelligent 
creatures. How can he that is in the lowest form of reasonable creatures 
mount up to the knowledge of the supreme author of all beings ? We are 
not able to conceive of God as he is, because our apprehensions take their 
first rise from sense and sensible objects. There must needs then be an in- 
finite distance between our conceptions of God and his nature, as the con- 
ception that a man that never saw the sun hath of the sun, by the light of a 
Ciindle which he hath seen, is far inferior to the glorious nature of that 
luminary. Christ only knows the Father, and ' he to whom the Son will 
reveal him ;' yet upon Christ's revelation no man can know God compre- 
hensively ; not for any weakness of revelation, but incapability in the 
creature. The ocean hath water enough to fill the biggest vessel, yet it can 
give no more to it than the vessel is able to contain. 

[1.] We cannot comprehend the creatures that are near to us. Not to 
speak of angels, that are creatures of another sphere, whose nature we are 
not able to measure, and whose appearances were formidable to the behevers 
nnder the Old Testament, we find our reasons twinkle at the sight of a star ; 
though we behold its sparklings, we cannot understand fully the nature and 
dimensions of it. How are our reasons blocked up by clouds of matter from 
piercing into the nature of a stone we tread on ! How are we puzzled to 
know the soul of an ant, the forms of beasts and plants ! Is not the acutest 
reason too blunt to pierce into their hidden natures ? How are we then able 
to ascend into the cabinets of the almighty Creator ! How blind are we in 
the nature of our own sonls, which we bear about in our bodies every day, 
and feel the operation of in every motion ! How then can we ' by search- 
ing find out the Almighty unto perfection ?' If all the wit of the world hath 
not been able to content the understanding of man, in the reason of the ebbs 
and floods of the sea, the intervals of an ague, the nature of the sun, the at- 
tractive virtue of the loadstone, and a thousand other things which nonplus 
the reason of man, is it possible to comprehend God ? If we know not the 
works of nature, can we think to know the Author of nature ? Are we 

40 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

ignorant of the nature of the effects, and shall we think fully to understand 
the cause of them, which infinitely surpasseth tbem ? If we know not the 
world, which is as a point, it cannot be thought that we can comprehend the 
circumference itself. 

[2.] In heaven, God shall not be comprehensively known. It is true there 
will be a fuller perception of God, and a clearer notion of him in heaven ; 
the infinite treasures of wisdom and goodness, which lie hid in God to be ad- 
mired, will be then more clearly seen ; yet God can never descend from his 
own infiniteness to be gi'asped by a created understanding. For in the 
highest pitch of glory the soul is but finite, and therefore still too short to 
enclose an infinite being in its understanding, even to an endless eternity. 
In heaven, the glorified soul is still but a creature. Heaven glorifies our 
natures, but doth not make our being infinite ; and till a creature can mount 
to the pitch of a creator, it can never understand the nature of the Deity. 
When Moses desired to see God's face, or essence, Exod. xxxiii. 18, that 
God might be known to him as the person of a man is known to another by 
the discovery of his face, God tells him not, thou sludt not see, or thou 
maijest not see, but canst not see my face : verse 20, ' For there shall no 
man see my face and live,' i. e. as the Jews expound it,* no created un- 
derstanding can attain this. That one perfection of his love which we are 
more sensible of, and are exhorted to know the length and breadth of, yet 
the apostle tells us in the same breath that it ' passeth knowledge,' Eph. iii. 
17, 18, 19 ; and the peace of God, which is an effect of his love, ' passeth 
all understanding,' Philip, iv. 7. And though it be said, 1 John iii. 2, that 
' we shall see him as he is,' it is most convenient to understand it of the 
sight of Christ in his visible human nature at the day of judgment, and not 
of the essence of God ; for he speaks of the appearance of God, understand- 
ing Christ's appearance, which tlie Scripture frequently speaks of. There 
will, indeed, in heaven be a wider enlarging the faculty, and a fuller dis- 
covery of the object, greater sparklings of light and glory, enough to satisfy; 
yet still the perfections of God will be above our comprehensions ; the un- 
derstanding will be dilated and strengthened, a clear light put into it, which 
is not any species of God, but a spiritual principle created by God to perfect 
the understanding for the contemplation of him. 

[3.] The angels, who have had the fullest vision of God since their creation, 
cannot know God perfectly ; and that upon the same reason, because they 
are creatures. There must be some proportion between the faculty and the 
object, but there is none between a finite understanding and an infinite 
eesence. They know God in a more excellent manner than other creatures 
can do in the world ; they stand before his face, they see the signs of his 
glorious presence ; but their contracted understandings cannot comprehend 
the essence of God, which hides itself in the secret place of eternity. If 
God could be grasped by any finite understanding, though angelical, he were 
not infinite. The angels signify as much by the covering their faces before 
the throne of the divine Majesty, that the majesty of God is too mysterious 
for the most capacious understanding, Isa. vi. 2. And, therefore, it is 
generally said that the human nature of Christ, f though being straitly united 
to the divine nature, he did behold the divine essence, yet could not com- 
prehend it, because the human nature was finite, and a creature. 

Nor can we have a comprehensive knowledge of Christ ; the Spirit doth 
take of Christ's, to shew to the believers, John xvi. 14, 15 ; but not all of 

* Maimon. de Fiindam. legis, cap. i. sec. 10, p. 6, 7. 

t WoUeb. compend. lib. i. c. 16. the humanity of Christ did see God «a«, but not 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 41 

Christ's, for all the things of Christ cannot be shewn to any man ; as his 
divine nature, being infinite and incomprehensible. We know Grod, as we 
know the sea ; we behold the vastness of its waters, but we cannot measure 
the depths and abysses of it. Yet we may be said truly to see it, as we 
may touch a mountain with our hands, but not grasp it in our arms. We 
know God to be omnipotent and immense, but we cannot comprehend his 
power and immensity. Nor can we know the counsels of God ; we may as 
well expect to span the heavens, and enclose the sea in a nut-shell, as to un- 
derstand those judgments which are ' past finding out,' Rom. xi, 33. So 
that this is not the knowledge God requires of us, or that can be called our 
happiness, but that we should know what kind of God he is — merciful, just, 
wise, holy, true, — and how those perfections are manifested in Christ. Yet, 
because we cannot comprehend him, the more we ought, and the more we 
shall, admire him. Our admirations of the brightness of the sun are greater, 
by how much the less we can look upon the body of it without winking 
and shielding our eyes from the onset of his beams : so should they be of 

(3.) Neither is it a perfect knowledge of God in this life, so far as it is 
possible for a creature to know him, that is required. Our knowledge of 
God in this life is as the knowledge of him in a glass, obscure, and apt to be 
dimmed by the steams and breath of our unworthy afi'ections and notions of 
him. We cannot arrive to great measures because of the misty cloud upon 
our minds, the beam of sin in our eye ; our soul, clogged with a fleshly clay, 
cannot ascend to a perfect knowledge of Grod. We are like a man closed up 
in a room, where light comes in at some crannies and chinks of the shutters; 
and though the sun shine ever so clearly, he cannot behold the glory of it 
while he remains thus closed up. While we are in this dungeon of flesh, 
clouded with sin, we cannot know the glory of Christ, till we are freed from 
that darkness by taking away the shuts and obstacles. We have still thick 
scales upon our eyes, and too much of the veil upon our hearts. Paul, that 
was ennobled with extraordinary revelations, yet pretended to no higher a 
knowledge of him than ' as in a glass,' and that not clear, but ' darkly,' 
1 Cor. xiii. 12. The fuller knowledge is reserved for another life. We 
must know him here by his name, not by his face ; by his grace, not by his 
glory. Who can see so well with sore eyes as when the oigan is healed ? 
Christ looks ' through the lattice,' Cant. ii. 9, gives us an imperfect sight 
of himself. God ket-ps back much of the knowledge of himself to humble 
us for our first curiosity in Adam, our common root, and to whet our long- 
ings after another world, wherein we shall know Christ no more by a 
stooping faith, but an ascending vision ; when we shall, as it were, with 
Thomas, put our hands into his wounds. Yet a periection in the knowledge 
of Christ, as well as in grace, must be aimed at in this life. So the apostle 
did, Philip, iii. 12 : he ' followed after, if he might apprehend;' and all that 
are sincere are thus minded. He did not apprehend all of Christ, but 
laboured still in inquiries after him, and tuok greater strides in his journey 
to him. Light of knowledge is sown here, but the harvest is above. We 
can never totally shake ofi' our ignorance, till we surmount our natural cor- 

(4.) The knowledge of God and Christ which is saving, differs not from 
other knowledge in regard of the object, but the manner of knowing and 
the effects of knowledge. One knows by a natural understanding, and 
knows God in the Scripture as he would know a thing written in any 
other book : the other knowledge is by an understanding opened to take 
in more fully what is presented. The shutters which barred cut the 

42 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

light are pulled down, whereby the light breaks into the room more clearly : 
Luke xxiv. 45, ' Then opened he their understandings.' Two may behold 
the same picture, the object is the same ; but one having a more piercing 
eye, and exacter judgment, will better discern the lineaments and beauty of 
the work, which the other cannot perceive, though he views the same object. 
Suppose a beast that knows his master, and the servants that gave him food, 
were changed into a man, and endued with a rational soul, he would have 
the same object of knowledge ; but he would know them in another manner, 
with an understanding given ; whereas he knew them before only by a cus- 
tomary sight, a strength of imagination. And another kind of knowledge in 
the effects. A child of a year old may know his parents, his father, mother, 
and the servants ; but when he grov,'s up, though there be no change of the 
object, yet there is in the effects of his knowledge. He knows them with 
more reverence, with more rational affections, with expressions of duty. So 
the knowledge of God differs in a sound Christian from the knowledge others 
have under the preaching of the gospel ; he knows God and Christ in a 
clearer manner, with a spiritual eye, and brings forth affectionate and prac- 
tical fruits of that knowledge. 

2. What this knowledge of God is affirmatively. The world pretends to 
know God, but Christ flatly denies it, and appeals to his Father for the truth 
of it in his last prayer : John xvii. 25, ' The world hath not known thee, but 
I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.' That 
part of the world that Christ had preached to and declared the message 
from his Father, knew not God; they heard the report of him, they could 
not but know the doctrine delivered, but they rejected it, refused the em- 
bracing of it, and therefore it was no knowledge of God. He that hath a 
true sense of God cannot but love him, trust in him, humble himself before 
him, hope in him, resign up himself to him, and bless and praise him for 
his manifestation. 

The difierence therefore of this knowledge from any other is, 

1. In regard of the effects. 

2. In regard of the manner of knowing. 
1. In regard of the effects. 

(1.) It is a transforming knowledge. Such a knowledge which doth 
necessarily include a conformity to the object. There is an external mani- 
festation of God in the gospel to the ear, an internal manifestation in the 
heart. The one is called a report, the other a revelation, Isa. liii. 1. The 
common privilege of the gospel is to be heard ; the special, to be manifested 
to the saints by a powerful operation in the heart : Col. i. 26, 27, this 
' mystery ' is ' made manliest to his saints, to whom God would make known 
what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is 
Christ in you the hope of glory.' When Christ is made known in them the 
hope of glory, as well as to them ; when the knowledge of God in his 
grace, and the history of Christ in his nature, offices, and passion, is turned 
into an image and stamp, working the heart into its own form. Such a 
manifestation of God spiritually as men have of God naturally : Rom. i. 19, 
' That which may be known of God is manliest in them,' as well as shewn 
to them ; shewed to them in the creatures, manifest in their consciences ; 
notions of God riveted that cannot be blotted out though resisted by 
flesh. In the saving knowledge, the notions of God in his gospel discovery, 
and of Christ in his mediation, are manifest in the heart, insinuating them- 
selves secretly into the inward parts of the soul, and moulding the heart into 
the form of the evangelical doctrine. Such a revelation of God and Christ 
in a man as changeth the whole frame and model of counsels and counsellors 

John XVII. 3.] tue knowledge of god. 43 

which before were followed : Gal. i. 16 : When Christ was revealed in him, 
he • conferred not with flesh and blood.' The historical knowledge of 
Christ is a knowledge of Christ in the purity and misery of his flesh ; the 
other is a knowledge of Christ in the renewing of his Spirit. The one is a 
knowledge of ihe truth as it is in the doctrine ; the other a knowledge of the 
truth as it is in Jesus, a transcribing the copy in the heart. The knowledge 
of the one is like a man's sight of a star, he gazeth upon it, but is not 
turned into the image and sparkling beauty of that star ; the other is like a 
man's knowledge of a virtuous person, whose amiable endowments and car- 
riage he admires, and from an admiration proceeds to imitation, and framing 
himself according to that pattern. When knowledge creates love, love 
delights to draw the picture of the beloved person. 

[l.j This change is the proper end of this knowledge, therefore it cannot 
be a right knowledge till it doth attuin the end. As the end of the Isi'aelites' 
looking upon the brazen serpent was to be changed from wounded to sound 
men, from dying to living, the end of the angel's moving the waters in the pool 
of Bethesda was to enrich them with an healing virtue for the cure of bodily 
distempers ; the end of this motion was not attained unless some cure were 
wrought. The forming of Christ in the head, changing the notions in the 
mind, is in order to a Christ formed in the heart, changing the inclinations 
of the will and the temper of the soul. A renewing in knowledge is in order 
to the renewing the image of God : Col. iii. 10, ' Renewed in knowledge 
after the image of him that created them,' removing the ignorance to remove 
the deformity. It is expressed by opening the eyes, but with such a virtue 
lodged by it in the heart that attracts it from tlie devil to God : Acts 
xxvi. 18, ' To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and 
from the power of Satan unto God.' The motion of the will is the end of 
light in the understanding. When the eye is opened to behold the truth, 
the next step is a change of false notions of God and religion to true ; after 
that, a conversion from Satan the prince of darkness, to God the father of 
lights ; then follows justification, sanctification, and the completeness of 
happiness. Not only the beginning of this change, but the progress of it 
till it arrive to perfection, depends upon our looking on Christ : 2 Cor. iii. 18, 
' With open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed 
into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.' The 
glory of God and Christ are beheld and known in the glass of the gospel, 
and a divine beauty conveyed, as was to Moses in his converse with God, by 
a reflection of his beams, just as the rising sun changeth the air into its own 
likeness, and transforms the world from the deformity of darkness to the 
beauty of light, or colours laid upon canvass assimilate it to the object whose 
picture it is. There is a reflection from the understanding to the will 
whereby this change is wrought, and it is by look after look that it is per- 
fected to a full resemblance, according to the degrees of spiritual knowledge. 
When this knowledge is enUghteninrj, it is the image of God in the mind; 
when it is eniiveninf/, it is the image of God in the heart ; a picture of God 
and Christ, drawn in the understanding, which enamours the will, and assi- 
milates the whole soul to God. The gospel is this glass, which doth not 
only represent the object, but alters the complexion of the soul. This trans- 
formation is the end of the opening the eye, that the object may be viewed, 
and the heart changed thereby. As human knowledge is insignificant unless 
it attain the end of knowledge, so is divine, or the knowledge of God. The 
Bublimest knowledge of God, therefore, which centres not in this end, is to 
no purpose, unless to aggravate our sin and sharpen our misery. This is 
not gained by a loose knowledge, as a man knows the sun by his beams ; 

44 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

but he hath not the image of the sun in the ball of his eye unless he look 
upon the body of it. 

[2.] The change of the soul to a perfect glory in heaven depends upon 
the perfect knowledge of God and Christ ; and therefore the change here 
depends upon this knowledge. This knowledge therefore cannot be a right 
knowledge without this, which is the proper efi'ect of it. The vision of 
Christ in his glorious state shall then cause likeness to him : 1 John iii. 2, 
' We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.' We shall see him in 
his glory ; we shall, by that view, be transformed into the image of his 
glory, as by contemplating his virtues we are here changed into the image 
of his grace. The devils and wicked men shall see him in his glory at his 
appearance, but not be happy by him, because their knowledge of him doth 
not change their devilish complexion. As it is an uncomfortable knowledge 
of him then which doth not change the soul into the image of his glory, so 
it is a miserable knowledge of him here that doth not alter us into the image 
of his grace. The true knowledge of God works the same efl'ects here, 
according to its degrees, as it will hereafter. As a perfect sight will draw the 
clearest and fullest lineaments of God in the heart, so an imperfect know- 
ledge of him here must cause some shadows and imperfect draughts of him 
in the soul. It is not else a knowledge of the right stamp. 

[3.j Such an effect of the knowledge of Christ is therefore necessary. 
Every notion of God and Christ in the mind must spring up into a new 
gi-ace in the will, and be as a root of life in the heart ; it will else be but as 
a feather in the cap or flower in the hand, which will make a little show 
and wither, and leave no prints behind it but those of condemnation. That 
knowledge of God which is not beautified with grace, instead of making us 
amiable Christians, will render us deformed devils. 

Well, then, consider, do we find grace conformable to our knowledge of 
God and Christ ? Doth the knowledge of God's holiness in Christ render 
our souls holy ? Doth the consideration of his majesty sink us into humi- 
lity ? Doth the thoughts of his condescension lay the soul at his feet ? 
Doth the knowledge of his power subdue our pride, the knowledge of his love 
transform us into love and affection ? Doth grace in our hearts bud forth 
from the notions of our head ? It is then such a knowledge of God as 
secm-es our happiness. Do we see Christ in the brightness of his divine 
nature, and the veil of his human, to admu-e his condescending kindness '} 
Do we know him travelling to mount Calvary, in the greatness of his strength, 
to spring up sorrow for our sins ? Do we see him wrestling with devils, to 
pull the prey of precious souls out of his hand, to rest upon his power ? Do 
we know him oflering up to the justice of God the full satisfaction of blood, 
and paying the demanded debt to a farthing, to accept of him as a propitia- 
tion ? Do we know him wielding a royal sceptre by the will of his Father, 
to obey his authority ? Do we know him pierced, and know him raised ? 
know him on the cross and on the throne ? in the reproaches of men and 
the gloiy of his Father ? to be assimilated to him in the likeness of his 
death and the quickenings of his resurrection ? It is then a living know- 
ledge, such a knowledge as now buds and blossoms, and will ripen up to 
eternal life. 

2. It is an affective knowledge. All saving knowledge is full of sense. 
The beams of truth in the mind beget a kindly heat in the will. The under- 
standing forms motives of fear and love of God, and offers them to the will 
to be pursued ; the soul desires to know him more, that it mav love him. 
Some, therefore, define divinity to be affective.* All men have some 
* Ales. 

John XVII. 3,] the knowledge of god. 45 

knowledge of God objectively, but it is not formally a divine knowledge, 
without the affections of love to him, and delight in him. This saving know- 
ledge is a knowledge of a reality in God and Christ. Another may have 
clearer notions, know truths in their connections, but a Christian knows 
with a more excellent knowledge, because more affective, with a heat as well 
as light. What shines upon the head kindles love in the heart. Others have 
the same object of knowledge, but it appears not in that amiableness to 
them ; there is a difference between a rational and spiritual knowledge, as 
there is between the Spirit, the author of the one, and reason, the spring of 
the other. Natural knowledge lies sleeping in the head, without jogging the 
affections ; spmtual light cannot be without spiritual heat: Luke xxiv. 31, 32, 
* Their eyes were opened, and their hearts burned.' The one hath light like 
that of a torch; the other influence, as well as hght, like that of the sun. 
It is the property of light not only to enlighten, but heat. Some, therefore, 
make fire to be nothing else but condensed light, and light to be rarefied 
fire. The true light of God is always accompanied with a flame of love, 
which clasps about the object. The divine philosopher could say, that 
souls, first by a view, and then by a love of the divine beauty, recover their 
wings, and fly up to their heavenly country. Have we, therefore, not only 
a shine in our heads, but a warmth in our hearts ; not only a beam in our 
minds, but a spark in our afiections ? It is then a saving knowledge of God. 
Both must go together ; knowledge without affections is stupid, and affec- 
tions without knowledge are childish. The diviner the light in the mind, 
the warmer will love be in the soul. The clearer and stronger the beams 
upon the wall, the stronger will be the reflection. In knowledge, we are 
passive in the reception of the divine beams ; by affection, we are active, and 
give ourselves to God. 

To prove this, consider that, 

(1.) All the knowledge we have of God is insignificant to happiness, with- 
out suitable affections. God's end is not so much to be known by us, as to 
be loved by us, and the discovery of himself is in order to a return of affec- 
tions from us : John xiv. 21, ' He that loves me, shall be loved of my Father;' 
not he that only knows me. "We cannot suppose that in heaven the blessed 
are enriched with a greater light, but that they may be spirited with a 
greater love. Love and holiness are the perfection of the soul there, and 
contemplation but a means to bring in the heart to him. It is more glo- 
rious to love than barely to know. Those that distinguish the orders of 
angels, place the seraphim above the cherubim, because they have a more 
ardent love, as well as the clearer knowledge. If we want love to others, the 
apostle accounts us ignorant of God, because God is love : 1 John iv. 8, 
* He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love.' Much more is he ig- 
norant of God, that is empty of affection to him, who is more amiable than 
any creature. It is one thing to know God, and another to retain God in 
our knowledge. One may be said to know God, who can discourse rationally 
of God, as those philosophers could, Rom. i. 28 ; but they retain God in 
their knowledge, that are inflamed with affection to him, and scorn all things 
in comparison of him. Though we may seem to have a clear knowledge, it 
cannot be thriving without this, not continuing ; when anything is loved 
equally with him, there may soon be a forsaking of him. All the knowledge 
a natural man hath of God, is such a sight of the excellency of God and 
Christ, and his truths, as a beast hath of a diamond ; he seeth it sparkling, 
but knows not its real worth, and therefore hath no satisfaction in it, nor 
affection to it. 

[1.] Since this knowledge is transforming, it cannot be so without affection. 

46 charnock's works. [John XVII. 8. 

Without knowleelge of him, we can never affect him ; and without affections, 
we can never be like him. We are not changed into his image till we be- 
hold his beauty so as to love and adore him. It is not only a beam of his love- 
liness, but a ray of his love, that changeth the temper of the soul. Though 
the light of the fire attends the heat of it,* yet it is not the light, but the 
heat, transforms combustible matter into fire. It was not Christ's know- 
ledge of us, but love to us, stooped the divine nature to assume ours ; 
nor our knowledge, but faith and love, that elevates us to the divine. As 
Christ is a Sun of righteousness, not only shining, but warming, if we be 
like him, there must not only be light in our minds, but warmth in our 

[2.] It could be no better than the knowledge of a'devil. If we had as 
high a knowledge of God as an angel hath, without affections suitable to the 
angelical state, it would be our torment, not our happiness. This saving 
knowledge differs from the other, as the knowledge of angels doth from 
that of devils. The light in their minds hath sprung out into a constant 
affection ever since their creation, and could never see a spark in anything 
else to draw them to any dislike of God. The devils have a knowledge of 
God, but are as much empty of aftection to him as the angels are of any 
hatred of him. The knowledge of the good angels would be their torment, 
as well as the knowledge of the devils, if they had not flames of love, as well 
as beams of light. That only is true knowledge that acts us to a con- 
junction with God. 

[3.] The knowledge of any object is to little purpose without a suitable 
affection. As a man hath not a right knowledge of sin, unless he feel the 
dreadful weight of it, so as to loathe it, — Ezek. xxxvi. 31, ' Then shall you 
remember your own evil ways, and shall loathe yourselves for your ini- 
quity' ; — nor a light knowledge of the wor.1, unless he doth believe it; nor 
a right apprehension of the world unless he counts it contemptible ; so no 
man knows God aright unless his heart be set upon him, according to the 
worth of the object known, and the savour of the ointments of Christ. It 
is impossible a man can have an intellectual spiritual view of God, but he 
must see him amiable and worthy of bis choicest affections ; and he cannot 
be so injurious to himself and his own sentiments, as not to give his own 
apprehensions their due by giving God's amiableness his. He cannot be 
said, therefore, to have any sound apprehension of God, who hath not a 
choice affection to him, and delight in him. He that doth not praise the 
skill of an artist in his workmanship, discovers either his ignorance or his 
envy. As a faith without works hath no better a title from the apostle than 
a dead faith, James ii. 20, so a knowledge without love is no better than a 
dead, stupid knowledge, a knowledge buried in the grave of earthly affec- 
tions. No man can be so stripped of affection to himself, as to neglect that 
good which he doth really know. No man can imagine that another appre- 
hends that as excellent, with which there is not a full closure of his affec- 
tions. If Moses had not slighted the treasures of Egypt for the reproach 
of Christ, he had not testified any ti-ue knowledge and esteem of him, 
Heb. xi. 26. 

Well, then, can that man be said to know God to be clothed with majesty, 
before whom angels cover their faces, and mountains tremble, who hath no 
fear to offend him ? Doth he know God to be a consuming fire, and himself 
but stubble, that bath no dread of God ? Doth he know the mercy of God, 
who hath no care to please him, but presumes upon his goodness ? Can he 

* Fatal Doom, or Charms of Divine Love, p 9, changed. 

John XVII. 3.j the knowledge of god. 47 

be said to know God's holiness, that hath no sense of his own uncleanness ? 
Doth that man know Christ to be a blessed Redeemer, who doth not fall at 
his feet ? Doth he know him groaning upon the cross for sin, and bruised 
for it, who lets that sin live with welcome in his soul, which grieved and 
bruised him ? If knowledge in the head doth not work spiritual affections 
in the heart, it can never be put upon the account of a saving knowledge ; 
it is not really knowledge, but only a pretence to it. 

(2.) Without affection, we answer not the end of the knowledge of God. 
The revelation of God is made to us for our imitation, he is discovered as 
the chiefest good and the exactest pattern. The sum of the law consists in 
love, and the end of the gospel manifestation is to engage our love. Christ 
is not represented only as a dying man, but as God-man dying for the sins 
of the world, suffering in our stead, and therefore to raise our affections, not 
to content our curiosity. Faith and love must join hands, 1 Tim. i. 14. 
The gospel, which is a representation of God in Christ, is said to be worthy, 
not of observation, but of acceptation, ver. 15, and worthy of observation in 
order to acceptation. The knowledge of a law is to raise a love to it, Ps. 
cxix. 97 ; the knowledge of the law-giver ought not to do less. As we know 
not righteousness till the law be in our hearts, — Isa. li. 7, ' Ye that know 
righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law,' — so we know not God 
till he be in our affections. 

(3.) Our knowledge of God ought to be conformable to his knowledge of 
ns. God's knowledge of his people is attended with affection. He is not 
said in Scripture language to know, unless he love : Amos iii. 2, ' You only 
have I known of all the families of the earth.' There is a great difference 
between God's knowledge of omniscience, and his knowledge of affection. 
"With the first he knows all creatures, with the other his people. As God is 
not said to know us without testimonies of his affection to us, so we cannot 
be said to know God without leaps of our affections to him. 

(4.) Application of ourselves to the knowledge of God without affection 
is not agreeable to the nature of our souls. The choice of the will in all 
true knowledge treads upon the heel of the act of the understanding, and 
men naturally desire the knowledge of that which is true, in order to the 
enjoyment of that which is good in it. The end of all the acts of the under- 
standing is to cause a motion in the will and affections suitable to the appre- 
hension. God hath given us two faculties : understanding, to know the 
goodness of a thing, and a will to embrace it. To content one faculty in 
contemplation, without contenting the other in embracing what we know, is 
to give a half satisfaction to the soul ; it is to separate those two faculties of 
understanding and will, which God hath joined. Knowledge is the glory of 
the mind both in this and the other world, the object of that is truth ; but 
there is another faculty which must have its perfection, that is, the will, the 
object whereof is good ; and the content of that faculty hes in embracing the 
good apprehended both in this life and the next. This, therefore, must be 
gratified as well as the other, and each faculty must have a full rest in a due 
object ; the soul else cannot have an entire satisfaction according to the 
latitude and capaciousness of its nature. Therefore all abstracted notions of 
God, without an influence upon the will, are barren, and not agreeable and 
satisfactory to the nature of the soul. It cannot be satisfied with contem- 
plation without fruition, and such an intimate fruition as may affect the 
whole nature. Now, to have this enjoyment is not only to know God or 
think of him, but to embrace him by love, to clasp about God with spiritual 
affections, to receive the touches of his goodness every moment. To give 
the soul a full satisfaction according to the nature of it, is to have a stamp 

48 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

of the nature of God upon our understanding, and a stamp of the goodness 
of God upon our wills. 

(5.) Without affection, our knowledge of God may have, and will have, 
base and corrupt ends. And therefore our knowledge cannot be saving with- 
out it. Men may desire to know, out of a natural itch, the relics of Adam, 
or out of a desire to enlarge the perfection of their understanding (as the 
knowledge of philosophers did tend chiefly to such an end), and may have 
no higher aims in endeavouring after the knowledge of God than endeavour- 
ing after the knowledge of other things, either natural or moral. Perhaps 
this affecting the knowledge of God may arise from pride and ambition ; and 
a desire of being esteemed eminent in intellectuals and discourse may make 
the pulse of their affections beat strongly to this knowledge, it being natural 
to men to be displeased more with being counted fools than being counted 
vicious, and to have more natural desires after knowledge than after virtue, 
even as Adam had. Nay, men may desire to know God and the truths of 
God as a stirrup to some lust, and to foment some cai'nal design, as gain, 
which may be promoted by rehgious discourses. But certainly much of the 
knowledge of God which is pretended among us, though it may arise out of 
an affection to knowledge, yet may be without an affection to the object of 
it. As there is a knowledge of God when there is not a ' glorifying of him 
as God,' Rom. i. 21, so there may be a desire to know God without any 
desire to glorify him. As a man may desire to know sin, to see a man 
when he is drunk and to observe his carriage, not out of any design he hath to 
loathe that sin, but to make his observations upon the carriage and disposition 
of the person while he is under the power of that filthy act, which is but to 
satisfy his cariosity ; or he may desire to see a man in the exercise of some 
virtue out of the same end, not out of a desire to conform himself to that pattern ; 
so a man may desire to know God, and Christ, and the truths of Christ, not 
with any intent to have his affections with an exact harmony centre in them, 
but to satisfy that natural thirst which he hath for knowledge. And a man 
may have a great delight in this knowledge of God, as Isa. Iviii. 2, they did 
'delight ^o know God's ways,' and ' delight in approaching' to him, but 
(as their fasts were, ver. 4) 'for strife and debate.' And that delight may 
arise from a delight in the excellency of the object, as a man delights to 
contemplate the nature of the sun and stars more than the nature of a clod 
of earth, yet cannot be said to love them, but loves his own act of contem- 
plation and knowledge of them. Many thus know God, and are inquisitive 
after the knowledge of him, as a curious object of knowledge, not as a 
spiritual object of love and delight to bestow the flower of their affections 
upon. Such often miss of their intent ; God obscures himself when he is 
searched after with such curiosity. And such a knowledge will end in 
apostasy, as it began in corruption ; the man will return as a dog to lick up 
his vomit, or a swine to wallow in the mire, as those did who had escaped 
the pollutions of the world ' through the knowledge of Christ,' 2 Peter 
ii. 20-22 ; which knowledge they did probably affect out of curiosity, be- 
cause of the novelty of it, the noise it made in the world, or some by-end, 
which made them cast it off when it ceased to serve their purpose, and so 
at last count Christ and his cross foolishness. 

Well, then. 

Try your knowledge of God by your affections to him. What strong 
desires are there for the enjoyment of God and Christ; what delight in 
approaches to him ; what propensities of the heart in spiritual duties ? Do 
they spring from affection, or move by the fears and jerks of conscience ? 
Doth the knowledge of Christ in his mediation, natures, offices, as the only 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 49 

remedy for our lost souls, kindle desires, holy affections, unexpressible 
heart-breakings for him, as we find David's heart often flying up upon this 
wing ? Is there a love to God rising out of a sense of his love to lost man ? 
God cannot be known as an infinite, and unbounded, and outflowing good- 
ness without a flight of our affections to him. It is as impossible that a 
good spiritually known should not be beloved, as that any good should be 
beloved that is not known. Every common witness of God in the works of 
creation ' fills the heart with gladness,' Acts xiv. 16, 17, much more every 
spiritual witness of God in the work of redemption apprehended by the soul. 
If created excellency insinuates itself into our affections, the supereminent 
beauty of God must much more when he is seen and known. The spiritual 
light which comes from God is for God. In other knowledge, self-love 
poiseth the heart, but a saving knowledge conducts the heart to an admira- 
tion of God and affection to him. In heaven, a clear vision renders the 
beholder full of the most glowing affections. The angels ' always behold 
the face of God,' Mat. xviii. 10. Always, as not counting anything else 
worthy of a glance, but io obedience to his order. Nothing can be called a 
saving knowledge of God which doth not rank all our affections in order to 
the object of it. 

3. It is an active and expressive knowledge ; it expresseth in the life what 
is in the head and heart. A change in the heart engenders aflection, and 
affection will break out in action ; love will lay a constraint upon the heart. 
We commonly say of a notoriously profane man, though he may have ex- 
cellent parts, and a great stock of knowledge, that he is a sot; because his 
knowledge is not operative in ways agreeable to it, he acts like the most 
ignorant person. He cannot be said to know God to be holy, and the 
gospel to be a doctrine according to godliness, who hath not a practice 
according to the rules of godliness. To be sensual, is to have nothing of 
the Spirit : Jude 19, he hath nothing of the light of the Spirit who is under 
the conduct of a corrupted sense. And the apostle intimates it plainly, that 
unless men ' awake to righteousness ' and avoid sin, they ' have not the 
knowledge of God,' 1 Cor. xv. 34. A bedrid knowledge it is, without affec- 
tion proper for it, rather the torment than ornament of the soul. All know- 
ledge, without an imitation of God, is but a stupid, sleepy notion. We have 
then a full assurance of knowledge, when we are followers of God, 1 Thes. 
i. 5, 6. The first principle which is taught by the manifestation of God is 
to deny ungodliness : Titus ii. 12, 13, ' The grace of God teacheth us to 
deny ungodliness.' As God's knowing us is not a simple view, but a pro- 
vident care, so our knowledge of God is not a simple speculation, but a 
divine operation of the soul, as well as in the soul. If ' he that commits 
sin hath not known God,' 1 John iii. 6, then he that hath known God doth 
not commit sin. He flatters not himself in any, arms himself against all, 
commenceth an irreconcilable war against the lighter troops as well as the 
main body, and stands upon his guard to prevent every invasion. He that 
knows Christ, knows that he is worthy of all his service, since he, and none 
but he, was crucified for him. He that knows God, knows the necessity of 
enjoying him, and will therefore be guided in those ways which tend to the 
enjoyment of him. If a man knows a medicine to be excellent for the cure 
of such a disease which he labours under, and is sensible of the necessity of 
it, he will certainly apply it. As Christ discovered the knowledge of God in 
the world, to dissolve the works of the devil in the world ; so when the 
knowledge of Christ shines in the heart, it dissolves the works of darkness 
and lust in the soul, for it discovers right notions of sin and vanity, and he 


50 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

that hath right notions of it cannot affect it. When Noah knew God in his 
threatening justice, he obeys God in the building an ark. When Abraham 
knew God in the mercy and truth of his promise, he obeys God in offering 
his Isaac. The one's knowledge wrought against the reproaches of an un- 
believing world, and the other's against the tide of a natural affection : so 
powerful is this divine knowledge, where it seizeth upon the heart, to bring 
forth the fruits of fear and holiness. Let none of us therefore flatter our- 
selves that we have a saving knowledge of God without imitation of him, 
that we understand Christ to be a sufficient Saviour without relying on him. 
It is a knowledge in the form, and an ignorance in the power. Without an 
evangelical obedience, a professing Christian knows no more savingly than a 
moral heathen, because he acts no better than such an one. 

(1.) This knowledge is life. It is 'the light of life,' John viii. 12; an 
active, lively light, by an Hebraism. All lucid bodies in the heavens are 
active in their own nature, and direct men in their several spheres of activity 
in the world. When the sun riseth, men rise to their daily task ; when the 
light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines forth in the face of Christ 
in the heart, there is a resurrection to vital actions. It is ' a well-spring 
of life unto him that hath it,' Prov. xvi. 22. If it hath a vitality in it to 
convey hfe, it must needs rise up in excellent operations, according to the 
measure of it, unless that we can suppose that a divine principle in the 
mind should produce nothing else but a dead sleep in all the other parts of 
the soul. Life it is, and life is not without activity ; eternal life it is, and 
that cannot be without a succession of vital acts to eternity. 

(2.) The end of knowledge is not attained without actions suitable to it. 
If we have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, there is a stripping 
off the rags of the old Adam, a change of ' the former conversation which 
was according to deceitful lusts,' Eph. iv. 21, 22; 'but you have not so 
learned Christ,' &c. As the word is an engrafted word, so the knowledge of 
God is an engrafted knowledge, which is inserted in the stock, to change the 
nature of it into that of the graft, and causing the production of fruits from it 
according to the nature of the slip joined with it. The Scripture, which is 
a discovery of God, is not only a history but a rule. God declares himself 
as our Lord and as our pattern ; Christ is manifested as an image of con- 
formity as well as a propitiatory offering. Where he is known as a pro- 
pitiation for our comfort, he is known as a pattern for our practice. The end 
of knowledge is to impress a sound image of the goodness of an object as 
well as the truth ; the truth to be eyed, and the goodness to be imitated. 
Distinct conceptions of God, and rational discourses of Christ,* glorify him 
no more than a painter doth the party whose picture he hath drawn. The 
glory of God consists not in a lifeless notion of him, but an active resemblance 
of him. A natural man may have some pleasure in knowing the nature of 
God, but he cares not for knowing the ways of God : Job xxi. 14, ' We 
desire not the knowledge of thy ways ;' he would know him to be merciful, 
but not know him to be holy. He is opposite to the truths of God, because 
they are repugnant to the delights and interests of the flesh. The Scotists 
defined divinity well when they made it practica ; better than Aquinas, who 
made it speculativa. Every illumination of the mind is not to speculate, but 
to work by ; every notion of God is a direction to some sphere of action. 
The end of Christ's knowledge of his Father must be the end of our know- 
ledge, both of God and himself. He knows his Father's secrets to reveal 
them, and he knows his Father's will to perform it. As we are to pray that 
we may do the will of God as the angels do, so we are to know, that we may 
* Jackson, vol. iii quar. cap. viii. p. 129, 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 5 1 

do the will of God as the angels do it. The incarnation of Christ was for 
action ; the divine nature had not attained its end in the business of our re- 
demption, without union to the human, as necessary to mediatory acts ; nor 
doth our knowledge of God attain its end without union to the will, as neces- 
sary to all religious operations. The knowledge of Christ is like the former 
prophecies of Christ, which would not have had their eifect without his in- 
carnation; nor hath knowledge its effect without (so to speak) an incarnation 
of it in our conversation. The end of knowledge is directive ; the proper 
effect of knowledge is the observation of the direction, to write aftei the copy, 
to work according to the pattern, to do what is agreeable to the perfections 
of God, to honour what we see honourable in God, and to disparage none of 
those excellencies we profess to know. 

(3.) All the knowledge of God and Christ, without action corresponding 
thereunto, is no better in the account of God than ignorance, unless it be 
accidentally to condemnation. Without obedience, we are trulylgnorant, 
though our speculations may be as sublime as those of devils : 1 John ii. 4, 
' He that saith, he knows him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar.' 
The true knowledge of God doth not only glitter in the understanding, or 
glimmer in a profession, but beams out in a vigorous conversation, acting all 
things agreeable to the will of God. That knowledge of God which doth not 
take root in the heart, and grow up into life and spii'it, is ignorance in the 
account of God. Those Gentiles, Kom. i. 21, that are said to know God, are, 
ver. 28, said not to know him ; they knew him as rational men, not as obedi- 
ent men ; they had a notion of him, without any affection to his service ; they 
had high speculations of his excellency, but nothing of his perfections and 
his law writ in the tables of their hearts : such a knowledge as geometri- 
cians may have by understanding the rules of a science, not such a knowledge 
as an artificer may have by the practice of those rules. No doubt but Eli's 
sons had a knowledge of God and his law by education, but because it did not 
slide into their conversation, they are said not to know the Lord, 1 Sam. 
ii. 12. Not to know God, and not to obey him, are one and the same thing in 
the account of God at the day of judgment, 2 Thes. i. 8 ; and it is called 
ignorance, because men with that knowledge act as if they were wholly 
ignorant of the nature and will of God. They behave themselves as men 
that never heard of God or Christ would be expected to do. They may be 
Christians in knowledge, and pagans in life. True reason in everything 
doth naturally tend to practice. He is of no use in a society or common- 
wealth who is swallowed up in contemplations, and launcheth not out into a 
useful activity. An idle knowledge is of no use for God, and the end of a 
man's creation ; it is but a pretence, a mere puff of a fleshly mind. There 
is as much difference between such a dormant knowledge, and that wh'ch 
riseth up in sprightly motions for God, as between the sun in a siatuc 
bravely gilded, and that in the firmament dispersing his influences into all 
the comers of the world, and honouring his Creator by his daily race. We 
no more know any truth of God, unless we digest it, than a man. knows the 
virtue of bread, unless he concocts it, and feels the strength of it in his 
limbs. Practice is the evidence of knowledge ; it cannot be rationally con- 
cluded that he knows God to be omnipresent, who neglects the duty in secret 
required of him, or apprehends him to be just, who in a course of sin denies 
it, and presumes upon his mercy. God puts an emphasis upon Josiah's 
obedience, as an evidence of his knowledge : Jer. xxii. 16, ' He judged the 
cause of the poor and needy ; was not this to know me ? saith the Lord.' 
More than ever God said of Solomon, who had his brain better filled, and 
his heart more empty. Solomon could discourse excellently of the nature of 

52 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

God, and ravish men with his wisdom ; but God never said of that, * "Was 
not this to know me ? ' Other knowledge may make us admired among 
men ; this only makes us acceptable to God. 

(4.) The least saving knowledge of God is of an active nature. The wise 
men had but a spark by the discovery of a star, and that put them upon 
seeking the King of the Jews, Mat. ii. 1, 2 ; the least star in the heavens, 
though it hath not so much light as another, has its influences and regular 
motions. Another may discourse better of the nature of God, speak dis- 
tinctly of the glory of his attributes and works, discourse of the nature of 
sin, give an hundred reasons against it, yet obey not that God he speaks of, 
and be a slave to that sin he disputes against ; whereas he that hath the 
least spark of the spiritual knowledge of God and Christ, walks more accord- 
ing to the nature of God, and demeans himself with more honour to the 
perfections of God in his life, than the greatest discourser of him can with 
his tongue. He is continually inquiring what purity, fear, love, dependence, 
obedience, grief and joy, the holiness, majesty, goodness, mercy, faithfulness, 
power, and righteousness of God, calls for at his hands. Such an one hath 
a martyral knowledge ; is content to part with anything, with all, for the 
glory of that God he knows : the other, that hath a flourishing wit, a loose, 
unrooted, floating knowledge, would not part with the least drop of blood in 
his body for the honour of that God he pretends to know ; he would east 
all the knowledge of God and Christ at his heels, rather than part with any- 
thing for him, when Christ and his life come to a contest. But the least 
grain of the saving knowledge of God renders a man an habitual martyr. 

Well, then, try your knowledge of God by this. As sin is not known 
unless it cause grief in the heart, so God is not known unless the knowledge 
of him quicken an obedience to him. Where this spiritual knowledge of 
God is implanted, and the sweetness of Christ experimented, there will be 
a delight in those services which are well pleasing to. him ; a joy in all 
motives to him, and a swiftness in all motions for him ; a delight, both in 
the service itself, and the object of it. 

4. It is an humbhng, self-abasing knowledge. 

(1.) It humbleth us before God. To know God without knowing our- 
selves, is a fruitless speculation.* The knowledge of ourselves and our own 
misery, without the knowledge of God and his mercy, is a miserable vexa- 
tion. The end of it is to pay God a glory due to him from his creature. 
Pride debaseth the Deity, and snatcheth the crown of glory from God to set 
it upon the creature's head ; but this saving knowledge sinks man to the 
dust without sinking him to hell ; lays him flat on the earth, thereby to raise 
him to heaven. True knowledge, and a melting heart, are inseparable com- 
panions ; Christ joins hardness and ignorance together, Mark viii. 17. It 
is the nature of other knowledge to pufi" up, 1 Cor. viii. 1 ; of this, to pull 
down. The plumes of a proud spirit fall at the appearance of God. He 
regards himself as a worm, when he understands the excellency of his 
Creator. Without it, it is but a knowledge in conceit, not in reality ; he 
knows nothing of God, though he thinks he doth, 1 Cor. viii. 2. Manasseh 
had some knowledge of God, no question, by the religious education of his 
father Hezekiah ; but it went not for current coin in heaven till he was in 
an humbled frame : 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13, * Then Manasseh knew that the 
Lord he was God.' It is not a knowledge of God till it make a man shrink 
into a sense of his own baseness and nothingness. A bare dogmatical know- 
ledge of God advanceth man without a proportionable advancement of God. 
It is of the same nature with other knowledge ; that which comes from our 
* Dr Prestoa. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 53 

own reason is our fondling, it brings forth the fruits of old Adam ; that which 
is dropped in by the Spirit brings forth the fruits of the Spirit, renders a 
man sensibly obliged, not to his own wit, but God's grace. A rational reve- 
lation rather hardens the heart than melts it ;* as a rational conviction is 
light without heat. Other knowledge discovers other things, but not a man's 
self ; like a dark lantern, which shews us other persons and things, but ob- 
scures ourselves from the sight of ourselves ; but the knowledge of God is 
such a light whereby a man beholds himself, as well as the way wherein he 
is to walk. 

[1,] It is such a knowledge as scatters the mist that is upon the heart, 
and thereby discovers its filth. The first beam shot into the heart by the 
Spirit dai'ts to the very centre, and discovers the nest of filth and poison. 
As the beam is shot from God, it reveals his beauty ; as shedding its light 
upon the soul, it reveals its deformity. As the beam from the sun, that 
conquers the darkness of the night, discovers the glory of the sun, and the 
filth of a dunghill at the same time. The sensible discovery of the holiness 
of God, and the sufferings of Christ, in the very act, opens the sinfulness of 
sin. The majesty of God shews him his vileness, the purity of God his 
filthiness, the justice of God his demerit, and the power of God his im- 
potence. If the soul knows God in his glory, it sinks down, with Isaiah, at 
the very first ray of it, in a sense of its undone condition : Isa. vi. 1, 5, 
' Woe is me, for I am undone !' Tl'iOlJ ; I was silent, (Symm.), k/w-Trjjffa, 
as if he had attempted to join with the angels in the praise of God at the 
sight of him, but was struck down with a sense of his own unworthiness. 
* I am a man of polluted lips,' i.e. I am not worthy to praise God ; so power- 
ful was one ray to afiect his whole soul with a sense of his sin, and his 
miserable estate by it, and stripped him of all conceits of self-worth.f When 
the soul hears God in the law, it trembles at the thunder. When it sees 
Christ bowing upon the cross, it cannot but bow down under a sense of that 
iniquity which caused it. To know Christ savingly, in the first glance, is to 
know ourselves to be children of wrath, under the curse of the law, and 
liable to the justice of God. To know Christ as mediator, implies our dis- 
tance from God ; to know him as reconciler, our enmity ; to know him as 
redeemer, our slavery ; to know him as a prophet, our ignorance ; as a 
priest, our guilt and weakness ; as an advocate, our inability to manage our 
own cause. Every notion of Christ is a light that opens our eyes to advance 
faith in God, and humility in ourselves. Every rule is index sui et obliqui, 
it shews its own straightness, and the crookedness of anything applied to it. 
All the glory of the stars, as well as the darkness of the night, disappears at 
the rising of the sun. At the shedding of this beam upon the heart, the 
natural glory of a man's own righteousness is obscured, as well as his guilt 
and loathsomeness manifested. When the elders saw God in his glory, they 
fell upon their faces. Rev. iv. 10. When John Baptist saw Christ, he was 
sensible of his own filthiness, and need of washing : Matt. iii. 14, ' I have 
need to be baptized of thee ;' an expression not used before by him to any 
of the multitude. How is a soul, at the first breaking out of this light upon 
him, humbled at the consideration of his unworthy thoughts of God, unsuit- 
able to the notions he is now possessed with ! How doth he distaste his 
own temper, to be so little affected with a God so transcendcntly worthy of 
his highest love ! my soul, why wert thou so base, so vile in thy ap- 
prehensions and pursuits, as to cast thyself down to adore such despicable 
objects as sin and vanity ! 

(2.) It is a knowledge that comes from God, and therefore must needs 
* Strong. t tirot. 

54 charxock's worxs. [John XVII. 3. 

humble. It is a beam from him ; it is not therefore to nourish that pride 
in the creature which he punished upon the fall with so long a chain of 
miseries. It is he ' teacheth the meek his way,' Ps. xxv. 9. He makes 
tinners meek by his teaching ; and when they are meek, they are subjects 
capable of more knowledge and instructions from him. If the meek are the 
subjects of clearer teachings, the effect of this discovery is not to exalt their 
pride, but enlarge their humility. Pride cannot naturally flow from anything 
that is divine. It is none of God's offspring, but the devil's brat. God, 
who hath set us a pattern of humility in his own condescensions, and set us 
an example of humility in the person of his Son, can never be the Father of 
that which is so contrary to all his designs in the world. Pride is the devil's 
fly-blow in the soul. 

(3.) The knowledge of God is always attended with a comparison of the 
soul with him, if it be saving. There cannot but be some reflection. The 
angels, in their knowledge of Christ as their confirmer, cannot but reflect 
with humility upon their mutable state by nature, which might have rendered 
them by their own folly as sinful and miserable as devils, without the grace 
of God, and their confirmation in a happy state by the Son of God. So in 
the knowledge of God's excellency, the soul cannot but reflect upon its un- 
suitableness to God. It sees God, and falls out with itself. It loves God, 
and is angry with itself. It beholds God, and looks upon itself with disdain. 
Peter could not receive a look from his master without reflecting upon bis 
unworthy carriage, and melting into tears. When a man looks upon the 
earth, and the things upon it, he is apt to believe he hath an acute eye ; but 
when he looks upon the sun, and finds himself confoimded by the brightness 
of its light, he is sensible of the dulness of his eye in comparison of that 
lustre which glared upon it. So when we fix our eyes upon ourselves, and 
dwell upon the thoughts of any excellency, righteousness, or virtue in us, we 
turn self-flatterers, and are apt to imagine that we are some great thing, 
above th« sphere of common nature, and the insects of mankind ; but when 
we turn our eyes towards heaven, and take a prospect of the holiness, wisdom, 
righteousness of God, which ought to be oui- copy to write after, our pride 
is dashed out of countenance, our holiness appears sordid, our righteousness 
matter of shame, our virtue feeble, our wisdom folly, our actions madness, 
and all our excellency a mere senseless shadow. We are then humbled, not 
only for our sins, but our services, when we find those duties we are apt to 
boast of bear no proportion to the holiness of God. W^hen Paul knew Christ, 
he was not only humble in himself, but rejected all confidence in the religious 
props he rested on before, Philip, iii. 8. He then beheld himself a dead 
man, and his services dead services, when he understood the righteousness 
of God manifested in a crucified and raised Christ. One spark of the divinity 
of Christ in a miracle brought Peter upon his knees with a self-reflection : 
' Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man,' Luke v. 8. It will make 
men humble for the sin of others. If we know God spiritually to be great, 
excellent, holy, we cannot but with grief behold the sons of men so careless 
of his honour, and travailing with a birth of perpetual injuries against so 
excellent a majesty ; when we compare his nature with their practices, and 
reflect how little he hath deserved such carriages, and how much he hath 
deserved the contrary. The angels having the most glittering heads have 
also the most affectionate hearts to the glory of that majesty which they 
adore, and therefore they rejoice at the conversion of a sinner ; by the same 
reason they have, if not their grief, yet their indignation at the abuses God 
suffers in the world by wicked men, when they make this judicious comparison. 

(4.) The more knowledge any ever had of God, the more humble they 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 55 

have been. When Peter grew in the apprehensions of the ends of the death 
of Christ, he had no more those aspiring thoughts to thiuk himself fit to 
reprove his master, as when he had the first revelation of him to be the Son 
of God, Mark viii. 29, 32, Mat. xvi. 13. Young scholars are most proud. 
Duarenus* used to say, Those that come to the university the first year are 
doctors in their own conceits, the second year licentiates, and the third year 
students and learners. Not an apostle outstripped Paul in the knowledge of 
God and Christ, nor came up to an equal measure with him ; nor did any 
equal him in his humility, who sets himself upon record to the world as the 
least of saints, and the chiefest of sinners. Christ, who lay in the bosom of 
his Father, became a worm rather than a man, in making himself of no 
reputation, Phihp. ii. 7. In conformity to him, the more clear the revela- 
tions of God are to our souls, the more voluntary disannulments there are 
of ourselves. The angels that have the nearest approach to the deity, and 
the richest prospect of his glory, cover their faces with an awe of his majesty, 
as if they did acknowledge the imperfection of their understandings, that they 
are not more knowing ; and cover their feet too, which are the aflections of 
spiritual beings, as if they were ashamed that their love, delight, and zeal 
were not more glowing. A great stock of natural knowledge debaseth a man 
in his own eyes, because he apprehends his own weakness to get to the top 
of that mountain he would reach by his inquiries. Socrates, who was the 
most knowing man of his age, was sensible that he knew nothing, because 
the more a man knows, the more he finds his own ignorance, and his ina- 
bility to shake it off ; and that the things he is ignorant of are more than 
those which he seems to grasp in his understanding. Much more doth a 
spmtual Christian see, that what he knows of God and Christ is inconceiv- 
ably less than what he is ignorant of. The more he knows those objects, 
the more he knows his own defects, and his want of conformity to them. 
Agur was one of the wisest men of his age, whether he was Solomon, or 
some other in the time of Solomon (which is more probable), yet counts him- 
self void of wisdom, ' more brutish than any man,' and not having the under- 
standing of a man ; as if he were not so wise and knowing as the vulgar sort, 
as well as inferior to the more raised sort of mankind, as the words 1^2 
lyUD signify, Prov. xxx. 2, 3 ; and he speaks it in reference to the knowledge 
he had of God, as appears by verse 4. The more any man sees of God, the 
lower he falls in his o^n eyes. 

As this knowledge of God makes us more humble before God, so it makes 
us more humble and meek to men. This was promised as a fruit of the 
Imowledge of God in the gospel. It was this should turn ravenous wolves 
into gentle lambs, and render their natures as meek as before they were 
cruel : Isa. xi. 6-9, ' The woLf shall dwell with the lamb, the cow and 
the bear shall feed together, their young ones shall lie down together, and 
the lion shall eat straw like the ox ; for the earth shall be full of the know- 
ledge of the Lord.' It is such a knowledge as quells the pride of man, and 
the injustice and oppressions and furies engendered by that finaitful principle. 
The names whereby they are denominated are names of meekness, lambs, 
kids, calves. Cruelty should grow mild, and inflexible tempers melt ; 
ravenous dispositions be laid aside ; the nature of man towards God, and 
the nature of man towards his neighbour, be changed. The knowledge of 
Christ in the gospel pulls up such base affections by the roots, which would 
else grow in an ignorant, untilled heart, as weeds in an unmanured field. 
If men, therefore, are ready to fall foul upon one another upon every occa- 
sion, they have not advanced many steps in the knowledge of God. For 
* Walaeus de Sabbat. Orat. in fine ii. p. 225. 

56 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

this temper of humility is one effect of this divine light, it being rendered by 
the prophet as the cause of such a miraculous change. Where there is not, 
therefore, such a visible effect, there is nothing of the cause. The know- 
ledge of the Lord can no more be in the soul without humility, than the sun 
can be in the heavens without dispersing its light on the earth, nor the 
enlightening Spirit without meekness a fruit of it, Gal. v. 22. Wisdom 
' changeth the boldness of the face,' Eccles. viii. 1, and spreads a modesty 
in the soul ; he is thereby less apt to censure others, and more sparing in 
his judging his brother. God hath a perfect knowledge of himself, and is 
the highest pattern of humility : ' He humbles himself to behold the things 
done in heaven and in earth,' Ps. cxiii. 6 ; much more is it his humiliation 
to solicit sinners, to bear patiently their affronts. None knew the Father 
but the Son, who humbled himself to the flesh of man, and to death for him. 
The angels also that excel in knowledge, as standing before the face of God, 
excel also in condescending ministries to men, who are more above the 
greatest man in the dignity of their nature, than the greatest man upon the 
earth can be above the meanest person by his education and dignity. 

Well then, if this be an humbling knowledge, let us try ourselves by it, 
whether we are arrived to it or no. He that hath not a melting heart hath 
not been under the shinings of this sun. The darkness of pride will be 
scattered by the strength and vigour of this light. The saving knowledge of 
God and Christ crucified lays a man flat on the ground ; and the knowledge 
of God reconciled, and Christ risen, doth both humble and revive. A proud 
divine knowledge is as great a contradiction as to say, an humble diabolical 

5. It is a weaning knowledge. It weans a man's heart from all things 
below. Clear manifestations of God elevate the soul to God, when ignorance 
of him depresseth the heart to one creature or other. The excellency of 
God dims the beauty of the creature, and the true knowledge of this excel- 
lency sets the creature below God in the heart. It leaves no room for any- 
thing else, as the eye that hath gazed upon the sun admits not presently any 
other image into it. This divine knowledge disparageth the value of anything 
else, it represents sin vile, and the world empty. It is such an inestimable 
treasure, that it is not to be put in the balance with anything else. All other 
things which carnal men esteem are but thin and airy notions to this know- 
ledge ; everything that hath a tincture of flesh and blood, human principles, 
fleshly counsels, expire when this wisdom shines in upon the soul : Gal. i. 16, 
' I consulted not with flesh and blood ;' nor can any man that hath found this 
mine of gold leave it for a mite of brass. When Christ and his sweetness is 
discerned and tasted, life is a torment, death a pleasure. Simeon upon his 
sight of Christ desires to depart, since his ' eyes had seen God's salvation,' 
Luke ii. 29, 30 ; nothing in the world could be worth his desires after a 
sight of the Eedeemer. And Paul, who both had and valued the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ, esteems everything in the world no better than 
dung, and longs to be dissolved, that he might be in his arms, Philip, iii. 8, 
and i. 23. As when the sun appears in the heavens, it doth not only dis- 
cover itself, but discloseth all things on the earth ; so when God manifests 
himself to the soul, he doth not only give the knowledge of himself, but 
shews to us the true nature of other things, that they can bear no proportion 
to the excellency of God and Christ, and bestows such a judgment and under- 
standing upon us, that we look upon things under other notions and con- 
siderations than before we did ; as men have other apprehensions of things 
in the light than they had in the darkness of the night. He doth not know 
God, that doth not apprehend him to be more excellent than the withering 

John XVII. 3.j the knowledge of god. 57 

flowers of any creatm-e whatsoever ; as he doth not love Christ that loves 
him not above all creatures ; and he doth not worship God who worships the 
creature equal with him, — Rom. i. 25, crasa y.risa\,Ta, worshipped the crea- 
ture, juxta creatorem, — so he doth not know God that knows him not to be 
excellent above all creatures, and esteem him accordingly. 

6. It is a fiducial knowledge, a knowledge of faith : Ps. ix. 10, ' They 
that know thy name will trust in thee.' Faith and trust are the concomi- 
tants of this knowledge. Such will address to God in all their straits, and 
rely upon his truth and goodness. And the spirit of wisdom is joined with 
the acknowledgment of Christ, Eph. i. 17. Faith is principally meant by 
knowledge in Scripture ; some therefore interpret the knowledge of Christ, 
which is eternal life in the text, to be faith. No knowledge, indeed, without 
faith can be eternal life, or the next way to it ; and by knowledge (Isa. 
liii. 11, ' By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many') 
must be understood a believing knowledge, and cannot be understood other- 
wise. All that have a general knowledge of Christ, though never so high, 
are not justified, for that excellent state the Scripture ascribes only to faith. 
His knowledge, objectively, the knowledge of him, faith in him ; and faith is 
called knowledge, because it is radically in the understanding, as liberty is, 
but it is formally in the will. Not that the understanding is the proper and 
sole seat of faith, because faith is Jiducia, trust or reliance, which is not an 
act of the mind, but of the will. But faith is in the understanding in regard of 
disposition, but in the will in regard of the fiducial apprehension ;* for faith 
is not one simple virtue, but compounded of two, knowledge and trust. The 
common subject is the heart, the special seat of each part is the understand- 
ing and will (yet those two parts cannot be separated but the nature of faith 
is destroj'ed), as original righteousness was both in the mind and the will; 
and the happiness of heaven, which is but one entire happiness, consists 
both in the acts of the understanding in contemplation, and the acts of the will 
in the embracing the contemplated object ; but by knowledge or sight in Scrip- 
ture is principally meant faith. Abraham saw the day of Christ, John viii. 56, 
and with such a sight as sprung up in joy ; he saw it in the promise ; he 
knew it by way of energy in the propitiation of Christ, and virtue of his 
Spirit ; he had the power of Christ's death in the mortification of his unbe- 
lief, before the death was felt by the Son of God upon the cross, and rose to 
a new life by the virtue of Christ's resurrection, before Christ laid his head 
in the grave. It was certainly a sight of faith ; for the Jews, to whom 
Christ spake this, saw him with their bodily eyes, beheld his day, they saw 
him personally face to face, and knew him in the flesh, yet were wholly 
ignorant both of the excellency of his person and virtue of his offices. It is 
one thing to know the nature of God, and another thing to know God in 
covenant as our God. Of the Sidonians God said, ' They shall know that 
1 am the Lord,' Ezek. xxviii. 22. In a way of justice, they shall know that 
I am of a righteous nature. But of his people Israel he saith, ' They shall 
know that I am the Lord their God,' ver. 26 ; a God in covenant with them, 
in whom they have an interest. It is an interested knowledge ; a relying 
upon God in his covenant as theirs, according as the Scriptui-e propounds 
him. There is as great a diflerence between the common knowledge of God 
in an unbelieving scholar and a believing Christian, as between the know- 
ledge that a gardener hath of plants and flowers in his master's garden : he 
knows how to dress them, knows the names and the nature of every particu- 
lar plant and flower there ; but though the knowledge of the owner of it doth 
not extend to all those particularities, yet he knows it to be his, conveyed to 
* Rivet, in Isa. liii. 11. 

68 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

him, and of right belonging to him, Another man delights in a beautiful 
field and garden, pleaseth himself with the variety of the flowers and plea- 
sures of the walks ; the owner delights in it upon this account too, loves to 
consider the nature of the trees and plants ; but he hath a knowledge of it, 
and dehght in it above the other's ; because of his property, he knows the 
possession of it, and the commodities arising from it, to be his. This know- 
ledge is always with some ghmmerings of hopes that God and Christ are 
his, according to the tenor of the covenant. Though there be not a full as- 
surance, the title and evidence is not clear to him, and may seem to have 
some flaw in it, which he hath not yet overcome, yet all true faith hath some- 
thing of comfort and hope with it,Jfor it is wrought by the Spirit as a comforter, 
convincing of the sufiiciency as well as the necessity of the righteousness of 
Christ, upon which the soul in this saving knowledge flings itself, and fol- 
lows this glimmering, till he comes to a greater light, whereby to read his 
own interest in Christ, as Paul did : Gal. ii. 20, ' Who loved me, and gave 
himself for me.' Afterwards, indeed, there is a knowledge of feeling : 2 Tim. 
i. 12, • I know whom I have beheved.' I have known him by faith, and I 
know him by feehng ; I knew him to be good before, and therefore I trusted 
him ; but since I know whom I have trusted, and have a rich experience of 

[1.] There is no saving knowledge without this fiducial act. It properly 
follows upon our espousals with God ; it is a knowledge after contract : 
Hosea ii. 20, ' I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt 
know the Lord ; ' and therefore must be a knowledge of faith. He that 
hath no hvely motions hath no life, he must have breath at least ; nor is 
there any lively knowledge of the grace of God in Christ without vehement 
desires at least after him, and unutterable believing groans. Can any man 
know God in his wrath who doth not tremble at it, or any man know God 
in his grace that doth not catch hold of it ? He knows him not that thinks 
him not excellent enough to be the sole object of his confidence and affiance. 
No man that disparageth that which is truly excellent in itself can be said to 
know the excellency of that thing. If I set up anything in the world as the 
ground of my trust more than God, it is evident that I acknowledge a greater 
vu-tue, strength, and power in that than in God and Christ, whom I 
refuse, and may well be said not to know and understand the transcendent 
goodness of him that I reject. Lay not, therefore, any claim to a know- 
ledge of God as almighty, infinite goodness, and tender bowels, if you resign 
not up yourselves wholly to him : to his grace to pardon you, to his power 
to relieve you, to the death of Christ to mortify sin, and that in his own 
way, the way of his precepts, not in ways of our own invention and pre- 
sumption. But, alas ! do not many prop up themselves in some earthly 
thing, as if there were no God in Israel to be sought unto ; strengthen 
themselves in their own righteousness, as if there were no Mediator com- 
missioned and sent into the world ? Confidence in any other thing denies 
the being of God, or if not that, yet it denies the excellency of God ; if not 
that, the goodness of God ; and so implies that there is no knowledge of God 
as he is gracious and glorious in himself, because there is no trust in him. 
I am sore afraid most of the knowledge of God and Christ we have in this 
age is a mere notion of faith, without value, like a ring without the diamond. 
He knows best that hath concocted in his heart what he understood in his 

[2.] The highest rational knowledge of God cannot profit, without this 
knowledge of faith. The general and common knowledge of Christ is but a 
knowing after the flesh, not in the power of his Spirit, and can no more 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 


advantage than the Jews' knowing him, or Judas his living with him, did 
them or him without beHe\dng. In the Scripture, Christians are not called 
kaomng persons, but believers. It is a pleasure to a physician to consider 
the nature of a medicine, and pierce into the quality of each ingredient m 
it ; but if he be invaded by the disease for which that medicme is proper, 
all his knowledge of it and delight in it will be no support to his body, 
unless he takes it and joins it in a close contest with the distemper. All 
the pleasure he hath had in the search and contemplation of it, and the ex- 
perience of the strength of it upon his patients, will not check the malady of 
his vitals, or stop the rage of the humour, though his knowledge were as 
large as Solomon's, without application of the remedy. Christ is the remedy 
for our spiritual diseases, faith is the application. A man is no more a 
Christian by knowing the nature of God and Christ in a notional way, or 
being able to unfold the mysteries of redemption in generous strains, than a 
philosopher, who can discourse accurately of the natm-e of metals and jewels, 
can be said to be rich, when he hath never a penny in his purse. The know- 
ledge entitles him to a natural wisdom, but the possession to wealth. If he 
were a slave in the galleys, the riches of his knowledge would never strike 
off the weight of his chains ; one jewel in possession to pay for his redemp- 
tion would be of more value than all his philosophy. And just such a per- 
son is he that delights in the knowledge of his bags and quantity of gold, 
but makes not application of it to his present indigencies ; it is as if he had 
none, but were the poorest beggar that craves an alms fi'om door to door. 
There is as great a difference between this notional and fiducial knowledge, 
as there is between the knowledge of an angel, who comes under the wing oi 
Christ for his confirmation in his happy estate, and the knowledge of a devil, 
who rejected him as his head, which is thought by some to be the devil's 
sin. It is likely by Scripture it was pride, and probably it was pride of this 
nature, as I may have occasion to shew in the prosecuting the doctrine of 
unbelief. As the angels' knowledge of Christ being proposed as their head 
could not have advantaged them without an act of consent to him, and 
acceptance of him, answering to faith in us, as well as a knowledge (they 
had not else come under his wing as rational creatures by an election and 
approbation of him), so neither can our knowledge of him without an accept- 
ing of him. 

[3.] The clearer a saving knowledge is, the stronger will be our faith and 
confidence in God and Christ, and the stronger our faith, the stronger our 
knowledge. As the more knowledge a physician hath of the nature of 
simples, the more confidently will he apply them ; and the more he finds 
their virtue in the application, the surer knowledge of them he arrives unto. 
The more we spii-itually understand God, the more we shall trust him on his 
own credit ; and this is properly faith. All the attributes of God are the 
crutches of faith, the bladders upon which faith swims. "When we know the 
strength of them, and are sensible of the sufliciency of them and our own 
need, we shall with greater assurance rely upon them, as they are engaged 
in his promises : his wisdom, in making promises that he can accomplish; 
his faithfulness, in making promises that he will accomplish ; his power, in 
being able to make good every tittle of his word. Not an attribute of God 
but inspires faith with fresh vigour. And so the more we spiritually and 
sensibly know the tenor of Christ's commission, the ends of his death, the 
causes and ends of his resurrection and ascension, we shall the more will- 
ingly cast our souls upon that security, and di-aw sweetness by faith from 
every flower in God's garden. The angels adore the goodness of God more 
fervently than we can, and have a greater confidence in that goodness, be- 

60 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

cause their apprehensions of it are clearer, and their taste and experience of 
it hath been stronger. The brightest needles move quickest, and stick 
fastest to the loadstone. The clearer our knowledge, the closer our adher- 
ence. He that spiritually knows Grod and Christ, will rest upon Grod's bare 
word with more stedfastness than if he had the strongest assurances of all 
the princes in the world for a great estate. 

7. It is a progressive knowledge, still aiming at more knowledge and 
more improvements of it. Though the knowledge of God be at first infused 
into us by the inspiration of the Spirit, yet neither that in the head, nor 
grace in the heart, have their full strength at their first birth, but attain 
their stature gradually. Natural knowledge, which is a common work of 
Grod upon men, arrives not at its growth in a moment, but in a tract of time. 
He that first found out the inclination of the loadstone to the pole did not 
presently apprehend all the virtues of the loadstone, nor was able to sail 
about the world by it, though this afterwards grew up from the first inven- 
tion. We go up a mountain step by step. Christ doth not perform all the 
parts of his prophetical office at once ; there is a further declaration of the 
name of God to succeed the first: John xvii. 26, ' I have declared thy name, 
and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in 
them.' And the ravishments by the virtue and influences of his second shall 
exceed those of the first revelation, for those further declarations are accom- 
panied with greater manifestations of affection, and fuller communications of 
divine love to the soul. Some things are too bright for the soul at the first 
opening of its weak eyes. Men at their first conversion have but glimpses 
of things, as the man, Mark viii. 24, who saw 'men as trees walking,' till 
Christ put his hand upon his eyes, and made him see objects before him 
more distinctly. As the stone from our hearts, so scales from our eyes, fall 
ofi" by degrees. No man is so wise but he may be wiser. 

(1.) All true knowledge is alluring. The first sight of a mystery is trans- 
porting, and also alluring to a further inquiry : Prov. i. 5, ' A wise man will 
hear, and will increase learning"; ' he will arise to more sublime thoughts 
and discoveries. He will be adding, as in arithmetic, figure to figure, till 
he comes to a just sum, deducing one rule from another till he come to the 
utmost; as the branch grows from the body of the tree, and one branch from 
another. It is the nature of all true knowledge to sharpen the mind for 
more. He that hath found a mine will follow the vein till he masters it. 
The scholar that hath a taste of any curious learning will not leave the pur- 
suit till he hath pierced into the bowels of it, and by turning over books, and 
stretching his thoughts, hath increased his stock. It is also the nature of 
spiritual knowledge to put an edge upon the appetite, and open the under- 
standing wider, that it may be filled with more. The voice of it is that of 
the grave, Give, give. The times of the gospel were promised to be inquisi- 
tive times : Dan. xii. 4, ' Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be 
increased.' A little knowledge of God doth not hush our desires, but awaken 
them. The barbarous people, by tasting the fruits of Italy, were not at 
rest till they saw and conquered the country. One taste of God and Christ 
is to make us cry out, 'Evermore, Lord, give us this bread.' It is to enlarge 
our appetite, not to dull and scantle it ; to engage us to make further in- 
quiries into ' the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory of his inherit- 
ance in the saints,' Eph. i. 16. They had a spirit of knowledge ; but the 
apostle prays for further perfection in the knowledge of Christ, and a fuller 
opening the eyes of their understandings to get into his secret things, and 
behold more of his glory. It is as natural for a saving knowledge to press to 
further attainments, as it is for a counterfeit knowledge to flag in its pursuit. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 61 

(2.) It is utterly impossible that any man can have a saving knowledge of 
God who stands at a stay in what he has, without any desires to make a fur- 
ther progress. As it is impossible faith or a full assent or consent to the 
doctrine of the gospel can be without unutterable groans for the full applica- 
tion of the good things promised in it, so it is impossible this saving know- 
ledge can be without eager thirsting for a larger communication. He that 
seeks not after more light never had any saving glimmerings of any in his 
heart : Prov. xv. 14, ' He that hath understanding seeks knowledge, but the 
mouth of fools feed on foolishness.' The seeking knowledge is a sign of an 
understanding heart ; any man's feeding on foolishness is an evidence that 
he understands nothing of the sweetness of a spiritual banquet. That mer- 
chant that is sensible of gain will increase his venture and desire richer 
commodities ; the understanding heart will venture out for more spiritual 
knowledge. As no man hath true grace who doth not make additions, and 
rise to the exercise of those graces which are more spiritual, more the delight 
of God and the beauty of the soul, so neither hath he any taste of God and 
Christ who doth not aspire and travel to more spiritual discoveries of his 
glory. There is not only to be a knowledge, but a ' following on to know 
the Lord,' Hos. vi. 3 ; a ' following hard after him' to see his glory, Ps. 
Ixiii. 2, 8. He never tasted the sweetness of it that is cloyed with it, nor 
ever understood the beauty of the prospect, that is not desirous to get up to 
the top of the hill to pleasure his eyes with a full view. An acquiescence in 
any degree is a sign the knowledge pretended is but a counterfeit, that God 
is not the delightful and estimable object of his mind, that there is no expe- 
rimental acquaintance with him. Certainly, he that esteems him will desire 
to lie at his feet to receive his instructions, and will implore Christ for the 
exercise of his prophetical office, which is as truly exercised by his Spirit in 
the world, as it was in his person in the days of his flesh. 

Fi)st, This principle of saving knowledge is an active principle. If it be 
the light of life, a living and lively light, it will by its activity proceed from 
strength to strength, from dawn to daylight, from daylight to sunrise, and 
from that to the meridian, Prov. iv. 18. The sun in a statue will stand like 
a stock, but not the sun in the heavens. If, through the darkness of the 
understanding, there is an alienation from the life of God, Eph. iv. 18, then 
by an enlightened understanding there is an approach to the life of God. 
Can partakers of the life of God stand at a stay ? Can we ever be like God 
by ignorance and small measures of knowledge ? God cannot increase in 
the knowledge of himself, because the knowledge of himself is, as himself, 
infinite ; but that soul that is truly God-like aspires to as high a knowledge 
of him as the creature is capable of. He hath no desire to take further steps 
in grace, who doth not desire to thrive in the knowledge of Christ, which is 
as the dew of grace. 

Secondly, There is no conformity to Christ without a thirst after more 
knowledge of God. Our Saviour grew in wisdom as he did in stature, Luke 
ii. 52 ; not that Christ had any sinful ignorance, but the habits of wisdom 
and knowledge infused into his human nature grew up to maturity according 
to his natural growth. They are not his members that grow not proportion- 
ably to the head, and, being rational members, they must grow in knowledge 
as well as in strength. The image of God in the new creature doth partly 
consist in knowledge. Col. iii. 10, yet it is not necessary to this conformity 
that all should have an equal degree of knowledge. It is probable all in 
heaven have not an equal vision of God, since there are different degrees of 
glory ; yet the least degree of the vision of God there is with a perfect 
conformity, and without the mixture of the least impurity. But there is no 


conformity here to Christ without some knowledge of him. Some grow 
according to means and measures, and an ardent thirst for fuller manifesta- 
tions of him. Some think that in heaven there will be a constant proficiency 
in the knowledge of God ;'^' and why not, since finite is capable of additions 
as numbers are of more units, which may be increased by adding, yet none 
so great but may be made greater by addition of more to them ? 

Thirdly, He can have no desire to enjoy God who doth not desire a clearer 
knowledge of him. What desires can he have of fruition, who doth not delight 
to know more of him whom he pretends he is willing to enjoy? He hath no 
mind to set foot in heaven, nor hath any notions of the happiness of that 
place, whose affections are not enlarged to a further prospect of him who is 
the sole essential happiness there. Whosoever hath had any taste of hea- 
venly pleasure, will endeavour to beautify his understanding with divine 
objects, since part of the happiness of heaven consists in a perfection of that 
faculty of the mind. 

It is then certain that a knowing soul cannot be idle, but inquisitive ; spi- 
ritual knowledge is no less attractive than natural. When we come to a little 
knowledge in those lower things, we are still aiming at more, as those that 
found out new countries were still making more voyages to perfect their 
inquiry. It is impossible that any that have tasted the saving knowledge of 
God can rest in low measures, but they will be attempting a full discovery. 

This progressiveness consists chiefly. 

First, In a clearer sight of what was in part known; not so much exten- 
sively, in an increase of particular objects, as intensively, in a clearer view 
and more spiritual apprehension of what we knew before ; as growth in grace 
is not in new graces (for they are all included in the habit of grace first put 
into the soul), but in a strength of each particular grace and the actings of 
it. As a man that studies the nature of some particular grace, and the 
actings of it. As a man that studies the nature of some particular creature, 
by his search comes into a sight, not of new objects, but of more reasons of 
things, and a clearer inspection into that which was the object of his know- 
ledge before. The knowledge in heaven consists not so much in the know- 
ing new objects as in knowing with an inexpressible clearness G-od and 
Christ, whom we know but in a glass, and that darkly in the world, not in 
an addition of new objects, but an accession to the degrees of our knowledge. 

Secondly, It is a growth in estimation of the object, and strength of desires 
for it. It is a certain rule in spirituals, as it is in naturals, everything when 
it moves regularly to its centre moves more swiftly towards the end of its 
motion ; so will the motion of the soul be in longings and thirstings after a 
more full view of God and Christ, the nearer it comes to salvation. The 
' soul breaks for the longings it hath to the judgments of God,' Ps. cxix. 20, 
the methods of his wisdom; one desire treads upon another; he desires, and 
is covetous for more longings for him ; he longs, and thinks he doth not 
long enough. It grows in estimations of him : Ps. cxix. 72, * The law of 
thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.' He values it 
daily more and more above all the excrements of this earth. 

Thirdly, It is not a growth or desire terminating in a notion of God, so 
much as the fruits and proper intendments of that notion. It is a mystery 
of faith and a mystery of godliness, a mystery to be known and mystery to 
be practised. But the growth is in the mystery of faith, in order to a growth 
in it as it is a mystery of godliness, to know God for the ends for which he 
is revealed, and Christ for the ends for which he was commissioned. It is a 
desire for the way of God's precepts, Ps. cxix. 27, 33, not to indulge carnal 
* Zanch. in Hos. vi. 3. 


John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 63 

affections or an intellective curiosity, but to direct his paths and strengthen 
him in his walk. A man in a journey desires not so much the knowledge of 
the nature of the soil or of the fruits of the country, as the way of it, to 
attain his journey's end. David, having a knowledge of God, and being 
ravished with it, desires to be acquainted with the way to the fruition of 
that whereof he had some sight ; hence he so often desires God to open 
his eye, that he might behold him, and teach him the way that he might 
attain to him. He that hath a delightful prospect of excellent buildings 
and fruitful grounds which he may have the possession of, would have a 
more accurate survey of them. The next step naturally is to desire to 
know a way thither : Prov. i. 5, 'A wise man will increase in learning,' 
ni^^nn, the word signifies properly the mariner's art or pilot's skill in steer- 
ing a ship, or an acuteness in acting. A wise man will hear and increase 
in learning, in order to improve what he knows for his direction and steer- 
age in his course in the world, which is as a stormy sea, and needs care 
and skill. 

2. As there is a difference in the effects of this knowledge, so also in the 
manner of it. 

1. Saving knowledge is distinct. Though gi-ace be not perfect, yet there 
is an habit of grace, and all the parts of grace in the soul of a renewed man ; 
so, though this knowledge be not perfect, yet there is a distinct view of God 
and Christ in all the necessary parts of knowledge. Another may know the 
attributes of God, but he sees not the glory of them shining into the heart : 
2 Cor. iv. 6, ' To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the 
face of Jesus Christ.' It is a distinct view of God's perfections, in their 
affecting glory ; of his wisdom, in contriving redemption ; his justice, in 
punishing our surety ; his mercy, in bestowing pardon in his beloved one ; 
and the beauty of his holiness in all : and of those a believer hath a distinct 
apprehension in his mind, and a gracious and distinct impression of them 
on his heart. He knows the nature of Christ, his offices, the fruits of his 
death, and comforts of his resurrection, the cordials of his intercession, so 
orderly as to make use of them in his several exigencies, and have recourse 
to each of them by faith in his distinct pressures. It is a shining into the 
heart, as the sun upon the world at the creation, whereby Adam had a dis- 
tinct view of the creatures then formed ; and in the new creation, this 
divine light breaks into the soul, repairs the faculty, whereby there may be 
a plain spiritual view of the glory of God, as figured in the appearance of 
Christ. An owl sees the light, but not distinctly that or anything by it, not 
because there is want of light, but a want of a due disposition and strength in 
the eye to discern it. It is a manifestation of God's name, John xvii. 6. 
God was more distinctly known by his name Jehovah among the Israelites, 
than he had been in the world before, i. e. in the manifestations of his truth 
and power in performing the promise of deliverance to them ; so he is known 
in Christ in fuller expressions, and more letters of his name, than he was to 
the Israelites. The other knowledge is as the sight of a man in his picture ; 
this, as the knowledge of a man in his person, whereby his lively disposition 
and excellencies are discerned. It is a knowledge by inward manifestation 
and irradiation of the soul. The times of ignorance are called night -and 
darkness in Scripture ; in the night there is no evidence of the true figures 
and colours of things. The time of divine discovery is called day, and light ; 
and believers, ' light in the Lord ;' there is a plain appearance of the object 
in its excellency manifest to them, whereby they discern things that differ : 
the difference between Christ and the world, grace and sin. It differs from 
the knowledge of others, as the sight of a ship by an unskilful eye fi-om that 

64 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

of the shipwright or pilot, who understands all the parts of the worliman's 
skill ; or the sight of a picture by a limner, and one ignorant of the art. 
One sees the hidden pieces of art, the other the outward figure and com- 
posure. The knowledge of the Christian is the work of the Spirit by special 
grace, the other is the work of education and industry. A divine work is 
more clear than a human. It is such a knowledge as the apostles had after 
the Holy Ghost came upon them, and had dispelled their darkness, scattered 
their shadows, and refined their minds, and made them see the counsel of 
God in the sufferings of Christ, and behold the bottom of it with a divine 
light ; whereas before, their knowledge was confused and feeble, they scarce 
knew before he was to die : after his death, they understood his sufierings, 
but nothing of the true reason and design of them till the Spirit descended 
upon them ; and, therefore, Christ tells them in the time of his life, that 
though he ' had been so long with them, they did not know him,' John xiv. 
9. Unless the knowledge of God and Christ be thus distinct, it may stuff 
the head, but not improve the soul. 

2. It is a certain knowledge. Not a guess or imagination, but a real 
thing, as if the soul had a perfect demonstration. It is surer than the know- 
ledge of the first principles or common notions in man ; surer than the per- 
ceptions of sense, or conclusions of reason. The knowledge of things we 
have by experience depends upon the deceivable sense, which often needs the 
correction of reason ; the knowledge we have by reason is uncertain, because 
the mind of man is often prepossessed with crooked notions, which cannot 
be the rule to measure straight truths by. Reason is full of uncertainty, and 
dubious ; and the more we know by natural reason, the more we doubt. 
But this knowledge is more divine than any demonstration,"- because it is 
not founded upon humiin reason, but divine and infallible revelation, which 
can neitlier deceive nor be deceived. It is by an inward sense and taste, 
which reiiders a man more certainly intelligent of what he feels, than all men 
in the world can be by a rational discourse without a sense. Truth is inned, 
and inlaid in the heart ; there is a plerophory and full assurance of know- 
ledge. Col. ii. 2. Other knowledge doth fluctuate, and a man rather sus- 
pects that he sees, than see clearly,! which is rather an opinion of God and 
Christ than knowledge, such as the philosophers had of natural things, 
which they could not assure themselves whether it was clear science or 
opinion. But saving knowledge is a solid and certain apprehension of the 
object known. Hence, it is called a sight of the glory of God with open 
face, 2 Cor. iii. 18, an intellectual and spiritual sight, ' the evidence of things 
not seen,' Heb. xi. 1, 'z\%yyj)i\ such a conviction that brings a fulness of 
light with it to clear the thing, and make the heart fall down under the 
power of it, and nonplusseth all disputes against it. As the Spirit so strongly 
convinceth of sin, as to arrest all objections and pleas, banish them out of 
the heart of the sinner, so he strongly convinceth of the truth of Grod and 
Christ, and chaseth away all the carnal reasonings, as the light of the rising 
sun doth darkness before it. It is such an evidence that brings substance 
along with it, ' the substance of things hoped for.' It evidenceth God and 
Christ, and the things of God and Christ, to be substantial, soHd things, and 
not imaginary notions and doubtful opinions. This was promised in the 
times of the gospel : Isa. Hi. 6, ' My people shall know my name ; they 
shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak ; behold, it is I.' The 
repetition of a thing in the Hebrew dialect shews the certainty of the thing 
spoken of. They knew God by the prophets ; they should more surely 
* 0£i'oT£g5v t) vaffni a'Tooii^ia;,- — Origen. 
t Amyrald. Thes. Salmur. part ii. p. 91, thes. xxxvi. 


John XYIL 3.] the knowledge of god. 65 

know liim in the times of the gospel, in the greatness of the delivei-ance he 
would work for them. It is clearer than the prophetic visions ; for it is a 
sight that is produced by the dawniing of the day, and the arising of the day- 
star in the heart, 2 Peter i. 19, which is meant of a knowledge of Christ in 
this world, for in heaven the knowledge shall be by the light of the sun. It 
is a knowledge here which is the forerunner of a full knowledge in heaven, 
as the day-star is of the rising sun. And Christ himself affirms to God this 
certainty of knowledge, John xvii. 8, ' They have surely known that I came 
out from thee,' which is more than a loose opinion. And, indeed, there is 
nothing more sure to an opened understanding than a divine light, though 
to an eye sore with sin the light is as imperceptible as the light of the sun 
to the eyes of an owl. 

(1.) The manner of this knowledge must bear some proportion to the ob- 
ject, and the manner of revealing it. As the object excels all other objects, 
so the manner of knowing must be different from all other manner of know- 
ledge, and therefore more certain in what we know of it, by how much the 
objects God and Christ are more excellent and real, the living God, and an 
eternal Christ. It is not coined by flesh and blood, nor depends upon the 
blindness of reason ; but it is from the Father which is in heaven, as well 
as of the Father which is in heaven. Mat. xvi. 17 ; a manifestation from 
Christ, John xvii. 6, ' I have manifested thy name ;' a ' sure word ' where- 
by it is taught, 2 Peter i. 19, surer than all the maxims of the world. The 
object is most real : God, the author of all being, the fountain of nature and 
grace ; Christ, the band of the whole creation. The manner of revealing 
was most certain ; the manner of knowing must be in some measure suitable 
to the object known, and the way of its manifestation : the principles of 
faith are more certain than those of any science. 

(2.) It is wrought by the enlightening virtue of the Holy Ghost, and 
therefore must be most certain. The knowledge of God, as well as faith, is 
the gift of God, wrought in the soul by inspiration. God gives not errone- 
ous principles to the creature. The debauchery of our reasons was not from 
God originally, but from the lasting invasion of sin, and permitted by God 
as a judge to continue for our punishment. This teaching is by ' the Spirit of 
truth,' John xiv. 17, 1 John ii. 27, who inwardly presents the excellency of 
God and Christ to the understanding, as the word doth to the ear, and that 
not like a flash of lightning that gives a vanishing light, and after leaves us in 
a worse darkness than it found us ; but he abides as a Spirit of truth in all 
the darkness of this world, for ' he dwells with you, and shall be in you.' 
The instruction will be certain, till the Spirit prove an uncertain teacher. 
It is his demonstration, and therefore powerful, 1 Cor. ii. 4, and surer than 
any demonstration by reason, by how much the Spirit, the teacher of it, is 
above all the reason in the world ; it is ' the Spirit that searcheth the deep 
things of God,' 2 Cor. ii. 9, 10, mysteries above the ken of corrupted 
reason, and hid in the secret place of the Most High, which are therefore 
most precious, and of the greatest reality and value. Since therefore this 
knowledge is a fruit of divine teaching, and from an infinitely wise and in- 
fallible teacher, the soul of a believer is more assured of the reality of it than 
it is of its own life and being. He knows by sense and reason that he lives, 
but the knowledge he hath of God and Christ is by the Spirit, a principle 
infinitely superior to both the other. 

(8.) Saving knowledge is such a knowledge, for kind, as Christ had of God. 
The words and declaration of God, which God gave to him, he gave to his 
disciples, John xvii. 8. The knowledge Christ as man had of God is com- 


6G charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

municated to a believer, in the kind, though not in the same measure. And 
herein doth consist partly our conformity to Christ ; the soul is conformed 
to Christ in all the parts of it. It consists not in the repair of one faculty, 
for that would be but half a resemblance. It would be monstrous for the 
will to be conformed to Christ, and the understanding to the devil ; the will 
to be acted by grace, and the understanding possessed by nature. It cannot 
indeed be supposed in ti e order of natural operations, how the will can have 
an holy conformity to Christ, till the understanding hath an intelligent con- 
formity to him. As the will is made like the will of Christ, so the mind is 
enlightened in a similitude to the mind of Christ ; that as Christ is in the 
heart the ground of the hope of glory, so he is in it the guide of the mind : 
Philip, ii. 5, ' Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus ;' 
1 Cor. ii. 16, 'But we have the mind of Christ.' 'The spiritual man 
judgeth all things,' because he understands the mind of -.hrist ; because his 
mind is informed and enlightened by that Spirit which illuminated the human 
mind of Christ. And needs must he judge as Christ did, who hath not only 
a knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, but a mind acted by the same Spirit 
of Christ, and suited to the mind of Christ, and hath such notions and 
piercing insight into the things of God, for the kind, as Christ had. I will 
not say that this is the sense of the place, though something of that nature 
seems to be included in th»' manner of the apostle's argument, or may be in- 
ferred from thence. We ni. y be said to know as Christ doth, as we are said 
to be holy as Christ is holy , in regard of likeness, as the light of the stars 
and sun are true light, have a likeness one to the other, and are of the same 
kind, yet the light in the sun is more full and clear than that in the stars. 
As there will at the last day be a glory of the body like to the glorious body 
of Christ, Philip, iii. 21 ; and a glory of the soul much more like to the soul 
of Christ ; so there is an initial likeness to Christ in each faculty in every 
renewed man. Now as Christ's knowledge of God was certain, and the 
knowledge of himself was certain, so this saving knowledge of God and 
Christ in a true believer is as certain, for the measure of it in this world. 
And though there be doubts and waverings in the hearts of believers, yet 
they do not respect the object, the nature of God and Christ, and the ends 
of his death, but are in regard of the subject, and an interest in those glori- 
ous things. Now though this knowledge be imperfect, yet it is certain in 
every believer. They know, though it be but in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 12, and 
that which they know is certain. There is certainty in star-light as well as 
in sun-light, though the light le not so much. ' We see through a glass 
darkly.' It is a certain sight, though not clear, because the organ is not 
fully fitted for it. Every true believer can say, as those, John vi. 69, ' We 
believe, and are sure, that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.' 
Before the light of the knowledge of God broke in savingly upon him, he h"d 
doubtful notions of those things, he counted them as shadows, discoursed - *" 
them because the rest of the world cid, and because he had been brought up 
that way, yet without any savour oi them. He knew not whether he knew 
or no, as Paul, whether he was in cr out of the body. But since, he be- 
holds such a clearness and reality in the mysteries of the gospel, that he is 
more confirmed in the certainty of them than of any in the world. There 
is light shot in, which carries its own evidence with it, and is too bright to 
be nonplussed by the darkness of reason. The things of God and Christ 
are discerned in the head, and realised in the heart. 

(3.) It is a firm knowledge. Some have a floating knowledge of God. 
Truth in their mind doth dance as the image of the sun or stars in a pail, 
according to the motion of the water. Truth and error are like a pair of 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 67 

scales, sometimes up and sometimes down. But as true faith, so saving 
knowledge, is stedfast like a needle, sticking to the loadstone without 
wavering : Col. ii. 5, ' Stedfastness of our faith,' 6rBgi^(x,a, firinamentum fidei, 
firmament of faith, as stable as the heaven and heavenly bodies keeping their 
constant stations and courses, and admitting nothing heterogeneous into 
them. It is but a shadow of knowledge which halts between two opinions. 
The knowledge of Christ being admitted upon the highest account frames 
the soul into an acquiescence in it. It is ' an unction from the holy one,' 
1 John ii. 20, which, as it opens, so it fortifies the understanding. It is an 
habit : Heb. v. 14, ' Who by reason of use ;' by reason of habit, in the 
Greek. The faculty is firm, and can never be totally vitiated ; though it 
may, as the natural taste, be impaired by some diseased humour tincturing 
the palate, yet it returns again to its former temper. It is such a know- 
ledge that keeps men in a way of righteousness, and prevents them from re- 
turning to be swine. It makes them see the mire to loathe it, and the purity 
of God to love him. They that are taught of God, depart not from his truth : 
Ps. cxix. 102, ' I have not departed from thy judgments : for thou hast 
taught me.' The psalmist renders God's teaching him as a reason why he 
did not depart from God's judgments. Therefore that knowledge of God, 
which is taught by God, is an establishing knowledge, not a volatile, airy 
thing, such as children have, which are ' carried away by every wind of 
doctrine,' Eph. iv. 14, tossed to and fro between one passion and another, 
rather tban between one reason and another ; but a settling ballast, such as 
the martyrs had who were slain for the word of God, the divine ?.oyoj, and 
tbe testimony they bore to his person and offices, which they held, and held 
as an undoubted truth. Rev. v. 9. They held the transcript of God and 
Christ imprinted on their hearts fii-m, as a marble doth the letters engraven 
on it ; the other sort of knowledge is fading, as easily blotted out as letters 
upon sand with the next wind. In the one there is only a taste of ' the 
powers of the world to come,' of the death and resurrection of Christ, which 
are the powers of the age of the Messiah, which was called by the Jews the 
world to come, Heb. vi. 5 ; the other is as a constant sight in the heart, as 
firm as a graft in the stock, which becomes one with it ; not only a light of 
truth, but a love of truth ; notions spring into the mind, and love stands 
ready to set and root them. If any man therefore pretends to a knowledge of 
God, and withdraws from him to the things of this world, and the miry ways 
of sin, he knew no more of God than a swine doth of the cleansing bath ; he 
discovers a greater hatred of God, for whensoever any good is forsaken after 
it is pretended to be known, it shews a greater detestation of it and desire of 
disunion from it. Whatsoever therefore the pretences of apostates are, they 
never knew God, because God is so lovely in all his perfections, that it is 
impossible for any soul that knows him not to love him, and cleave to him. 
(4.) This saving knowledge of God and Christ is, in all the afiections 
which attend it in the soul, uuexpressible. The afiections rising from it are 
unexpressible by the soul that feels it ; all words are below the sense, as a 
spark is below the brightness of a flame. In common things we find often 
a secret power excite a liking or dislike in our mind which we cannot fully 
discover to others, either in the greatness of the pleasure or abhorrency 
which is in ourselves. The natural afi"ections we have to something admit 
of no expression, much less the spiritual aff'ections. A friend that you know 
and love dearly, whose virtues you admire, you can never discover so ex- 
quisitely in his endowments as that another should admire and love him with 
an affection equal to what you bear to him. Who can imagine the depth of 
David's sense in his contemplations of God under those spiritual strains he 

68 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

clothes himself with in his Psalms, unless he felt the same inward transports 
as David did ? "Who can understand the exquisite satisfaction our Saviour 
had in his thoughts of his Father, in his addresses to him, and obedience to 
his will, unless he could be equal to him in all those ? It is the same thing 
in spiritual as in natural knowledge. No man can understand the delight 
a scholar takes in his inquiries into some curious learning, but he that hath 
had a taste of the same pleasure himself, no more than a man can under- 
stand the heat of fire that never felt it. Paul, in his revelations, heard 
* words unspeakable ' in their own nature, as well as ' unlawful for him 
to utter,' 2 Cor. xii. 4. Nor can any conceive the inward ravishments 
of a soul in the meditations of God and Christ, who never had a spiritual 
view of the excellency of those ravishing objects. 


I. Information. 

1. See the insufficiency of all other knowledge to eternal happiness. Other 
sciences are shadows of wisdom ; this a sound wisdom, Prov. iii. 21, referring 
to the study of the wisdom of God. All other kind of knowledge delights a 
man at present, help him to pass his life with some comfort, but gives not 
a drop of balsam at the hour of death for any spiritual wound, or the least 
cordial dram for a drooping soul ; whereas this sound wisdom is a treasure 
of things new and old, to support under any calamity. It will keep us from 
being afraid of sudden fear, or of the desolation of the wicked when it 
comes, for the Lord, that is savingly known, shall be our confidence, and 
keep our feet from being taken, Prov. iii. 24-26. 

(1.) Skill in the aflairs of the world, and arts useful to human societies, 
first appeared in the seed of the serpent and the idolatrous generation of the 
world. The posterity of Cain, the head of the unbelieving world, are upon 
record in Scripture for such inventions. When his generations are reckoned, 
there is Jabal who first invented the art of ordering cattle, and Jubal his 
brother, the inventor of music, and Tubal Cain, the first artificer in brass and 
iron, Gen. iv. 20-22. No such remark set upon the children of Seth, 
reckoned. Gen. v. 21, 22; only Enoch's walking with God, and Lamech's 
prophecy of INoah, as if he had been the promised seed ; their minds were 
taken up with that knowledge which fitted them for a better life. The 
knowledge of the Greeks, whence the choicest learning was transmitted to 
Europe, was derived from Phoenicia to Egypt, the one the posterity of 
Canaan, the other also of Ham, both eminent for idolatry. 

(2.) Christ never directed men in the knowledge of any thing but of God. 
He never took flesh, nor laid it down, to make us philosophers or artificers, 
skilful in the afi'airs of the world or knowing in poUtical concerns, but to 
purchase for us the knowledge of the mysteries of heaven and sanctifying 
grace ; he was a prophet to manifest the name of God, not the nature of 
creatures. He came, not to instruct us in the nature of the elements, the 
reason of natural motions, to inform us of the nature of the stars and 
heavenly bodies, but the nature of God, the designs and methods of his 
grace. The teaching worldly skill was too low for the grandeur of his pro- 
phetical office, and should be too low for our choicest consideration, but 
only in order to the enlarging our faculties for more clear apprehensions or 
illustrations of divine knowledge, to be foundations for spiritual meditations, 
and more sensible perception of heavenly truth. Our Saviour knew all the 
secrets of nature, the usefulness of human arts to the comfort of the world, 
but never recommended any of them as sufficient to happiness. Nor after 
his resurrection, in his discourses with the disciples, did he acquaint them 
with the curiosities of paradise or the orders of angels, but with the pro- 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 69 

phets, concerning himself and ends of his death, and resurrection, and glory 
in heaven, Luke xxiv. Had those been sufl&cient or necessary means, the 
Scripture had been full of natural demonstrations, it had been a book of 
nature, instead of a book of grace. It was not the design of it to render 
men scholars, but Christians ; and though there be many excellent sprink- 
lings of natural learning in divine writ, they are occasionally set down to 
lead us to the understanding the nature of God, and our own duty, the two 
states of man, his misery by sin, and his happiness by grace. And there- 
fore, to rest in that which God never rested in, Christ never taught or 
admired, to rest in that which devils and wicked men are all acquainted with 
and are no enemies unto, can never render a soul happy. 

(3.) It can never of itself help us to the knowledge of divine things. A 
man with treasures of other knowledge.in his head may have, and often have, 
hearts insensible of the beauty of God and excellency of Christ. It may 
make a man higher, by head and shoulders, than other men, but never 
make him like to God. The highest intellectuals, without those saving 
apprehensions, are but peacocks' feathers with black feet ; they can no more 
purify the soul than the blood of bulls and goats could atone our sins.^ The 
understanding the intricacies of nature, and themost ingenious mysteries in 
the world, and a connection of all the most useful worldly sciences, cannot 
advantage our spiritual and eternal happiness, because the things themselves 
which are the objects of that knowledge cannot do it. The knowledge of a 
thing cannot do more than the thing known can do. If the bowels of nature 
and moral truth were as open to any of us as they are to the highest angel, 
nay, had we an understanding of all divine as well as human mysteries, 
without this affectionate knowledge it would render us just nothing : 1 Cor. 
xiii. 2, ' Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries 
and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove 
mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing.' Of no account before God. 
A man may be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant. Nicodemus 
was none of the lowest sect, a pharisee, nor of the lowest form among 
them, a ruler among them, had the knowledge of the law above the vulgar, 
yet was ignorant of the design of the Messiah, and the mystery of the new 
birth. A man may be excellent in the grammar of the Scripture, yet not 
understand the spiritual sense of it. As a man may have so much Latin as 
to construe a physician's bill, and tell the names of the plants mentioned 
in it, yet understand nothing of the particular virtues of those plants, or 
have any pleasure in the contemplation of them, so we may discourse of 
God, and the perfections of God,- and the intendments of the great things of 
Christ, without a sense of them. Though this be a good preparatory to a 
spiritual knowledge, yet it is insufficient of itself without some further addi- 
tion. It doth not heal the soul's eye, nor chase away the spiritual darkness. 
• In much wisdom is much grief,' Eccles. i. 18. In this wisdom only there 
is the choicest pleasure. 

(4.) It often hurts and hinders men from the saving knowledge of God 
and Christ. The wisest men are not always the disciples of ■■ Christ, but 
many times enemies to him ; the most ingenious men have often been the 
most malicious and ingenious devils. Natural wisdom is most apt to 
count divine wisdom foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 21, 23; a hatred of Christ often 
perks up under it. The greatest philosophers in the primitive times were 
the sharpest enemies to Christianity, and while they were intent upon 
human wisdom, they counted divine revelation no better than a fable, and 
scorned to sit at the feet of divine revelation, which agreed not with their 
own idolised principles. Unsanctified wisdom is the devil's greatest tool. 

70 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, and this creature 
is culled out by the devil to be the inptrument of the first seduction of man- 
kind. The affectation of a knowledge not due to Adam brought a cloud upon 
Adam and his posterity, and separated him from the knowledge of his Creator, 
which was to be his sole happiness. The intent poring upon red hot iron, 
or other metals, blinds the eye, and hinders it from seeing the sun, or any 
thing else by it. Too much intenseness in carnal wisdom dims the eye to 
spiritual objects. The common people knew Christ, and thirsted for the 
knowledge of him, Mark xii. 37, when the intelligent pharisees were as spi- 
ritually blind as bats, and so wicked as to boast of their unbelieving igno- 
rance, and set it as a pattern for the people : John vii. 48, 49, ' Have any 
of the rulers, or of the pharisees, believed on him ? But this people, who 
know not the law, are cursed.' Upon which account it is remarked by the 
evangelical historian as a matter of astonishment, that ' a great number of 
the priests were obedient to the faith,' Acts vi. 7. It is better to have a 
little of that knowledge which conducts to a Redeemer, than much of that 
which puffs up, and makes you swell too big for a mediator. 

Well, then, let not other knowledge swallow up your pursuits after this. 
Other knowledge is useful, a gift of God, but it is the handmaid, not the 
mistress. It must not thrust out that which is more noble ; the light of a 
candle equals not that of the sun. The angels are not said to bend a look 
into natural things, though they exactly know the order of them ; but it is 
their employment, as well as their happiness, to stand before God, to view 
his face, to inquire into the things of Christ. That which angels most affect, 
should be the affecting object of our souls, which differ in their spiritual 
nature but little from that of an angel. Other knowledge will die with our 
bodies, this will live with our souls ; that vanisheth with our breath, and 
this is perfected in glory. That renders us not happy, it doth not satisfy 
our curiosity ; it is stone instead of bread ; it strikes not off one link from 
the chain of spiritual darkness in us ; it is no fortification against death and 
hell. But divine knowledge satisfies our desires, nourishes the soul, is bread 
to our hunger, light to our eyes, music to our ears, a cordial to our hearts, 
and the womb of it is full of nothing but felicity. In short, it is the light oi 
life, spiritual, eternal, the other at best but the light of a natural and 
temporary life. Let not, therefore, the itch of our curiosity, wherewith 
Adam hath infected us, stop our ears aginst the instructions of God. Let 
none of us for a fading delight lose that which is solid and substantial. We 
shall be like that person, that while he was busy in contemplating heavenly 
bodies, tumbled into a ditch ; and we, while we aim only at skill in other 
things, fall into an eternal ignorance of the most lovely and necessary objects. 

11. Information. We see here the order of God's working, if knowledge 
be a necessary means. First knowledge, then grace ; first knowledge, then 
that life which is eternal. No house can possibly be built without a foun- 
dation ; the groundwork first, then the superstructure. Illumination leads 
the way, and the inclinations of the will follow. God doth not cross the na- 
tural order of the faculties in his operations, though he doth their corrup- 
tion. He leads men by the cords of a man, by those natural obligations on 
him he makes use of in his way of working ; expels darkness, to make 
room for light ; opens the understanding, thereby to incline the will ; recti- 
fies the prejudicate opinions of God and Christ, his ways and methods. 
None can be a priest to offer spiritual sacrifices to God, till he be a prophet 
to discern what is fit to offer to him. An approbation of things that are 
excellent, and sincerity in the practice, is founded upon knowledge and judg- 
ment, Philip, i. 9, 10. The new nature is conveyed by the knowledge of 

John XVII. 3. J the knowledge of god. 71 

God and Christ, Col. iii. 10. As ignorance and error were the deformity of 
the old man, so wisdom and knowledge are the first line in the beauty of the 
new. The Cist draught of God is in the mind, and thence terminates in the 
will. Nath..jael had a false notion of Christ ; he was possessed with the 
opinion of the scribes, the doctors of the law, that no prophet could come 
out of Nazareth, John i. 46 ; that the people of that place were contemptible 
in the eye of God, because no prophet had risen from thence, since pro- 
phecy was first in the church. But Christ acquaints him with something 
divine in himself, by telling him his motions, what he did under the fig- 
tree, ver. 48, convinced him of the folly of his former notions, discovered to 
him the truth of his prophetical office, acquaints him with undeniable argu- 
ments for his information ; then his will and acknowledgments orderly fol- 
low : ' Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel,' 
ver. 49. None are enlivened till they be first enlightened by Christ. He 
is not life to any without being light in the mind : John i. 4, ' The life was 
the light of men.' 

III. Information. The excellency of a true Christian. The best Christian 
is the best scholar ; he hath a knowledge in the issue equal to that of the 
angels, superior to that of devils, more effectual than that of the greatest 
philosopher : Prov. xvii. 27, ' A man of understanding is of an excellent 
spirit.' ' The Spirit of the holy God is in him, and light and excellent 
wisdom,' as was spoken of Daniel, Dan. v. 11, 14. It is a light flowing 
from the fountain of light, a fruit of divine teaching and divine touch ; a 
true light, John i. 9 ; more valuable than all the trifling sceptical know- 
ledge. in the worU , The meanest believer knows, if not more, yet better than 
the brightest stai that fell from heaven. What others see by candle-light, he 
sees by the light of the sun ; what is hidden to others is open to him ; what 
others have a natural understanding of, he hath a spiritual. Col. i. 9, auviffn 
miviMTiKT]. The publicans who heard the excellent discourses of Christ 
concerning the nature of the Father, and the design of his coming into the 
world, were more excellent than the pharisees, who knew the same divine 
revelation, but had no affection stirred in them but that of anger against the 
publisher. The spiritually knowing Christian can discern God in his word 
better than others can in all his creatures. He practiseth what he knows. 
The excellency of a drug lies not so much in its quality, as in the operation 
of that quality. We measure the excellency of things, not by the outward 
appearance, but the nobleness and usefulness of their effects. The mean- 
ness of a Christian doth not so much disparage him, as the excellency of 
divine knowledge ennobles him. He hath a soul truly God-like, that knows 
God with a conformity to him. The sun shining upon a body, and the body 
reflecting the beams of the sun, render it lovely, though low in itself. 
The knowledge of a Christian is, by inward and close revelation, attended 
with strong and high reflections. Others know the matter of the gospel, a 
Christian knows the mystery of the gospel. The strongest natural know- 
ledge is not proportionable to divine things, and therefore renders not the 
soul as excellent as the spiritual knowledge of God. The one fits men for 
converse with man ; the other for communion with God in this and another 

IV. Information. How sad is it for men to abuse to wrong ends the 
means of knowledge, which in itself is eternal life. As men turn grace mto 
wantonness, so they turn knowledge into rebellion ; as men will run many 
scores in debt because grace is free, so some will run more eagerly to sin 
because they know God is merciful in Christ, and use their knowledge for 
an encouragement to sin. This is a monster composed of a Chiistian's 

72 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

head, and a swine's heart; an angel's wings, and a serpent's body. This is 
like Belshazzar, to quaff healths in the vessels of the temple. To use it 
well for gracious ends, is like Solomon, to melt down the gold of Ophir for 
the service of God, and work it into vessels for the sanctuary. How many 
are there that are angry with the knowledge they have, and the means to 
get more, because they cannot be at ease in their sins ? Their lusts are 
enraged, while their consciences, are enlightened. The devil's knowledge is 
so far .from assuaging his malice, that it increaseth his fury. They know 
God as a judge, but regard him not as amiable and worthy to be imitated. 
The knowledge many philosophers had in the times of the gospel's shine, 
was so far from enabling them, because of their corruptions, to see the beauty 
of those discoveries, that they were rather excited to oppose the gospel prin- 
ciples with more stoutness of heart, that it, might be truly said of them, as 
Isa. xlvii. 10, ' Their wisdom and their knowledge perverted them.' It is 
base to turn the means of the knowledge of God into the service of the devil. 
It is good when we use them to check us in sin, to w^ean us from it, and ren- 
der' God more lovely and desirable to our souls. God's discoveries of him- 
self are not that he may be abused, but that he may be loved. He shews 
himself in his goodness, which is his glory; the end of goodness is to attract 
our affections, not to excite our enmity. 

V. Information. If the knowledge of God and Christ be the necessary 
means to eternal life, how deplorable is that want of this necessary know- 
ledge of God which is among us ! How lamentable are the cataracts bred 
in the eye of our understanding by the power of the flesh I JNicodemus* 
could not understand the first principles of Christianity, though he had been 
educated in the church, studied the law, had an honourable notion of Christ, 
was affected with his miracles, and was instructed in the principles of Chris- 
tianity by the mouth of truth itself. How great is our blindness in the 
things of the kingdom of God ! The knowledge many men have of Christ 
is a knowledge of his outside, not of his spiritual nature and excellency, so 
as to relish him. The notions of the goodness of God,. and salvation by 
Christ, are transporting doctrines ; men are pleased with them as children 
are with the pictures in a philosopher's book, without studying or knowing 
anything of the inward sweetness and learning in it ; without prying into, 
and being savourily affected with, the mysteries of the gospel. They have 
a knowledge of God and Christ by report, as men have of a famous prince, 
without any acquaintance, and happy familiarity with Mm ; as defective in 
this true knowledge as a ploughman is in the principles of astronomy. Most 
men's lives are a dream ; they profess rehgion,. account themselves happy in 
that profession, content themselves with some self-pleasing fancies and 
notions, without distinct inquiries into the truths of heaven. How sad is it 
to have eyes, and not know the sun ; to have understandings, and not know 
that which is only worthy to be known ; and not see God, who is as visible 
by his word and works as the sun by its light ! The irrational creatures 
outstrip us in the sense of what concerns the good of their nature ; the crane 
and swallow, the ox and ass, are better proficients in the good belonging to 
their nature, than corrupted man in what is necessary for his happiness, 
Jer. viii. 7, Isa. i. 3. 

1. This ignorance is natural. It was the glory of man in his creation 
to have the knowledge of God. The goodness of the creatures, which God 
beheld in them after they were formed by him, consisted in their natures 
and qualities suitable to them. If other creatures had qualities suitable to 
their natures, the noblest creature could not be defective. If man had betn 
* Daille sur Jean iii. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 73 

created with an ignorance of God, he could not have been good, under that 
which is the deformity of a rational nature. But since the crack by the fall, 
there is not a man that by nature understands God, or knows him to seek 
him, God, in his exact search in the world after its pollution, found not a 
man but was as ignorant as he was corrupt : Ps. xiv. 2, 3, ' The Lord looked 
down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that 
did understand, and seek God ;' and the result is, that they were ' all gone 
aside ; they were altogether become filthy ; not a man that doeth good, no, 
not one.' Not a man without blindness in his understanding, as well as 
filthiness in his will and practice ; which, lest it should be thought to be 
meant only of a particular deluge of .corruption peculiar to that age, the 
apostle expounds it as a charge against the whole world, comprehended in 
Jews and Gentiles, Rom. iii. 9-11. We are no more born with a saving 
knowledge of God in our heads and hearts, than with a skill in philosophy 
and mathematics ; no, nor so much, for we bring into the world a faculty 
capable of them by ordinary instruction, but uncapable of the other without 
special illumination. The eye is born quite blind to spiritual, but purblind 
only to natural, knowledge. It is as possible to read the law in tables of 
stone after they are pounded to dust, as to read true notions of God and 
Christ in lapsed nature. .This is excellently described by the apostle : Eph. 
iv. 17, 18, ' Vanity of the mind, darkness in the understanding, and blind- 
ness of the heart.' The essential faculties of the rational soul : the mind, 
the repository of principles, the faculty whereby we should judge of things 
honest or dishonest ; the. understanding, the discursive faculty and the re- 
ducer of those principles into practical dictates, — that part whereby we reason 
and collect one thing from another, framing conclusions from the principles 
in the mind; the heart, i. e. the will, conscience, affections, which were to 
apply those principles, draw out those reasonings upon the stage of the life, 
all corrupted, — one vain, the other dark, and the third stark blind. And 
the most ingenious nations for natural knowledge and civil prudence verify 
the apostle's character in their brutish actions.* The Egyptians, that were 
men famed for their knowledge, and derived the sciences to the other parts 
of the world, were worse than beasts in their worship. The Greeks, who 
counted their Athens the eye of the world, were not more refined, when they 
adored thirty thousand gods, and some of them infamous for murder and 
adultery, and had three hundred and twenty- four several opinions about the 
chief good ; and the Romans, eminent for civil prudence, were not much 
behind them, when they worshipped a fever, and dignified a strumpet with 
the title of the goddess of flowers. A great philosopher among them takes 
notice of this ignorance of God in the various notions they have of him.f 
If you ask an artificer, a poet, a .philosopher, a Scythian, a Persian, what 
God is, you will not, find them all of the same opinion. Even those among 
the heathens, who for acts of justice and temperance might put men under 
the gospel to the blush, have had a thick darkness upon them in regard of 
God. They saw not ' the bright light which is in the clouds,' Job xxx\ai. 21. 
The knowledge of God hath been as much out of their ken as those moral 
virtues were in their practice. And the proneness of men to idolatry in 
former ages, while the most intelligent persons in the nature and ways of 
God were living among them, discovers the greatness of men's natural igno- 
rance. The posterity of Noah in the world were overspread with it, while 
Noah, Shem, and Heber, the father of the Hebrews, were living among them, 
from whom they heard other instructions. For Noah died in the fifty-seventh 
year of Abraham ; Shem and Heber after Abraham's death ; the one thirty- 
* Moulin, Dec. i. serm. 3, pp. 76, 76. f Maximua Tyrius, Dissert, i. sect. 3. 

74 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

five, and the other fifty-four years after, as is gathered from Scripture chro- 
nology.* This natural ignorance is in all men by nature ; so that Paul had 
good reason to say that ' the natural man' (which state we are all in as we 
are born) ' receives not the things of God,' 1 Cor. ii. 14. Every man is 
born with a veil upon his heart, and spiritual things cannot be discerned by 
a faculty spiritually depraved. This is partial in good men ; they have a 
light in their minds, but obscure. They know but little of God, nor can 
ever know him to the utmost, nor search him out unto perfection, because 
he is infinite. And this is in some more, in some less, according to the 
acuteness or dulness of their natural capacities, their various diverting 
employments and conditions in the world ; or according to the variety of the 
means of knowledge, which may be in one place more than in another. Some 
parts of the world have not the sun in that beauty and strength as it is in 
others. The best Christian heart, in comparison of what it should be, is a 
land of darkness, not a fully enlightened Goshen. Since original sin hath 
dealt with us as the Philistines^with Samson, put out our eyes, they are 
cured but partially in this world ; the perfection is reserved for another. 

2. This natural ignorance among men under the gospel is wilful. Many 
have no desire to know what they ought to know of God, that their con- 
sciences may not press them to do what they know. They hoodwink them- 
selves, and close their eyes against the light of the glory of God, that they 
might not see the filthy puddle and hideous deformity of their own hearts. 
That knowledge which is the ornament of the soul they account the torment 
of their conscience ; are wilfully ignorant, that they may be destroyed more 
pleasantly, and with less fear. How epidemic is this ! The light shines 
upon the head, yet shines into few hearts ; is no more regarded by men than 
pearls by a swine. It is a disparagement to be ignorant in a man's proper 
art ; not counted so to be defective in this, which is of absolute necessity. 
Other ignorance is condemned, and this afiected. ' The world by wisdom 
knew not God,' 1 Cor. i. 21. The understanding and natural wisdom is 
employed in any vile service, rather than inquiries after God, and with more 
delight entertains a natural discovery than a divine revelation. 

(1.) Men are commonly contrary to it. The imaginations which lift up 
themselves against the knowledge of Christ are the darlings ; a mighty un- 
willingness to have them pulled down and razed to the gi-ound, 2 Cor. 
X. 5, 6. We have not only an ignorance at our birth, but a stubbornness 
joined with it. ' A wild ass's colt ' is the best term the Scripture gives us, 
Job xi. 12. The wild ass is the most untamed and unteachable creatm'e.f 
No beast is more brutish and ignorant than a child at its birth ; nor any 
wild creature kicks more against the tamer than man against the instruc- 
tions of his Creator. The natural notions of God men are not willing natu- 
rally to cherish ; they would raze out the engraven letters ; but since they 
are so deeply impressed as not to be obliterated, they fill the characters with 
dirt, keep them by unrighteousness from being legible, that they may be 
secure in the practice of their unworthy principles : Rom. i. 28, they ' like 
not to retain God in their knowledge.' The beams of an heavenly light are 
offensive to men ; like wild beasts, which run from the rising sun into their 
dark dens. A deaf ear and a stout heart are evident testimonies of an affec- 
tion to darkness and disaffection to light, John iii. 19. There is a natural 
' love to a lie : ' 2 Thess. ii. 11, ' For this cause God shall send them strong 
delusions, that they shall believe a lie.' When God gives men up to a lie, 
be makes no impression of a lie upon them, as he doth of truth and divine 
knowledge in the illumination of the Spirit, but gives up a man to himself, 
* Vossii Histor. Pelag. lib. iii. part iii. sect. 6, p. 365. t Mercer. 

John XVII. 3.J the knowledge of god. 75 

withdraws his light, the natural consequence whereof is to run the road of 
nature, and believe a lie rather than truth. Since Adam's credulity is the 
inheritance of his posterity, they take God for a serpent, and the serpent 
for a god, and are as unwilling to receive the sparks of the one as they are 
desirous to entertain the deceits of the other. ^Vhosoeve^ hath unworthy 
and despicable thoughts of God is averse to any beam that discovers him ; 
no man can affect to know that which he doth not value. 

(2.) Men are naturally conceited that they know enough of God. There 
are two deplorable qualities in man. 

First, An incapacity to understand the mysteries of God, by reason of the 
dulness of the flesh. 

Secondly, An unwillingness to confess his ignorance, by reason of pride 
and conceitedness. Man by birth is a headstrong creature ; yet, as vain as 
he is, he would be counted wise : Job xi. 12, ' Vain man would be wise,' 
and that in the things of heaven. Those that know least of God are trans- 
ported with an overweening conceit that they know most, that they know 
enough, and more than enough. As in the sight of God's majesty we think 
ourselves nothing, so in the ignorance of him we think ourselves more than 
we are. When sick men conceit themselves sound, they will wilfully refuse 
any remedy which may convey health : John ix. 41, 'Now you say, We see; 
therefore your sin remains.' The opinion they had of their knowledge made 
them wilfully refuse the cure of their ignorance. 

Thirdlt/, Men are commonly negligent of knowledge. If there be not a 
sensible contrariety to it, or a foolish conceit that they have no need of it, 
though there be a sense of the want of it, yet there is a common negligence 
in seeking it, and making due inquiries after God. There is a sleep and a 
pleasure in sleeping ; men love to slumber, Isa. Ivi. 10. Those who cannot 
endure a darkness in other things, nor acquiesce in a confused knowledge of 
them without searching into their causes, and reasons or effects, are well 
contented with a weak and languishing knowledge of God, quickly tired in 
their pursuits of him. They look up to the sun, and presently take their 
eyes off again ; glance at spirituals, and fix to naturals. Where is the man 
who hath intent thoughts upon his Maker and Redeemer ? How little or no 
time is it that we spend daily in viewing his glories by meditation ! How 
many rise and lie down without any reflection upon the Author of their lives 
and motions, and upon the Mediator, who purchased those for them after a 
forfeiture ! Are not the stupendous works of creation visible, the amazing 
works of redemption legible ? Do not sparks of his wisdom rush out of 
every creature flying round about us ? and yet we are lazy in the improve- 
ment of them to attain a further sight of that God who is the author of 
them. Have we not the sun in the firmament of the gospel, but do we cast 
our eyes often upon it ? Do not little fancies please us more than substance ? 
A prodigious sottishness possesses men, under multiplied motives to endea- 
vour after the knowledge of God. How many are there in the world, and in 
congregations, that never improve one sermon to advance in the spiritual 
knowledge of God ? 

(3.) This wilful ignorance, partly from contrariety, conceitedness, and 
negligence, is frequent among us. There is among us a common knowledge 
of God, which prevents the world from being a shambles, and preserves the 
security of his people. It is a guard to the true seed in the world, as the 
straw and chafi' is to the grain of corn. Abimelech's natural knowledge of 
God restrained his hands from offering violence to Abraham ; but saving 
knowledge is a fruit not to be found in every hedge. The levity of men in the 
ways of God is an evidence of it : ' like children, carried about with every 

76 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

wind of doctrine.' As want of strength makes the bodies, so want of knowledge 
makes the minds of children capable of being moulded into any form. The 
assent is not fully given to divine revelations. They may have some of the 
seed of the word in their affections when they have little in their judgments. 
If there were a spiritual knowledge of God and Christ, why should men be 
so soon inveigled with error, and fling off the acknowledgment of those 
truths, whence they have confessed they have reaped a harvest of comfort ? 
What is the reason evil is so often chosen, since our wills naturally are 
determined to nothing but under the notion of good, but the blindness of 
our mind ? We never choose evil because it is evil, but because we appre- 
hend it (o be good. Where the heart is not won to God, the mind is not 
enlightened by him. Our little love to him, delight in him, zeal for him, 
thoughts of him, testify too many dark clouds between him and our under- 
standings. We have no sound sense of his justice if we tremble not 
at it, no savour of his holiness if we do not strive to imitate it. What 
though we may have a notion of Christ crucified, risen, and ascended! The 
mystery of Christ is veiled to our eye if our hearts be sunk into the world 
and lust. Our darkness comprehends not the shining light, John i. 5. It 
rather stifles the notions of God than is dispersed by them. How soon do we 
forget what we seem to know ! Our Saviour laboured to instruct his disciples 
during the time of his life in the doctrine of his death ; it leaked out of their 
minds, as if they believed nothing of his former declarations till the appear- 
ance of his person was. an irrefragable testimony of the truth of his words. 
If our knowledge of God were more spiritual, the operations of our souls 
would be more heavenly. Whosoever knows him is still flying towards 
him. Creeping earth-worms, lukewarm iLaodiceaus, careless Gallios, con- 
ceited Pharisees, know little, understand less, and savour nothing of God 
and Christ. Our ignorance of God is ioo .great, because our estimations of 
God are too little. 

To awaken us against a wilful and negligent ignorance, consider, 
[l.J It is inconsistent with Christianity. He deserves not the name of a 
Christian who wants the necessary, knowledge of a' Christian. He deserves 
not the name of a rational and intelligent creature who neglects the em- 
ployment of his mind about the most worthy object. Spiritual ignorance 
doth as much unchristian a man that hath the name of a Christian, as natu- 
ral folly unmans a person who hath the shape of a reasonable creature. 
Should we call this a world. if there were no sun, or a man a man that hath 
no eyes in his head, nor reason in his mind ? It would be:a shadow of the 
world, the ghost of a man. Christianity without knowledge is an appear- 
ance and nothing else, like the picture of a man without reason. A true 
Christian bewails Adam's loss, endeavours .to repair it, to get a light restored 
to his mind, and a beauty to his-soul. He approves of Adam's sin that sits 
contented in that darkness Adam brought upon himself and his posterity. 
Can that man be counted a follower of Christ, that is, pleased with the plague 
of nature, which the light of the sun. comes to scatter , by his beams ? Was 
any poor Egyptian at ease in the judicial darkness, were his groans silent, 
or his desires weak for the removal of it ? Yet how many souls, capable of 
an inheritance of light, sport themselves in the thick fogs of spiritual igno- 
rance ! He hath a pagan heart, under a Christian name, that can talk of 
the design of the new Adam, and yet be pleased with the predominant dark- 
ness and nature of the old. It is against the end of the gospel; the promise 
concerning the gospel times is, that ' the earth shall be full of the knowldge 
of the Lord,' Isa. xi. 9, not full of the ignorance of God. Light, not dark- 
ness, is the glory of a gospel state. The ignorance of the apostles in the 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 77 

time of Christ concerning the nature of his mediation, the design and end 
of his death, is intolerable now in any that bear the name of Christians. 
That was before the death and resurrection of Christ, ours after the clear 
manifestation of that which in the time of his life was obscure to his 

[2. J Ignorance is Satan's tool and chain, whereby he acts men and keeps 
them in captivity. He obstructs knowledge, and guides us in rebellion by 
ignorance. The knowledge of God opens the secrets of Satan's kingdom, and 
reveals the mystery of his government. It is the breaking out of the light 
of the glory of God in the gospel that makes him fall from heaven like light- 
ning, Luke x. 18. None gratify Satan so much as- ignorant persons. While 
this chain is upon the greatest mere moralist, he is as sure under the conduct 
of the devil as the profanest wretch. He can be content to let men please 
themselves with the shadows of virtue, while he can hold them sui-e by the 
chain of darkness. He knows he can lead anywhere those that want eyes to 
see their way. The darkness of the mind and the power of Satan are the 
same thing : Acts xxvi. 18, ' To turn men from darkness to light, and from 
the power of Satan unto God.' Whosoever is possessed by the one is not 
free from the command of the other ; darkness chains Satan to punishment, 
and darkness chains us to Satan. It is the devil's tool whereby he works in 
us ; he makes a vast use of it in his motions in the world, and his assaults 
of the soul, Eph. vi. 12. He is called ' the ruler of the darkness of this 
world,' of the dark ignorant principles of this world. The darkness in the 
heart, whether total or partial, is the handle to every operation of his upon 
us ; and the thicker, that is, the stronger second he hath to take his part 
in all his contests against our spiritual welfare. By our foolish principles, 
he makes work in our fiery passions. The more we understand of God's 
nature and Christ's offices, the more we shall be able to discern his subtlety, 
and prevent or withstand his attempts, Eph. vi. 14, 15, 17. 

[3.] Ignorance of God is the cause of all sin in the world. This is the 
fountain of all the sin that ever was ; of the first sin, 2 Cor. xi. 3. Those 
sins which are against knowledge of a particular precept, are grounded upon 
an ignorance of the nature of the Lawgiver. Sin springs from an error of 
imperfection in the understanding. If a false judgment be erected, false 
orders will be issued ; innumerable evils, determinations in the will and 
errors in practice, w^ill be the consequents ; wrong notions of God will give 
birth to foul evils. A vertijo or megrim in the head causeth irregular and 
unsteady motions in the members. Hence it is that the Scripture gives the 
name of folly to sin, and fools to sinners. To forget God is the character 
of all wicked men : Ps. 1. 22, ' Consider this, ye that forget God.' Sin 
grows from the root of folly. Why do men ' give themselves over to commit 
lasciviousness with greediness' ? ' Because of the blindness of their hearts,' 
Eph. iv. 18, 19. Why did not the Sadducees believe the resurrection? 
Because they 'knew not the scriptures, and the power of God,' Mat. 
xxii. 29. Why are men corrupt in their ways ? Because they ' say in their 
hearts. There is no- God,' Ps. xiv. 1. Why did the ungrateful Israehtes 
provoke God in the wilderness forty years of mercy together ? Because 
'they did err in their hearts, and did not know his ways,' Ps. xcv. 10. 
Ignorance of the glory of God, the nature of sin, and the necessity of proper 
ways of expiation, was the cause of the greatest wickedness that ever was 
committed in the face of the sun. The Jews had framed a false notion of 
a carnally victorious and triumphant Messiah, that would make them con- 
querors of the world, and therefore crucified the Lord of glory. This 
fashions men to lust, 1 Peter i. 14. All wickedness flows out like a torrent, 

78 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

Hosea iv. 1, 2 (he that doeth evil hath not seen God, 3 John 11), where 
there are false conceptions of God, or true notions of him misapplied. The 
rootion will be irregular when men imagine a careless God or an impure 
God, that he doth not regard our ways, is patient, without anger, threatens 
only to scare, will not damn men to everlasting torment for a small crime, 
his anger endures not for ever ; what will not a man do by those encourage- 
ments upon the invitation of a temptation ? When the Gentiles' imagina- 
tions of God became vain, their practices quickly became abominable, Rom. 
i. 21, 24. Mistakes of God, and impudence in sin, hold one another by 
the hand. When the mind is corrupt and destitute of the truth, then break 
out strife, and envy, and railings, and all the black regiment of hell, 1 Tim. 
vi. 4, 5. No foundation in blindness for any regular walking. Hence it 
is that sins are called works of darkness, but (as some think) never darkness 
itself, for by that word in Scripture is signified error and ignorance. That 
which hath no being can have no operation, that which is not known can 
never move the conscience. If it be not known, it is so far a nonentity, a 
thing of no existence ; a man can have no gracious operation, because with- 
out knowledge of God he can have no gracious being. It is not so much 
the pleasure of sin as the ignorance of God that preserves men's affections 
to vile lusts. Were the pleasures of sin, Uke Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, 
seven times hotter and more sparkling than they are, they could not detain 
them by their channs, if they had a prospect of the goodness, sweetness, and 
kindness of God. The beauty of this object would leave in them no spirit 
for the other. For when the soul knows God to be the chief good, and 
clearly apprehends him under that notion, all the chains of sin and Satan 
cannot di-aw him, nor the allm-ements of them woo him totally from him. 
But you may as soon cause an ass with his heavy limbs to run a race as 
swiftly as a stag, as cause an ipi.orant person to repent and come to Christ. 
You may as wtli find reason in a bat, as repentance and faith and spLritual 
thirst in an ignorant person. As this is the cause of all sin in the world, 
60 the remainders of it is the cause of all the slips in the best of God's 
people, which cost them so many sad groans. As a total blindness endangers 
a fall into precipices, so a partial blindness exposeth to many stumblings in 
the way. 

[4.] Wilful ignorance of God is damning. If the knowledge of God be 
eternal life, ignorance of God must be eternal death. Mere ignorance de- 
stroys as well as disobedience. Vengeance will be rendered on * them that 
know not God,' — on heathens that had not a beam of the gospel, as well as 
on them ' that obey not the gospel' revealed to them, 2 Thes. i. 7, 8. If 
God hides his gospel from a man, it is a sign of a lost estate : 2 Cor. iv. 4, 
' If the gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost;' much more when a man 
hides the gospel from himself, which is not only a neglect of God, but a con- 
tempt of grace. He affects his own damnation, as he affects darkness that 
shuts his eyes against the sun, and refuseth the benefit of the light. If it 
be damning where the true notions of God and Christ are not revealed, it is 
much more when the revelation of him is rejected or abused. There is so much 
of God manifested in his works as renders him in some measure intelligible, 
and God hath given them a faculty to know something of him, whereby their 
neclect renders them also inexcusable. How could a man be inexcusable 
that did not see the sun, if he had a negative inability to see it ? God hath 
given as much light to men in his works as is due to an intellectual nature, 
and to this end, that men might be inexcusable (for so those words, Rom. 
i. 20, so that they are without excuse, might be more to the design of the 
apostle rendered), ' that they might be without excuse,' not noting the event of 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge op god. 79 

their neglect, but the design of God's manifestation, that if they did neglect 
it, they should have no ground for an apology. 

But where God hath over and above added out of grace a scriptural 
light, and made the glorious manifestations therein plain, and when the 
revelation is clearer than that in the creatures, clearer than that in the law, 
which was called night, in comparison of the knowledge in the gospel, which 
is called day (not that the one was absolutely dark, but in comparison of 
the other, as the night is not absolutely dark because there is a star-light, 
or some light in the sky, but much short of the light of the day), wilful 
ignorance under such opportunities of knowledge renders men more deplor- 
able than heathens. Inexcusable is he that hath seen God riding in the 
chariot of the gospel, and the Sun of righteousness moving in the hemisphere 
of the word, and will not behold that sun by whose light he walks upon the 
earth, and performs his daily afl'airs. What can be answered when the 
question shall be put. How came you to be ignorant of those things which 
have so often been inculcated to you ? ignorant of that God in whom you 
live and move ? ignorant of that God that shines in every plant,* every 
motion of the heavens, and clothes himself with the robes of yet greater 
glory in his word ? There lies as much an obligation upon us to the 
knowledge of God, as to universal obedience to God. We are bound to 
inquire after him, what he is, what we must do to please him, and how he 
will be worshipped. He therefore that is wilfully defective in inquiring 
after God, and searching into his will, hath no intent universally to obey 
him ; if he had, he would take pains to know him, and what would please 
him, which is necessary to a state of salvation. We know what the fate of 
those is that have no intention of universal obedience. It speaks the heart 
set upon sin, and a fear of coming to be acquainted with anything that may 
hinder them from committing it. A man ignorant of God and Christ can 
no more recover out of his mortal disease, than a sick man can without the 
knowledge of an able physician, and the application of a sovereign remedy. 
It is only by the knowledge of Christ that we have justification from our 
guilt, Isa. liii. 11. No man can be freed from guilt by ignorance ; to think 
to be saved by ignorance is the same as to imagine to live without a know- 
ledge of food, and to be happy without acquaintance with the necessary 
means of happiness. That which is our sin can never be our apology ; and 
being a gross sin, is so far from excusing, that it renders itself more griev- 
ous, and the condemnation more terrible. And though it be said that Paul 
' obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly in unbelief,' 1 Tim. i. 13, it 
will give no comfort to those that are wilfully ignorant, unless they can 
prove that Paul was one of that rank ; he did what he did ignorantly, 
because the gospel was never revealed to him till Christ revealed it from 
heaven. It is likely he was furious against the Christians by an implicit 
faith in the pharisees' determinations, as well as out of a zeal of the law. 
By the same reason that any would palliate their ignorance by this, and 
imagine a salvation because of that, they may fancy unbelief also to be a 
cause of obtaining mercy, which no man that owns the Scripture can have 
any pretence to. 

To conclude, wilful ignorance of God and Christ under the gospel doth 
not procure a single damnation, but one with the most terrible circum- 
stances, a condemning sentence with ' God's mock and laughter, turning his 
delight and compassions to a pleasure in his vengeance : Prov. i. 23, &c., 
' Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit upon you, I 
will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and you 
* Qu. 'planet'?— Kd. 

80 charnock's works. [John XVII. 8. 

refused ; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but you 
have set at nought all my counsel ; I also will laugh at your calamity, and 
mock when your fear cometh.' 

Use II. Is of comfort to those who have this saving knowledge of God. 
Is it not an high satisfaction to be in the light, while many others are in 
darkness, to have an acquaintance with the Creator and Redeemer, while 
others have a familiarity only with the devil ? As he that is ignorant of 
God is miserable, though skilled in all natural and moral knowledge, so he 
is transcendently happy who knows his Creator, though blockish in all the 
arts in the world. If he were possessed with as great a wisdom as Solomon, 
he could have no addition to his essential happiness. As the fruition of 
Grod in the end is the sole blessedness of a creature, so the knowledge of 
God is the sole means to blessedness, without anything else to piece it out. 
Christ in the text mentions nothing else in ooncomitancy with it, ' This is 
life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou 
hast sent ;' this and nothing else, this without anything besides. Such an 
one is in union with the highest truth, he hath a spring of spiritual life 
within him, a divine manna that nourisheth his soul to everlasting life. It 
is a comfort that God hath fixed the fitness of the soul to enjoy him, not in 
a natural strength of the understanding, but in an afiectionate knowledge of 
him, a qualification all are capable of. If only wise men, and men eminent 
for speculation, were capacitated for eternal life, how few would God have to 
know him or enjoy him ! But the meanest man, that hath neither oppor- 
tunity nor capacity for an elevated contemplation of God, may attain this 
spiritual knowledge and an elevation of afiection to him. 

1. Such an one knows more than all the carnal world besides. What 
the world knows of God is by a common illumination, as Christ is 'the 
light which enhghteneth every man that comes into the world,' and by the 
largeness of a natural capacity ; but what a Christian knows of God is by a 
divine infusion, strait union, by a particular act of God, making Christ 
wisdom to him, 1 Cor. i. 30. He knows him not only by a natural instinct 
as the world doth, and as beasts know their proper food and what is con- 
venient for them, but by a special revelation, an inshining, a choice favour 
not indulged to every one : * To you it is given to know the mj'steries of the 
kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given,' Mat. xiii. 11, a gift out of 
his secret cabinet, not out of his common exchequer. How comfortable was 
it to the shepherds to have the revelation of the birth of Christ, which was 
concealed from the pharisees and grandees of the Jews ! God darts out a 
divine light upon whom he pleaseth, he refresheth babes with his beams, 
while he leaves the wise and prudent with their blind eyes in the dark. 
Poor fishermen had this privilege, which was denied to the towering philo- 
sophers of the world. And almost all the revelations of Christ there were 
among the heathens, were communicated to the weaker sex, some women 
called sybils, who had a prophetic spirit of those things. Some of their 
prophecies are true, though not all true which is inserted in their oracles ; 
they knew more than all the rest of the world. The eye is a little member, 
but it views at once the whole surface of heaven within its reach ; a little 
savinw light from God gives a man a prospect of such glorious things, which 
reason cannot reach ; a little spiritual hght, with the constant assistance of the 
Spirit, shall behold more of God than the biggest intellect without it, as a 
little eye with a multitude of sparkling spirits shall see further and clearer 
than a greater without that assistance. Many men of the deepest insight 
and quickest parts are furthest from the knowledge of God. 

2. It is an evidence of grace to have a transforming, affectionate know- 

John XVII. 3.j the knowledge of god. 81 

ledge of God and Christ. No wicked man doth understand, Dan. xii. 10, 
i. e. experimentally, affectionately, transformingly. Ignorance is a sign of 
gracelessness, spiritual knowledge is a fruit of the Spirit, and a sign of all 
the other fruits of it; for it is a covenant mercy, and flows from God's being 
our God, and it is a fruit of the grace of God given us in Christ to be 
enriched with it, 1 Cor. i. 4, 5. The clearness of the chui'ch's eyes, like the 
fish-pools of Heshbon, in the apprehension of spiritual mysteries, is part 
of her beauty, in the summary description of it, Cant. vii. 4. The eyes are 
the organs of sight, and the instruments of knowledge which convey objects 
to the understanding. It is a sign of a man's being in covenant with God, to 
have an heart to know him, Jer. xxiv. 7. Heb. viii. 11, ' I will give them 
an heart to know me, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, 
I will put my law into their mind.' The great promise of the new covenant 
was, that they should know God better than under all the rudiments of the 
law ; a knowing God by a law in the heart, as well as by a notion in the 
head ; for the law written in the heart is a reason rendered why they should 
know God. He speaks not of a knowledge that lies in the common field, 
but a know^ledge hedged in, and peculiar to the covenant children of God, 
the heirs of heaven, and brethren of one family, not to all that bear the 
name of Christians, for it is such a knowledge as is accompanied with sanc- 
tification of the heart, Heb. viii. 10, and justification of the person : ver. 12, 
' For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities 
I wiU remember no more.' Where this knowledge is, it is a sign of the 
special favour of God ; since it is a gift only in his power; (God doth not use 
so solemnly to promise that which is within our common reach), and is 
conveyed by a special act of the Spirit. It being a covenant mercy, it is a 
cabinet mercy. Men without it are in the chains of darkness and the devil ; 
those that have it are freed from the devil's yoke. What a comfortable thing 
is it to be within the arms of the everlasting covenant ! Where covenant 
graces are bestowed, all covenant blessings will of right follow. 

(3.) What comfort may such have in all kind of atfiictions ? This, like 
musk, will perfume the most loathsome dungeon. We have enough if we 
have this spiritual knowledge of God, though we want all things else. 
Death cannot be dreadful when Christ is known and felt in the power of his 
grace. The view of Christ raised the heart of Stephen above fears and 
anguish, when stones were ready to break in pieces the case of his body : 
Acts vii. 55, 56, ' He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right 
hand of God.' This knowledge is the strongest cordial : the sweetness of 
this surmounts the bitterness of the other. When the sun is clearly seen, 
the high winds do r<arely trouble the mariner. In death, we need the greatest 
supports, and what greater than to consider you are going to one you know ? 
Though you change your place, yet not your acquaintance ; you pass to a 
strange country, but not to new company. And indeed, afiiictions are so 
far from being ground of discomforts, that they are rather cordials in the 
issue, because they advance us more degrees in this knowledge, which is the 
means of eternal life. We often learn more of God under the rod that 
strikes us, than under the staff that comforts us ; Ps. cxix. 71, ' It is gcod 
for me that I have been afflicted ; that I might learn thy statutes. The law 
of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.' If the 
sun should perpetually shine in our hemisphere, how could we understand 
God's workmanship in those little spangles of the heavens ? Though the 
night hide from us the beauty of the sun, yet it discovers the brightness and 
motions of the stars. God had not at all been discovered to us without the 


82 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

bleeding afflictions of Christ; nor is not fully learned of us without our own. 
Daniel was in captivity, when he had the most perspicuous visions of Christ ; 
John in exile in Patmos, when he had the revelation of Christ's walk among 
the candlesticks, and the methods of God in the affairs of the church. And 
Paul mounts up in choicer apprehensions of spiritual objects, as upon eagle's 
wings, in his epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, which were 
writ when be was in bonds at Rome for Christ, wherein appears an higher 
flight, a stronger ardour, a more divine efficacy of Spirit in him. This 
spiritual knowledge of God and Christ prepares us for afflictions, comforts 
us in them, and is enlarged by them. 

(4.) Comfort in the measures and degrees of knowledge. It is eternal life 
to know God and Jesus Christ ; Christ regards the quality, not the quantity. 
The disciple?, who were present with Christ in this prayer, and of whom he 
acquaints his Father that they had known him, bad but little knowledge, 
yet it was true and sound, though not in such great measures as afterwards. 
Not that this should be encouragement to laziness ; for the small measures 
in them before the death of Christ are inexcusable now, under greater means 
than they had before the coming of the Spirit upon them after the Redemeer's 
death and resurrection. All believers have not the same measure of know- 
ledge, yet all have the truth of it ; there are degrees of knowledge, as there 
are of grace ; God distributes the knowledge of himself according to the nature 
of the several subjects, as the sun doth light to the stars according to their 
several capacities. All the apostles, in the time of Christ's being in the 
world, had not the same measure and clearness of insight. Peter confesseth 
him to be the Son of God when the rest were silent; and none after seems 
to have the knowledge of Christ and his mysteries in the same elevation with 
Paul, yet all bad a sufficiency of knowledge, both for themselves and others. 
Nay, believers themselves have not at all times the same sparkling measures 
of light : as the sun shines clearer in some parts of the day than in others, 
yet in every part of the day there is light enough for men to perform their 
affairs by. Look to the quality of your knowledge, that it be sound, spiritual, 
transforming, as well as to the quantity. See what favour attends it, what 
affections it engenders ; not what speculations it raiseth. A great heat 
with a little light is better than a clear light with an hard fi'ost and be- 
numbed limbs. The spiritual eye, as well as the natural, is opened by 
degrees. Bless God for what you find ; rest not in twilight, but long for 
stronger beams. Look to God for light : Ps. xxxiv. 5, ' They looked to him, 
and were lightened.' Look not to Moses and the prophets, but as the 
means ; look to Christ, who is the light that enlightens every man that comes 
into the world. The more casts of our eye upon him by faith, the fuller of 
beams shall we take them off. A look towards him attracts light from him, 
a look towards the sun clears all things about us. 

(5.) And let me add, that it is the office of Christ in heaven to pity us and 
relieve us in our bewailed ignorance. He that prayed thus, and asserts the 
knowledge of God and of himself to be eternal life, is ordained by God an 
high priest, to ' have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out 
of the way,' Heb. v. 1, 2. As he pities bis people under the remainders of 
sin, so under tbe remainders of darkness, the cause of the other. It is one 
of the greatest troubles of a gracious soul, that he knows no clearer ; and 
the mediator's strongest compassions are exercised about that which is his 
people's urgent distress. What hath Christ compassions for, but to exert 
upon their greatest perplexity ? What use were they for, if the proper ob- 
ject of them be neglected ? He hath all his offices to remove the fruits of 
our fall. The darkness of the mind was the first, and the cause of all the 

John XVII. 3. J the knowledge of god. 83 

mischiefs since. If the crazed understanding be not cured, no saving 
work can have its full effect. This being the root of our misery, is the first 
proper object of our Saviour's compassions. His compassions are his quaU- 
fication for every office ; were he not compassionate, his royalty would 
rather be a tyranny, his priesthood an empty title, his prophetical ojfice an 
idle name. As he pleads against the guilt of sin, which as a priest he hath 
expiated ; as he pleads against the power of sin, which as a king he hath 
broken : so he pleads against the remaining ignorance of the soul, which as 
a prophet he is expelling. As it was his business at the first to declare God, 
so it is still his employment more fully to discover him. As he owns the 
gift of his Father's power in the text to spread this knowledge, so he pro- 
miseth in the same prayer to be faithful in his office : John xvii. 26, ' I have 
declared thy name, and will declare it.' He was the light of men, not only 
at his incarnation, but before ; no age or period of time was there wherein 
he scattered not some illumination in the world. He ' was the light of men,' 
John i. 4, and ' lighted every man that came into the world,' ver. 9 ; nor 
is less pitiful to men's ignorance, and industrious to remove the continuing 
shadows in the hearts of his people, than he was before. As he is the 
author of their knowledge as well as their faith, so l^e will be the finisher of 
the one as well as the other. He is a Sun of righteousness, and is to do 
spiritually what the sun doth naturally, send forth his light to disperse the 
darkness, and his influence to heal the barrenness of the soul. The natural 
sun, indeed, pierceth by its influence the obscure bowels of the earth, which, 
by reason of their thickness, obstruct the entrance of his beams ; but the 
Sun of righteousness bestows not his influence without his light. He is first 
a prophet to enlighten, before he is a Spirit to quicken, in the first work. 
He is the same in the progress ; as we cannot have spiritual life before 
light, so we cannot have. an increase of spiritual life without an increase of 
spiritual light ; and to this purpose he took our nature, that he might pity 
and remove our darkness. Is not this a comfort, to have the glass of his 
word below, wherein to see him ; a Spirit within, to wipe and clear our 
eyes ; and an high priest above, to exercise his compassions towards us upon 
this very account ? 

(6.) The saving knowledge of God any have, is an evidence of a future 
state, of a happy vision, and an earnest of their arrival to it. Since it is the 
means of eternal life, there must be an eternal life, the issue of this know- 
ledge. Of what use are means that are without an end? Since nothing can 
satisfy the soul here, nor can our souls with a perfect contentment know God 
through the grates and lattices of a dark body, with the scales and shades 
upon the mind, there must be a time wherein a glorious liberty from prison 
shall be conferred, Eom. viii. 21, the shadows fly away, and a contenting 
vision be bestowed upon a longing heart ; otherwise the soul could not have 
an happy and satisfactory eternal life. Not to have such a knowledge as to 
satisfy the full desires, would be half an eternal death ; not answering the 
vastness of the power the Father bestowed upon the Son for the conferring 
it, nor answering the compassions of the Son to the ignorant in removing the 
hindrances. Besides, the more knowledge there is here, the hotter the thirst 
for more. As God is the author of those sparks we have, so he is the author 
of that heat which ariseth in the soul by those sparks. It cannot be sup- 
posed that a God of infinite goodness, who created man for the fruition of 
himself, and after he was dead in sin revived him, and planted in him quick 
and ardent desires for himself, should do this without designing a full satis- 
faction to him, which never any of the choicest spirits had in this world, and 
therefore must be in another. Where do you find any blessed soul at rest 

8i charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

here ? David is still upon pursuit after a sigbt of the glory of God ; Paul 
still reacheth forward to the things before, and breathes after a full appre- 
hension, putting up petitions for all whom he had the care of and affection 
to, that they might be enriched with all knowledge, understand the riches of 
glory, be tilled with all wisdom. Doth it consist with such a watchful, sincere, 
and unspotted goodness of God, to raise and continue such inclinations in 
his creatures, to encourage and influence them, and never to render them 
completely satisfied ? Shall God thus let any soul that hath had a glimpse 
of him lie grovelling and panting, without reaching out his hand to lift him 
up, and unveiling his face in time to him to behold his glory ? Annihilation 
had been better than boundless desires, eternally unsatisfied, and eternally 
languishing. The understanding, the noblest faculty, first seized upon by 
God, will not always want the noblest contentment in the view of its proper 
object. The sun communicates not itself to the air, but by the enlightening 
of it. God is the father of glory as well as of grace, and is a father of grace 
in order to his being a father of glory. God doth not design to mock his 
creatures, or to defeat the desires of his own exciting. It is in point of 
knowledge as well as other things that God is our God, Jer. xxiv. 7. He 
will one day be our God in the highest perfection of all the fruits of the 
covenant, so that ignorance as well as sin and infirmity shall be chased far 
from us. The covenant will want its full accomplishment till the dim know- 
ledge of God be drowned in a perfect and clear vision. And since the 
shadowy light we have is so delightful, how ravishing must that be which 
shall discover God in his full glory ! If the earnest be so pleasing, how 
dehghtful shall be the full payment, since an earnest is the least part of the 
sum contracted for ! 

(7.) Where God doth communicate the knowledge of himself and his Son, 
he will not hide from gracious souls any other knowledge necessary for them 
in the world. The giving the greater is an assurance the less shall not be 
withheld, which may further them in that which is the principal end. Yea, 
he sometimes reveals his secret purposes to them concerning his transactions 
in the world. God w^ould not conceal from Abraham his determination con- 
cerning Sodom, because he had been acquainted with the grand secret of his 
mercy in the Messiah : Gen. xviii. 17, 18, ' Shall I hide from Abraham the 
thing which I do, seeing that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in 
him ? ' Have I manifested my gracious purpose to restore mankind to my 
favour, and the means how I will do it, which the heart of man could never 
think of, and so many hundred years are to run out before it be accomplished, 
and shall I make a difiiculty to acquaint him with my intended judgment 
upon Sodom ? God often gives those that know him a sense and sight of 
judgments he intends to bring upon a people : ' Who is wise, and he shall 
understand those things ? ' Hosea xiv. 9. Both the threatenings and pro- 
mises contained in that prophecy. 
III. Use. Of exhortation. 

1. Try yourselves whether you have the knowledge of God or no; try it 
not so much by the notions you have of God and his truth as by the opera- 
tions of it, and the draught of the perfections of God in your own souls. 
The greatest heads have often had the worst hearts, Christ had not more des- 
perate enemies in the whole world than the intelligent pharisees, the Jewish 
doctors, who had the law at their fingers' ends. See whether we have a 
transcript of God and Christ in our own souls. When we cast our eyes 
upon God, let us reflect upon ourselves, and see whether the temper of our 
hearts answer the notions in our heads. Can any man say, I know God to 
be merciful, and I have an imitation of it; God is holy, and I have a draught 

John X'VII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 85 

of it; God is omniscient, and I have a deep sense of it in my actions; God 
hath a sovereign dominion, and I have an obedient frame; God is true iu 
his word, and I have a sincerity answering to divine truth, a faith in his 
promises, a fear of his threatenings ; there are some Hneaments in my heart 
answering in some measure to the perfections of my Creator ? And can any 
man consider Christ as obedient to the will of God, and see a conformity iu 
himself to that heavenly image ? I know Christ felt the sting of death for 
sin, and I feel the power of that death breaking my sin, and sinful heart ; 
Christ had an happy resurrection, and I feel the blessed fruit and induence 
of it, in raising my soul to a newness of life. This is only the true know- 
ledge of God and Christ, which sinks down in aflfection, and expresseth itself 
in imitation. Conclude not of yourselves by some fleshly apprehensions of 
Bome pleasing doctrine of Christianity, as notions of the mercy of God, jus- 
tification by Christ, freeness of grace. An intent speculation of such things 
may force men into a rapture by the strength of a sprightly imagination, 
without the inward Hving spirit of him in the heart. This is such a know- 
ledge as the crazed fancy of a madman may have of wealth and palaces, 
who hath neither a penny in his purse nor a house for his head. The trial 
of ourselves is by a thirst for the performing of the will of God, a motion in 
his ways, sense of his greatness, embraces of his grace and dictates, and 
spiritual affections to himself and his laws. There is as vast a difference be- 
tween the knowledge of God in the letter and that in the spirit, as there is 
between the statue of an angel with his wings and a real angel in heaven. 
A knowledge in the head is as money in the purse, a knowledge in the heart 
is as money for our use. Nor let us conclude by the delight we have in 
speculations. There is a secret joy in the contemplation of any truth of a lower 
size, much more in the speculation of the highest, noblest, and firmest truth. 
The notion may be delightful when a conformity is unpleasant. We may 
aflect the accomplishment of our minds without any endeavouring to better 
our hearts. Speculation is an employment of wit, but the spiritual knowledge 
is a conjunction of heart to God and Christ. We may value a meditation of 
him when the conformity to him may be of as little esteem with us as the 
straw and dirt we tread under our feet. The understanding and will are 
two distinct faculties, have distinct operations; the acting of the one doth 
not always infer the acting of the other. We may delight to look upon that 
we would not feed on, yet true knowledge is always attended with a delight: 
' When wisdom enters into thy heart, and knowledge is pleasant to thy 
soul,' Prov. ii. 10 ; the more innate light there is in the eye, the more the 
eye delights in the beams which from without strike upon it ; the more dark- 
ness in the eye, the less pleasure in the sunshine. He that loves his lusts, 
hates the light which discovers their ugliness ; he that loves God, loves the 
light which discovers his beauty. True knowledge is always accompanied 
with more ardent desires to know. One ignorant of God desires not to know 
him, that he may sin with the less rebuke and perish with the less fear. It 
is a sign the soul hath tasted of divine sweetness, when it longs for grea.ter 
communications ; it is so far from assuaging, that it quickens the appetite. 
Moses was master of the Egyptian learning, but set not up his rest in that. 
He had more acquaintance with God than any man in the world ; yet, after 
he had been discoursing with God in the mount, he is an earnest petitioner 
for more discoveries : Exod. xxxiii. 13, ' I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.' 
That is no true knowledge of God that surfeits and clogs the soul. Those 
heavy spirits, that are scarce masters of a groan for it, never umlerstood the 
excellency of it. Not to desire to know him is to contemn him, and he that 
undervalues him never had any understanding of him. 

86 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

2. Rest not in a discursive understanding of God. The understanding in 
a state of innocency, with its full stock, did not preserve the will from a 
destructive obedience to the sensitive appetite, when it was wholly freed from 
those ill biasses which make its motions irregular now. Mere knowledge 
now cannot be forcible enough to prevail with the will under the power of 
those ill habits, which imperiously tyrannise over it. The eye and hand of 
a man can never cast a bowl right, which hath a false bias disproportioned 
to the aim of him that useth it ; the reason of the caster cannot make it 
move, but according to its false bias. Till the wrong inclination of the will 
be displaced, it will not come under the guidance of the understanding, 
though it were as strongly enlightened as the highest angel. It will move 
according to its natural impetus and habit, notwithstanding all that light in 
the mind, as self-will acts the devil against Grod, contrary to all the light in 
his understanding. No intellectual act, abstractedly considered, can be a 
gracious action ; all acts in the understanding receive their gracefulness and 
beauty by the termination of them in a God-like act of the will, which is the 
proper seat of grace. We come to enjoy God, not only by an act of our 
understanding, but by an act of our will. A glorified saint, no, nor the 
human nature of Christ, is not happy so much by a prospect of God, as by 
an intense affection to him, God stands not so much upon our knowledge 
of him, as our delight in him ; and it is no sign of our union with God, 
unless affection to him be joined with it. All rational creatures affect know- 
ledge in order to some good ; the desires of good are more settled, and are 
more the fruits of a natural instinct than desires for knowledge. This, there- 
fore, cannot give a complete satisfaction without a taste of his goodness. If 
we desire knowledge only for the sake of knowledge, we thw^art the nature 
and natural motions of our souls. It is not the perfection of the under- 
standing, without the purity of the heart, which brings us to enjoy God, 
Mat. V. 8. Impure creatures, with the highest intellectuals, cannot look 
upon him. The glory of Christ was to do the will of God ; his knowledge 
of him was in order to obey him. Get a fresher experience, therefore, of 
every truth of God which you know ; this is the ballast of the soul ; the 
other is but a vanishing sound. Improve your knowledge. In knowing God, 
we receive only from him ; in loving him, we give ourselves and all that we 
have to him, and God bestows himself rather upon them that love him, than 
upon those that only know him.* As it is worse to hate God than to be igno- 
rant of him, so it is better to love God than merely to understand him. We 
may use our speculations to pride, but we cannot make ill use of our holy 
affections. By loving, we make a larger progress in a httle time. Love doth 
more fii-mly knit us to God than knowledge, for the strength of knowledge 
consists in discerning, the strength of love in union. By contemplating God, 
we contract, as it were, his infiniteness according to the capacity of our con- 
ceptions ; by loving him, we enlarge our minds to the immense latitude of his 
divine goodness. By knowing him, we do, as it were, bring him down to us; 
by loving him, we hft up ourselves to him. We know only so much as we 
can receive and are capable of, but we love not only what we see, but what 
we imagine there is of goodness beyond our sight. We see the divine excel- 
lency obscurely, but we may love it intensely; we see little, but we may love 
much. Knowledge gives us a sight, and love gives us a possession ; we find 
him by knowledge, but we enjoy him by love. Let us improve our know- 
ledge of him for inflaming our affections to him, that we may be prepared 
for the glory of our eternal life. The understanding is but the door of the 

* Ficin. lib. i. epist. 116, pp. G63, 664. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 87 

heart; to let God and Christ stick there, and not bring them into the heart, 
is to give a cold entertainment to that which deserves the best. 

3. Prepare, and wait, and long for heaven. We have but a glimpse here 
of the excellency of God and beauty of Christ. The church's eyes, though 
clear as doves, are ' within her locks,' Cant. iv. 1 ; a fair eye of faith, but 
still some obstructions to a full sight. The light now shines in a dark place, 
it shall shine there without a spot of darkness ; that which is in part shall 
give place to that which is perfect ; the light of God shall dart immediately 
upon the soul without reflection from a glass ; all shall meet in the * unity of 
the knowledge of the Son of God,' as well as in the 'unity of faith,' Eph. 
iv. 13. The motions of the body shall not obstruct the operations of the 
soul. There will be light without darkness, knowledge without ignorance, 
clearness without dimness ; no turbulent affections shall confound the eye, 
nor distractions divert the soul. ' We shall know as we are known,' 1 Cor. 
xiii. 12. Every gracious soul is perfectly known by God here, i. e. accepted 
by him, but is not fully illuminated by him ; but there will be as perfect an 
illumination from him, as there is an acceptation with him. The thick scales 
shall for ever fall off from the eye, and the dark veil from the heart, that it 
may behold without weakness and winking. As the most excellent object 
shall be presented, so it shall be beheld in the most excellent manner; the 
spiritual eye shall be fortified, and the divine glory shall be unclouded, and 
the pleasure of seeing shall be as great as that of enjoying. The clearest 
knowledge here is unconceivably short of that above, as the sight of a sore 
eye is of that of an eagle. The chains of spiritual sloth shall be knocked off, 
the diversions of worldly objects shall have an eternal remove. Ignorance 
within shall perish, and darkness without shall vanish. Here the soul sees 
what God is not, there it shall see him as he is to be seen. Surely those 
that thirst not for this state, that prepare not themselves for it, that long not 
for the passing away of those gloomy shades, that they may satisfy them- 
selves with full visions and full aflections, and according to their measures 
prepare themselves by diligent inquiries and affectionate motions, never yet 
had any taste of the most desirable object. 

4. Therefore daily endeavour to increase in the knowledge of God. Our 
main work in the world is to increase in the knowledge of sin, that we may 
more vehemently detest it ; and the knowledge of God, that we may more 
closely embrace him and resign up ourselves to him. Paul, who was advanced 
to a higher step in this than any in the world, had taken up a settled reso- 
lution to ' know nothing but Christ and him crucified,' as the most excellent 
knowledge he could busy himself in, 1 Cor. ii. 2, and would neglect no means 
to grow up in the apprehensions of him ' of whom he was apprehended,' 
Philip, iii. 12. It is not said we must follow on to know for such a time, 
Hos. \'i. 3. No time is fixed, and therefore it must be continually. We 
should quicken any divine spark in our souls.* If the first beams of spiritual 
light give life, the further increase more abundantly increaseth that life ; it 
being eternal life, we are nearest to life when we rise highest in knowledge. 
If the mind be opened, it can no more take pleasure in a little knowledge 
than the eye of the body can in a little light, by which it delights itself in 
any visible object. It can take no pleasure in a little, but as it is a presage 
of more approaching. He therefore that saith he knows as much of God and 
Christ as can be known, never understood the depth of his own natural igno- 
rance, the immensity of God, the dimensions of the love of Christ, and the 
nature and unweariedness of the Spirit's teaching. Should all men in the 

* A s Jambliclius speaks of Pythagoras, he did ivx^urv^tTv ro S-iTot, Vit. Pytliag. 
lib. i. cap. IG. 

88 chaenock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

world engage in no other study but this of God and Christ, to the world's end, 
they would confess that that which they know is unconceivably short of that 
which they are ignorant of. It cannot be so great but it is still capable of a 
further increase, like a river that is not so big but it may swell higher, and 
larger, by the admission of lesser rivulets. There is a ripe age, a manly 
stature in understanding, which we must aim at : 1 Cor. xiv. 20, ' Be not 
children in understanding.' The apostle, who had the fullest insight into 
the nature of God and offices of Christ, puts himself into the number of them 
that knew but in part : 1 Cor. xiii. 12, ' I know but in part.' And therefore, 
as we desire to be as angels in glory, we should endeavour to imitate the 
angels in their acute search into the mysteries of Christ, and wisdom of God 
in him ;* they know much, yet desire to know more, 1 Pet. i. 12. The 
truth is, as Adam offended in endeavouring to know more than he should, 
we offend in neglecting to know so much as we may. Our first parents 
would know too much, and their children too little, though there be ' un- 
searchable riches of Christ' to be searched into, Eph. iii. 8. 

(1.) There can be no growth in grace without an increase in the know- 
ledge of God. God is the object of grace, the object must be known before 
any act about it can be exercised ; and as the object is cleared, the acts 
about it are more vigorous. There may be indeed a knowledge without 
grace ; but there can be no increase of grace without an increase of know- 
ledge, as the heat of the fire cannot be made more intense without a supply 
of fuel. There may be slight affections up and down, rovings, like those of 
a ship without ballast tossed by the waves, but making no way. Knowledge 
hath faith in its root, and all other graces for its fruit : 2 Peter i. 5-7, ' Add 
to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge ;' then follows temperance, 
patience, godliness, charity. As the root is strengthened, the branch spreads 
itself, and the fruits grow thicker. The knowledge of the word is the en- 
trance of life, the means of begetting is the means of nourishing the soul to 
eternal life. If the stock decays, the fruits which grow from it cannot 
flourish. The increase of it was as much the subject of the apostle's prayer 
for the Colossians, as the first fulness of it in them, and that with respect to 
their fruitfulness, which depended on it : Col. i. 9, 10, ' We cease not to pray 
for you, and to desire that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will 
in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you might walk worthy of 
the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work ;' and as a 
means to it he adds, ' increasing in the knowledge of God.' 

(2.) It is not likely there can be any other fruit than that of apostasy, 
without increasing in the knowledge of God. If knowledge be not improved, 
it will decay. ' Evil men wax worse and worse,' 2 Tim. iii. 13. As some 
lust is the cause why men desire not the rudiments of knowledge, so some 
lust is the cause why men desire not the improvement of knowledge, and 
this will be like a thief in the candle of the Lord, making it sweal away, like 
a deluge of water extinguishing the fire. If God opens the floodgate of cor- 
rupt affections, the flood will quench those sparks which seemed to be spi- 
ritual, as well as it did those natural sparks in those the apostle speaks of, 
Rom. i. 26. The ground that is bad of itself, when overflowed with salt 
waters, is much worse, and cannot bring forth what it did before. A stop in 
knowledge, though a man be acquainted with the first principles, is the first 
inlet to apostasy, according to the apostle's intimation, Heb. vi. 1, 2. After 
he had checked them in the former chapter, for sticking in the first prin- 
ciples of Christianitj', and exhorted them in this chapter to proceed further 

* Eph. iii. 10, iyx'j'jrTiit lis TO. p>u.6n rr.s Bua; yvuciu;. Clcin. Alcxandr. Bailow on 
Tim. part ii. p 61. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 89 

in the knowledge of the mysteries of religion, be immediately subjoins the 
doctrine of apostasy ; ' For it is impossible for those that were once enlight- 
ened, and have tasted the heavenly gift,' &c., ver. 4. If yoa grow not to a 
greater maturity in knoAvledge, you are in danger of returning, not only to 
your former ignorance, but more corrupt afiections. If they took up their 
station in the first principles, they could not pass on to perfection, and this 
is an evidence that they were going back, and distasting those first rudi- 
ments which they had learned and embraced. This is evident in natural and 
civil atfairs : the tree that doth not thrive will soon rot, and the tradesman 
that doth not increase his stock will soon be out at heels, and he that doth 
not im^Drove his knowledge will prove a spiritual bankrupt. And such a wil- 
ful darkness which men bring upon themselves by their perversity, is but 
one step from destruction. The plague of darkness upon the Egyptians did 
immediately precede the slaying of their first born, and the destruction of 
the flower of their miUtia in the Red Sea. Increase, therefore, in the know- 
ledge of God is the way to prevent backslidings. Weak bodies soon stumble, 
when strong bodies walk and do not faint, but hold out to the last. To in- 
crease in affections is to increase in heat and vigour, to increase in spiritual 
understanding is to increase in strength, which consists in a compactness 
and closeness of the joints, which is the strength, health, and stability of the 
body. A river enlarged by the entertainment of many little streams is not 
dried up so soon as a small stream. 

(3.) Every degree of increased knowledge will be more satisfying and ra- 
vishing. As it was in the feast where Christ was, the best wine was reserved 
for the end of it, the knowledge of God behind is to that which we have, as 
a full draught of precious liquor is to a taste or sip. The clearer our light, 
the stronger our comfort. AH doubts arise from the weakness of judgment, 
ignorance of the nature of God, the ofiices of Christ, and tenure of the cove- 
nant. This is promised : Hosea vi. 3, ' We shall know, we shall follow on 
to know the Lord,' i.e. according to the Hebrew idiom, we shall knowingly 
follow on after the knowledge of God, or go from knowledge to knowledge. 
We shall have his assistance, who is prepared and ready to break out upon 
us as a morning light, refreshing and growing stronger every hour, with new 
manifestations and a lively heat; and like a former and latter rain, as fresh 
showers in the spring to draw out the flowers and beauty of the earth, and 
the latter rain in autumn to ripen to an harvest. By rain in Scripture is 
signified knowledge: Deut xxxii. 2, ' My doctrine shall drop as the rain.' 
The first beam is admirable, it is a marvellous light, 1 Peter ii. 9. It dis- 
covers things worthy the search, and is more surprising upon every inquiry. 
God and Christ are infinite treasures, inexhaustible fountains, a mine which 
upon every search presents with new riches. God always remains intel- 
ligible, and upon a faithful search will every day tear off part of the veil from 
the heart, and part of the veil from his own face, and send forth richer in- 
fluences of life and joy. 

Well, then, let us increase in this knowledge. 

[1.] Let us endeavour to enlarge our faculty. Eye-salve is to be pro- 
cured to make us quick-sighted. Rev. iii, 18. The mouth opened wide is 
filled with nourishing food ; the eyes opened are filled with visible objects : 
Ps. cxix. 18, ' Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out 
of thy law.' He hath an enlightened understanding, but sensible of his im- 
jieri'ection, longeth for a greater enlargedness, that he might see more ravish- 
ing wonders in God's law. Much more surprising wonders are there in God 
the law-maker, and Christ the law-repairer. 

[2. J Let us not be puffed up with a vain conceit that we have knowledge 

90 oharnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

enough. Let us rather bewail our ignorance than boast of our under- 
standing. Sense of indigence is the first step to fulness ; empty souls are 
capable of being filled. What we know of God and Christ is infinitely below 
what is to be known of them. 

[3.1 Let us rise to more spiritual apprehensions. It is hard for us to 
have elevated thoughts ; carnal notions are most apt to possess our minds, 
and naturally our thoughts of God and Christ are no better in their kind 
than Nicodemus's of regeneration, imagining it to be a re-entry into his 
mother's womb, John iii. 4 ; or the Samaritan woman, who framed no 
higher conceptions of the fountain of living waters than those she had of 
her father Jacob's well, John iv. 12. There is a knowledge of Christ after 
the flesh, 2 Cor. v. ] 6, carnal conceptions of divine glories ; and there is a 
knowledge of Christ after the Spirit, in his spiritual appearances, his spi- 
ritual works; a knowledge of Christ, not so much as he was conversant upon 
earth, but as reigning in heaven, glorious and prevalent in his intercession. 
This was the end of his death, and this should be the aim of our knowledge. 
As Christ rose from a low and infirm state to an heavenly glory, to a more 
spiritual discovery of himself, so should we keep time with his several states 
in our knowledge of him. There is a knowledge of the history of Christ, 
and there is a knowledge of the mystery of Christ ; this latter we should 
grow in, which is the true manna of the soul. Rise from dull notions to 
sprightly and more afiecting apprehensions of God and Christ. 

[4.] Let us increase in the knowledge of whole God and whole Christ. 
View all the perfections of God. Be not only intent upon some of the 
first magnitude, but on those that seem the lesser sparks, which have an 
influence one time or other upon the souls and lives of men. He is not 
worthy of the name of an astronomer, who gazeth only upon one or two 
planets, with a neglect of the rest, which have their particular excellency as 
well as the other heavenly bodies. As there is nothing in the heavens, so 
there is nothing in God and Christ, but is worthy of our understanding and 
consideration, and afibrds matter of instruction and matter of consolation 
one time or other. Let us not satisfy ourselves with a knowledge of God in 
the mass ; a glance upon a picture never directs you to the discerning the 
worth and art of it. 

[5.] Let us fetch the increase of this knowledge from the true principle, 
from the word. By the Spirit in the word it was first imprinted ; by the 
Spirit in the word it is further enlarged. The improvement of a man in 
any science must be fetched from the principles of that science, not from the 
principles of another ; no one would study the art of painting to improve 
himself in the skill of physic and medicines. Studying the word of God is 
the way to increase in the knowledge of God's nature, Christ's offices, and 
more spiritual apprehension of them. 

6. Exhortation. To those who are void of the spiritual knowledge of 
God, labour for it. "What need there be more urged than the title of it in 
the text ? It is eternal life, therefore worthy of the most exact diligence. 
As the deception which had seized upon the understanding of the first man 
was the cause of death, so the light of understanding our Creator and his 
immense love in Christ, is the cause of life. Other sciences may be a tree 
of knowledge, this is a tree of life. It is a doleful consideration to see men 
impertinently spending their time and consuming their strength in the study 
of creatures (with a neglect of this), a knowledge wherewith they may descend 
to hell with sorrow, rather than that whereby they may ascend to heaven 
with joy. This knowledge, as it advanceth our states, so it elevates our 
natures. ' A man that understands not is like the beasts that perish,' Ps. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 91 

xlix. 20, Divine knowledge is above all the wisdom of corrupted nature, 
and renders a man superior to a mere son of Adam. All other knowledge, 
though commendable in its kind, if it be not improved for this end, will 
degenerate into sensual, if not devilish, James iii. 15. It will either rest in 
a more refined sensuality, a life of depraved reason, or fit a man to be a 
malicious devil against the interest of Christ. Shall not then eternal death 
scare us from our slothful and beloved ignorance? Shall not eternal hfe 
allure us to divine wisdom ? Was it the misery of the world ever since 
Adam to have a blindness of mind ? And shall any of us rest contented in 
that misery, and resolve to be no wiser and happier than the Gentiles, that 
were alienated from the life of God through the blindness of their minds ? 
God said of hght at the creation, it was good; he was the author of it, it 
entered into the composition of all creatures. He doth not say so of dark- 
ness ; that is not his creature, but a privation of hght. God never said of 
ignorance, or of any thing understood by darkness, It is good. Shall any of 
us resolve to persist in that which hath not the least spark of goodness in it, 
that hath not the least syllable of God's approbation, that is the foundation 
of all the contempt of God in the world ? Who ever knew him but blessed 
themselves in that knowledge, were loath to part with it, valued it above the 
world ? Who ever knew God clearly but loved him ardently, stuck to him 
closely, fell before him humbly, found rest and satisfaction in him ? And 
shall not the experiences of those vast numbers who have had a saving 
glimpse of him, give us one lift from our heavy ignorance ? Paul was no 
blockhead, being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, a learned pharisee. 
Nor would the high priest and his companions have appointed a dull person 
commissioner against the Christians ; yet all the knowledge he had before 
his acquaintance with Christ, and all the time and pains he had spent in it, 
he counts but loss in comparison of this, Philip, iii. 8. And the best petition 
he thought he could put up for the Ephesians was, that they might have ' the 
spirit of wisdom in the knowledge of him,' Eph. i. 17. 


1. Is not the object excellent? Ps. viii. 1, ' How excellent is thy name 
in all the earth, who hast set thy glory above the heavens !' Do we conceive 
God full of wisdom, goodness, righteousness, tenderness, and compassion ? 
Can we imagine such a being, clothed with those unchangeable perfections, 
the original of all that goodness which is in any creature, the author of the 
beauty of the world ? Can we, I say, pretend to believe there is such a 
being, and sit at rest in our ignorance of him ? Shall we pretend to believe 
there is a Redeemer, who descended from the throne of majesty to the vale 
of misery, took our flesh when he had no need of it, stooped to the infirmi- 
ties of our nature, and was full of no other design than a thirst for our wel- 
fare, carried himself with all sweetness and tenderness in the world, was the 
exact image of his Father ; and have no desire to make more exact in- 
quiries after him, that we may understand what he is ? Is not God 
the Father of hghts, the supreme truth, the most delectable object both of the 
human nature of Christ, the happy angels, and glorified saints ? Is he not 
light without darkness, love without unkindness, goodness without evil, 
purity without filth, all excellency to please, without a spot to distaste ? Are 
not all other things infinitely short of him, more below him than a cab of 
dung is below the glory of the sun ? And is it not a sacrilege to steal our 
understandings from so excellent an object as the true God, and Jesus 
Christ whom he hath sent ? Shall we know creatures and not our Creator ? 
Shall we be inquisitive after the nature of plants, beasts, worms, and flies, 
and not be acquainted with the excellent author of our souls, who gave us 

92 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

o.ir knowing faculties ? In whose service should our rational powers be 
employed, but in the discovery of the author of them ? If the object be 
more glorious than the whole scheme of nature, the knowledge of this object 
must be also excellent, for as actions, so knowledge, is specified from the 

(2.) Are not the great works God and Christ have done for us sufficient 
allurements ? Are we not his creatures, and shall we not know our Creator ? 
Ai'e we not his ofiending creatures, and shall we not know our forbearer ? 
May we not be his repaired creatures from the ruins of our fall, and shall 
we not know our Redeemer ? Shall we not know that God whose image 
we bear, whose mercy we enjoy, in whom we live, move, and retain our 
beings ? Shall we not know him by whose death we may live, by whose 
blood we may be beautified, by whose resurrection and ascension we may be 
dignified ? Shall we be in a capacity to enjoy all those benefits, and be 
willingly ignorant of our benefactor ? Without a knowledge of him who 
hath atoned our sins, and purchased that heaven we had forfeited, instead 
of that hell we had a thousand times deserved, how can we be thankful to 
him for what he hath done ? What shame should cover our faces, what 
anguish should gnaw our souls, for our spiritual sloth and ingratitude ! Is 
not God love — love in all his ways and methods ? And are our hearts 
so out of love with him as to neglect inquiries after him ? To what end 
doth he extend his open hands, but that we might * seek the Lord ' ? Acts 
xvii. 25, 27 ; and is an unthankful ignorance of him a worthy requital ? It 
is not enough that we know there is a God and a Redeemer, but we must 
know what they are, what they have done, what glories there are in their 
natures, in their actions ; that is the import of the text, ' to know the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' Not only to know thy 
being, but thy excellency ; not only to know that Christ is sent, but to know 
what that Christ is who is sent. Redemption was not for the blessed 
angels, yet they ' earnestly desire to look into ' those things, 1 Peter i. 12. 
Christ is more a benefactor to us than to them in regard of redemption. 
Why then should their industry in searching be more than ours ? It is not 
commendable, it is not lawful to be ignorant of him, who darts his heavenly 
beams upon our senses in the works of nature, and upon our souls in the 
works of grace. No greater injustice, no greater impiety, than to contemn 
or neglect the knowledge of that God whose image we are. 

(3.) Hereby only we can satisfy our natural thirst for knowledge. The 
desire for knowledge is the peculiar property of man. His being rational 
difFerenceth him from all creatures. No creature seeks a redemption from 
ignorance but man. Brute animals rest contented in their ignorance ; and 
for man to rest contented in his, is to be as bad or worse than a beast, to 
neglect the proper object of knowledge, to know those things which are as 
good as nothing. It is more suitable to the nature of man to take pleasure 
in the search after truth, than for mighty men to triumph in the conquests 
of countries. There is in man a greater ambition for knowledge than for 
anything else. No reproach doth more perplex him than to be counted foolish. 
Nor doth any man with any pleasure confess his ignorance, because ignorance 
belongs not to the original nature of man. As the nature of the will, by the 
law of creation, cannot be satisfied with a flashy and drossy good, till it 
mount to that which is pure and refined, and, after the enjojonent of an in- 
ferior good, is still putting the question, * Who will shew us any good ?' Ps. 
iv. 6, so the nature of the understanding pursues after the causes of things, 
and cannot rest till it come to the fountain -cause of all the rest, that hath no 
cause of itself. When any good is presented to the will, the next question 


naturally is, Is there no higher good than this ? So when a truth is pre- 
sented to the understanding, the next question is, 'Is there no higher truth 
than this ? The will can only he satisfied with that good which is not ex- 
ceeded by any other, and the understanding with that truth which is not 
excelled by any other. By this knowledge we are speaking of, our natural 
thirst is delightfully satisfied and increased ; the soul is pleased with what 
it attains, and enlarged for what it wants. There is an uncertainty and 
doubtfulness in all other knowledge but this. Is there anything we think we 
know but may be battered by others' contradictions ? Have we not often 
doubtful thoughts of that one day which we thought we clearly knew the day 
before ? Do we not often quarrel with ourselves, and call that our dotage 
which a few days before we thought our glory ; and question those sentiments 
which a few hours before we thought unquestionable, and as certain as the 
daily motions of the sun in the heavens ? But here the foundation is un- 
shaken : a God there is, and a God of infinite perfections ; a Redeemer there 
is, and one of infinite tenderness. The knowledge of him by the word is 
certain, like the knowledge of a sunbeam. Here we may drink full draughts 
to quench our natural thirst after knowledge, since all things are best and 
surest known in their principle ; and the mind of man is restless, like the needle 
in the compass, not to be established without a look to the highest truth. 
We are here sure of a mine, and the fruit of attaining will recompense the 
pains of inquiring. Let us therefore be so generous as to believe this natural 
thirst cannot be better satisfied than by knowing God and Christ, the most 
amiable objects ; and let us never continue in that ignorance, which, if we 
observe our natural desires, we should account our shame ; for if there be 
any satisfaction to the soul (which of all creatures under heaven approacheth 
in its nature nearest to the nature of God, and seems to be boundless in its 
operations), it must be in the understanding that which is infinite ; and that 
it is neither heaven nor the company of angels, but God and Christ, who 
have an infiniteness to answer the pantings of the soul, and make a full reply 
to all its cravings. The satisfaction also consists in the certainty of the 
object of this knowledge, there being more sound and convincing reasons for 
the being of a God, his goodness, omnipresence, necessity of redemption, a 
future state of happiness and misery, than for any afiairs of this world. 

(4.) All are bound by the law of nature to know God. There is not an 
obligation by the law of nature to know Christ, unless it be as rational 
creatures are obliged to know and believe whatsoever God should reveal unto 
them ; but there is a formal obligation upon man as a rational creature to 
know his Creator. For since all know that there is a God, by whose care 
and providence all in this world are ruled, they are obliged by the same law 
of nature to inquire after this God, and to endeavour to arrive to the know- 
ledge of him.* What nation was there, though never so barbarous, that did 
not own even in their idolatry the worship of a God ? For they naturally 
knowing that there was a God, did naturally know that that God was to he 
worshipped. Since, therefore, the law of nature obligeth us to inquire after 
God, he that neglects the knowledge of God sins against the law of nature. 
The wrath of God is threatened to be poured out upon them ' that know not 
God,' Ps. Ixxix. G ; but the wrath of God is not manifested against any 
but those that are transgressors of the law. 

(5.) This knowledge is only the perfection of the soul. The more excellent 
the object is, the more it doth perfect and strengthen, as w-ell as gi-atify, the 
faculties of the soul : Prov. i. 9, it is ' an ornament of grace to the head ;' 

* Zanch. torn. ii. lib. iv. pp. 249, 250. 

94 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

a greater ornament to the soul than a diadem can be to the head of a 
prince. The soul of man being enriched with two faculties whereby he is 
distinguished from all other creatures on earth, viz., understanding and will, 
his happiness must be placed in the exercise of those two about their proper 
object ; the understanding, in knowing God as the object of happiness, and 
the will in willing to love him. Truth is the perfection of a rational under- 
standing ; the highest truth must then be the highest perfection of it. The mind 
of man was not created to determine itself in the contemplation of the lower 
things of this world. The sight of the beauty of God is the end of the soul, 
and what is the end of a thing is the perfection of it. The end of God in the 
creation was to communicate his goodness ; the perfection of a soul, then, 
consists in the highest participation of that goodness according to its capacity. 
The image of God consists in this knowledge, Col. iii. 10. Every image is 
a participation of beams from the original. As darkness is the deformity of 
the world, and light the beauty of it, whereby the beauty of everything else 
is discovered, so knowledge is the beauty of the understanding, as ignorance 
is the deformity. If the knowledge of everything had been the perfection 
of man's soul, there would have been implanted notions of those things in 
the soul at her original, or they would have been the matter of divine 
revelation ; but there is neither of those ; there are not notions implanted ; 
the soul could not then be so ignorant of the frame and motion of the body 
she dwells in. She knows not by natural, but acquired notions, the several 
rooms of the house wherein she resides. How many ages was man ignorant 
of the circulation of the blood, the distribution of the chyle through the 
vertee lactecB ! Nor are those things the matter of divine revelation in the word. 
Christ discovered not a sublimity of natural knowledge, he spake not a sj'llable 
of those things, but of the discovery of his Father and himself. The Son of 
God had not employed himself in divine discoveries, had not the knowledge 
and embracing of him been the ornament and happiness of a reasonable 
creature. The most natural notions men bring with them into the world, and 
which are most obvious to their first notice, are that of a God, and desires 
for happiness ; and the discovery of this, and directions in our aspiring to 
and preparations for another state of life after this, was the subject of the 
revelation made by Christ. Again, as it is the happiness of God to know 
and love himself, because he is the highest truth and goodness, so it is upon 
the same account the happiness of a creature to know and love God. If we 
could possibly suppose any goodness superior to God, it would be the felicity 
of God to know and love that goodness ; he could not settle himself upon 
his own perfections, but run out in inquiries after, and afi'ections to, that 
goodness superior to his. Certainly the mind of man, being nobler than the 
body, ought to be nourished with the choicest food ; the perfection of it cannot 
be obtained but by that object which is most perfect in itself, and most 
capable to convey perfection to it. God only, as he is the rest of the will, 
so he is the only banquet of the mind. The soul being of a divine original, 
it being ' given by God,' Eccles. xii. 7, can only be nourished by divine dainties 
and converses, as the body doth attain its perfection by things of the same 
nature with its own composition. Let us, therefore, out of love to the per- 
fection of our minds, pursue after this knowledge. The mind is an active 
thing ; it will be busy about something"or other ; pitch it therefore upon the 
most excellent and most satisfying object ; employ it not in the picking of 
straws, but gathering of pearls. When we employ it about things lower 
than God and Christ, without any regard to the adoration and admiration of 
them, we degrade our understanding, deprive it of its true end, and thrust 
it from that worthy employment allotted to it, which was to survey the works 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 95 

of God, read his handwritiBg, and from thence arise to a further knowledge 
and admiration of our Creator himself. 

(6.) This knowledge is highly delightful. All * knowledge is pleasant to 
the soul,' intellectlo est quies intellectus, Prov. ii. 10. The natural desires 
for knowledge are strongest, therefore when attained the delight is sweetest. 
The more reality any object hath, the more pleasure is in it; spiritual things 
are most real, and therefore the delightfulest. Natural knowledge is pleasant. 
What a sweetness is there in knowing the secrets of nature, and the pheno- 
mena in the world ! The knowledge men have of them, though upon erro- 
neous principles, is delightful ; much more would it be so if the knowledge 
were exact and grounded upon certain principles of truth. The delights of 
learning surpass the delights of sense, and the pleasure of a scholar the plea- 
sure of a swine. The heathen philosophers were so ravished with their chips 
of natural knowledge, that they sometimes neglected those things which were 
necessary for the sustaining their bodies. Now if the views of God in the 
dark disguise of his creatures cast the soul into pleasing raptures, the views 
of God in the clear glass of Christ must snatch the soul into the third heavens. 
The pleasure of carnal knowledge is to that of divine, as the delight of suck- 
ing the ivy bush is to that of drinking a sprightly wine. The pleasure is 
always answerable to the excellency of the object delighted in; if therefore 
a clear demonstration of nature resolves a man into a rapture, much more 
must a clear demonstration of God, because, as all righteousness is from God 
as the original, so all truth is by derivation from God. If therefore truth in 
the streams be a delightful prospect, the bubblings of truth in the fountain 
must much more put the soul into a spiritual ecstasy. As it is with a man 
born bUnd whose eyes were opened, how would he bless himself to see a 
burning lamp gilding the room where it is ? But the sight of the moon walk- 
ing in its brightness would enhance his joy, and the sight of the sun in his 
noonday glory, obscuring all the lesser lights, would much more pleasure 
and astonish him. All ' Hght is sweet,' but ' it is a pleasant thing to behold 
the sun,' Eccles. xi. 7 It is more pleasant to behold the sun, than all the 
diamonds in the world in conjunction ; so the knowledge of God and Christ 
must be much more delicious than the knowledge of all creatures, by how 
much they are unconceivably more above them. If there be a gladness upon 
the sight of a beam emitted from the sun, what must there be in the views 
of the sun itself in its brightest beauty ! Our very meditations of God are 
sweet, and resolve in a divine joy : Ps. civ. 34, ' My meditations of him 
shall be sweet, I will be glad in the Lord.' The greater degrees of know- 
ledge will bestow a stronger influence of delight upon the soul. There is a 
rich perfume in the knowledge of Christ, a 'savour:' 2 Cor. ii. 14, ' The 
savour of his knowledge ;' ver. 16, * A savour of Hfe to life,' vital to all the 
parts of the soul ; and the more lively the knowledge, the more of pleasure. 
That which doth most increase strength, is most cordial to the vital parts of 
the body. 

[1.] It is a pure delight. All other things have their spots, which allay 
the sweetness in the knowledge of them. God is purity without spot, light 
without darkness, all excellency to create delight, without any imperfection 
to raise disgust. As ignorance and forgetfulness of God will render men at 
last absolutely sad, without any mixture of joy, so the knowledge of him 
will render men, according to its degrees, as cheerful, as in the highest de- 
gree it will hereafter render them happy : it affords a pleasure without froth 
or scum. 

[2.] It is a full pleasure. Others are but drops, this fills the soul to the 
brim, and leaves little or no room for any intruders. The angels, that have 

96 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

the vision of God, hanker not after anything the world calls sweetness. The 
satisfaction of the mind is proportionable to the excellency of the object 
known. God being therefore the fullest object, affords the fullest joy. 

[3. J It is a durable delight when all others will wither. Other knowledge 
is as a rainbow, pleasant to behold, but quickly vanishing, like the sound of 
music in the ear, which pleaseth and expires. The departure of an object 
strips the admirer of his real pleasure. Jonah's joy withered with the gourd 
wherein it was placed, but the knowledge of God and Christ is attended with 
a perpetual delight, since they are objects as durable as they are excellent ; 
for where there is a saving knowledge, there is an eternal knot made between 
the understanding and the spiritual object, which cannot be dissolved. 

[4.] It is a pleasure hke to that which God has, which consists in reflec- 
tions upon, and affections to his own nature. God cannot have an infinite 
satisfaction in anything besides himself, because nothing is infinite but him- 
self. Upon this account let us pursue after this wisdom. The lowest de- 
gree is pleasant, joy is fulfilled in the soul upon the manifestations of God 
by Christ, John xvii. 18, which mounts to a greater height as we rise in 
higher degrees. Upon every fresh discovery, new joys disclose themselves. 
The search after God is a greater happiness than the fruition of anything in 
the world can be. But when the understanding, the highest faculty, and 
God, the chief truth and good, meet together, an unexpressible satisfaction 
must be the result of such a meeting. God being infinitely better than all 
creatures, the knowledge of him must be infinitely more delightful than the 
knowledge of all things besides. And though he cannot be perfectly known, 
yet this doth not blast the pleasure, as the heavens are too boundless for our 
eye, and the stars too numerous for our account, yet it is pleasant to behold 
the one and view the other. 

(7.) If we do not labour to know God, we endeavour, as much as in us 
lies, to make God lose all the glory of his creation and revelation, because 
no creature under the heavens is a capable subject of this but man. All 
other creatures, that have sense without understanding, can only perceive 
those things which are objects of sense, as colours, odours, &c., but God 
being a Spirit, falls not within the limits of sense. Man only was made with 
an understanding to know the invisible God. The contempt of this know- 
ledge, or the neglect of it, with a preferring the knowledge of everything else 
before him, is to deprive him of the glory of his work. All our natural gifts 
will not make us immediately serviceable to God, without a spiritual eye. 
This knowledge, though in one ignorant of the world, renders him more 
capable to pay immediately the glory due to God, than the greatest scholar 
with his philosophical wick of oil. A sunbeam reflected from the wall gives 
more heat and warmth than a thousand lamps. It makes God a loser in 
the glory of his gospel revelation. Knowledge is the basis of all our motions 
and affections to God which the gospel enjoins. The wheels were full of 
eyes, which some think* refers to the great measure of knowledge God 
would afford in the time of the gospel, Ezek. i. 18. When God should 
dwell in the world in glorious and majestic representations, the wheels, the 
people, should be full of eyes. If we neglect then the knowledge of God, we 
hinder him (as to us) both of the end of creation, wherein he hath made 
himself legible, and the end of his gospel dispensation, wherein he hath made 
himself evident in his Son. 

(8.) It is easy to have a knowledge of God and Christ. What difficulty 
there is in it, lies not in God, or in the means of revelation, but in ourselves. 
As the law might be observed, but for the corruption of our flesh, — Rom. 
■" LigUlfoot's Temple, chap, xxxviii. p. 253. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 97 

viii. 3, ' The law was weak through the flesh,' — so God might be spiritually 
seen, but for the soreness of our eyes. It lies not in the object, but in our 
indisposition, in regard of the enmity of our nature, and the unworthy notions 
we have naturally of God. No wisdom is less admired and less affected, 
men hate wisdom and thereby love death, Prov. viii. 36, there being a dis- 
similitude between the natiire of God and the corrupt nature of man. No- 
thing so easy to be known as God, though nothing so hard to be searched 
out unto perfection. The sun doth visibly offer its beams to every eye that 
will open itself, and let him shine upon it. Nothing more easy to be seen 
than the sun, yet nothing more hard to be pierced into and fully understood. 
If we do not know God, it is not for want of light in him, but for want of will 
in us. He hath not so clouded himself in thick darkness, that it is impos- 
sible to have some prospect of him. He hath set his footsteps in the crea- 
tures, and unveiled his face in the Scriptures ; he hath made himself 
intelligible in his works and in his word, and breaks out upon our under- 
standings in both. What is knowable of God in order to practice is not closed 
up from our sight, we have rich discoveries of his holiness and excellency in his 
word, which informs us what our behaviour should be towards him. We 
must not apprehend God to be so mean a being as that we can easily satisfy 
all our curiosities about him. Know him perfectly we cannot, unless we had 
an understanding as infinite as his own ; and indeed we might well be 
ashamed of that God, that were so little as to be measured by our finite 
capacities. Yet so far as doth conduce to our practice and comfort, God is 
as intelligible as anything in this world, and more ; we may know more of 
bis original goodness than of the derivative goodness of any creature. His 
attributes are as evident to us as the quality of anything we see ; we may as 
soon know that God is good, and excellent, and holy, as we may know that the 
wall is white or no. We have higher principles of the knowledge of him. 
We have sense to view the effects of his goodness, we have reason to draw 
conclusions from the excellency of creatures, to inform us of the transcendent 
excellency of God ; and we have revelation, which surmounts the other two 
principles of sense and reason. What though we cannot know his essence ? 
Do we know the essence of any one thing in the world, or can we satisfy 
ourselves in all our inquiries about it? His perfections are unfathomable 
by us, yet he is obvious to our minds if we will not close our eyes. We 
can as easily see the sea when we stand upon the shore, as it is impossible 
for us to reach with our eyes the bounds of it. But suppose the knowledge 
of God we speak of were very hard, shall the difficulty which whets us in 
other things take off our edge in this ? Who can boast of the knowledge of 
any one creature ? Yet since the world began men have been peering into 
the secrets of them. Multitudes have been busy in the search of natural things, 
and the difficulty is less affrighting now than it was before ; shall then the 
seeming difficulty of the most satisfying objects close up our desires and en- 
deavours in the search of them ? It should rather add spurs to our diligence. 
Paul's foresight of what was out of his reach slackened not his desires and 
endeavours of attaining, Philip, iii. 12, 13. The knowledge of Christ is 
easy ; had it not been so, he would not have so sharply rebuked his disciples 
for their ignorance : Mat. xv. 16, ' Are ye yet without understanding ?' Is 
be not the subject of the whole Scripture, and, like a golden ore, runs through 
every vein in the mine ? He is the centre wherein all the lines of the Scrip- 
ture meet ; we can open no part of it but something of Christ strikes upon 
our minds, as light in the day upon the opening of our eyes. ' In the volume 
of the book it is written of him,' in the first promise, and in the last line of 
VOL. IV. a 

98 chaenock's woeks. [John XVII. 3. 

the Scripture. He is the A Ipha and Omega of all revelations and discoveries ; 
it is therefore our own fault if we will be in darkness under a noonday sun. 
God desires we should know him ; why doth he else compare himself to so 
many objects in the visible world, but that we may have frequent remem- 
brances of his excellency ; and ascribe to his incorporeal nature the members 
of a man, as arms, ears, &c., which are incompatible with a spiritual being, 
but that, knowing ourselves and our own frame, we may rise up to a know- 
ledge of him? 

(9.) Consider, is not our time spent unprofitably in everything else when 
we neglect this ? All other wisdom is perishing, this heavenly wisdom only 
endures for ever. Will the skill in trades remain with any man, and be an ad- 
vantage to him in another world ? Not but that there must be time spent in 
learning and improving your callings for the good of yourselves, families, and 
the community ; but not so much as to swallow up the time due to the other. 
There is a satisfaction in natural learning ; but what advantage is that in 
another world, where worldly wisdom and learned subtleties shall take no 
place ? There will be no use of them in eternity, whither we are travelling. 
It is the knowledge of God and Christ we shall there be examined about ; we 
may have the greatest wisdom of the world, and be w^ithout this saving know- 
ledge at the last day, and receive the punishment of devils, instead of the 
happiness of Christians. Christ never put up a thanksgiving to his Father 
for the learning of the pharisee, or the wisdom of statesmen, but for the re- 
velation of himself to the babes of the world. Mat. xi. 25. The knowledge of 
a good man only is understanding, Prov. ix. 10. It is a dreadful place against 
the wise as well as the mighty men of the earth : 1 Cor. i. 26, ' Not many 
wise men after the flesh, not many mighty.' Prudence and power, abstracted 
from divine knowledge, are contemptible in the eyes of God. Here and there 
one wise and mighty man marked out for an happy eternity, but not many. 
All knowledge below this is but the knowledge of trifles. In other things, 
we lose our time for the most part ; by this, we gain an happy eternity. 
Other knowledge will not prevent the loss of ourselves ; in this, we find God 
and ourselves too. Let us not therefore sell our understandings for nought, 
as God complains they did his people, Isa. lii. 3. Other gettings are incon- 
siderable to the gain of understanding, Prov. iv. 7. Oh that we could take 
as much pains to get this, which is eternal life, as the heathens have taken 
for human sciences, which could not secure them from eternal death, and 
seek for it with as much industry and as high a value of it as we would for 
silver and hidden treasures ! Prov. ii. 4, 5. 

There are hindrances of this knowledge, and helps to it. 

Hindrances. (1.) Corrupt afi'ections. When the apostle had exhorted 
the Ephesians to be ' renewed in the spirit of their minds,' Eph. iv. 23, he 
seems to add directions to his exhortation ; and one is, verse 26, to be 
watchful over their passions, ' Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.' 
Else they would give place to the devil, who is the great enemy of divine 
light, and the ' ruler of the darkness of this world.' Passions are the fumes 
of hell, to cloud and obstruct the beams of Christ from shining upon the 
mind ; these distract the native force of the soul, and choke all beginnings 
of divine meditation. Who can learn anything in the midst of a storm ? A 
serenity of mind is a way to know God : Ps. xlvi. 10, • Be still, and know 
that I am God.' A turbulent spirit is a bar to it. The soul overcast with 
unworthy passions is no more fit for this light, than the sky thronged with 
clouds is for the light of the sun, or a foul glass to reflect an image. Light 
and inconstant spirits have not the knowledge of God, any more than running 
water can receive the force of a sunbeam, which glides away from one after an- 

John XVII. 3. J the knowledge of god. 9Q 

other, and remains under the power and force of none. You can never set 
a stamp upon a floating cork till you take it out of the water. Corrupt 
affections warp the understanding to irregular operations. 

(2.) Sensuahty. Sensuality, and a want of the Spirit, the great en- 
lightener, are inseparable companions : Jude 19, ' Sensual, having not the 
Spirit.' A generous knowledge can never grow up in a sensual spirit, any 
more than a generous plant can in a marsh always covered with salt water. 
An atheist may be said to know God as well as one steeped in sensuality, 
which is practical atheism. Those that deny God in their works never 
understood him in their mind : 1 Sam. ii. 12, ' The sons of Eli were sons 
of BeUal,' and therefore ' knew not the Lord.' This being a familiarity with 
hell, can never be a means of acquaintance with God. The way to be heavenly 
wise is not to be brutish. Laughter is mad, and sensualists mad men, who 
can as well understand God as bedlams can understand sobriety. The more 
the soul is sunk in bodily pleasures, the more feeble and unactive it is, the 
more languishing and sickly ; the more it soars above them, the more lively 
and fresh it appears. The heathen philosophers could therefore prescribe 
the soul's abstraction from the body to be necessary to divine knowledge and 
meditation. So great a privilege as this is not becoming one that is in a 
professed slavery to the flesh. The Jews say that the sensuality of the 
seventy that were with Moses, when they saw the vision of God, was the 
cause they had not a more perfect sight ; from Exod. xxiv. 11, * They saw 
God, and did eat and drink ;' understanding it not of the actions afterwards, 
but of the reason why God gave them not such a measure of the Spirit as 
Moses (which is signified by laying on his hand), because they were soaked 
much in sensual dehghts. Who can see the glory of the sun where all the 
windows and gaps, through which the light should peep, are daubed and 
stopped with a thick clay ? While we are clogged with the!thick and filthy 
mire of base lusts, we cannot behold the glory of God and Christ. 

(3.) Carnal conceptions of God. We are naturally apt to frame a notion 
of God, according to the complexion of worldly things, or our own passions ; 
to think God ' such an one as ourselves,' Ps. 1. 21, hereby erecting an earthly 
and vicious deity. The heathen had at first the knowledge of God : Rom. 
i. 19, ' God hath shewed it to them;' and they are said to ' know God.' The 
true God discovered himself; God would not have discovered a false god to 
them. But they not only neglected the improvement of this knowledge, but 
mixed the carnal brood of their own opinions and resemblances with it. 
And by this mixture of the natural knowledge they had of God, and the 
corrupt notions they entertained of what this God was ; by this unnatural 
mixture, I say, was produced a monstrous and misshapen image of God in 
their minds, and in the world, unworthy of God, and unworthy of a ration;il 
soul ; as when some genuine and true principle mixeth with some foul and 
carnal conception, the issue is monstrous. Men study to frame such notions 
of God as may maintain their pride and wantonness, and feed their lusts, 
not satisfy their understandings. Such errors in the head hinder us from 
a spiritual sight of God, as a mass of congealed vapours in the head darkens 
or tinctures the eye that it cannot rightly discern objects before it. The 
head must be pm'ged of that flux of humours which discharge themselves to 
that organ, before the blemish it hath occasioned be cured. Erroneous 
prepossessions must be displaced before good principles can take root in tie 
understanding ; the mind must be unclouded of those mists before it can dis- 
cern the most excellent objects. 

(4.) Earthliness. A soul steeped in earth cannot attain divine things. 
Clogged wings cannot mount into the air. The mud of the earth is a screen 

100 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

between the beams of God and eye of the soul. When the mind is covered 
with thick clay, it cannot behold the admirable things of the gospel, or re- 
ceive any impressions of the Spirit on it, any more than those that work all 
the day in deep mines, under ground, can behold the sun. A little of the 
world delighted in, will hinder the sight of God. Though the sun be vast, 
the heavens large, and the sun dart his beams round about the world, yet 
if a small brass farthing be laid upon the eye it cannot see the sun, or the 
beams of it which shine round about it. John v. 44, ' How can you beUeve, 
that receive honour one of another ?' Ambitious and covetous men are so 
possessed with their immoderate desires after honours and riches, that they 
cannot much mind natural knowledge, more proportioned to the genius and 
gust of their souls, and much less divine. The mind of man cannot at one 
and the same time attend several charges ; when the strength is spent one 
way, it is languishing another. Earthliness hinders the knowledge of Christ, 
and bars out a right estimation of the things of heaven. A man brought up 
in a dungeon cannot know the excellency of superior bodies. A worm that 
dwells always under the earth may as well see the sun, as a man whose 
eyes and mind are in the centre of the earth understand and see God. 
Worldly spirits have more of the earth-worm than the man. We must 
therefore do as Christ bids the blind man, wash the clay off our eyes in the 
pool of Siloam. The more of earth we have, the less capable we are of the 
illuminations of heaven ; the centre of the earth is dark and obscure, and is 
not penetrated by the light of the sun. 

(5.) Pride of reason. When we ' lean to our own understanding,' we 
' acknowledge not God,' Prov. iii. 5, 6. The pharisees were the proudest 
of all the people (John vii. 49, ' Have any of the pharisees believed on him?'), 
and they were the most ignorant of gospel truths ; they would have their 
own opinions a rule to all the people. Pride being the devil's sin, cannot be 
pleasing to God. He that looks upon himself too much, is like to look up 
to heaven too little ; we cannot behold ourselves and heaven together at the 
same instant. If God hide spiritual revelations from any, it is from ' the 
wise and prudent,.' Mat. xi. 25, 30, i. e. from those that think themselves 
wise enough ; and it is dreadful to consider, that it is God's pleasure, and 
he hath Christ's thanks for it. They both concur against pride : God will not 
open the veil to such, and Christ applauds his Father's proceedings. The 
first lesson Christ teacheth in his school, being the doctrine of self-denial, 
as a foundation of all other learning, is point blank against this. We enjoy 
most of Christ when we feel ourselves empty, and we are like to know most 
of Christ when we acknowledge ourselves ignorant. The Laodicean church 
conceited she had clear eyes, and therefore knew not her blindness, and 
desired no eye-salve. Rev. iii. 17, 18 ; such will be contrary to the apostle's 
rule, James i. 19, &c. Quick to speak, and slow to hear, and God never 
sets such a divine plant as this in such rocky ground ; they are heights and 
fortifications which hinder us from the knowledge of Christ, u4'ai/tara xa/ 
byQ)oujn,aTa, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. 

(6.) Curiosity. Either desiring to know, only that we may know, not 
that we may obey, or prying into things too high. Curious inquiries about 
things which are not revealed, hinder that knowledge which is saving from 
making any great impression. When God discovered his glory to the 
Israelites, in giving the law, he ' set bounds to the people,' Exod. xix. 12, 21, 
that they might not be too busily inquisitive. The gospel, though more 
open and large, hath still its limits : ' It is not for you to know the times 
and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power,' Acts i. 7. 
To desire to know more than God would have us know, is to come short of 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 101 

that which otherwise we might be capable of knowing. When Adam would 
aspire to a greater measure of knowledge than God would allow him, he fell 
thereby into a brutish state. God is to be judge of what is fit to be revealed, 
and if we would go further, we entrench upon his wisdom and sovereignty. 
There is a wisdom to sobriety, liom. xii. 3. Curious disputes are the same 
in spirituals, with the extravagancies of bedlams ; while men think to 
strengthen, they crack their brains, as the foolish fly approaching too near 
the candle, loseth both its eyes and wings. God makes foolish the wisdom 
of this world, turns such aspiring wisdom back into folly. The wise man 
compares kaowledge to honey, Prov. xxv. 16, which if eaten in too great a 
quantity, provokes vomiting ; instead of pleasing, it weakens and hurts the 
stomach. Superfluous inquiries after God are the disease of the soul,* and 
are so far from drawing the veil, or making it thinner and more penetrable, 
that it thickens it and makes it more obscure. 

(7.) Inquiring no further than what hath been imprinted on us by educa- 
tion ; or to take truth upon trust from man, to ' have the faith of Christ 
in respect of persons,' James ii. 1. Though we may know a spiritual truth, 
yet it is not in a spiritual manner ; the object of knowledge is good, but the 
manner of knowledge lame, and wants its due rectitude. When we receive 
any truth from a human authority, or in respect to a person, we receive it 
upon no better an account than we should a fable delivered by the same 
hand.f Custom, tradition, and the examples of others, are the rise of the 
knowledge many men have of God and Christ. It is true, indeed, we come 
to know a star by another's pointing us to it, but afterwards we come to 
know it by its own light. 

Directions, both for the attainment and improvement of divine knowledge. 

1. Prayer. This is a general means for everything we want, but ought to 
be more pressed than any, both because of its universal influence, and the 
common deplorable neglect or slight performance of it. The knowledge of 
God springs not from a natural but a divine light ; it is not an extract of 
nature, a branch growing up from the root of our own abilities, but of a 
divine original wi'ought by the ' Spirit of wisdom and revelation,' Eph. i. 17 ; 
it is not the prize of a quick imagination, but a bended knee ; the apostle 
else had not been so earnest a supplicant in this behalf for the Ephesians. 
It is not the proper act of our own understanding, but a reception of illapses 
and dartings from God.| An hour therefore of sincere prayer may do more 
in this case, than the prayerless inquiries of a life longer extended than 
Methuselah's. If, therefore, we are to implore the assistance of God in 
the works of our daily callings, much more ought we to seek to him for this 
treasure, the keys whereof he keeps in his own hands. Now there is a 
double act of God in this, which makes prayer more necessary than in any 
other case that is not of the like concern. There is to be the unveiling his 
face, and the unsealing our eyes ; the removing the clouds from his majesty, 
and the darkness from our minds ; a clearing the object, and discharging the 
faculty of its blindness. The heathens considered this, when they apprehended 
God to be the inteUeclus arjeiis, purifying the phantasmata for our under- 
standing. A human understanding, without outward revelation and inward 
eye-salve, is and will be a miserable bhnd creature. 

(1.) God only can open the mind. A lost eye can never be restored by 
a created power, nor the blind understanding opened but by Christ's touch, 
Luke iv. 18. The first Adam's sin put out the candle, the second Adam's 
grace relights it. There is a faculty, a ' spirit in man,' in miserable fallen 

* r7,f "^v^yis toc-rifict Iffri to xaxu; xa) Tri^ii^yui X^Ti7y Ti^i ^toZ. — Bnsil. 

f Reynolds. J Fucin. in Diouys. de divin. nomin. cap. xx. 

102 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

man, but ' the inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding,' Job xxxii. 8. 
Since our understanding is corrupted by sin, and filled with error, it is not 
sufficient to understand the things of God -without an internal illumination, 
fes well as an external revelation. All our sufiiciency for intellection, as well 
as action, is of God. We are ' not sufficient of ourselves to think a good 
thought,' 2 Cor. iii. 5. Can we then have quickening apprehensions and 
lively thoughts of God without God ? We can no more understand the 
gospel without grace, than we can understand God without the gospel ; for 
those things in the gospel which may conduct us to him, are foolishness in 
the judgment of the most elevated corrupt nature, 1 Cor. ii. 14. Why were 
the Israelites, that had seen more miraculous providences of God, ignorant 
of him, but because ' God gave them not an heart to perceive ' ? Deut. xxix. 4. 
We may indeed by study find a proposition so clear as to engage our assent, 
but not without supernatural influence have such a knowledge of God as to 
change our souls. We cannot ascend to that which is infinite, without the 
power of that infinite ; nor make ourselves like to an infinite being, without 
the communication of that infinite strength. If Christ as God had not 
opened the disciples' understanding, his teaching them as man would have 
been labour in vain, and made as little entrance into their hearts as into 
those of the obstinate pharisees, Luke xxiv. 45. He discoursed to them the 
true sense of Scripture as man, but imprinted the power of it upon their 
hearts as God. There must be an inward light in the eye, the instrument 
of sight, as well as in the air, the medium of vision ; and inward air in the 
ear, to hear the sound, as well as outward air to produce and convey the 
sound. God is not known by us without an operation of God in us. David 
evinceth this, who though he had an enlightened mind, pretends not a power 
of further enlarging it, but calls upon God for a supernatural virtue : ' Open 
my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things.' 

(2.) God only can reveal the object. God only can make himself known. 
We see not the sun but by the sun ; we see other things by the sun, but we 
see not the sun by any other light than its own. True notions of God 
spring from grace upon the soul, as light from the sun upon the eyes. And 
as the sun, so God and Christ appear most ravishing in their own light. As 
none can know God perfectly but himself, so none can make him known to 
us but himself. The discovery of himself is his own free act and motion. 
What creature is able to force the veil from before his face against his mind? 
The first spark and the succceeding additions are from him. Moses had 
the fii-st revelation of God from God, and when his heart breathed after 
more, he hath recourse to God for satisfaction: Exod. xxxiii. 18, ' I beseech 
thee, shew me thy glory.' Christ appropriates this to the Father : Mat. 
xi. 25, ' Father, thou hast revealed them.' The title of Father of lights 
belongs only to him. What the sun is in regard of natural, that is God in 
regard of spiritual light. The disciples own Christ the author of his own 
manifestation, in that question wherein they admire the riches of his grace : 
John xiv 22, ' How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the 
world ?' Light cannot break out without his pleasure, and none can stop 
it when he is pleased to dart it. Indeed, all knowledge, under what title 
soever, is from God, as well as our being, and the beings of all creatures. 
As our faculties are the products of his power, so every endowment of them 
is the fruit of his bounty. Other knowledge is from him as an indulgent 
Creator, this from him as a merciful Redeemer ; that, by the Spirit brood- 
ing over the world by a common work of inspiration (as he brought the 
creatures at the first creation into form and beauty), this by a more parti- 
cular energy, as a special gift upon the Mediator's account, teaching all 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 103 

things necessary to be known of God, and breathing immediately upon the 
spirit of man. 

If it be, then, God's gift upon both accounts, it must be sought at his 
hands. Holy men have always done so. David got most of his divine 
learning upon his knees. How often do you find him with his bended knee, 
elevated eyes, and strong cries : Ps. cxix., ' Teach me thy statutes,' ' open 
mine eyes,' ' give me understanding,' ' teach me thy judgments and know- 
ledge,' ' make thy face to shine upon thy servant,' &c. Wisdom is attained 
by asking, James i. 5. This course will not want success. God is near to 
all that call upon him,' Ps. cxlv. 18, near them in his favour, clearing up 
their apprehensions of him, new stamping their minds and hearts. They see 
most of a thing who are nearest to it ; prayer brings us before God upon 
his throne of grace in his majesty and mercy. It is a leaning upon Christ's 
bosom ; and the disciple who enjoyed that familiarity with our Saviour on 
earth, knew most of his mind. Prayer will as it were bring down God to 
be our instructor, and one hour of God's teaching will be more fruitful than 
thousands of years of our own study. One appearance of the sun is better 
than a world full of torches. How soon can he flash a strong light upon 
our minds, command the scales from our eyes, as soon as he did darkness 
from the chaos ; and as easily by a word create a new eye, as well as a 
mighty sun ? He is a non-such for instruction : Job xxxvi. 22, * Who 
teacheth like him ? ' docet et imperatJ'- None so clearly, none so pleasantly, 
none so speedily. But we must earnestly beg it, there must be a cry, a 
lifting up the voice, Prov. ii. 3, 5, 6, then shall we ' find the knowledge of 
God,' for ' out of his mouth comes understanding.' Our earnestness in 
desiring it cannot come near the pleasui-e of God in bestowing it, when he 
finds it longed for. And why should not the natural desire for knowledge, 
when terminated upon a right object, break forth into as strong prayer, as 
our natural desire for happiness ; both appetites seeming to be with an 
equal force implanted in man ; desire of felicity as the end, and desire 
of knowledge as the means to it ? As our happiness, which is naturally 
desired, cannot be attained but from God, so the knowledge, which is the 
way to it, cannot come from any spring but the grace of God, who ought 
upon this account to be solicited by us. And truly, I think, the great 
reason why men come so short in this knowledge, is because they are negli- 
gent in this means, and depend upon their own inquiries and search more 
than upon God's inspirations. 

2. Study the Scripture much. He that would gain knowledge, would pick 
out the choicest authors, and turn over the best books. The subject of the 
gospel is God, and God manifested in the flesh. The Scriptures ' testify ot 
Christ,' John v. 39 ; they are the swaddling-bands wherein he hath been 
wrapped up since his first incarnation, as the seed of the woman in the 
promise. Other books may dart some light of human knowledge, but this 
is a beam of divine. It acquaints us with the most excellent truth, which 
makes us both wise and happy. It is the record of our Saviour's declara- 
tions of the name of God, which was a principal intent of his coming. 
Therein are discovered the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and a wisdom 
which none of the princes of this world knew, none of the great conquerors 
or learned philosophers. All spiritual discoveries drawn from thence have 
the seal and stamp of God upon them, and none else, God hath, as it were, 
shut up his Spirit in the gospel. It is ' the ministration of the Spirit,' 2 
Cor. iii. 8, i. e. whereby the Spirit, who is lo teach us all things, is conveyed 
to the soul. Knowledge built upon any other principle is nothing but a 
* Castalio, 

104 chaenock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

frame of delusions. It is a dangerous thing to think those things of God 
which are true, unless we are certain of the truth of them ; and where can 
we have a convincing evidence, but from his own revelation ? The gospel 
is called the face of Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6, ' To give the light of the know- 
ledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,' i. e. as some interpret 
it, in the gospel. Indeed, he hath imprinted his own features, and the re- 
presentations of God, in the gospel, that as in the Old Testament we may 
behold his glorious outgoings in creation and providence, the dehverances of 
his people, and punishing his enemies, so in the New we may view his 
glorious counsels of redeeming goodness ; as the looking upon the picture 
of a friend preserves the memory of his features, and recalls to mind the 
memorable actions done by him, and preserves, if not increaseth, the know- 
ledge of him. The word is a glass wherein we behold the reflections of 
God, James i. 23, and it is perfect, Ps. xix. 7. It discovers as much of the 
nature and amiableness of God as can be drawn in lines and letters, and pre- 
sents the soul with such attractives in him as turns it fully to him ; as it fol- 
lows, ' converting the simple.' If the beauty of the Lord was seen in the 
legal sanctuary, Ps. xxvii. 4, much more in the evangelical transcript, so 
plain that he that is a student in it, when translated to heaven, may know 
God and Christ by what knowledge he had of their lineaments in the word, 
as the remembrance of the features in a picture will direct us to know the 
person when we meet him. The angels themselves seem to be put oft' to 
gather their knowledge of Christ from the flowers of the word as delivered 
to the church, and in the church : Eph. iii. 10, ' The wisdom of God is made 
known by the church to the principalities in heavenly places.' It is made 
known to the church by the word, to angels by the church, so that the 
knowledge of the angels is ultimately resolved into the word as the medium 
of it. As it is a means to gain it, so it is a means to increase it ; there are 
new amazing wonders to be seen in it. Though many diamonds have been 
cut out of a rock, yet there are more still for the workman's skill and in- 
dustry. While the powers in heaven are instructed by it, the most elevated 
understanding on earth cannot be above it. He that looks often into it will 
view more by an eye of faith than all the world can by their eyes of reason 
in conjunction. By this instrument, we shall behold the greatness, majesty, 
loveliness, and love of God, more than any rational discoveries can present 
to us ; as a man by an instrument sees the magnitude and glory of the 
stars, which an ignorant man thinks to be little sparks of light, like those in 
his chimney. The ignorance among us may be charged upon the neglect of 
studying this, or the slight reading of it. Some will plead the intricacy of 
it for their neglect. Not to say that, as to the main design of it, it is plain 
in itself; let such that excuse themselves upon this account consider whether 
they are not conscious to themselves that they never spent the tenth part, 
nay, perhaps not a dram, of that industry, zeal, and desire in the searching 
that hidden mine of spiritual treasures, as they have spent in heaping up 
the perishing trifles of this world. I will appeal to those that do make it 
their business to inquire into the word, whether they find not themselves to 
have more lively apprehensions of God, and feel, and taste divine truths in 
another kind of manner, than they experiment in other books. Let the ex- 
periences of others move those that neglect it. Manna dropped from heaven 
was more relishing in itself than all the meat of the Israelites' cooking ; it 
was angels' food. And for the manner of conversing with it, the laying down 
rules would be too copious. Consider well what you read ; stay upon the 
descriptions you find of God and Christ, dig into them as into a mine ; rest 
not till 30U find the satisfying importance of them, till you feel your hearts 

John XVII. 3.J the knowledge of god. 105 

stir, and rise up in an adoration of him. ' The secret of the Lord is with 
them that fear him,' Ps. xxv. 14, ' and he will shew them his covenant.' 
Consider the inward vu-tue and efficacy of it, as a wise man will the virtue 
of the flowers and plants, as well as their beauty and gay clothing. And 
while you study the history of the gospel, pray for the revelation of the 
Father. Flesh and blood may read it, but the Father only reveals it savingly. 
The eye may see the letters, the head may understand the sense, when the 
Spirit opens not the heart- to feel the warmth. 

3. Entertain with affection every spiritual motion. We can no more pro- 
fit in divine knowledge without the breathing of the Spirit, and the dews of 
his grace, than the labour of an husbandman can come to any maturity 
without the warm irradiations of the sun, and the showers of rain. The 
more solemn discoveries of God and Christ to the heart were reserved for 
the appearance of the Spirit, upon which account Christ, while in the flesh, 
is said but to ' begin to teach,' Acts i. 1. The foundation was laid by 
Christ, but the consummation of this discovery, and the last line, was re- 
served for the Spirit. Christ declared the name of God, and his own com- 
mission, but the Spirit afterwards was to verify and confirm this commission 
as authentic in the minds of men. He is therefore called ' the Spirit of 
truth,' as testifying the authority of Christ : John xv. 26, ' The Spirit of 
truth shall testify of me ;' and also, in regard of his conduct of men into 
truth : John xvi. 13, 'The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth.' He 
was fu-st to demonstrate to their minds that Christ was authorised by God, 
and that his declarations of God were firm, true, and ratified in heaven, and 
then to guide them into those truths which were necessary for their comfort 
and practice ; to open the secret resolves of eternity concerning the work of 
redemption, and draw the curtain from before those mysteries, which the eye 
of nature was not able to reach. The first work of the Spirit is that of 
knowledge. He communicates himself to our understandings, before he 
makes impressions upon our wills, as the sun first enlightens the air before 
he warms it (knowledge is that in the mind, which light is in the air). For, 
as the Spirit dealt with Christ, so he deals with his members ; he first rests 
upon them as a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, Isa. xi. 2, 
3, and acts in that order wherein Christ is presented to us by God, first wis- 
dom, then righteousness and sanctification, 1 Cor. i. 30. Whatsoever, 
therefore, the Spirit doth by virtue of his office, must be listened to ; and 
every ofier, every motion, he makes for our instruction, must be entertained; 
for though God hath appointed many outward instructors, yet there is but 
one internal teacher, viz. the Holy Ghost. And there is a resistance of the 
Spirit in this work of knowledge, as well as in the work of grace ; and the 
resistance lies chiefly here, because the Spirit's first work is to rectify the 
judgment in the nature of God, and things belonging to God, and present 
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ ; and when this is entertained, he 
reflects it upon the will and affections, that the faculties may regularly fol- 
low one another in the order of working, and the soul, in turning to God, 
may act, and be acted, as a rational creature ; for while he is busy in reduc- 
ing the soul to its original constitution and true nature, he would not move 
the soul against the primitive order of nature, but in such a manner as its 
return and obedience may be regular and becoming a rational creature. 
When, therefore, a man refuseth the motions of the Spirit, whereby his mind 
may be informed, the Spirit is resisted by him. Every motion is a beam 
from heaven : let us take heed of shutting our eyes against it, lest it be 
snatched away by the interposition of some dark cloud, and we never enjoy 
the Uke again, but lose the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, and thereby the 

306 chaknook's works. [John XVII. 3. 

most excellent wisdom in earth or heaven. If we neglect his motions, we 
put a slight upon that person, whereby only God reveals divine things tons: 
1 Cor. ii. 10, ' God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit.' We contemn 
the only instructor that can acquaint us with God ; ' the things of God 
knows no man, but the Spirit of God,' ver. 11, i. e. no man knows them but 
by the Spirit. It is exclusive of all men, though the strongest rationalists. 
It' we listen not, then, to this Spirit, we shall receive a stronger ignorance 
as a reward of our frowardness. Would any man stop his ears, or shut his 
doors against an angel sent by God from heaven upon a happy errand ? 
Behold in every divine motion a greater than an angel, yea, than all the 
illuminated blessed angels in heaven. Since it is, therefore, a beam from 
heaven shooting in upon the mind, follow it, and it will direct to a fuller 
prospect of light, as when a ray of the sun strikes through a cranny of a 
wall, the laying the eye close to the hole will help us to see more, and per- 
haps the body of the sun from whence it streamed. If we, therefore, give 
way to the motions of the Spirit, it may be with us as with the apostles, who 
were dull and ignorant in the time of their master, and, just before the ascen- 
sion of Christ, betrayed their ignorance of his design in coming, in proposing 
to him the settling of an earthly kingdom, Acts i. 6. But when the Spirit 
came upon them, how did he refine their minds, burn up the chafi" of their 
grosser conceits ! How noble were their apprehensions of the spirituality of 
Christ's kingdom, and their souls filled with divine hght ! So may we, in 
our measures, if we wait for the Spirit, and observe his movings upon us. 
Let us, therefore, hereby give encouragement to the Spirit to inform us with 
delight, who is no less pleased than our Saviour was, when any received his 
instructions, and stretched out their souls to catch his gales. More is 
learned from such a teacher than from a multitude of ignorant men, if we 
were to live for ever with them. The neglect of those motions is the worm 
at the root of all our perfections, and continues the blindness of our minds, 
and the perversity of our hearts. It concerns us, therefore, to look to this. 
4. Labour and long for new hearts. As there is an enmity to God in 
lapsed nature, so there is a disrelish of God in the knowledge of him, till the 
vitiated palate be cured by the removal of the infectious humour. The dis- 
ease of the eye must be removed before we can discern things plainly and 
dehghtfuUy. Our natural eye while distempered is made worse by looking 
long or often upon an object, and can take no pleasure in the view of any- 
thing. That eye that would gaze upon the sun must be sun-like, of the 
nature of the sun : the soul must become divine before it can know the 
divinity. As no man can act, so no man can understand well divine things 
unless he be in a divine state ; and therefore no unconverted person can in 
that state have this knowledge. Who can behold that which he turns his 
back upon ? He that turns his back upon the sun may see the earth, but 
not the sun, in that posture. The knowledge of God, a relation to him as 
his people, and a covenant interest in him as their God, were all founded 
upon a turning to him with the whole heart : Jer. xxiv. 7, ' For they shall 
return unto me with their whole heart;' so Hosea vi. 1, 3. First let us 
return to the Lord, then shall we know. It is then that God pours out the 
Spirit as a living spring, and gives him to be our tutor and instructor in 
divine learning, to ' make known his words ' to us when we * turn at his re- 
proof,' Prov. i. 23. Then shall we view everything with a new light, and 
see something more in God, his word and ways, than we did before ; as men, 
when they begin to study some art, look upon all things in a new manner 
and form, according to the rules of that art they are engaged in. An unre- 
generate man cannot have lively and quick apprehensions of God, no more 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 107 

than a blind man can frame a true and distinct conception of colours and 
light, notwithstanding his hearing several discourses about the essential pro- 
perties of them. As sense only can perceive visible objects, and reason 
rational, so spiritual sense only can perceive spiritual objects. A natural 
man can no more judge of spiritual things as spiritual than a beast can 
judge of the excellency of moral virtue. Saving knowledge of God, in order 
of nature, follows regeneration, though the historical knowledge of God, the 
object, precedes it ; for God being the object of religion and conversion 
must be known before any act can be exercised about them. 

5. Obedience and purity of heart is the way to increase this knowledge. 
The freer the eye is from bad humours, the more able it is delightfully to 
behold the sun. In a full righteousness God's face is beheld hereafter : Ps. 
xvii. 17, ' As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness,' and according 
to imperfect measures of righteousness we behold his face here. Our Saviour 
makes purity to precede, and the sight of God to follow : Mat. v. 8, ' The 
pure in heart shall see God.' The more the heart is purified, the more the 
mind is cleared to have an insight into the things of God ; whereas a defiled 
heart sends out streams to mud the understanding, as a foul stomach raiseth 
vapours to disturb the head. Purity prepares the soul for a more free and 
constant residence of the Spirit, the great instructor. He is a dove, and 
doves care not for foul and polluted places. As the foul spirit loves a pol- 
luted lodging, so doth the Holy Spirit a pure soul. He that fears God is the 
subject of God's teaching, Ps. xxv. 12, but to leave off to do good is to leave 
ofi' to be wise, Ps. xxxvi. 3. ' Moses hid his face, and was afraid to look 
upon God,' Exod. iii. 6, which the Jews understand of a fear of reverence, 
and for that cause (they say) he was rewarded with a sight of the similitude 
of God, Num. xii. 8, 9 ; and indeed ' the fear of the Lord is the beginning 
of wisdom,' i. e. the first foundation divine wisdom lays in building her house 
in any soul. God required a three days' purification of the Israelites before 
he would dispense the law and admit them to a knowledge of his will, and 
is not a purity requisite to a knowledge of his nature ? To think to see God, 
without purity in the soul, is as if we should imagine we could behold visible 
objects without a crystalline humour in the ball of the eye. ' He that doth 
God's will shall know the doctrine of Christ,' John vii. 17. As in practical 
arts the skill is increased more by working than studying, so is the know- 
ledge of God increased by the practice of what we know.* God delights to 
be obeyed ; and where he is obeyed, he delights to give greater discoveries of 
himself, both to encourage and direct to a further obedience. As Christ by 
his obedience had the communications of God to him, so shall we by our 
obedience have the communications of Christ to us, which he calls an ' abiding 
in his love,' John xv. 10. A purified soul is more capable of divine beams 
than a sharp wit. Plato could say that, after a walking with God, or a ro 
ev^asTv, a living with him, a certain light breaks out upon us as from fire, 
and falls upon our souls. 

6. Humility. If grace be given to the humble, the grace of the best 
knowledge is not excluded from God's liberality ; we gain it sooner by an 
humble contemplation than proud wranghngs. As to obey God we must 
deny our wills, so to know him we must deny our reasons ; will must submit 
to precept, and reason to revelation. Agur acknowledged himself brutish, 
who came behind none of his age, unless Solomon, in understanding, Prov. 
xxx. 2. The humble person will quickly be a scholar in this learning, when 
a pharisee shall remain as ignorant as he is proud. God reveals himself to 
bubes, Mat. xi. 24, not to those that conceit themselves giants. Those that 

* TrifirtfiS TU1 ivraXuD lyvaffi; rev S-sai/. — JBaSll. 

108 ' charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

hear Christ's voice mnst have the quality of sheep, John x. 4. The meek 
God acquaints with his choicest truths: Ps. xxv. 9, 'The meek will he teach 
his way.' As God ' knows the proud afar otf,' Ps. cxxxviii, G, so doth the 
proud man know God afar off. It is not possible, when God beholds him 
at a great distance, that he can behold God. A f)roud scholar and a dove- 
like teacher can never accord. God 'humbles himself,' Ps. cxiii. 6; we 
must be like him if we would understand him, Christ was meek and lowly ; 
he is never like to be a learner who imitates not his master's pattern. Espe- 
cially when in this humiliation of Christ the attributes of God shone out 
brighter than in creation or general providence. What God required in his 
son as a medium for the discovery of himself, he will require in us to make 
us capable of a communication of that knowledge. We are never fit to hear 
God till we hear with submission. Humility brings us into such a posture, 
it takes away the blocks which lie in the way of saving truth ; it drives away 
inconsideration, silenceth contradictions against the truth, and stifles curio- 
sity. If we will not, therefore, slight God's direction, we must ' be fools 
that we may be wise,' 1 Cor. iii. 18. Our dulness doth grieve Christ, but 
not so much as our conceitedness. Christ spake in parables to the arrogant 
Pharisees, but he repeated his instructions to his humble disciples, though he 
reproved them for their dulness. The pride and curiosity of this age sets men 
back in the knowledge of God, but it is likely a sharp lance is not far off to 
cut the swelling. 

7. Heavenly meditation. An heavenly mind hath brighter and more de- 
lightful apprehensions of God than all the carnal world. The purer the air 
we live in, the more active and strong is the body ; the air of heaven quickens 
the understanding and clears the sight. By meditation we enter within the 
veil and behold his glory. He meets those that humbly aspire to him ; fre- 
quent ascents of the mind to God is the way to attain the manifestations 
of him, Exod. xix. 3, When Moses went up to God (which the Jews* 
understand of an intellectual ascent, an ascent of meditation), the Lord called 
to him out of the mount ; that they understand of his corporeal ascent. 
Abstraction is necessary to this best of sciences. If we are thus out of the 
body, we may with Paul hear and know things which are unutterable. The 
senses of the soul, which are as real and have as real operations about their 
proper objects, as the external senses of sight and taste have about sensible 
objects, are thus to be exercised ; and when they are so, it makes us capable 
of stronger meat and more spiritual knowledge, Heb, v. 14. Without this 
we cannot come to a knowledge of God. Who can know the sun if he shuts 
his eyes, or understand music if he stop his ears ? and know God if he never 
stirs up his understanding about him ? We use the faculties and senses 
which are proper for the objects proposed. f If music be presented, we em- 
ploy our ears ; if the sun shine, we use our eyes, not our ears ; if we would 
know God, we must employ our minds, they can only be conversant about 
him. By this ascent of meditation we may see more of God in a moment 
than otherwise we can do in an age, as a man may see more of London upon 
the top of the Exchange in half a quarter of an hour than he can by going 
about in many days, or standing in one street many years. But let our affec- 
tions keep an equal pace with our meditations, that the heart may be in- 
flamed with a divine love. Endeavour to have a savour of Christ's ointments. 
Cant. i. 3 ; we shall then profit more in the knowledge of God in a week, 
than, without blowing up our affections, we shall do in many years ; for then 
God will communicate himself to us with a more cordial affection than we 
can embrace him. 

* Alaimon. More, part i. cap, xi, t Maximus Tyrius, dis i. p, 11. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god. 109 

8, Communication of what knowledge of God we have upon occasion. 
Talents improved increase, Luke xix. 17 ; increase in the act and increase by 
a reward. Let not what knowledge you have lie bound up in a rotten napkin 
as a useless thing, but venture it, and you will find a quick return. What 
knowledge of God we have laid out is lent to God, as well as what we give 
out of our purses to the poor, and God is no insolvent or careless debtor 
to his own promise : he hath bound himself to pay the less, and so he 
will the greater. We gain by imparting, as the husbandman flings his 
grain into the ground with hopes of an increasing crop. 

9. Aflfect Christian society. Every Christian is a king and priest to 
God, and why not also a prophet to his brother ? If a man will con- 
verse with divine persons, light will break in upon him as flame from a 
sparkling fire. He that would gain knowledge would converse with the 
best company. The daughters of Jerusalem were asked by the spouse for 
her beloved, when she was upon the pursuit to find him, Cant. v. 8. The 
meanest Christian may be of use in this. The lower plants have more of 
medicine in them than many taller shrubs ; nay, Apollos has learned more 
of Christ from Priscilla than from the apostles themselves. God often 
blesseth the weaker above the stronger means, to shew that he is not tied 
to any. 

Let me conclude all with the speech of a heathen, O qudm contempta 
res est homo, nisi supra humana se erexerit 1"^ If we would have life eternal, 
the way, by our Saviour's prescription, is to ' know the only true God, and 
Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.' 

* Seneca, Prsefat- ad Natural. Quest. 


And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus 
Christ, whom thou hast sent. — John XVII. 3. 

There were two principal doctrines pitched on at the beginning of this 

Doctrine I. The knowledge of God and Christ the Mediator is the neces- 
sary means to eternal life and happiness. 

Doctrine II. The true and saving knowledge of God is only in and by 

God and Jesus Christ. [Some make an hendiadis here, for ' God in 
Christ.' As 2 Peter i. 2, ' Through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ,' 
i.e. through the knowledge of God in Christ; and, ver. 3, ' hath given us 
all things pertaining to life and godliness,' i. e. to a godly life ; and, ver. 4, 
who hath ' called us to glory and virtue,' or dta,, ' through glory and virtue,' 
i. e. through a glorious power. So Ps. xcvi. 7, ' Give unto the Lord glory 
and strength,' i. e. the glory of his strength. Gen. iii. 16, ' I will multiply 
thy sorrow and thy conception,' i. e. thy sorrow in thy conception, or of thy 
conception. To know God in Christ his ambassador. To know God the 
Father in Christ the mediator, the Father being considered here as God, and 
Christ as mediator. To know God as Christ hath declared him, as he 
speaks, ver. 6, ' I have manifested thy name.' 

Since the lapse of human nature, no man that understands his fallen con- 
dition can have any knowledge of God from the book of the creatures and 
the dictates of nature but what is terrible without a mediator ; and all 
notions of God out of Christ are below him, many times unworthy of him, 
and foul and undecent in themselves. Christ asserts it, Mat. xi. 27, * All 
things are deUvered to me of my Father, and no man knows the Son but the 
Father, neither knows any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomso- 
ever the Son will reveal him.' All things were first dehvered to Adam in 
the creation, viz. the knowledge of God and rectitude of nature, to be by 
him transmitted to his posterity. But since Adam so foolishly and wickedly 
threw it away for a little pleasure, he rendered himself and his posterity un- 
capable to know and enjoy God.* God therefore pitches upon Christ in 
* Chemuit. Harm, ex Atlianasio. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. Ill 

his secret counsel, and stored up in him all the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge, to shoot his beams through him upon man, and convey by him 
those good things which Adam had made himself by his fall uncapable to 
communicate to his posterity. When our Saviour saith universally, all 
things are delivered to him, he instanceth in none but the knowledge of God 
as the foundation of all those rich communications which men receive from 
him, for without the revelation of God the Father to man, man would be 
uncapable to partake of those riches intended for him by the mediation and 
interposition and furniture of the Son of God ; and therefore, John iii. 35, 
when it is said, ' The Father hath given all things into his hand,' it follows, 
' He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life.' The end why all things 
are given into his hand, is to convey to man such a knowledge of God that 
men might be induced to believe in Christ, and in God through Christ. 
Between the Father and the Son there is a communion of knowledge. None 
knows the Son but the Father, none knows the Father but the Son ; none 
makes known the Son, and what things he hath delivered into his hand, but 
the Father by the Spirit ; and none knows the Father, and his mind and 
affections to man, and the relations his nature and perfections bear to him, 
but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him by the outward 
preaching of the word, and the inward illumination of his Spirit. And upon 
this Christ makes a general invitation, ' Come unto me, all ye that labour 
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ; ' that labour under, and are 
heavy laden with, your ignorance and darkness in the things of God, as well 
as with other miseries, and I will give you such a revelation and knowledge 
of the Father wherein you shall find a rest and complacency. Another 
place is John xiv. 9, ' He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,' 
where Philip, in his desiring of Christ to shew him the Father, takes it 
for granted that the knowledge of the Father was only to be expected by and 
from Christ. Though he discovers his infirmities in his petition, implying 
that the Father was to be seen with corporeal eyes, ' Shew us the Father 
and it sufficeth us,' Christ answers with a reproof for his ignorance and in- 
advertency, ' He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.' The Son hath 
rendered the Father spiritually visible in his person ; his excellency, majesty, 
and unexpressible kindness to man, shine forth in Christ as a lively and 
clear image, and there is so exact a resemblance and so near a conjunction 
that, as he speaks, ver. 7, ' If we know Christ we know the Father also,' 
because Christ hath revealed him by his doctrine and word, and the holi- 
ness, righteousness,"tenderness of God are made visible in the transaction of 
Christ, and God is represented in the person and doctrine of Christ more 
clearly than in all the apparitions and evidences of himself to the patriarchs 
and prophets. 

One place more ; 2 Cor. iv. 4, 6, Christ is said to be the * image of God,' 
and that God ' had shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of 
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' Where the apostle expresseth 
two things : 1, that Christ is the image of God ; 2, that the knowledge of the 
glory of God, or the glorious God, is discovered in the face or person of 
Christ. He is the image of God ; he is indeed the essential image of God, 
the natural image of God, possessing in one essence with the Father all the 
glories and perfections of the Deity. A substantial and permanent image, 
not vanishing as that in a glass ; a natural image, as the image of a father 
in his son, who hath the lineaments of the father by participation from him, 
not as the image of a prince in his coin, which is artificial. Substantial 
image of God, not in regard of likeness, for every thing that is like another 
is not said to be the image of that thing which it is like, but that which 

112 charnock's wobks. [John XVII. 3. 

bears a figure impressed by another, and expresseth that whose figure it is, 
as one man may be like another, yet is not said to be the image of another, 
as a son is said to be the image of his father. Not such an image as man 
is, who is rather said to be created according to the image of God than to he 
the image of God ; such an image as in creation was hke to God, not one 
with God. Christ is such an image of God, as if shining upon the soul in 
the gospel, can turn the heart, which man, though the image of God, cannot 
perform, Christ is therefore the image of God, as a child is the image of 
his father, not in regard of the individual property which the father hath 
distinct from the child, and the child from the father, but in respect of the 
same substance and nature, derived from the father by generation. Christ 
is here called the image of God, not so much, saith Calvin, in relation to 
God, as the Father is the exemplar of his beauty and excellency, as in rela- 
tion to us, as he represents the Father to us in the perfections of his nature, 
as they respect us and our welfare, and renders him visible to the eyes of our 
minds. And the Jews did often give this title to the Messiah.* So that in 
the sight of Christ we see God, as in the sight of the stamp upon wax we 
Bee what is engraven upon the seal, which answers to it in exact proportion. 

Christ God-man is the image of God, because the humanity is taken into 
personal union with the Son of God. His humanity abstractedly considered 
was no more the image of God than Adam was by creation. f And he is so 
the image of God, that whosoever hath seen him and known him, hath seen 
and known the Father also, which cannot be said of a picture, for he that 
sees a picture cannot be said to see the object represented by the picture, 
which expresseth only the outward figure, form, and lineaments. But he is 
such an image as represents the nature, features, attributes, and inward vir- 
tues of God. A picture is but a shadow, but Christ is a substantial image 
of God, wherein the divinity dwells bodily, Col. ii. 9. 

There is also a discovery of God in the face of Christ. Since the divine 
nature falls not under the perceptions of sense, nor can be immediately 
known in itself by the understandings of men ; it shines forth and sparkles % 
in the face of Christ, and difiuseth itself about the world. By knowing 
Christ, who is man, we know God ;§ because the human nature of Christ is 
personally assumed by the Son of God. As he that sees the body of a man, 
sees the man consisting of soul and body, because the soul and body are 
united together and make one composition, though the soul in itself be 
invisible ; so he that sees the human nature of Christ is rightly said to see 
God, because the human and divine nature are personally united in Christ, 
though the divinity itself be invisible ; and indeed, we cannot conceive any 
other sight and knowledge of God in heaven, but in Christ. The vision of 
Christ in his glorified human nature, is a seeing of God face to face ; so 
that whosoever sees Christ with his bodily eyes, or with the eyes of his mind, 
sees God; he sees and knows God, not immediately and directly, but 
mediately and consequently. As the prophets were said to see the Lord : 
1 Kings xxii, 19, Micaiah ' saw the Lord sitting upon his throne ; and Isa. 
vi, 1, 'I saw the Lord upon his throne.' They saw not God immediately, 
but in those forms wherein ho was pleased to appear as the symbols of his 
presence : and as John Baptist saw the Spirit of God, Mat. iii. 16, in the 
form of a dove ; not the person of the Holy Ghost, but in the form wherein 
he appeared, yet is said to see the Spirit of God ; the Father and the 
Son, having one nature and essence, when the Son is known the Father is 

* N"?N D"?^.— Grotius in loo. t Bayns on Col. i. 15, pp. 75, 76. 

X 'AcT^ava; afii);. — Theod. § Gerhard, Harm, in John xiv. 9, p. 909., Col, i. 

John XYII. 3.1 the knowledge of god in christ. 11 

1. All the knowledge that any man hath of God, is from and by Christ. 
Every man that hath any saving light, hath it derivatively from him ; he is 
' the hght that enlightens eveiy man that comes into the world,' John i. 9. 
Every man that is enlightened, is enlightened by him. No other light can 
expel that darkness which is upon our minds in relation to God, but this 
light. What knowledge any man hath of God by reason and natural light, 
is by the mediation of Christ, whereby are kept up in men whatsoever gifts 
they had by their fall forfeited ; and whatsoever saving knowledge any man 
hath of God, is by the special illumination of this true light by the virtue of 
his Spu-it. Neither our natural reason is the true light, because it is blind 
in spiritual things ; nor the word is the true light, because it cannot make 
men savingly intelligent without the shining of this true light upon them. 
And this the church expected by the Messiah : Hosea vi. 3, ' Then shall we 
know the Lord, at his going forth prepared as the morning;' when he ' shall 
come as the rain, as the former and the latter rain ;'* when he shall instil 
into us the divine doctrine, and open our hearts as the rain doth the womb 
of the earth. We shall then know, when he shall come to teach men the 
ways of life, as a Jew expounds it. 

2. No man hath, can have, or ever had, any knowledge of God without 
Christ : John i. 18, ' No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten 
Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.' "V\Tiich is 
asserted by John Baptist against the Jews, who boasted much of Moses his 
sight of God, and knowledge of his secrets. No man hath seen God from 
the fii-st creation of the world to this day, not a man of all the patriarchs 
and prophets ever knew God but by the revelations of Christ. By seeing, 
we must not understand a corporeal sight, for no man ever did or can see 
God with his bodily eyes, but an inteUectual or spiritual vision, which the 
antithesis, ' But he hath revealed him,' manifests. Christ is only capable 
to declare to us the nature and counsels of God, because he is his only Son, 
had an intimate communion with him ; was, and is continually in bis bosom, 
wherein the secrets of God were laid up, and was before the world interested 
in his secret counsels, and knew the bottom of all. He hath expounded his 
will, unfolded his nature, ' E^rr/riaaro. None else can reveal him, nor can 
the revelations of any inferior to him in this privilege challenge a full credit 
with any man. Moses himself saw God only in Christ ; he was put in a 
hole of the rock, Exod. xxxiii. 22, which, hi the judgment of the ancients, 
and some moderns, was a figure of Christ. None can see and know God 
but in this rock Jesus ; the name which God then proclaimed is only 
declared by Christ : John xvii. 6, ' I have manifested thy name unto the 
men which thou gavest me.' And that which we call the light of nature, 
and the light of the law, is gathered up and centred in Christ ; as that light 
which was in the world before the fourth day of the creation was gathered 
and embodied in the sun, and from thence flowed to the world. All the light 
was created to be brought into that body, and to flow from thence upon the 
several parts of the world, and to be communicated from thence to other 
creatures ; so that there is no clear light in the world but from and by the 
sun, and no clear light of the knowledge of God but from and by Christ. 
Some therefore make the sun a natural type of Christ. As the sun was 
created the fourth day of the creation, so Christ was incarnate about the 
four thousandth year of the world, the fourth divine day, a thousand years 
being as a day in God's sight. All light was only to flow from it ; and indeed 
all the light of the knowledge of God that ever was did spring from Christ. 

* Where the word which siguiiies the latter rain, mV, signifies also a teacher. 
VOL. IV. » H 

114 chabnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

Kone ever knew God by his own strength and natural abilities, but as they 
were kept up and animated by the mediator.' 

And, by the way, we may observe, that the knowledge of God is more 
than the knowledge of the will of God. ' He hath declared him.' Christ 
declared more than the will of God, as it was a rule of obedience ; he de- 
clared God's perfections as a ground of the creature's confidence, as an 
incitement to admiration, and a motive to obedience. He declared not only 
the will of God, what we are to do ; but the intention of God, what we are 
to hope for ; the glory of God, what we are to adore and admire. 

In the prosecution of this, we shall shew, 

I. What kind of mediums there have been to know God, and how they 
come short of this. 

II. That the saving knowledge of God is attained only by the knowledge 
of Christ. 

III. The necessity of this medium. 

IV. What knowledge of God is discovered to us by Christ. 

V. The Use. 

I. What kind of mediums there have been to know God, and how they 
come short of this way of knowledge. 

1. There is a natural knowledge of God. 

(1.) By implanted notion. Some question whether there be any natural 
knowledge of God imprinted upon man, or the knowledge of any one thing 
naturally planted in him ; but as he grows up (say they) he acquires a know- 
ledge of things from the objects of sense, and improvement of them by the 
understanding he is endowed with; and making deductions and conclusions 
by the help of reason, arrives to an apprehension of things. Yet this know- 
ledge of God may be called natural, because, by the view of the visible things 
in the world, natural reason frames a certain conclusion that there is a God, 
the cause of those excellences he sees in the creatures. But the Scripture 
seems to intimate a notion of God in the minds of men : Rom. i. 19, ' That 
which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewn it unto 
them ;' a notion within, an excitation of it by objects without, that there 
is an internal light which doth manifest him, as well as an external evidence 
of him by the creatures. But whether this be the import of this scripture 
or no, most understand no more by manifest in them, than manifest to them; 
yet, since there is a law of nature in men, which is the rule of the excusings 
or accusings of the conscience, in regard of which they are said to be ' a law 
to themselves,' Rom. ii. 15, ' and the work of the law,' said to be ' written 
in their hearts,' the notion of a superior power to which man is account- 
able for his actions must be as natural as that, because it is the foundation 
of the actings of conscience ; and the superstructure being from an implanted 
light, is not like to be without a foundation of the same kind. To what pur- 
pose should conscience accuse, if there were not a supreme being under 
whose censure such actions did fall ? and since the heathens had a natural 
sentiment, that the extravagances they were guilty of were worthy of death, 
«Rom. i. 32, they must also have as natural a sentiment that there was a 
judge of absolute power to inflict that death upon them, which their ow^n 
consciences told them they were worthy of. Since there are, therefore, 
natural agitations of conscience raised up by the law of nature within them, 
the notion of a God seems to me to be as natural as that law of nature, and 
those motions of conscience. And though this was more clear in man at 
his creation, and while he remained in the state of innocency, yet it is not 
blotted out of the mind of man. Though the notions of God in men are 

John XYII. 3. J the knowledge of god in chkist. 115 

dimmed by the fumes of their corruption, yet they cannot stifle this inward 
ight and impression, any more than the thickest fogs can blot out the sun, 
or hinder it from making day. And all the outward objects which we see in 
the world, whence we argue that there is a God, seem only to revive and 
awaken that implanted notion which lay covered with the rubbish of the fall, 
or, upon the first view of things, with what ease doth this sentiment rise up 
in our minds ? And nothing is more obvious, nothing more easily enter- 
tained, than this, that there is a God, and that this God is a mighty, powerful, 
and perfect being ; which evidenceth that there is a spark of it in the mind 
of man, which catches the outward flame so quickly upon its approach, as 
the snuft' of a candle, not quite extinguished, will snatch and attract the flame 
of another which comes near unto it. 

(2.) By the creatures. The visible world, and every part of it, is a book, 
wherein we may read some syllables of God.*-' The heathens saw God in 
heaven, earth, fire, water, plants, and animals ; all creatures being lines 
drawn from that centre. Though man hath not the knowledge which Adam 
had, since the flaw he contracted upon his understanding, yet there being 
some scattered relics of this knowledge, he may, by looking near to the crea- 
tures, discern, by his purblind and dim sight, something of the attributes of 
God, every creature being a glass which reflects some beams of God upon 
his mind ; for no man in his wits can conclude that the world was made by 
chance, but by some being more wise than any being in the world can be, or 
than all the wisest men in the world put together. We know the courage, 
conduct, and power of a general by the sight of his conquests, the skilful- 
ness of an artificer by the excellency of his work, and the eloquence of an 
orator by reading his speech, though we never saw the faces of any of them. 
There are very few attributes but the works of creation and providence dis- 
cover in some measure to us ; for ' the invisible things of God from the 
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that 
are made, even his eternal power and Godhead,' Rom. i. 20. These two 
perfections are clearly seen : his infinite power, which discovers also his 
eternity ; and his incomprehensible goodness, which is the most signal glory 
of the divinity. f The beauty of the world acquaints us with the excellency 
of him that erected it, and the order of the world instructs us in the wisdom 
of him that composed it. This discovery hath been ever since the creation ; 
* from the creation of the world ;' from the time the world and the things 
therein were first created. He imprinted some letters of himself upon this, 
frame of things, at the first rearing of it, wherein they have been ever since 
legible ; you may see by the letter whose print it was, and what skill he had 
who made the impression. Thus God brings the creatures successively upon 
the stage to Job, and reads a natural history of them ; he sends him to con- 
sider the foundations of the earth, the bridled vastness of the sea, &c.. Job 

[1.] The power of God is evident: in bringing forth a fair world out of 
nothing, which manifests an infinite strength ; in packing together all parts 
for conveniency of life and motion, in so little a creature as a fly and ant; 
in stretching out the heavens like a curtain, laying the beams of his chambers 
in the waters ; in setting bounds to the mighty waters, that they turn not 
again to cover the earth. 

[2.] The ivisdom of God : in the order, variety, and beauty; in the great 
resemblances of reason in some little creatures, as the ants and bees, which 
could hardly be supposed to have bodies capable of spirits, for managing 

* Jupiter est quodcunque vides, quodcunque movctur. — Lucan. 
t Amyraut. Paraph. 

116 chaenock's wokks. [John XVII. 3. 

those tasks they naturally undertake ; in the ordering everything to a par- 
ticular and general end ; the subserviency of one creature to another ; the 
constant order they observe in their motions, as if they were sensible of a 
law, and were rational observers of it. The moon is appointed for seasons, 
and the sun knows his going down ; the observation of which drew from the 
psalmist that admiration, ' Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom 
hast thou made them all,' Ps. civ. 24 — a lecture of the creation. 

[3.] The goodness of God. * The earth is full of his riches,' Ps. civ. 24, 
full of the goodness of the Lord : in communicating to every creature 
various endowments for their usefulness to one another, and furnishing them 
■with abilities to attain their ends (every providence is a witness of this attri- 
bute. Acts xiv. 17) ; in the plentiful provision he hath made for his crea- 
tures ; in causing ' the grass to grow for the cattle, and herbs for the service 
of man, that he may bring forth food out of the earth.' Whosoever was the 
cause of the creation, must have understanding, will, and power : under- 
standing to contrive, will to resolve, and power to perform. Wisdom is the 
product of the understanding, goodness communicates the fruit of the will, 
power executes and brings the contrivance and resolve into act. 

[4.] The immutability of God may be known by the creatures. Since 
every creature, the more subject to change, the more it partakes of imper- 
fection, God, the cause of all, must be immutable, otherwise he would want 
that perfection which is in the (Sun and heavenly bodies, wherein no change 
hath been observed. 

[5.] His eternity, which is inseparable from infinite power. He must be 
before what was made by him in time. 

[6.] His ovmiscience. He must know everything exactly which he hath 
made, and nothing in his creatures can be hid from him ; as a workman 
knows every part and motion of his work. 

[7. J His sovereignty. In the obedience his creatures pay to him, in 
observing their several orders, and moving in the spheres wherein he set 

[8.] The spirituality of God. Because he is not visible ; and the more 
spiritual any creature in the world is, the more pure it is. Besides, if God 
were a body, he would be compounded of various parts, and the parts 
would be in order of nature before the whole, and God woulc" depend upon 
those parts. 

[9.J The sufficiency of G-od for himself. Since all creatures had a begin- 
ning, God had no need of creating them ; for being from eternity before the 
world, he had no more need of it in time than he had before time. 

[10.] His majesty. In the glorj- and lustre of the heavens, which are 
his throne, Isa. Ix. 1, and a clear looking-glass to represent in their essence, 
magnitude, and motion, not only the being but the glory of God, more ma- 
jestically than any earthly creature. 

From all which may be concluded, the manner how God ought to be wor- 
shipped : as a mighty being, clothed with all those perfections as with a 
garment ; so that he cannot be represented by the image of any one crea- 
ture. For since he hath made all, he cannot be limited by the perfections 
of any one, because he is the boundless fountain of the perfections of all. 
Nature, therefore, can never teach men to worship God in images, unless 
they were able to frame one in which they could gather and store up the 
perfections of all creatures ; and that is as impossible for any or all 
creatures to perform as to make a God. All this is as intelligible to a 
rational creature by nature, as the shining of the sun is visible ; the one is 
as evident in the works of creation to our reason as the other is to our 

John XYII, 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 117 

sense. All this may be known of God by the creation, and it is a true 
(though not a full) discovery of God. It is called truth : Rom. i. 18, 25, 
' Change the truth of God into a lie.' We may as truly conclude all this 
of God, by the prospect of the creation, as a man might conclude the wis- 
dom, power, and magnificence of the Romans, by the sight of their pyramids, 
theatres, statues, buildings, and other conveniencies in the city for the 
people ;* for it is a rational way of arguing, from the excellency of the effect 
to the excellency of the cause, and from the perfection of the creature to the 
perfection of God. No man can behold the visible world, and take a view 
of the excellency of any creature, but must conclude an higher excellency in 
God ; because it is impossible for that which is a solitary cause to give that 
to another which it doth not possess in itself, in a formal way, or a way of 
eminency ; yet, because there is an imperfection in every creature, we must 
sift the flour of the creature from this bran, when we would frame any con- 
ception of the excellency of God by it. As we know the nature of the sea 
by a drop of water from it, yet we imagine the sea a gi'eat mass of those 
drops inconceivably vaster than a drop ; so when we conceive of God ac- 
cording to any perfection in the creature, we add a purity, spirituality, and 
infiniteness to that perfection which we conceive. 

(3.) By the nature of our souls. Had God made only man, and one 
small place for him to be in, without those ornaments of the world, he 
might have arrived to more knowledge of God by his own being, and make, 
and glossing upon his own nature, than by anything in the world. The soul 
being a spirit, and the noblest of all beings upon the earth, approaching 
nearest the nature of God, the contemplation of that renders God more in- 
telligible to us than all material things, whose nature is more unlike to the 
nature of God. As the sun is more visible through a thin cloud than a thicker 
fog and veil which obscures it, there is more of God to be found in the little 
central point of the soul than in the large circumference of the world ;t and 
a clearer impression of some great and inconceivable being is upon our souls 
than upon any creature under heaven ; and whosoever will retire within 
himself, cannot but perceive some characters of a supreme being in his own 
nature. The soul was Hghted by God, and created according to the image of 
God, and is the exactest image of God under heaven. J By considering the 
nature of our own souls, we may come to some knowledge of the original 
and copy, as we have clearer apprehensions of the sun by the image of it 
imprinted upon a glass, or other transparent body, than we can have by any 
other creature, though the image of the sun be much less glorious than the 
sun itself, whose image it is. The mind of man can pierce every thing ; it 
can conceive of angels, descend into the bottom of the deep, ascend to the 
battlements of heaven ; it is not confounded by the mists of the air, or 
checked by the distance of the heavens. Command your mind to pass from 
one end of the world to the other, it will perform the order as soon as it is 
given. What is quicker than thought, which can skip from earth to heaven, 
from heaven to earth in a moment ! Can there be a greater shadow of the 
omnipresence and immensity of God ? The soul hath a memory to register 
actions and things done many years ago. It can bring out things new and 
old : what higher resemblance of the omniscience of God ? It is not com- 
posed of the factious principles of elements. It hath not the dregs of matter 
mixed with it ; in this it represents the spirituality of God. It is indefa- 
tigable in its motions ; it is never tired in governing the body, — our bodies, 

* Ochino Predict, par. ii. predic. ii. p. 5. 

t The Boul was therefore called by some philosophers Deus in homine. 

♦ T( ayaXf/,a Biou, a Statue of God. 

118 chaknock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

that are coarse pieces of earth, flag and languish when the soul remains 
vigorous ; and this represents the indefatigableness of God's providence. It 
can subsist without the body ; it doth not in all its motions depend upon it; 
it can reflect upon itself without it, view and please itself in its own perfec- 
tions abstracted from the body, which shadows to us the self-sufficiency of 
God. Thus, as a landscape or draught of a great house or kingdom repre- 
sents all the parts of that land or house, yet in a far less proportion than the 
house or territory is in itself; and when we see those models, we do not 
conceive the things represented to be of no bigger size than the pictures of 
them, but of a far greater proportion ; so we may contemplate God in the 
model of our own souls, and since we know that we have understanding and 
will, we conclude that God hath understanding and will in a more trans- 
cendent manner, still enlarging to infiniteness in him what we observe of 
ourselves, when we transfer it to God. Yet though we may have so much 
knowledge of God by the creatures and by our souls, how little do we con- 
template God ! How far do we come short of this natural knowledge, and 
the improvement of it ! How much shorter of the knowledge of God in 
Christ, which is infinitely more excellent and glorious ! All the knowledge 
drawn from the creatures is insufficient to represent God. The knowledge 
of God by nature and creatures is necessary, as a foundation for higher ap- 
prehensions, and for turning to God. Men without it would be wholly 
brutish, and incapable of instructions in Christianity as an ox or a sheep ; 
and though men deserved by sin to be deprived of this natural knowledge, 
yet God kept it up as a stock on which in time to engraft other principles in 
the discovery of Christ. All nature is incapable of discovering God in a full 
manner as he may be known. Nature, like Zaccheus, is of too low a sta- 
ture to see God in the length and breadth, height and depth, of his perfec- 
tions. The key of man's reason answers not to all the wards in the lock of 
those mysteries. The world at best is but a shadow of God, and therefore 
cannot discover him in his magnificent and royal virtues, no more than a 
shadow can discover the outward beauty, the excellent mien, and the inward 
endowments of the person whose shadow it is. All that a shadow will in- 
form me of, is whether it be the shadow of a man or brute. It discovers 
something of God, not so much of him as to give the soul a full compla- 
cency ; the fruit of it is but a thirst without a satisfaction. 

[1.] Innocent nature could never have been, in that state, acquainted 
with the perfections of God, in such a manner as they are discovered in 

(1.) Some perfections of God's nature could not have been known. Where 
had there been any place for the discovery of patience without a provocation, or 
for punitive justice without a transgression, or for pardoning mercy without 
an offence ? There had been no occasion for the exercise of any of them, 
and therefore we cannot conceive how there could be a manifestation of 
them without objects convenient for them to be conversant about. Inno- 
cent man was the object of God's goodness, offending man only of his 
patience. Innocence is the subject of love, injury of anger. All those glo- 
rious eminences of God's nature had lain under a thick veil, impossible to 
be discerned by the eye of man. But those attributes were brought upon 
the stage by the entrance of sin, which was permitted to enter for the mani- 
festation of them in and through Christ : Rom. v. ver. 15, 20, ' The law 
entered, that the offence might abound,' to make way for ' the abundance of 
grace.' Some attributes of God could not have been discovered by any pro- 
ceeding of his, at least in such an height and eminency, but in Christ, as the 
wonders of his grace, the loud sounding of his bowels and compassions, 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 119 

the purity of his holiness, and the dreadfulness of his justice. His creating 
perfections might have been seen by Adam and his posterity, his redeeming 
perfections are only displayed in his Son. The world as created was not 
capable of giving occasion for the manifestation of those attributes, but the 
world as fallen. The not being of the world gave occasion to God to manifest 
his glory as a creator, but the lapsed state of the world gave occasion to God 
to manifest his glory as a redeemer ; for how could there be mercy shewn, if 
man's misery did not need it ? How could there be vindictive justice, if man's 
transgression did not deserve it ? How could there be a promise of resto- 
ration by the seed of the woman, if man's degeneracy did not want it ? 
God had not been known in one letter of his name, as it is set down, Exod. 
xxxiv. 6, 7, but in the Kedeemer. Not one tittle of his name there de- 
scribed had been known to the sons of men, had they continued in innocency, 
nor after the fall, but in and by Christ the mediator. It is in him he dis- 
covers himself a God ' merciful, gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in 
goodness, forgiving iniquity, and by no means clearing the guilty,' but exact- 
ing satisfaction to his offended justice for sin. As though God was infinitely 
happy in himself, yet this happiness could not have been discovered to any 
but himself, unless he had made creatures wherein to display his goodness, 
and no being could have known him but himself, if there had been no being 
besides himself; so without Christ, God had not been known in his redeem- 
ing perfections, because there had been no basis for the discovery of them, 
they had lain wrapped up in darkness from the creature ; and as they were 
a mystery hid from ages till the discovery of Christ, so they had without him 
remained hid for ever from the notice of the world. And as those attributes 
had not been discovered, so the creature's duty in relation to them could not 
have been exercised. God had wanted the manifestative glory of his par- 
doning grace, and man had had no occasion to return a thankfulness to God 
for it. He could not have humbled himself under God's displeasure, had 
there not been an occasion to manifest his anger ; nor could the infinite suf- 
ficiency of God for his creature have been known, nor prayers directed to 
him by his creatures for relief. Nature could discover no more than what 
was imprinted on it by the God of nature ; the world stood in no need of 
redemption by virtue of its creation, but by virtue of its transgression and 

(2.) Some perfections of God's nature could not have been so clearly and 
fully known. The creation was but the first draught of God's perfections, 
and came much short of the full declaration ; as the first limning of a picture 
doth of expressing the features and beauty of the original, till the second and 
third di-aught, when the last hand is put, and all the lines completed. 
Though there were manifestations of God's power, wisdom, and goodness in 
the creation, yet not in such splendour as the occasion of bringing forth 
Christ into the world did administer for the illustrating of them. These at- 
tributes looked upon the world through a veil and lattice, but were not seen 
in their full lustre till the coming of Christ drew the veil, and set them forth 
in their richest beauty. Here was infinite power in its strength going forth 
like a giant to run its race, God's power over himself manifested, wisdom in 
a knot of royal designs, and goodness opening its richest treasures. The 
holiness of God could not have been clearly known : while man did not know 
what sin was, he could never have strong conceptions of the mighty hatred 
of God against it. Man had some understanding of it by God's threatening, 
but he could not have such clear notices of it by his commination, as upon 
the entrance of sin by the execution, and that upon our Saviour. Nor had 
the veracity of God been so evident. It would have been known but in the 

120 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

half, or on one side, in the making good his promise upon man's obedience, 
but never would have been understood experimentally (which is the clearest 
and most infallible way of knowledge) in his threatening, unless sin had in- 
vaded the world, and so had given occasion to the manifestation of God's 
truth to his word of threatening, as man's persisting in an unerring and un- 
spotted obedience would have given only occasion to manifest his truth to 
his word of promise. These virtues of God were in the creation hke a lovely 
diamond under a piece of Hnen, which emits some sparklings, but is not 
discerned in its full lustre till the covering be removed. Christ drew the 
veil from them, and manifested them in their fullest glory. The angelical 
nature had no prospect of these things we have spoken of, by their stand- 
ing before the face of God, but by the discovery of them to the church in 
their great head, Eph. iii. 10. And it is likely, from that and other 
places, that though they had a notice of the redemption of man by the 
first promise of the seed of the woman made to man, and by the glorifying 
some of mankind, and the providences of God in the world, yet they 
were ignorant of the great ways and methods of it, till they came upon 
the stage in the discovery of the Son of God's taking miserable flesh to 
die in it ; so incapable is the best created nature to discern the glory of 
God without the face of Christ. 

(3.) Innocent nature could never arrive to a full knowledge of God's 
nature by the attributes discovered in creation, without some further revela- 
tion of him. The whole creation was the work of God's hands, but no work 
can fully express the nature of the artificer. We may know by a watch, or 
clock, or a curious piece of tapestry, that the workman was skilful in his 
art, that a more exact piece never came out of any hand ; but by his curiosity 
in his work, we cannot give a description of his person and disposition, 
without other acquaintance with him. We can know nothing of God by the 
creatures, but as they stand in the relation to God as effects to their cause, 
and when the cause doth much transcend the effect, the clearest understand- 
ing cannot, by the knowledge of the effect, arise to a full knowledge of the 
cause. God is infinitely above the fruits of his power in the world ; there- 
fore, man in innocence could gain but little knowledge of him by a bare 
prospect of them. Nature discovers that there is a God, but not fully what 
that God is ; nor doth the creation furnish man wdth a notion of God suit- 
able to the excellency and immensity of his natm-e : as a blind man who 
hears a discourse of the light and heat of the sun, being brought under the 
beams of it striking hot upon his body, feels the warmth and knows there is 
such a thing men call the sun, and is sensible of some effects of it, but hath 
not a full conception of the enlightening nature of the sun, nor knows what 
the body of the sun is, nor what kind of shape it appears in ; and if he should 
declare his conception of it, it would be strangely different from the true 
nature of the sun, a monstrous mistaken description of it, not suitable to 
that planet ; nay, what man is there that sees the sun every day, that is 
able to say he fully knows the nature of it by his sight, or the constant in- 
fluences which he feels from it ? The conception of God is infinitely more 
above innocent reason than the conception of the sun can be above lapsed 
natural reason cracked by the fall. Since, therefore, all the creatures cannot 
be a ground for man to frame a true and right conception of God, what 
Adam had of this nature was more from revelation than contemplation of the 
works of God ; and, since Adam was of the species of man, what knowledge 
he had of God above what the effect of his power in the world did discover, 
he had by revelation from God, since no man hath at any time seen or known 
God (taking in the beginning of time, as well as the succession of time), but 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 121 

whatever intellectual vision any had of God, was by the declarations of the 
Son of God, John i. 18. 

[2.] Corrupted nature is less able to know God by the creation, as he 
ought to be known, since the fall. Since no natural light was strong enough 
to discover the wonders of God, corrupt reason can attain but a faint know- 
ledge. The providence of God, after the entrance of sin, displayed some of 
his attributes which could not be manifested in an innocent state, viz., his 
forbearance and his justice. God did witness his patience and goodness to 
men in giving them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, and ' filling their 
hearts with food and gladness,' while he ' suffered them to walk in their own 
ways,' Acts xiv. 16, 17. And many of the beathens were sensible of this 
goodness in some measure, when they observed how much the wickedness of 
the world deserved the contrary, though most of them, indeed, ' despised 
the riches ' of it, Rom. ii. 3, 4. Now and then, some warning pieces of 
judgments were shot off, whereby the world was startled and made sensible 
of anger in Grod. He now and then shot his darts into the hearts of some, 
otherwise they would scarce have taken notice that there was a God that 
judgeth in the earth. But there was nothing in all their observation that 
could discover anything of God in Christ, the union of two natures, the doc- 
trine of the trinity of persons, which was necessary to the notion of redemp- 
tion, because there was to be a person satisfying, and a person to whom the 
satisfaction was to be offered, and by whom it was to be received ; one con- 
sidered as the rector, the other as the mediator. This transaction was a 
' mystery hid in God from the beginning of the world,' Eph. iii. 9, and dis- 
covered to the Gentiles in the apostles' time. Col. i. 26, 27, ' Now made 
manifest to the saints ;' not before, not a syllable of it communicated to 
nature ; it had then been no more a mystery than any other thing that nature 
declares. There were, indeed, some confused notions among some of the 
prime philosophers of a trinity, and some prophecies among the Sybils ap- 
plicable to the Redeemer. The latter might have some glimmerings by 
revelation, that thereby way might be made for the easier reception of the 
gospel by the Gentiles, when it should set foot in the world. The former, 
i. e. the philosophers, had also, from a converse with the Jews, into whose 
country some of them had travelled, or from the Jews which occasionally re- 
sided among them, or from the Phoenicians, which were the Philistines of 
Canaan, a trading people, who, by the neighbourhood of the Jews, might 
learn and discover some maxims of their religion ; and there were also some 
of them acquainted with some parts of Scripture : nature cannot challenge 
anything in this affair. But the strength of their natural light was more 
seen in a knowledge of the duty of man to man, than in the seai'ching out 
God in the duties we owe to him ; whence there are many discourses extant 
of justice, temperance, prudence, and moral virtues, very few of God and 
his nature. And though men had by tradition some notice of a redeemer 
by the first promise, yet they were not able to conceive anything of the 
nature of God thereby, but that he was patient and gracious ; but because 
they could not conceive how this work should be effected, they could not dis- 
cern those other attributes of holiness, wisdom, mercy, justice, in their 
bright beams, till the discovery of Christ in the flesh and upon the cross. 
What knowledge men had by tradition from the first promise was quickly 
lost among the corraptions of the old world, and though revived in the legal 
ceremonies appointed to the Jews, yet they had not conceptions of the great 
intendments of them. 

The insufficiency of nature is seen, 

[1.] In that by nature we cannot know the things of nature perfectly, 

122 chaenock's works. [John XYII. 3. 

much less the author of nature.* If we know not the nature of the eflfects, 
how can we know the nature of the cause, which infinitely excels them ? 
There hath been a dimness in the reason of man ever since the fall, in refer- 
ence to those things which are before our eyes. We know not the world, of 
which we are parts ; we Imow not ourselves, though we daily converse with 
ourselves ; we understand not well the nature of our own souls, nor the 
reason of our own motions and actions ; how then can nature help us to the 
understanding of the greater, when it doth not to the understanding of the 
less ? How can we arise by the strength of nature to the understanding of 
infinite wisdom and power ? If we are not able to arrive to such a know- 
ledge of the creatures by weak nature, so as to give an essential definition 
of them ; if the nature of a stone, sound, colour, doth pose us ; if all the 
questions put to us about a fly cannot be answered : how much less are we 
able to come to the knowledge of Grod, with the strength which is too weak 
for the other ? If we are nonplussed by creatures, much more by the 

[2.] Had nature been able in this affair, or had reason been sufficient to know 
God and his counsels concerning us, what need of the mission of the Spirit? It 
ishe only ' searcheth the deep things of God ;' ' no man knows the things of 
God, but the Spirit of God ;' and the end of his sending is, * that we may 
know the things that are freely given us of God,' 1 Cor. ii. 3, &c. All the 
reason of the world would never have arrived to the discoveiw of those per- 
fections of God, they being infinitely above us, as our notions and thoughts 
are above the reach of a beast, which is never able to apprehend the nature 
of a man, or understand the language of a man, whereby to come to a know- 
ledge of him. Though reason puts us into a capability of entertaining the 
discoveries of him, without which neither outward declarations, nor inward 
impressions, could work anything upon us any more than upon a man re- 
maining out of his wits, yet of itself it is not able to ascend to the conception 
of God without the Spirit of God. If men could have redeemed themselves, 
what need of the expense of the blood of Christ ? So if men could have 
instructed themselves in this great knowledge, what need of the Spirit to lead 
us into the secret chambers of God ? Wheresoever, therefore, any man 
knows God, and the things freely given him of God, i. e. the things of the 
gospel, wherein the excellency and liberality of God most illustriously ap- 
pears, it is the gift of the Spirit ; and where any man hath an inward and 
spiritual taste of those things, it is the grace of the Spirit in him. 

[3.] We find the highest improved nature had strange and unworthy 
notions of God, and was ignorant of him. If the Athenians, the famousest 
people in the world for learning, and therefore of more refined understand- 
ings, confessed their ignorance of God in the inscription of the Qshg uyvusrhg 
upon the altar. Acts xvii. 23, how could more clouded nature come within 
ken of him ? Though by reasoning they concluded there was a supreme 
being who had the superintendency of the world, yet they could not tell what 
this God was ; and when the redeeming perfections of God were discoursed 
by the apostle to them, they were the subject of the Athenians' scoffs rather 
than inquiry, ver. 32. The hidden wisdom of God ' none of the princes 
of the world knew,' 1 Cor. ii. 8 ; not the governing princes, though they 
were as ignorant as the rest, but the princelike and towering wits of this 
world knew it not ; and though God had displayed before their eyes the 
wonders of the world, and given them both in the creation, preservation, and 
government of the world, a multitude of lessons concerning his nature, which 
they might in some measure have discerned by a diligent observation, yet 
* Charron trois veritez, lib. i. chap. v. pp. 19, 20, changed. 

John XYII. 3. J the knowledge of god in cheist. 123 

in the wisdom of God, those lessons of his wisdom in the creation and pro- 
vidence, they did not by natural wisdom and the use of their reason know 
him, 1 Cor. i. 21. Sometimes their notions of God were rank, and they 
framed a misshapen God, modelled according to their own humours, not the 
nature of a deity, who could not possibly be of that hue which they repre- 
presented him to themselves in. Sometimes they counted him cruel and 
unjust, sometimes too fond and indulgent ; some confined him to heaven, 
others acknowledged his providence in the greater affairs of the world, but 
concluded it unworthy of him to descend to take notice of the fall of a 
sparrow or the hairs of the head, and that it was a disturbance of God's 
rest to intermeddle with worldly affairs. They stepped out of the way of reason 
into the paths of fancy, measured God according to their own imaginations 
to accommodate their lusts, and lie more at ease soaking in their sins. It 
were endless to tell the monstrous thoughts their corrupt minds had of God, 
and the multiplicity of their idols, whereby they ' changed the truth of God 
into a lie,' Rom. i. 23-25, whereas they might have discerned, by a reason- 
ing from those excellencies they saw in the creatures, that God was an 
infinite, eternal, wise, and self-sufficient being. And such monstrous con- 
ceptions of God, after the light of the gospel superadded to that of natural 
reason, do often flutter in the minds of men among us. 

2. There was a knowledge of God by or under the law. Before the giving 
the law by Moses, God instructed men by the apparitions of angels, visions 
to some prophets, by the holiness of some of his eminent darlings ; under 
the law, by figures and representations, which the wisest of them did but 
darkly understand, and that by the assistance of some special revelation, 
which was successively cleared by the prophets, enlightened in several ages 
to that purpose. The moral law was a discovery of God, chiefly in his 
sovereignty, holiness, and justice ; he enacts laws as a sovereign, righteous 
laws against sin as a holy one, annexeth threatenings and promises as a 
judge. In regard of the majesty of God in the discovery, the people were 
afraid of death at the promulgation : Exod. xx. 19, ' Let not God speak 
with us, lest we die.' And Moses, who was the most familiar person with 
God in the world, had not a less fright at the discovery of it : Heb. xii. 21, 
' So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.' 
The knowledge of God in the law was too terrible for the minds of men, and 
surprised Moses, the friend of God, the interpreter of his will, with an ex- 
treme horror. God here manifested the marks of his greatness and his 
justice, armed with instruments of punishment for sin. There was not a 
mite of his mercy discovered by the law, but to those that kept his com- 
mandments, i. e. to those that were without any guilt and crime ; upon which 
account the apostle calls the law, the ' ministry of condemnation ' and ' of 
death ;' and a killing, not a healing letter ; a sword to cut, not a balsam to 
close a wound, 2 Cor. iii. 7-9. Nothing of adoption and justifying grace 
pronounced in it. The hohness of God was discovered in his precepts, and 
bis justice in his threatenings. There was also a daily prospect of the holi- 
ness and justice of God in the sacrifices exacted of man, in the groans, gasp- 
ings, and blood of beasts; they saw that sin was neither afi"ected by God, nor 
would be suffered to remain unpunished ; and their sight of those attributes 
in this ministration was greater than the world could have of them by the 
now and then sprinklings of judgments, which, being not often upon the 
worst of sinners, staggered the understandings, not only of the heathens, 
but of some of the intelligent Israelites, in their conceptions of the nature 
of God and his providence. But what was all this to the fuller discovery of 
the purity of his nature, and the terror of his wrath in the execution of the 

124 oharnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

curses of the law upon the Son of his bosom ? All preceding times were 
times of darkness till the coming of Christ ; they were but the shadows of 
the night in the figures of the law ; but the morning light was in the rising 
of the gospel, Hosea vi. 3. This was a sufficient revelation of God to direct 
them to Christ, who could only render God visible and intelligible to man ; 
but how insufficient in regard of the corruption of man's nature to imprint 
right notions of God ! How often did the Jews warp and wallow in the 
sink of idolatry, notwithstanding this revelation of God ! Much less suffi- 
cient is the knowledge of God by nature. 

This natural, legal, and evangelical knowledge by Christ differ, 

(1.) In regard of clearness. 

[1.] Natural knowledge was dim. In the creation, God writ himself in 
hieroglyphics, in short characters ; in Christ, in a plain and legible hand, 
which gave a substantial discovery of God. The power, majesty, and wis- 
dom of God appeared in the * heavens, the work of his fingers,' Ps. viii. 3, 
in maintaining their influences and conducting their motions. The founda- 
tions of the earth, the vastness and rollings of the sea, the habitations of 
light, the treasures of snow, floods of rain, the bottles of the clouds, order of 
the stars, provision for creatures on the earth, direct us to the knowledge of 
a great and glorious being. For upon all those God reads a lecture of him- 
self to Job in the latter chapters.* That there is a God, may be seen in the 
dust of the earth, as well as in the brightness of the heavens ; but by those 
works men saw little else but that there was a God : they could know but 
little of his nature, congruous to the state wherein they were. That glow- 
worm light could afford us at best but weak and languishing notions of God, 
and a relation tto him fit for that miserable condition wherein the fall of 
Adam had involved us. And by reason of man's negligence, and not im- 
proving a number of those instructions concerning the nature of his virtues, 
which the creation furnished them with, and which they might have attained 
by a wise observation of that which God had revealed in his creation, pre- 
servation, and government of the world, they gave the bridle to their own 
imaginations, and knew as little of God by his works, as beasts know of 
the nature and reason of a man. The world, therefore, is called by some 
(enigma Dei, and indeed the heathens often erred in their interpretation of 
it, and could not unriddle God in the creatures, but worshipped the creature 
for the Creator. 

[2.] Legal knowledge was also dim. Though the temple, with all the 
ceremonies attending it, was a clearer representation of the nature and will 
of God than the whole frame of the world, yet obscurity was of the nature 
of the legal state ; and the glory of God was wrapped up in a cloud of animal 
sacrifices, so that Solomon calls the house wherein God then dwelt, ' a 
thick darkness,' 1 Kings viii. 12. The law was given with smoke as well as 
thunders, obscurity as well as terror, Exod. xx. 18. The Israehtes were 
under a cloud, 1 Cor. x. 1, and the mediator of the law had a veil upon his 
face, and the glory of God was so enveloped in clouds, that the Israelites 
could but dimly discern. There was more of shadows than substance, and 
the apostle in the Hebrews gives it no better a title than that of a shadow, 
opposing it to Christ the substance. And the gospel is said to be truth 
and grace, in opposition to the law, as if there were no truth and grace in 
that former dispensation, John i. 17. None, indeed, in comparison of the 
clearness of the revelation in the gospel ; though in itself it was a true repre- 
sentation of God, as a shadow may be called a true shadow. The law being 
composed of shadows could not discover God as the gospel did, which was 

* KtKrfiiKa, ipfiyyftara, — Jamhlichus. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 125 

made up of substance. Moses then did see his back parts, perhaps in the 
figure of a man, but in the gospel God shews himself ' in the face of Christ,' 
2 Cor. xiv 7. That did discover the features of God more clearly than 
the works of nature ; as the form and beauty of a man may be more 
discerned through grates and lattices, to which God's appearance in the law 
is likened, Cant. ii. 9, than when covered with a thick veil. Very few of 
them could have a ken of the substance for the multitude of shadows. If 
we, upon whom the glory of God hath shone in the gospel, are not able to 
comment upon every one of those figures, much less could they who never 
saw the antitype, and could not conceive the analogy between them. 

[3.] The evangelical discovery of God by Christ is clearer. The brightness 
of the day dispelled the shadows of the night, and dispersed the clouds 
wherewith the sun was masked. As the fulness of the Godhead dwelt per- 
sonally in Christ, so the fulness of the divine perfections sparkled in the 
actions and sufferings of Christ. The Deity shines out in a clear lustre, 
which was seen before only in the dusty clouds of creatures and ceremonies. 
In nature, we see God as it were like the sun in a picture ; in the law, as 
the sun in a cloud ; in Christ, we see him in his beams, he being ' the 
brightness of his glory, and the exact image of his person,' Heb. i. 3 : as 
the rays of the sun, being the production of the sun, cause us by their lustre 
to see and understand more of the beauty and brightness of the sun ; and 
the stamp upon the wax informs us what is upon the seal. We see what an 
infinite fountain of good God is, and what a dreadful thing sin is, which is a 
separation from him ; as by the beams of the sun we understand the beauty 
of light, and the horror of darkness. Though it be not discerned in its glory 
thi-ough a mist of vapours, yet it may be known to be risen, and some effects 
of it are sensible to us. So it was in the creation and the law; but in Christ 
those vapours are dissolved, the clouds dispersed, and God appears in the 
sweetness and beauty of his nature, as a refreshing light. The creatures 
tell us that there is a God, and Christ tells who and what that God is. 

So that the clearness of this knowledge consists 

(1.) In the clearness of the medium. Nothing in the world can strike 
our sense or influence our minds, but by some medium. Though a man hath 
the sharpest eye, yet without an enlightened air he can behold nothing. The 
clearer the glass through which we look, the clearer discerning we have of 
the object we look upon. Christ is the clearest medium. As he is said to 
be ' a pohshed shaft in God's quiver,' Isa. xlix. 2, to pierce the heart by his 
grace ; so he may be said to be a polished glass in his hand, to represent his 
majesty, and reflect the beams of God stronger upon us. The gospel, 
therefore, in the judgment of some, is meant by the ' sea of glass,' Rev. 
XV. 2, in regard of the transparency of it, through which we see God, and 
his perfections. It was the same God, Jehovah, who was known by the 
Jews, and under the gospel, but not in the same manner ; they had the 
same faculties, but not the same light to discern the object. The faculty 
and act of vision is the same by sun-light and star-light ; we have the same 
eyes in the day and the night, the same exercise and rollings of the eye ; 
but not having the same clearness of the air, we have not that contentment 
in the exercise of our eyes. Things appear not so beautiful by candlelight 
as in the lustre of the day ; hence Christ is called a ' Sun of righteousness,' 
Mai. iv. 2, as manifesting the righteousness of God, diffusing light and 
health by his wings or beams, and chasing away by his splendour the dark- 
ness of the world, and opening the gloi'ies of heaven to the sons of men, 
directing them to the knowledge of God, who before wandered in darkness. 
The coming of this light, and the rising of the glory of God upon us, are 

126 ' charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

knit together : Isa. Ix. 1, ' Thy light is come, and the glory of God is risen 
upon thee.' The glory of God, i. e. the mercy and goodness of God, which 
is his glory, say some; the glory rather of all his attributes, which Christ is 
the medium to clear up to the minds of men. And indeed there is as great 
a difference between the knowledge of God by Christ, and the knowledge of 
God by the creatures and the law, as there is between the knowledge of a 
man by his footsteps, and the knowledge of him by his image. Christ is 
' the image of the invisible God,' Col. i. 15, as a son is the image of his 
father, who is a better medium to know a father by, than his footsteps or 
his picture. Never an earthly son was so like his father, as Christ is hke 
God the Father ; he hath the same essence, the same attributes, the same 

(2.) The nearness of the object. Christ brings God near to us ; he is 
Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature. The great comforting promises 
in the Old Testament were, that God should dwell among them, Joel 
iii. 17, Mai. iii. 1. God was not far from every one of us in the creation, 
Acts xvii. 27, in regard of his being, in regard of his goodness, though he 
was farfifom us in regard of a satisfactory knowledge of his nature ; as when 
a man is at a distance from us in regard of any particular knowledge of him, 
yet he is near to us in regard of our knowledge of his existence and species, 
that he is a man, though we cannot perceive his shape and features, and 
what kind of man he is ; but when he approacheth nearer, he appears 
greater, we see his dimensions and discern his age, yet obscurely; but 
when he comes close to us, we see him plainly, and by converse with him 
we come to know his temper.* Now, this man is one and the same man we 
saw at a distance, and we see near ; he hath the same shape, the same 
features and disposition, but he appears in a different manner according to 
the grcatr.oss of the distance. God was the same in all ages of the world, 
but after be departed to a greater distance from man by reason of sin, and 
refrained converse with man, there were but small glimmerings of him in 
the creatures, and less to be discerned by the distempered eye of man.f He 
came nearer in the law, but that representation was obscure, and fitted more 
to the carnal conceptions of men ; whence the apostle calls it ' the rudi- 
ments and elements of the world,' consisting in sensible representations of 
him. Col. ii. 20, Gal. iv. 3. Christ succeeded (in whom God came near to 
us, and conversed with us), as a prospective glass, which makes that which 
is afar off to seem near at hand, and manifests it in its dimensions ; by him 
we can look through the veil, and be informed of the transactions in heaven 
between the Father and the Son on our behalf. 

(3.) Fulness of the discovery. What was known before is better known ; 
the knowledge is better for quality, greater for quantity. For by the light 
diffused by Christ in the world, since the ascension of the Redeemer, and 
the descent of the Comforter, the simplest believer comprehends more of the 
glorious nature of God in his understanding, than the most elevated believer 
in the time of the law, either by the figures of the law, or the features of 
the creatures could, with the assistances of the most learned doctors of the 
one, or philosophers in the other, which our Saviour verifies in the eulogy 
he gives of him that is least in the kingdom of God, i. e. in the gospel state, 
magnifying him above John Baptist, whom he confesseth, at the same time, 
superior to all that went before him, and indeed knew more than all the pro- 
phets, yet was inferior to the meanest believer under the New Testament :% 

* Castalio Dialog, p. 143. 

t \\cr^i'jovin yu^ opfa.Xfx.'oi; ■proXiuioi t^Xid;. — TheodoT. in 1 Cor. iv. 4. 

J Mestrezat. sur. 8 Heb. Serm. 4, p. 424, much changed. 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in cheist. 127 

Mat. xi. 11 , ' Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater 
than John the Baptist : notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of 
heaven is greater than he.' He indeed saw Christ in the flesh, beheld his 
person as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world ; knew him as 
the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father, come into the world for 
the declaration of him : a sight and day which Abraham and the prophets 
desired to see, and could not obtain ; yet he saw him not dying, rising, 
ascending, pouring out the rich gifts of his Spirit, all which did clear up the 
righteous, true, wise, gracious nature of God to the simplest believer, after 
the accomplishment of them, more than the knowledge of his incarnation 
could to John. He that is least and most ignorant in the kingdom of God, 
is greater, i. e. more intelligent than John ; he hath a fuller prospect and a 
diviner light ; he knows what John knew, and he knows what John was igno- 
rant of : he hath seen and known the performance of those things, whereof 
John only knew the beginning. And this full and plain knowledge Christ 
promised before his departure : John xvi. 25, * The time comes, when I shall 
no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the 
Father ;' a promise that receives its full accomplishment in the life to come, 
but respects the death, and resurrection, and ascension of Christ, as the time 
wherein it was to begin to be of force ; for those things were nothing else but 
the declarations of the transactions between the Father and the Son. That 
it is meant of a declaration of the Father in this life is evident by the follow- 
ing words : ver. 26, ' At that day you shall ask in my name.' Earth is the 
place for wants and petitions, heaven for vision and praises. The whole 
scope of the doctrine of Christ is to reveal God in his most illustrious per- 
fections to man, and in the relation of a gracious Father to him. Christ 
speaking in proverbs, is understood by one* of the whole time of the Mosaic 
dispensation, wherein Christ was the angel to lead them, and conversed with 
them in shadows and figures, but now in the gospel would plainly declare 
the Father to them. Natural and legal knowledge is clarified by the gospel, 
which is a comment to explain what was before but darkly understood, and 
a new revelation to elevate the soul to a greater understanding ; it fortifies 
the hght of nature, and frames in us more pure and significant conceptions 
of God. 

Though there be a clearness of the medium, a nearness of the object, and 
a fulness of the discovery, yet, 

(1.) We must understand it, not of such a clearness as is possible in its 
own nature to be (for there may be a more sensible manifestation of God), 
but of such a clearness as the present state in this world is capable of. It^is 
so plain that it can only be superseded by the light of glory ; it is the fullest 
that we can meet with in this world, till we come to behold him in that light 
wherewith he clothes himself as with a garment ; and whatsoever discoveries 
many may expect, they must be all built upon this foundation. They are 
still but beams issuing out, in this scene of things, from the Lamb, who is 
the light of the new Jerusalem in the best estate : Rev. xxi. 23, ' The gloiy 
of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' Christ is still the 
medium through which the Ught of the glory of God conveys itself to the 
understandings of his creatures, and God will never be represented by any 
other light than his own. In his own Ught we see him who is the Father 
of lights. 

(2.) Nor must we understand it of an absolute fulness of the knowledge of 
God. For the brightness of his nature is so great, that it cannot be fully 
known by a created understanding. The sun cannot be perfectly seen in the 
* Ferus in loo. 

128 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

brightest day, wlien it traverseth the heavens in its triumphant glories, and 
suffers not a vapour to waylay the beams he sends upon the earth ; yet 
then he is clearer seen than when the air is clogged with vapours and over- 
spread with clouds. This is a comparative clearness more than in the little 
print of creatures, or than through the screen of ceremonies ; not such a 
clearness as shall be on the top of the mount in the eternal transfiguration 
of the soul ; nor ever shall there be an absolute fulness of knowledge of all 
that is in God, for to know him as he knows himself, requires an under- 
standing as infinite as his own. 

(2.) They differ in the certainty. Natural knowledge of God is but con- 
jectural. No position was so firm but some wits of the world found out argu- 
ments to contradict it. Nor was there wisdom enough in the world to untie 
all the knots that were made by others. The whole world of nature lay in 
darkness ; it is from that term every man is called that comes to Christ : 
1 Pet. ii. 9, ' He hath called us out of darkness ;' and the devil, that is the 
ruler of the carnal world, is ' the ruler of the darkness' of it, Eph. vi, 12, 
spreading his fogs upon the minds of men. The heathens arrived to the 
knowledge of God by rational deductions ; but the most eagle-eyed among 
them, who could peer into the secrets of nature, could not reduce their appre- 
hensions to any fixedness. They had a vanity in their imaginations and 
conceptions of his nature, and as those our Saviour speaks of, though they 
agreed in the unity of the Messiah, yet differed about the person. One saith, 
Here is Christ ; another. There is Christ ; so these, God is this, and God is 
that, according to their particular fancies. They acknowledged him an 
admirable being, but rather darkened than unveiled him. Nothing was 
satisfactory to the understanding, many of them saw not the creating power 
of God ; one fancies the world eternal ; another conceives it to be compacted 
by a multitude of atoms, or small particles of dust, meeting together by 
chance, and kneading themselves into this frame we call the world. But the 
doctrine of faith discovers God in his power : Heb. xi. 3, ' By faith we 
understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.' It acquaints 
us that the world was created by him ; which, indeed, the reason of many 
informed them of, but not of the manner of the creation, by his sole word 
and will, or by the second person, the essential Word of God. This we know 
by Christ, which we could not know by nature : as Heb. i. 2, ' He hath 
spoken to us by his Son, by whom also he made the worlds.' But, indeed, 
that is not the meaning of Heb. xi. 3, for the word is there ^^^^ciar/ not X&ycr.; 
the latter is a title of Christ, not the former ; but it is clear from it, that, by 
the knowledge of Christ, we have a certain account of the manner of God's 
operations. The Hght of Christ is, as the light of the morning, stable.* It 
discovers things to us with as much certainty as the morning hght doth the 
nature of the objects we doubted of in the darkness of the night. As the 
sense of vision is the most acute and exact sense, and extends further, and 
with more assurance, than that of hearing and smelling ; so the knowledge 
of faith is the most infallible way of knowledge, it being built upon the reve- 
lation of the Son of God, who is the word of God, and the wisdom of God. 
It is therefore called ' the evidence of things not seen,' Heb. xi. 1, ' the sub- 
stance of things hoped for.' It is not an imagination or a fancy, but a 
demonstration, more firm than any natural demonstration can be. It is a 
subsistence in the mind, as sure, and as it were as real, as the subsistence of 
the unseen things believed without us : an evidence as if the things not seen 
had not a being but by faith. To an unbeliever, God seems not to have that 
power, wisdom, holiness, which are really in his nature : the perfections of 
* As the word ]123 signifies, as well as prepared, Hos. vi. 3. 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 129 

God have no existence in the heart of such a man, so that he is without God, 
without the knowledge of God ; an atheist in the world. Faith in Christ 
renders God as visible, as he was by the same grace to Moses : Heb. xi. 27, 
* By faith he saw him who is invisible.' As the knowledge and faith of the 
ancient believers, under the figures of Christ, rendered God and the things 
of the New Testament visible to them, according to the measure of the reve- 
lation, so doth the knowledge of believers, under the New Testament, repre- 
sent God and his perfections in a more certain manner visible to them, 
because the way of revelation is firmer : that from God by Moses ; this from 
God by his Son. It is truth, because declared by ' the only begotten Son of 
God,' John i. 17, 18. And, upon the account of the gi'eater sensibility of 
this knowledge under the gospel, it is the promise to the Jews, that ' then 
they shall know the Lord,' Jer. xxxi. 4. As though the knowledge of him 
in nature, and the knowledge of him under the law, had been a kind of igno- 
rance in comparison of this, as it is indeed in regard of the clearness and 
certainty of this by Christ. 

3. In nature, God is discovered for contemplation; in Christ, God is dis- 
covered to be embraced as well as admired. Nature never did, nor ever can, 
elevate one heart to a conformity to the holiness of God, because it could 
not make known his transcendent hatred of sin, and his rich condescending 
grace, as the discovery of Christ doth. If it cannot ken the mysteries of God, 
it can never conduct men to a holy compliance with God according to his 
nature. There is not a syllable of the naturalness of God's justice, and the 
necessity of a satisfaction of infinite value, in the whole book of nature. It 
discovers the existence of a God, but not the way of closing with God. 
Nature discovers a God of unconceivable excellency, but brings no saving 
message from him. It sets out God as a being to be adored, Christ sets out 
God as a being to be enjoyed. That presents notions of God to our minds, 
this imprints motions to God in our wills. Nature presents God in some of 
his creating glory, Christ presents God in his redeeming grace, with his arms 
open, his voice encouraging and directing his creatures to a way of fruition. 
Nature directs us to the admiration of God, because there is some resem- 
blance of God in every creature ; for whatsoever God hath created, he hath 
created according to his own idea, and with a print of his own goodness upon 
it. He at the first creation pronounced all things good, Gen. i. 31. But 
all created goodness is a participation of the divine goodness, and by conse- 
quence some kind of conformity to the divinity, and the more excellent any 
creature is, the stronger and fuller stamp it hath of the goodness and excel- 
lency of God ; the consideration of which would rationally guide the mind 
to an acknowledgment of an infinite perfection in the author of them, but is 
unable to conduct men to a due compUance with God. Not that they have 
any greater insufiiciency in themselves to perform the end for which they 
were created, than they had when they were first made ; but because of men's 
inability to improve their natural instructions, since the crack of their 
rational faculties by the fall. The case is the same with them as with the 
law ; the law hath the same virtue and power of direction and making men 
happy, as it had in the state of innocence, i.e. in itself; but man by his 
lameness, contracted by the fall, was unable to walk the pace of the law, and 
enjoy the blessings of it. The law was ' weak through the flesh,' Rom. 
viii. 3, not in itself. So the creatures are not unable of themselves to answer 
the end of their creation ; but man, by reason of his darkness, is unable to 
make an improvement of what the creatures do dictate. Yet I cannot see 
that the whole book of nature presents us with that knowledge of God, which 


130 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

is necessary for us in the present state wherein we are lapsed ; for they were 
created to serve man as innocent, not as an offender ; in which relation he 
stands now to God as a judge, and cannot know by all his natural learning, 
without revelation, what the nature of God is in this case, and what is neces- 
sary for him to do, worthy of God, for his restoration. Such a discovery of 
God and the way of compliance with him in such a manner as becomes God, 
in this relation, is only known by the revelation Jesus Christ hath made. 
Yet there is so much knowledge to be had of God by the creation, as to ren- 
der men inexcusable before the divine tribunal. Though they never heard the 
sound of the gospel, they will be justly punished at last, not for the neglect 
of that which they never heard, but for their contradiction to the voice of 
their own consciences, the universal sound of nature, the lessons they might 
have learned from the whole creation, especially the heavens, which ' declare 
the glory of God ; ' for the thwarting the first principles and notions implanted 
in their hearts, and damping those secret motions and touches they had by 
a manifestation of his common goodness to 'seek after God,' Acts xvii. 26, 27. 
The creation of the world, and the mercies men are indulged with, are that 
they might seek the Lord. For there is not a drop of rain or a fruitful 
season, jjut is a witness of a God to be sought after. Acts xiv. 16, 17. All 
this will render men inexcusable at the last day. All men have such relics 
of natural light, more than are due to a fallen nature, as will condemn them 
in their own consciences, though there is not enough to render them so in- 
telligent of God, as is necessary for their recovery from their lapsed state. 
Christ only opens the heavens to let out the beams of God upon mankind, 
and opens the heart and understanding to receive them, and reflect them 
back upon God in those several duties required at man's hands in his present 
broken estate. 

The second thing is, 

II. That the clear knowledge of God is attained only by Christ. The full 
revelation of God was promised to be given out by the Messiah, the grand 
prophet God promised, upon the Israelites' desire that God might not speak 
immediately to them : Deut. xviii. 16-18, ' The Lord thy God will raise up 
uato thee a prophet from the midst of thee, &c. ; to him shall you hearken ;' 
intimating thereby, that a higher discovery was to be made by him of tbe mind 
(if God. Why else should they be bound to hearken to him more than any 
other prophet ? He was to be ' a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind 
eyes,' Isa. xlii. 6, 7. God would call them in righteousness, according to 
tbe promise he had made to Abraham, and afterwards to the Israelites, of a 
great prophet, to take off the veil and darkness in regard of God, and remove 
their erroneous conceptions of God, whence he is called ' the light of the 
world ;' and ver. 8 seems to intimate, that the majesty of God and his name, 
and the incommunicableness of his attributes, were to be the subject of this 
discovery: ' I am the Lord, that is my name ; my gloiy will I not give to 
another ;' and John xvii., Christ asserts, that he had manifested the name of 
his Father, and would further declare it to the sons of men. So that the 
spring of all spiritual knowledge is in Christ : he is * made wisdom' to us, 
1 Cor. i. 30 ; from him we draw all sorts of spiritual understanding and 
revelation ; by him we have the illumination of our minds, as well as the 
justification of our persons, the sanctification of our natures, and redemption 
from our enemies. He is the mirror that represents to us the perfections of 
God, being the brightness of his glory. Every beam whereby God is mani- 
fested is shot through him ; as every pardon, whereby the grace of God is 
discovered and the soul refreshed, is dispensed through him. The Jews ex- 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 131 

pected the discovery of the face of God by the Messiah, and to that purpose 
interpreted, Dan. ii. 22, 'He reveals deep and secret things, and the light 
dwells with him.' That light is the Messiah dwelling with God, and some 
of them call him by the name of light there mentioned, N"i''n:, though the 
words seem only to declare that God is the author of all knowledge, and sees 
by a clear light whatsoever is done among the sons of men. It is certain, 
that whatsoever tends to the glory of God, his sovereignty, wisdom, right- 
eousness, grace, is fully revealed by Christ, He hath declared who is the 
creator, governor, judge of all; that he is the chief good, the last end, and 
revealed all the means whereby we may come to a conjunction with him, and 
fruition of him, and exchange our darkness and misery for light and blessed- 
ness; and this chiefly by his death, for by that the perfections of God, hid 
in the infinite depths of his own essence, were in their rays transmitted to 
us. He could not be known, either by creatures or bare Scripture, in such a 
manner as he is known in the cross of Christ, wherein his immense good- 
ness, profound wisdom, severe justice,'^exact truth, infinite condescension, are 
manifested in such a manner, that it is as, or more, impossible to conceive 
how God can make an higher discovery of himself, as it was for men and 
angels to conceive before, how he should make so rich a discovery of himself 
as this is. The cross of Christ was the dissolution of the ignorance of men. 
The darkness which had lain upon the land of Egypt (a type of the ignorance 
of man by nature, as the Israelites' deliverance typified the redemption by 
Christ) was taken off in the morning on the passover day, a type of the death 
of Christ. 

But take in these propositions, what is to be said about this. 

1. Christ was only capacitated for this discovery of God. 

(1.) In regard of his intimacy with the Father. Though Moses was a non- 
such for converse with God, and spake with him face to face, yet he had not 
that intimacy as Christ had, who lay ' in the Father's bosom,' John i. 18, 
in the depths of his counsels, the intimate knowledge of his nature, in the 
delights of his favour. The secret of the Father is called the bosom of the 
Father, wherein he not only was but is ; he is in the bosom of the Father in 
heaven, while he is exposed to infirmities below. 'No man hath ascended 
into heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which 
is in heaven,' John iii. 13, i.e. no man hath understood the secret mysteries 
of God but Christ. He only knows those counsels, eternal transactions, and 
condescensions of God, because he only was interested in them. He hath not 
things by revelation, as the prophets and apostles, nor from the law and Scrip- 
ture, as other teachers. None of them had seen any but the shadows, and 
tasted some ravishments in the visions when they were revealed ; none of 
them had been in heaven and seen those things in the fountain, in the counsel 
of God. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, acquainted men with many secrets of God, 
but they had not seen in heaven the things which they declared to others. 
Nor was the full scope and design of those revelations understood by the pro- 
phets themselves : 1 Peter i, 11, ' They searched what the Spirit of Christ 
did signify.' They were more prophetical instruments than prophetical agents; 
the Spirit rather spoke through them than to them. They saw things in 
images, heard them in obscure representations, and so delivered them as ob- 
scurely as they understood them ; and those that were most familiar with 
God, as Moses, had their revelations on earth, not in heaven. But Christ 
saw all things in the secret of his Father in their proper form, without dreams 
and visions; he had sucked in the truth from the fountain, and drew that 
which he taught from the depths of wisdom in the bosom of his Father, which 
could not be in the power of any man ; and therefore, John iii. 31, 32, ' He 

182 chaknock's woeks. [John XVIL 8. 

that comes from above is above all, and what he hath seen and heard that he 
testifieth.' Others testify what they have heard ; Christ testifies what he hath 
seen as well as heard. He did not only hear and report, but he saw the 
things himself ; and in regard of his divine nature is above all teachers, as 
well as above all creatures. Was any else ever sealed with the brightness 
of God's glory ? Was any else the dew from the womb of the morning ? Did 
any else come out of the depths of the fountain and Father of lights ? None 
was ever called the angel of God's presence or face but Jesus Christ, Isa. 
kiii. 9. 

(2.) In regard of his being the medium of the first discovery of God in 
the creation. ' All things were made by the Word of God, and without him 
was not anything made that was made,' John i. 8, 4 ; and being ' the life of 
men,' he was only capable to be ' the light of men.' Christ was the voice of 
God, whereby he exerted his power to bring things from nothing into being. 
* The Lord said, Let there be light,' Gen. i. 3 ; and oftentimes, ' God said,' 
vers. 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, &c, which was not an external sound or voice, but the 
essential Word of God, whereby he communicated^his goodness to the world 
in creation. A mere voice or outward sound of words could not be an instru- 
ment of itself to frame the world to such a beauty. And that the mystery of 
the second person lay in that often repetition of God said, in Gen. i., is ob- 
vious from John i. 1, which seems to be a comment upon and explanation of 
it : * In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the 
Word was God,' so that the story of the creation is deciphered to us by God's 
speaking, to signify unto us that eternal Xoyog whereby the Scripture assures 
us * God created the world,' Heb. i. 2, who was ' with him when he laid the 
foundations of the earth, stretched out the heavens, and digged a place for the 
sea,' Prov. viii. 22, &c. He is the wisdom and power of God in creation as 
well as redemption. Now, as in the creation the Son communicated to all 
creatures some resemblance of God, and the end of the creation being to de- 
clare God to the rational creature, it was most proper for the Son of God 
to make those farther declarations of him which were necessary, who at first 
made the manifestation of God in the frame of the world. As the beautiful 
image of reason in the mind, breaking out with the discovery of itself in 
speech and words, is fittest to express the inward sense, thoughts, concep- 
tions, nature, and posture of the mind, so the essential Word of God clothes 
himself with flesh, comes out from God to manifest to us the nature and 
thoughts of God. He which is the word of God is fittest to manifest the 
nature of God. The word in the mind of a man is insensible to others, 
but published with the voice is made sensible, and makes the person know 
whose word it is. 

2. It was fit a higher knowledge of God should be manifested by Christ 
than by other prophets. It had not been for the honour of this prophet, who 
was greater than Solomon, greater than Moses, to have no more to discover 
of God than what was clearly known before in the church of the Jews ; he 
had then been no prophet of note, a prophet without a discovery, a title 
without an office. As he is a king in name who hath nothing to govern, so 
he is but the echo of a prophet that repeats only what was declared before. 
The intimacy of our Lord Jesus with the Father had not appeared, if he had 
not something to manifest which was hid from the messengers that went 
before. That he might have an excellency above other prophets, and appear 
in the world with more eminent prerogatives, there was to be a greater efi'u- 
sion of hght.* He had not been a San of righteousness if he had shined no 
brighter than an ordinary star. Since his coming was to be glorious, wherein 
* Camero, p. 374 ; Col. i. 2. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 133 

could the glory of it be, if the greatness of the knowledge of God were not 
one excellent prerogative belonging to his incarnation, and in such a measure 
that the light that dawned before in the world, either from creatures, law, or 
prophets, should be as nothing compared with this sun ? And though what- 
soever was known of God by men was known by the mediation and direction 
of Christ, to whom, after the fall, God had committed all judgment (whence 
the ' Spirit of Christ' is said to ' speak in the holy prophets,' 1 Peter i. 11, 
and from him Isaiah received his instructions when he shewed himself to be 
sitting upon his throne, Isaiah vi. 1, compared with John xii. 41), yet some 
things were reserved hid for the gracing the office of this great prophet, as 
the doctrine of the Trinity, and real distinction of the three persons in the 
Godhead, the union of the divine and human nature, which were as clearly 
revealed by Christ under the New Testament as they had been obscurely 
under the Old. Ante adventum Christi sclehatur Bens, Pater ignorabatur.^' 

3. The discovery of God was the great end of Christ's appearance upon 
the earth, his office. He was to declare things ' hid from the foundation of 
the world,' Mat. xiii. 35; to unfold the mysteries and secret counsels of God, 
and remove the shades and veils between him and the understandings of men, 
and reveal things which God never revealed before. In him who was God's 
light we were to see light, Ps. xxxvi. 9. In the Messiah, as the Jews expound 
it, or by the grace of God in him, we were to know God with clearness. The 
world was a dark chaos till Christ the Sun appeared in it, as the earth was 
till light was formed. Christ was not only to make a propitiation for us, but 
a manifestation of God to us ; this was the design of his Father in sending 
him, John xvii. 6. As the sun hath not light only for himself, but for the 
world, so had Christ the knowledge of God in his human nature, not for 
himself, but to spread abroad in the world. He came out from ' the bosom 
of the Father to declare him,' John i, 18 ; Ig^j/s/cr^a/, to bring to light the 
hidden things of God, and comment upon the abstruse excellencies of the 
Deity. This was the common opinion of the Jews, that adventu Messice^ res 
absconditas et 'profandas apertas fore omnibus, as appears by the Samaritan 
woman, John iv. 25, ' When the Messias is come, he will tell us all things.' 
' Before him there was no God formed,' Isa. xliii. 10, no right notion of God 
formed in the minds of men, no conceptions of his power, wisdom, pardoning 
grace, and saving mercy. The knowledge of Christ is urged in Scripture, 
not as the ultimate term of our knowledge, but as the medium of our know- 
ledge of God ; for the term mediator, and the office of prophet, evidence this. 
A mediator is to discover the inclinations and resolutions of the party with 
whom we are at variance, in order to the piecing up an agreement ; a 
prophet discovers something of the mind and will of God to us. We are 
to know Christ, as he is the only person appointed to direct us to the 
knowledge of God ; therefore, though Moses and Elias were with him upon 
the mount of transfiguration, i. e. though the law and the prophets pointed 
to Christ and declared something of God, yet we are ordered by the voice 
of God to hear him only, as the great instructor of the world : Mat. xvii. 5, 
* This is my beloved Son, in whom I well pleased : hear ye him.' It is 
his incommunicable title as mediator, to be our only master: Mat. xxiii. 10, 
' One is your master, which is Christ.' He is only the wisdom of God, 
as discovering the secrets of heaven to the believer without those clouds 
of Levitical rites. 

4. The angels have the clearest knowledge of God by Christ, much more 
man. The voice of Christ extended to heaven as well as earth, and mani- 
fested the greatness of God to angels as well as men. As he was the medium 

* Hieron. in Ps. ciii. 1. 

134 charnock's works. [John XVII. 8. 

of their creation, so he was the medium of the manifestation of God to them, 
that from the same hand from which they had their being they might have 
their happiness and perfection of their nature. The whole time they had 
seen the face of God in heaven, they knew Httle of him as he is known in 
Christ, nor could conceive him so admirable as the revelation of him by 
Christ represents him. If they had seen in lumine glorice, all that which 
may be known of God in lamme graticc, what need they bow down them- 
selves (a posture intimating pains, curiosity, and earnestness of inquiry) to- 
wards the divine propitiatory, to dive, if they can, to the very bottom of it ? 
1 Peter i. 12. It was this way that God would give them a knowledge of 
the depths of his wisdom, and his other perfections : Eph. iii. 10, 'To the 
intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might 
be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.' It was one end of 
God in the manifestation of the riches of his grace to the Gentiles, to enrich 
the angelical nature with a greater light, that thereby they might be fur- 
nished with more ravishing matter of his praise. Not that the angels are 
present at sermons, to understand things they knew not before ; but that by 
the effects of God in the world, gathering men into Christ, and framing a 
church out of lost mankind, they contemplate the manifold wisdom of God. 
God might have communicated this to them by immediate revelation, but he 
remits them to gather it from his effects, and to view it in the glass of Christ 
and his church. This was the purpose of God, to increase the knowledge 
and matter of the angels' praise, when he should pour out his treasures in 
Christ upon the world ; not by the church's teaching them, but objectively, 
by a sight of those things acted in the church. If they then learn so much 
of the excellency of God by the calling of the Gentiles, how much more must 
they learn by the contemplation of the Son of God in his incarnation and 
passion ? And to this purpose consider 1 Tim. iii. 16, ' And, without con- 
troversy, great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh, 
justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,' &c., seen of, or appeared to the angels.* 
It cannot be understood of a simple vision ; so was Abraham, Moses, EHas, 
seen of the angels. Every believer is seen of them, since they are minister- 
ing spirits to the heirs of salvation ; all the world is seen of them. What 
grandeur is there in the mystery of godliness in this regard, that Christ was 
seen of angels, if it be meant of a simple vision ? Nor is it meant of the 
sight that angels had of him at his resurrection and ascension ; for so he 
was seen by the apostles and other disciples, and by the women that came 
to the sepulchre. And was this a mystery, for angels to see that which was 
obvious to the view of men ? Not seen of angels, that they might be wit- 
nesses of his resurrection ; to whom should they be so ? To his disciples ? 
Christ in his own person witnessed his resurrection to them. To the world? 
Angels were not made apostles by Christ for such a purpose. The apostles 
founded the witness they gave of the resurrection of Christ to the world, not 
upon the revelation of angels, but upon their own sight and knowledge of 
him. He was seen of angels, as he was justified by the Spirit ; declared to 
be the Son of God, Redeemer of the world, as he was preached to the Gen- 
tiles ; as mediator and reconciler, as he was received up into glory, approved 
of by God, settled as an advocate for mankind. Not seen of angels to receive 
from him any healing virtue, as the brazen serpent was seen of the Israelites 
to extract the venom of the fiery ones, because they had none of that poison 
in them ; but seen of angels, as a mediator representing to them a greater 
knowledge of God in the mystery of redemption than the beauty and order 
of the world, their own glory in heaven, the variety of past providences, the 
* Amyraut. Sermon sur cet texte. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in cheist. 135 

former communications of God to the Jewish church, could possibly teach 
them. The angels could not behold the essence of God, though they stood 
before him in heaven. No finite creature in the most elevated condition can 
see that which is infinite. The glorious essence of God is too illustrious for 
any creature to behold without being overwhelmed by the brightness of it, 
and is so immense that it infinitely surpasseth the angelical understanding. 
Hence they are in the vision portrayed with wings to cover their faces as 
well as their feet, Isa. vi. 2, as not able to sustain the glorious lustre of his 
countenance, as we cover our eyes with our hands when we are invaded with 
too dazzUng a light. They must therefore have some other medium of the 
knowledge of him than by a direct vision ; this they have by Christ. They 
know something of him by the creation of the world, by Scriptures ; they saw 
that, after the revolt of mankind, God expressed a care and tenderness towards 
the world ; and thereby they know him to be a God of patience, as well as 
before they had known him to be a God of justice in the punishment of the 
apostate spirits. They saw that God employed them in many messages to the 
patriarchs and Israelites, and about the aifairs of the world. They saw him 
bear with the idolatry of the Gentiles, and spare those arrows they had de- 
served to be shot against them. They might suspect there was some way of 
reconciliation intended. They knew the prophecies of a Redeemer, the 
promise of the seed of the woman, as well as Adam did by the knowledge of 
Scripture, yet the manner and methods of it were reserved as a mystery in 
the secret counsels of God. They were not ignorant in general of what God 
would do, but the predictions of it being obscure, their knowledge of it must 
be of the same nature. They knew the mystery of Christ's incarnation when 
it came to be accomplished, and knew then that the design of it was peace 
on earth, and the fountain of it good will to men. But all this knowledge 
was nothing to that which they had experimentally and clearly, when they 
saw the things themselves perfected. When they saw the Son of God re- 
maining in his divine nature in heaven, and yet, by an admirable union to 
the human nature, manifested in the infirmities of our flesh ; when they 
saw him in the divine nature sitting upon a throne of justice, yet exposed to 
the sufferings of the cross, injured by men, invaded by devils, deserted by 
his Father, heaven and earth in confusion at the groans and death of the 
Son of God ; when they saw him justified in the Spirit, raised from death, 
ascending up to heaven with that body wherein he had suffered : they learned 
more of God and his nature, more of the depths of his wisdom, treasures of 
his grace, and power of his wrath, than they had done by all God's actions 
in the world, from the foundation of it, in all those four thousand years 
wherein they had remained in being. 

5. The manner how we have by Christ the knowledge of God will also 
evidence it. Not to speak that the naked declaration of Christ is a mani- 
festation of God, we have it. 

(1.) By way of purchase. The declarations of the name of God are 
founded upon the expiation of sin, made by the merit of the death of Christ. 
All the knowledge of God we have by reason is not from nature, but is a part of 
Christ's purchase. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, 
and is thereupon the light that enlightens every man that comes into 
the world. Sin made the veil between God and us, and Christ's sacrifice 
removed it. God shone out upon man, till a cloud of iniquity interposed ; 
the Sun of righteousness dissolved the cloud, and made the nature of God 
visible to us. The propitiation made upon the cross is the cause of the 
knowledge of God under the new covenant : Heb. viii. 11, 12, ' AH shall 
know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their un- 

136 chaenock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

righteousnesp, and their sins and their iniquity I will remember no more.' 
God smelt so sweet a savour in the blood of his Son that he was appeased, 
opened his treasures, sent out his Spirit to acquaint men with his nature, 
counsels, and thoughts ; and though the Spirit descended before, in some 
sprinklings and dews, yet not in a full shower, till Christ had died, and 
carried his perfuming blood to heaven, presented it to God; whereupon the 
veil was drawn, the heavens opened, the Spirit poured out upon men, and 
that light given to the souls of his people which was necessary for their in- 
struction. It was after his death and ascension that he gave gifts to men, 
whereby some became apostles, some evangelists, that men might come to a 
knowledge of Christ, and by him to a knowledge of God. 

(2.) By illumination. Our reason being impaired by sin, and the acuteness 
of it dulled by the disease of Adam, the understanding must be renewed, 
and reason must be repaired, to know the mysteries of heaven. For as there 
must be an eye to discern things visible, so there must be a mind to discern 
things spiritual, for ' the natural man receives not the things of God,' 1 Cor. 
ii. 14. Though they be propounded (for the word not receiving implies an 
ojQfer),* yet such is tlae constitution of corrupt nature in every man, that he 
comprehends not the things of the Spirit of God ; and so great is the dispro- 
portion between the excellency of the things propounded and the disposition 
of the carnal mind, that he judgeth of those things differently from their true 
nature ; for the mind is carnal and the things are spiritual, and therefore 
there must be a spiritual faculty to enable for the discerning of them. 
Christ therefore tells the Pharisees, John v. 37, 38, that they had 'neither 
heard his voice, nor seen his shape, and had not his word abiding in them ;' 
i.e. they had no knowledge of God, because they believed not. Their por- 
ing upon the law and the Scriptures was to as little purpose, till the darkness 
of their minds was removed, as a blind man's bending his face to a book till 
his eyes be restored. This is the work of Christ : he presents God to the 
mind, and fits the mind to take a prospect of God. He offers the object 
and prepares the faculty, he flasheth the light and dischargeth the mind of 
the films which hinder the reception of it : 1 John v. 20, ' We know that the 
Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know 
him that is true.' He hath given us an understanding,! is not meant of the 
natural faculty, which is the gift of God in nature and creation, and which 
grace presupposeth, but of an enlightened and purified mind, which is 
operative upon the will and heart, and imprints so firmly the glory of God 
upon the mind, that the will is carried out to love and fear him ; which com- 
pliance of the will with an illuminated understanding is the formal act of our 
regeneration. This is given only by Christ, for 'who teacheth like him ?' 
Job xxxvi. 22 ; who doth not only present but imprint the object, and of 
darkness makes us ' light in the Lord.' Hence Christ is compared to a roe 
or a wild goat,j which is a creature not only of an acute sight itself, but 
hath that humour in the bowels that expels dulness from the ej'es and 
sharpens the sight. So Christ doth not only see the Father, but makes us 
see him, when he hath opened our understandings. 

III. The third thing is, the necessity of this medium for the knowledge of 
God. This hath been evident already. For, 

1. The insufiiciency of other mediums shews us the necessity of some 
other, and God hath revealed no other but this of Christ, which seems to be 
a standing and eternal one, whereby God will transmit his beams upon 
* A m yraut. paraphrase in loc. t Mestrezat in loc. 

X Cant, ii. 9 i^e^Ko.; (Septuagint), Voss. de Idolat. lib. iii. cap. 58. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in cheist. 137 

glorified souls ; for so it will be in that state of the church in this world, 
which is but one remove from that of heaven : Rev. xxi. 23, ' The glory of 
God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' 

2. The knowledge of the angels being by this medium evidenceth the 
necessity of it. For what is necessary to those unspotted understandings, 
is much more necessary for us, who have weaker intellectual eyes. 

3. The immense glory of God, and our natural weakness as creatures, 
evidence the necessity of it. The glory of God would overwhelm the under- 
standing of a creature, there is too great a disproportion between God and 
us, his infinite glory would dazzle and stapify us. The weakness of our 
sight hinders from a full prospect of the stars, much more from a sight of 
the body of the sun, which is more oflensive than delightful to our eyes, both 
by its brightness and its heat, if we venture to lift them up without an 
instrument fitted for that purpose. If we cannot then gaze upon the sun 
with our bodily eyes without being oppressed by its lustre, how can we look 
upon God with the eyes of our minds, without being overwhelmed by that 
dazzling light wherewith he clothes himself as with a garment, since God is 
more transcendently excellent above the capacity of our understandings, than 
the sun can be too bright for the eyes of our bodies ? The sun, as glorious 
as it is, may be seen and viewed, not only by its efiects, but in a glass or a 
vessel of water or a thin cloud ; but we can only see and know God in Christ 
his image, and the beam and ' brightness of his glory,' Heb. i. 3. The glory 
of God is refracted by Christ, and tempered to our weakness, whereby we 
may believingly behold his love without complaints of scantiness, and see his 
justice without fear of being consumed by it, and instead of being oppressed 
by his light, may be * changed into the same image fi-om glory to glory,' 
2 Cor. iii. 18. Christ is the veil through which we may look upon God, as 
through a veil we may behold the sun. He that hath seen Christ hath seen 
the Father : John xii. 45, * He that sees me seeth him that sent me ;' and 
he that knows Christ knoweth the Father, because of the likeness of one to the 
other, John xiv. 9. He that spiritually knows the Son knows the Father. 
Not he that seeth;Christ corporeally, for then the unbelieving pharisees might 
be said to see the Father ; nor he that seeth Christ intellectually, for then 
mere Christian notionahsts may be said to see the Father ; but he that sees 
Christ spu-itually with a knowledge of faith, knows the Father, for the majesty 
and bounty of God shine in Christ as an exact image.* 

IV. The fourth thing is, what knowledge of God is discovered to us by 
Christ. We do not only know in Christ what we know by creation, but more 
than can possibly be known of God by the works of his hands. All his 
works in creation are but obscure flashes of his nature in comparison of this. 
God hath opened himself abundantly in the sufi'erings and exaltation of 
Christ, and done enough to raise himself from those common thoughts and 
apprehensions men have of him. He hath spread abroad the ensigns of his 
majesty, to clear the minds of men, raise their admirations, and elevate iheir 
thoughts and esteem of him. The church, therefore, in the time of the 
gospel, is called ' the throne of God,' Jer. iii. 17, and a ' glorious high 
throne,' Jer. xvii. 12 (the legal state was called the ' throne of his glory,' 
Jer. xiv. 21), because therein, by Christ, he doth, as kings upon the throne, 
shew himself in his royalty and magnificence, in the largeness of his bounty, 
severities of his justice, lustres of his wisdom, and the honour of his law, in 
Christ the head of the church, and this manifestation of God was chiefly in 

* Non ut ipse sit pater qui filius ; sed quod a patris similitudine in nullo prorsua 
discrejiat filius. — August, tn loc. 

138 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

the death of Christ : John xiii. 31, 'Now is the Son of man glorified, and 
God is glorified in him.' Now shall there be a manifestation of my good 
will to men, and obedience to God, and a manifestation therein of God's love 
to mankind and justice against sin. 

In Christ, there is, 

First, A collection of God's perfections. 

Secondly, The harmony of all. 

1. All the attributes of God are glorified in Christ. This was the 
petition of Christ, John xii. 28, ' Father, glorify thy name. Then came a 
voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again,' 
I. e. thy attributes and the perfections of thy nature, make them all illustrious 
in the work I have undertaken ; which petition God readily assents to, so 
much was his heart and delight set to make the brightness of his own nature 
appear in this way ; which glorification is not any addition to the essential 
glory of God, but the manifesting it and making it known in the riches of it 
to the sons of men. Christ added no glory to God's nature by his death 
and resurrection, but opened the curtains, and manifested that which had 
lain hid from eternity in the infinite depths of his own essence. In this 
regard he is called by the name of the ' glory of God' rising upon the world, 
Isa. Ix. 1. For Christ is a certificate wherein the world may read how ex- 
cellent, wise, bountiful, just, faithful, holy, God is. These are all visible in 
him in the noblest manner, so that we cannot deliberately view and con- 
sider Christ, but we are presently informed of the glory of the Deity. Since 
Christ was so loving, tender, holy, religious, we must conclude the Father is 
of the same nature ; he would not send one unlike himself, one that was not 
the character of his person, upon such an errand as the discovery of his own 
nature to men and angels. God had in several ages of the world pitched 
upon particular seasons, to manifest one or other particular property of his 
nature : his justice, in drowning the old world and firing Sodom ; his tnith 
and power, in freeing the Israelites from the Egyptian chains ; his truth, in 
performing a promise which had lain so long dormant ; his power, in quelling 
his enemies by the meanest of his creatures; his wisdom," in delivering them 
from the Babylonish captivity, by the ordering secondary means for the 
attainment of their end. In the creatures, one or other attribute seems to 
be more illustrious in one than another : in some appears more^of goodness, 
in another more of wisdom, in another more of power, though his glory 
shines in all ; as not a star in heaven but sparkles, and discovers not only 
itself, but something of the heaven wherein it is placed, yet some with more 
lustre than others, according to the portion of light afforded them. But in 
Christ all the perfections of God are centred together, as if all the stars 
were made one body, and transmitted their light in one beam upon the world ; 
or as various streams ghding from several parts and circling large compasses 
of ground fall unanimously into the sea, and rest in the bosom of it. In 
him sparkle the justice of God in the puishment of sin ; mercy, in laying 
foundations of pardon ; bounty, in his love to his creatures ; faithfulness, in 
the accomplishment of his promises, and realising the figures of the law ; 
wisdom, in framing and managing the gospel design ; holiness, against the 
pollutions of the world in the condemnation of sin ; and power, in effecting 
what he pleased in his own counsel. Hence it is that God, so often speaking 
of his design of redemption, adds often, ' that I may be glorified,' Isa. 
xlix. 3, and Ix. 21, &c, as though he had none, or but a retail glory by 
creation, but the riches and full sum of it was to be gathered in and laid out 
in the work of redemption by Christ. For of some of his attributes we could 
have no account by the creation, and of others not so apparently and de- 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in cheist. 139 

lightfuUy as in the transactions of Christ. For as the sun excels all the 
stars in discoveries, dispersing his rays in all climates of the earth, so doth 
Christ, the Son of the Father's bosom, and the Sun of righteousness, exceed 
all creatures in the revelation of the excellencies of God. Christ is the stage 
wherein all the attributes of God act their parts : in creation, he was a God of 
goodness and power ; in providence, a Grod of wisdom ; in the law, a God of 
justice ; in Christ, a God of all, and a God of grace, a Father of mercy. 

2. As in Christ all the attributes of God are manifest to man, so they are 
manifest in an exact harmony. In Jesus Christ those attributes that seemed 
to look with an ill aspect on one another, are mixed together with unex- 
pressible sweetness, and knit in an eternal amity. Patience rejoiceth at its 
indefatigable waiting, justice triumphantly flourisheth the bloody sword 
bathed in the heart of the Redeemer, and mercy as triumphantly kisseth it, 
justice glorying and mercy singing at the triumphs of justice, truth holding 
both threatenings and promises in conjunction in her bosom ; all caressing 
one another, and applauding the designs and accomplishments of manifold 
wisdom and infinite power, which removed the seeming contrarieties, and 
tied a knot between time and eternity. Christ is ' the first-born of every 
creature,' Col. i. 15, or of all creation, <7rds^g xr/Vswj. As the first-born is the 
strength of the parent, so is Christ the strength of God. The glories of God 
scattered in the creation are gathered into him, all things in heaven and 
earth ; the glories of God in the confirmed felicity of angels, and restored 
happiness of man. As he gathered angels and men into one family, * all 
things in heaven and earth,' Eph. i. 10, so he gathered all the attributes 
of God into one sum, to conspire together for the welfare of believers. His 
justice made our iniquities meet upon him, that they might not remain upon 
us ; wrath passed by us and seized upon him ; wisdom contrived for his 
own glory and our good. His truth made good his promises upon our 
persons, and his threatenings upon our surety ; he took the curse ofi" from 
us to fulfil it on Christ, Gal. iii. 13, that he might be righteous as well as 
gracious ' to forgive us our sins ;' 1 John i. 9, the treasures of his goodness 
and grace are opened in him, that we might receive 'grace for grace,' John 
1. 16 ; more grace from God in redemption than that we forfeited by trans- 
gression, more habitual grace for our establishment than Adam had in 
paradise for his standing. He is ' made wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica- 
tion, and redemption,' the power, wisdom, justice, holiness of God to us ; 
goodness, grace, love, righteousness, whatsoever distinction they have in 
themselves, meet all in him in their glory and sweetness, combine together, 
and sing one and the same note for the happiness of man. All the treasures of 
them are laid open in Christ, to be laid out in all the fruits flowing from 
them for the eternal welfare of believers. How delightful a knowledge of God 
is this which Christ transmits to his people ! How much higher and more 
ravishing is this prospect of God than that in the creation ! All variety 
with harmony is pleasant ; the choicest music is made up of discords skilfully 
fitted to agree with one another, and compose a charming air. This is that 
Christ, in whom God hath made all his attributes, which seemed to be iu 
debate against man, 'and irreconcilable to one another, to be in league 
together for the good of every believing soul, and rendered all their ways 
•ways of pleasantness, and all their paths peace.' Let our souls praise 
him, let us delight to view him; this is that prophet, let us rejoice in him, 

But in particular the patience, wisdom, purity, justice, mercy, power, and 
truth of God, with the reasons and depths of them, were manifested in and 
by Christ, as well as the nature and excellency of God. 

1, The^patience of God. We see the patience of God, as the first attribute, 

140 chasnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

coraing to our view after the transgression of man, and the interposition of 
Christ. When Christ stepped out of the council of God, forbearance with a 
fallen world stepped out to meet him. This is the reason why he did not 
dash the world m pieces upon the sin of the first man, and raise another that 
should keep his law. Nothing of this glorious perfection had then been 
visible. This is the reason why, after forbearance with the first man, and 
after multiplied provocations by his posterity, he did not destroy the whole 
race of mankind, and turn a defaced world into flames, and make it smoke by the 
fire of his justice, as well as he had reai-ed and preserved it by the arm of his 
power. He had not then manifested the longsufiering, the unwearied duration of 
this attribute, nor answered the end of his patience, which was a discovery 
of himself in his Son. By this we come to know why we were not made a 
prey to the just wrath of God and the fury of devils ; why the divine revenge 
was held back so many ages ; why he ' winked at the times of ignorance' 
and corruption, Acts xvii, 30, 31 : even because he had appointed a man to 
judge the world, whom he would first send to save the world ; why he suffered 
all nations to walk in their own ways, yet left them not without witness in the 
dispensations of his providence, viz., that in time he might be known in his 
Sou to be ' the living God which made heaven and earth,' Acts xiv. 15-17. 
He exercised bis patience upon this account, and would not take the for- 
feiture, in expectation of the fulness of time wherein his Son should be mani- 
fested to make up the breach, and the glorious design of his patience 
manifested in him. For the great ground of it was the discovery of his name, 
his loving-kindness in Jesus Christ : Isa. xlviii. 9, ' For my name's sake 
will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee that I cut 
thee not off.' And he bore with an infinite patience the affront of Jews and 
Gentiles, till the time came that his Son should be ' set out to be a propi- 
tiation ior the remission of sins that M-ere past, through the forbearance of 
God,' Rom. iii. 25. He discovered his patience in not pouring down upon 
every great sin destroying judgments ; not for want of justice in himself or 
lowness of disposition, but for the demonstration of his justice and loving- 
kindness together in the sacrifice of his Son, wherein he intended to repre- 
sent himself in a glorious manner to the world. His kindness was the end 
of his forbearance. He supported himself under the indignities of men, and 
deferred the time of the oblation of this sacrifice, that this attribute might be 
known, and that he might have a more glorious foundation for the display 
of his pardoning mercy, which he intended should follow after, and might 
bring forth his grace in its glory to take away the guilt of men's sins, upon 
the return of men to him, after the bearing with so many oppositions : 2 Peter 
iii. 9, He is ' longsuffering to us, not willing that we should perish.' It is 
highly discovered also, since the coming of Christ, that notwithstanding those 
repeated indignities offered to his Son by contempt and unbelief, and to him- 
self in his Son, yet he keeps the world standing till he hath gathered in the 
objects of his eternal grace, and completed his family in his Son, whereby he 
hath rendered his long-suffering more clear and admirable than if he had 
sustained the rejection of millions of more prophets than ever yet were put 
to death or persecuted by the unbelieving world. 

2. His love, and goodness, and pardoning mercy. John xiv. 6, 7, * I am 
the way, the truth, and the life ; no man comes to the Father but by me. 
If you had known me, you should have known my Father also ; and from 
henceforth you know him and have seen him.' As I am the way of access 
to the Father, so I am the medium of the manifestation of the Father : if 
you know me, my love and my heart toward you, you cannot but know my 
Father's heart and love too. Though man fell from his finite goodness and 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in chkist. 141 

duty to God, yet it is manifest in Christ that the infinite Creator could not 
fall from his infinite tenderness. If the manifestation of his goodness was 
his end in bringing forth the creatures, it was much more his end in bringing 
forth his Son. 

(1.) This the creation did not discover. Man might know that God was 
bountiful in filling his heart with food and gladness by the creatures, but 
did not understand anything of pardoning mercy in God, if sin should enter 
upon the world. Had the creation had any inscription of forgiving grace upon 
it, why do we not find seme supplications for it from the mouth of Adam after 
the fall ? Do we not find his heart as naked of any thoughts of this nature, 
as he was of his original righteousness ? He was seized with an hoiTor of 
conscience after his sin, but not a groan for pardon ; for how could it enter 
into the heart of Adam but by revelation ? The law given him at his creation 
spake not a syllable of it ; the voice of that was nothing but death, death : 
Gen. ii. 17, 'Thoushalt surely die.' Nothing else could be expected by him 
upon his eating the forbidden fruit, nor could he have the least sentiment of 
remission till the pronouncing the promise of Christ in the seed of the woman. 
The manifestation of Christ in the beginning of the book was the first notice 
of any such perfection in the nature of God. That same moment of time 
when Christ was given, wrapt up in a promise, did pardoning grace sparkle 
out, and not any time before. 

In the law which God gave Adam for the rule of obedience, thei'e was no- 
thing but strict justice ; and upon God's first inquiry after Adam, there was 
no proclamation of pardon by God, nor expectation of it by Adam, but an 
examination of matter of fact : ' Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I com- 
manded thee that thou shouldst not eat ?' Gen. iii. 11, 12 ; nor any off'er of 
Adam falling upon his knees and imploring mercy; but standing upon his 
justification, wiping off the dirt from himself to discharge it wholly upon his 
wife. The treasures of this were so closely locked up in God, that Adam, 
just stepped out of a happy condition (who, though he had lost his righteous- 
ness, had not lost his knowledge and memory, as appears by his answer to 
God, of what had been done before his fall, and in the time of his fall yet), 
could not in the least imagine any mercy ; and therefore the wittiest and most 
refined natural knowledge in the heathen, less than Adam had, could not 
have any sentiments of it barely from nature, without some traditional 
revelation at the least. This attribute could not possibly have exerted itself 
without Christ. Power, wisdom, goodness, did shine in the creation, holiness 
in the law of nature, justice in the punishment of fallen angels, and expulsion 
of man out of paradise ; but this of forgiving mercy, if you respect the first 
economy of things, could not be evidenced without Christ ; for, not to speak 
of the naturalness of God's justice, whereby he could not, in regard of his 
nature, pardon sin without a satisfaction, which is very probable ; but only 
that the word of threatening being past for the death of a sinner, a satis- 
faction was necessary for the truth of God, honour uf the law, and recovery 
of the creature, which could not have been performed by a mere creature, 
therefore it was necessary some person above a creature should undertake it, 
or else no such thing as pardoning grace, which is one of the greatest glories 
of the Deity, could ever have been known either by angels or men, but had re- 
mained undiscovered in unfathomable depths, unknown even to the angels 
in heaven, who know nothing of God but by the effects, because his essence 
is inaccessible to the understanding of any creature. As in Christ alone, and 
in his blood, we have the purchase of ' redemption, even the forgiveness of 
sin,' Col. i. 14, so in and by him alone we had the first discovery of it in 
the promise, and a full declaration of it afterward. When he was set forth 

142 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

as a propitiation, it was not only to purchase our happiness, but to let into 
our knowledge the righteous and gracious nature of God thereby : Eom. iii. 
25, ' To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins ; to declare, I say, 
at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and a justifier ;' which 
declaration was not made by nature and the creation. 

(2.) This, then, was only discovered in and by Christ, both in the glory 
of it to God, and the sweetness of it to us. It was in Christ discovered to 
be God's nature, and our life, God is love, and the manifestation of it to 
us was in God's ' sending his only begotten Son into the world, that we 
might live through him,' 1 John iv. 8, 9, that the dead world might live 
through him. Hereby he did not only declare himself placable, not only de- 
sirous to manifest a scanty goodness to the creature, but to shew that his 
nature was enriched with the choicest love and grace, and his desire that it 
should flow out in the highest manner through a mediator to the polluted 
and rebellious world, and be screwed up to the highest peg. In him God 
opened his bowels, which lay secretly yearning, and ' brought life and im- 
mortality ' for the creature * to light through the gospel,' 1 Tim. i. 10. 
Both mercy and love were manifested. Love is a perfection of a higher 
strain than mercy ; mercy may be prevalent where love is absent. Mercy 
hath for its object a thing miserable ; love hath for its object a thing amiable; 
pardoning grace hath for its object a thing criminal. The mercy of God is 
manifested in the death of Christ for us when we wallowed in misery ; the 
pardoning grace of God is declared upon us as we are loaded with guilt ; 
love is manifested in being well-pleased with us in the best beloved, after we 
are made comely and amiable by him. Christ is the medium of the mani- 
festation of this. This was his main design, that his grace might be dis- 
covered with an emphalical phrase : Eph. i. 6, ' To the praise of the glory 
of his gr. cp,' i. e. by an Hebraism, n s glorious grace, and be known in its 
glory to " en and angels in the heiglit, breadth, length, and depth of it, that 
he might communicate his Spirit, his heaven, himself to them ; to be in 
them, and they in him ; to love them with such a love as he loves his Son, 
i. e. with such a love as he loves himself ; and all his other attributes were 
employed in the design of glorifying this. Wisdom contrives, truth designs 
the sacrifice, justice strikes, to render mercy and love triumphant. God 
constituted this his principal glory, and, in a manner, esteemed not all his 
other virtues, but as they were ordered to manifest this. Though he had 
manifested several perfections in the creation, yet this was utterly unknown 
to the world till he exposed his Son to death for them. The law manifested 
him to be just, the gospel manifested him to be just, and a justifier. In the 
law, he manifests the sovereignty of his justice in punishment ; in the gospel, 
he inflicts severe punishments upon his Son, the surety, and mercifully ab- 
solves the believing ofiender ; he is in Christ unveiled, and shines in the 
condescensions of his love. 


First, In the freeness of it. His goodness shined in the creation, but with 
a weaker light. Goodness was communicated to nothing in bringing it into 
being ; which nothing^ as it had not merited that goodness, so it had not de- 
served the contrary. It had as little of demerit as it had of merit. He 
made his goodness break out then upon nothing, but, in Christ, upon things 
worse than nothing. He manifested his goodness in giving life to man, but 
without the expense of the blood of his Son, and the loss of his life, by whom 
he conferred the benefit of life upon sinners. What goodness he manifested 
to man after his creation, in giving him the other creatures for his service, 
had not so beautiful a complexion as his goodness in Christ. Then he 

John XVII. 3.j the knowledge of god in chkist. 143 

gave creatures to him of the same mould with man himself, but in Christ he 
gives man's creator to man ; his own Wisdom, whereby he created all things. 
When he gave creatures to man at first, he gave them to an holy, just, 
righteous man, pure as he came out of the mint of God's power and holi- 
ness ; but he gives his Son to depraved man, who had affronted him, and 
cast those rich endowments of his nature behind his back. He finds out a 
way to glorify his mercy, when he might only have glorified his justice ; 
takes rebels into his arms, who had merited the thunders of his anger ; and, 
by an incomparable and unimagined kindness, gives his Son to save his 
enemies, and adopts them for his children ; and that by a free act of his 
own, not being persuaded by any other : John iii. 16, 'He gave his only 
begotten Son.' Also, in taking occasion from so great an evil as sin, to 
manifest such an excess of love, as if the steams of dung and vapours from 
mire and dirt should be an occasion of the sun's emitting his beams with 
greater clearness and freedom. The heathens regarded G-od as severe ; 
though they saw testimonies of his patience, they imagined the kindness he 
shewed to them wrung from him by their sacrifices and cries, and purchased 
by their services ; but they saw not the springs of kindness freely bubbling 
up in his own breast. But in Christ we behold his compassions moving of 
themselves, and working together till the whole design of love was brought 
to perfection. 

Secondly, In the tenderness of it. The gospel presents God in Christ 
under more tender titles to man than either creation or law. In the one, it 
was ' the Lord God ;' in the other, ' the mighty Lord,' * the Lord of 
hosts,' ' the terrible God ;' names and marks of grandeur, sovereignty, and 
justice. In the gospel, he assumes the title of Father, a name of kindness 
and compassion ; and is called in the New Testament more by that title of 
Father than that of a Lord, as if his sovereignty had been swallowed up in 
tenderness. This title of Father is ascribed to him in the Old Testament 
more rarely ; once in regard of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, 
as typical of the redemption by Christ : Deut. xxxii. 6, ' Is not he thv 
Father that hath bought thee ? hath he not made thee and established 
thee ?' and promised to be the familiar name whereby they should call 
upon God in the times of the gospel : Jer. iii. 19, * Thou shalt call me, my 
Father, and shalt not turn away from me ;' as, indeed, the name Abba, 
Father, is peculiar to the gospel, and the name wherewith we have access to 
the throne of grace ; in giving, also, a new law founded upon better pro- 
mises, repealing the threatenings in regard of any force upon a believer, and 
enjoining milder conditions than in the first covenant. 

Thirdly, In the fulness of it, declared in the person of his Son. Rather 
than he would lose the whole race of mankind, he would spare nothing, no, 
not his best beloved, with whom though he were ever well pleased, yet he 
must suffer, that in him he might be well pleased with us. He advanced his 
mercy over all the difficulties which lay in his way, and to magnify it, would 
not spare his Son, that he might spare the sinner, but condemn him to 
death for the redemption of a servant. The immense goodness which ap- 
pears in heaven and earth, sun and moon, and motions of them, and in 
every other creature, is nothing to the making him a creature by whom he 
made the worlds. To make him, who was the brightness of his glory, be- 
come as vile as earth ; him who was God to be a man ; the Lord of Hfe 
to be the subject of death, whereby the souls of men sunk into the depths 
of misery are made capable of deliverance and enjoyment of an happy 
immortality, the possession of an heavenly paradise, a communion in glory 
with himself, is a love infinitely above that goodness which appeared in the 

144 chabnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

creation ; and so magnificent, that if angels and men had millions of years 
to busy their thoughts, they knew not how to imagine higher ; for it cannot 
enter into the heart of men or angels to conceive the grandeurs of affec- 
tion and mercy which God hath not only prepared, but represented to our 
view in Christ. He hath hereby evidenced that he was so far from envying 
the happiness of man, as the devil had made Adam at first believe, tbat 
he would rather advance it at the expense and cost of the blood of his 
Son, and would give life more abundantly in Christ, John x. 10, in a 
greater plenitude and longer duration, than Adam had by creation and his 
own strength, or the patriarchs under the law. Here love spends itself in 
the conquest of death and hell, which had dissolved the happiness of man ; 
gives life a freedom from unrighteousness, the death of our innocent nature; 
and from the severities and torments of justice, which is the death of our 
persons. And whereas in creation he gave creatures to man, which are the 
works of his hands, he gives now his Son to man, who is partaker of his 
essence, and sends him to be put in the place of the sacrifices, whose throats 
were cut under the law, and were unable to make an atonement for sin; and 
not onlv to sufier for us, but to suffer as a curse and execrable thing in our 
stead. Gal. iii. 13. If God had sent an angel, one of the excellent creatures 
of heaven, to be clothed with our nature, and die in our stead, it had been 
admirable goodness not to spare for us one of those sublime and excellent 
creatures.* God had manifested a goodness, but had not been glorified by it in 
the fruits of it, which we could never have enjoyed, because no creature could 
pay a sufficient ransom for the sin of man. The ransom was to be infinite, but 
anoels were limited and finite creatures ; and if they had undertaken, they 
must have suffered too infinitely, and never have emerged out of their miserj'. 
Yet, supposing an angel could have redeemed us, this love, which is the 
glory of his nature, had not appeared in its riches by such a grant, because 
the anwels were formed of nothing, and were the works of his hands, but 
were not of the essence of God. But herein his love appears in the choicest 
dress, in that he sent one begotten of his substance, one with him, true God 
with the Father, to whom the Father had communicated his nature. We 
call not the works of an artificer his children, because they have not his 
nature, though they are the products of his art and industry. Herein he 
shows the lustre of his mercy, and that he is love indeed in his nature, as 
well as in his fruits, beyond the imagination of men and angels, and all that 
nature could instruct them in. His shooting his arrows into his Son rather 
than lose the rebel, and engraving upon him the marks of his anger, is the 
highest point his compassion to us could mount to, and the highest proof of 
the treasures of love and pity in his heart for us. 

(3.) This knowledge of God's love is most comfortable to the creature. 
God is sweetened in Christ to our understanding. He lays by his fury to 
unveil his mercy, and sticks the sting of his justice in Christ, to receive us 
into the bosom of his love. It is a strong consolation, that if God kept to 
his own design, formed in his breast from eternity, and discovered to the 
world in Christ, to advance the riches of his grace, no penitent and believing 
sinner can despair, but rather have an argument that God will pardon him, 
because it is suitable to the design he had from eternity, and the manifesta- 
tion of it in time. For why should he prepare all things for man's recovery 
before man's fall, foreseen by him, and decreed to be permitted ? Why 
should he provide a medicine before the disease, a solder before the crack, 
and fix upon a certain way to pardon the rebels, before they had beings 
■wherewith to rebel, if he had no intention to apply it when they should have 
* Mestrezat bui 1 John iv. 8, 9. 

John XYII. 3. J the knowledge of god in christ. 145 

the grace to believe it ? And is not this pardoning grace rather honoured 
by the pardon of great sins and many sins, than by the pardon of few sins 
and small sins ? Therefore, as he suffered sin to enter into the world, that 
he might bring upon the stage his pardoning mercy, to the view and comfort 
of the creature, which else had lain in the abyss of the divine essence with- 
out any opportunity of discovery, so he suffers men to go on in sin a long 
time, that his grace may enter upon their souls with the greater magnificence 
and glory : ' The law entered, that sin might abound ; but where sin abounded, 
grace did much more abound,' Rom. v. 20. Not, or not only, that law the 
Jews had, but the first law to man in innocence ; not as the Jiuis intent lonis, 
but the event in the fall of man and prescience of God. Men naturally 
think God will not pardon their crimes, cannot have a kindness for such 
notorious rebels, because their scanty natures are not capable of such a 
quality towards grievous offenders against themselves. But this declaration 
of love in Christ takes away all scruples from men, brings forth his love 
triumphing over all the objections of penitent souls, that heaven itself cannot 
find a stronger medium to assure them of an immense plenitude of love in 
the breast of God. The goodness of God is therefore proposed as an object 
of trust (as it may be understood) in the day of the gospel, Hos. iii. 5, which 
is a larger manifestation of his goodness than in the law, which was an object 
of fear. They shall fear or trust in the Lord, or run with haste unto the 
Lord and to his goodness, viz. Christ, in whom they taste the bounty and 
goodness of God, and this in the latter days, when the shadows of the law 
shall fly away and have their period. And, indeed, when a poor deluded 
sinner sees those treasures of mercy in Christ, that ravishing love doth as 
much surprise as delight him, so that, with an amazing comfort, he can cast 
himself into the arms of that goodness which are opened so wide in the Son 
of his love. So that here only was love in its willingness, grace in its free- 
ness, mercy in its sweetness, goodness in its fulness of benefits, conspiring 
together to set themselves forth in their best attire. 

(3.) The wisdom of God is admirably manifested herein. The sending 
of Christ being so stupendous, the wisdom of God must be admirable in the 
ends designed by it, which shoots forth with clearer beams in his Son than 
in the creation, in which regard Christ is called the wisdom of God : 1 Cor. 
i. 24, ' Christ crucified, the wisdom of God,' i. e. the highest discovery of 
his wisdom is in the cnicifixion of Christ, in the death of the Son of God 
upon the cross. Wisdom shined in the creation, it glitters every day in 
providence ; but the depths and riches of it are in Christ. In those there 
are some doles, some lesser sums, but the treasures of it are hid in him, as 
in the great exchequer. Here are the deep counsels of God, which the 
apostle cannot speak of without a ravishing admiration : Rom. xi. 33, ' Oh 
the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God !' ' A 
manifold wisdom,' Eph. iii. 10, in regard of the variety of effects in the 
glorifying his name, and dignifying his creature, in repairing the breach, and 
establishing the repair. Wherefore the apostle, speaking of this great 
mystery, breaks out into a doxology of the wisdom of God: Rom. xvi. 25-27, 
' To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen,' When 
the creation was despoiled by sin, not a jot of goodness left in it to give God 
any content, it was a greater wisdom to repair it without breaking it to pieces 
than to have created a new one. The i^dsdom in a new creation had been 
but of the same level, but that in restoring was of a higher elevation and a 
clearer gloss. To bring his glory out of the ashes wherein it seemed to be 
buried ; to bring man out of darkness wherein he was, as to his own strength, 


146 charnock's woeks. [John XVII. 3. 

irrecoverably involved ; to put heaven and earth in tune again, which sin 
had made at discord with one another, was a high piece of skill. It is an 
admirable wisdom among men to unite two princes at variance, without in- 
vading either of their rights, but entirely preserving them ; to link them in 
a stronger peace than that they were in before they fell out ; to enlarge their 
empire, not only to a mutual satisfaction, but the increase of both their gran- 
deur and glories. The case is the same : God repairs the breach between 
himself and man, and preserves his right ; he loseth nothing of his own 
honour, but enlargeth it ; man is restored to favour with a temporary dimi- 
nution of his bodily happiness, but with an eternal increase of the felicities 
both of his soul and body ; all seeming contradictions are removed, and 
means fully proportioned to the ends intended are appointed. In this regard 
the apostle calls it ' all wisdom and prudence,' Eph. i. 8 ; wisdom drawing 
the platform, and prudence disposing the means consonant to the end. The 
work is done to the content of both, the glory of both, the rest of G-od, and 
the happiness of the creature ; and the skill was more wonderful in repairing 
the devastation in such an infallible way, past the reach of the tempter that 
defaced the first creation. Certainly that which shall be most admired at 
last will be the harmony and consent of things, by the skill of infinite wisdom, 
in conspiring together for the bringing about those ends God aimed at. 
Wisdom takes large strides at every step. 

[1.] In uniting the greatest extremes. In the creation God brought 
nothing to become something. In this he joins together beings at a greater 

First, The divine and human natures are united in one person. The 
highest intellectual nature, with the lowest rational nature, infinite and finite, 
glory and misery, time and eternity.* Christ calls himself the Son of man, 
to shew that he was really man in qualities, — John iii. 13, ' And no man 
hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the 
Son of man which is in heaven,' — yet saith he is in heaven, to manifest that he 
is God ; man born of the virgin, yet the Son of God eternally begotten, the 
Word made flesh. God in heaven manifested in flesh upon the earth, each 
preserving their entire properties ; the Son of man by this union is become 
the Son of God, yet retains his pure and naked form as man ; the Word by 
this union is made flesh, yet without losing his infinity', eternity, and original 
being ; as a man hath two parts, an immortal and invisible soul, and a 
mortal visible body. As a man, he passeth through infirmities ; as God, he 
is above them.f The two natures are distinct, yet united in one subsistence, 
and make but one person, as the soul and body make one man. Yet not in 
such a manner as that the divine nature is the form of the human, for then 
Christ were not real man ; he was ' in the form of God,' yet * in the form 
of a servant,' Philip, ii. 6, 7. Though there was no change in the divinity, 
yet the lustre of it was veiled by the infirmities of the flesh ; as when a thick 
cloud interposeth between the body of the sun and our eyes, it obscures the 
beams from our eyes, but defaceth not the body of the sun, or ravisheth its 
inherent beauty. And this union was made at the first conception ;l if it 
had not been so, the virgin had not conceived God, but a pure man, con- 
trary to Gal. iv. 4, ' God sent his Son, made of a woman.' If the humanity 
was not at that instant united to the Xoyog, it did then subsist in its own 
created person, and the conception was then terminated to a created person, 
and in no sort to God ; and then it cannot be said that God was conceived 

* Daille, sermon sur Jean iii. 13, p. 211. 

t Daille, sermon sur Phil. ii. 7, 8, p. 411, &c. 

J Suarez in tertiam Aquin. vol. xiii. diss. 16, sect. 1. 

John XVII. 3.] the kxowledge of god in christ. 147 

of the -virgin. If the divinity did assume the humanity of that person after 
the time when Christ died, and the humanity had not before been united to 
the divine nature, his blood then shed could not have been said to be the 
blood of God, though the divinity should have assumed that humanity after 
the resurrection. An unexpressible wisdom in the uniting, in an uncon- 
ceivable manner, two such vast distances, the divine and human nature in 
one person, that there might be a sufficiency to perform the task undertaken, 
and capacity to endure the suffering required to make up the breach ; to 
unite one greater than a man to the human nature, that he might satisfy for 
man, and have that in himself which might exceed all the debt man owed to 
God ! He provided a divine person to satisfy a God offended, a mediator, 
one with God that was wronged, and one with man that had sinned ; par- 
taking of the nature of both, that he might pay a price sufficient for the one, 
and acceptable to the other. In the creation, one creature was united to 
another, and all made up a world. In this, finite is united to infinite, to 
make up a complete and able mediator. 

Secondly, The justice and mercy of God are united in a joint applause. 
He becomes merciful without being unjust, and just without impairing the- 
honour of his compassion. Justice hath the highest right, and mercy its 
utmost intention ; the cries of his justice, and the yearnings of his bowels, 
are united, without depriving either of their rights. No complaints can be 
found in the mouth of the one, nor any discontent in the looks of the other, 
but mutual smiles and mutual applauses. Jmt and justifier are joined in 
one justice and justification, Rom. iii. 26. The world is preserved, which 
in justice ought to be destroyed, without any reproach to the righteousness 
of God, as the governor of it ; an eternal marriage is made between mercy 
and justice ; both shake hands, and not only acquiesce but rejoice, for the 
sin is punished by justice in the surety, and pardoned by mercy in the 
sinner ; both pleased and both gi'atified in seeing the honour of the law pre- 
served, and the guilt of the sinner removed. 

Thirdly, In uniting God and man in eternal fellowship. By this act he 
brings stubble to dwell with flames, and weakness to behold and enjoy glory 
without being overwhelmed by the weight and splendour of it, to draw near 
to the supreme majesty through the veil of the flesh of Christ. He causetli 
pardon and punishment to meet, that God appeased, and man acquitted, maj' 
come together. The punishment is inflicted upon the surety, that the offender 
might share in the glorious fruits of his mediation. God and man are brought 
to amity, angels and men are made one family, and more grace given to fit 
us for God than Adam lost. This was the point his wisdom aimed at, to 
make ' the riches of gi'ace abound towards us,' Ephes. i, 7, 8. And to add 
to the wonder of his wisdom, God saves the sinner in the same way whereby 
he condemned the sin, and.^ advanceth the offender to communion with him, 
the same way whereby he shewed his detestation of the crime. Sin is made 
the mark of the divine displeasure in the person of Christ, swallowed up and 
devoured by the flames of justice, that, the wall of separation being removed, 
he might meet his creature with arms widened by the dearest love. 

[2.] In effecting this restoration without the perpetual prejudice of the 
mediator, and with his great honour and advantage. Had our sins been 
transferred upon an angel, he must have lain for ever plunged in that misery, 
for since his nature was not infinite to render his satisfaction infinite, an in- 
finite duration of his sufferings was necessary to make that satisfaction valid, 
which his nature being finite was too weak to do. But the Son of God 
suffers a short time, to have an eternal glory for himself in his human nature 
as well as for his brethren. A satisfaction for sin is procured without a total 

148 chaenock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

destruction of the person satisfying ; for such an one was designed by the in- 
finite wisdom of God, whom it was ' impossible for the bands of death to 
hold,' Acts ii. 24. His death, the punishment of sin, is but of a short dura- 
tion in regard of the pains, yet eternal in regard of efficacy for those ends 
for which it was intended ; God's glory is restored, man's happiness secured, 
without a perpetual impairing the mediator, but with an eternal exaltation 
of him. 

[3.] In frustrating the subtlety of Satan. The devil thought he had 
brought a total destruction upon mankind, when he persuaded our first parents 
to eat of the forbidden fruit. But God orders it to bring about a greater 
glory to himself, and a firmer stability to his people, in introducing an ever- 
lasting covenant founded in a mediator, which could not be broken, and 
establishing their happiness upon surer terms than it was settled on in para- 
dise, and afterwards outwits the devil in ordering him to be instrumental to 
that which he designed to hinder ; for while he is filling the heart of Judas 
to betray Christ, and egging the heart of the Jews to crucify him, God, by 
his wisdom, over-rules him to a subserviency to his own glorious end, for by 
that very way he thought to stifle the good of mankind, he occasionally pro- 
motes their perpetual redemption. God turned the subtlety of the devil to 
his own praise, bruised the devil's head by letting him bruise the mediator's 
heel, and made his malice conduce to the restoration of mankind from that 
ruin he had before by a prosperous subtlety eflfected. God, by a mysterious 
wisdom, more signal than all that in the creation, gained the victory over 
the devil, who had defaced his work, and gave man also a victory over the 
tempter, who had depraved his soul. 

[4.] In the propagating this means of the discovery of himself. The wis- 
dom as well as the power of God is discovered in using the most unlikely 
means to bring about his great ends, as the skill of a man is more evident in 
the moving great bodies by small engines and wires, than if he engaged in 
it a strength proportionable to the vastness of the body he would move. 
God hath spread abroad this knowledge by such means as the world counts 
foolishness, and by such persons as are no better than fools in their esteem, 
1 Cor. i. 26, 27. He lodged his treasures of wisdom first in vessels of 
earth, bended the world to himself by the sermons of fishermen, enlightened 
the world by men unskilful in the affairs of it ; chooseth not to this purpose 
the cedars of Lebanon, but the shrubs of the valley ; not the learned phari- 
sees of Jerusalem, but the poor men of Galilee, whose education was not 
capable to ennoble their minds, and fit them for such great actions as they 
were employed in. But ' out of the mouths of such babes and sucklings he 
ordains praise ' to his own wisdom, and makes the world know that ' the 
foolishness of God is wiser than men,' 1 Cor. i. 25. Now, what is the frame 
of heaven and earth to this ? Just as his wisdom is in making a clod of 
earth to that which appears in the fabric of a man, or his yet more glorious 
wisdom in the frame of an angel. In the creation it is like a sunbeam 
through the chink of a wall in comparison of this, which, like the sun, faceth 
us in a brighter glory. There is counsel as well as will in the minute pas- 
sages of providence, but a more glorious workmanship of wisdom in the dis- 
covery of Christ. 

(4.) The justice of God is more evidenced than by all other judgments in 
this world, or that which is to come. God would be acknowledged in his 
justice after the fall, which was not known, and could not be known, in an in- 
nocent state any other way than in the threatening ; God would therefore 
have bloody sacrifices which might signify man's demerit, and therefore, pro- 
bably, God was displeased with Cain for offering only the fruits of the earth, 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 119 

whereby he only acknowledged God's dominion and bounty, but not God's 
justice and his own offence, which required a bloody sacrifice ; he did not 
acknowledge the rights of justice and the necessity of a mediator to bear his 
sin. Whence Abel, who offered a more significant sacrifice, is said, Heb. 
xi. 4, to ' offer a more excellent sacrifice,' -TrXiiova duaiav. And his justice 
was never so evident as in Christ crucified ; he chose his Son to lay upon 
him the guilt of the world, subjected him in the state of a criminal, depressed 
him to the condition of a servant, sunk him into the misery of rebels, caused 
him to swallow the disgraces of men, and drink down the vials of his anger, 
rather than the sin of the world should boast of impunity, and men presume 
to think him disarmed of his justice. What if the whole world was drowned 
by a wrathful deluge, Sodom and Gomorrah consumed to ashes by a shower 
of fire ? What if every son of Adam were to lie roaring in endless torments ? 
What if not an angel in heaven had escaped the sin and punishment of 
devils ? What if this world were multipUed into millions, what if every man 
upon earth, and every angel in heaven, were multiplied into thousands of 
millions of men and angels ? What if every spire of grass, grain of corn, 
atom of sand, were made a rational creature, and for sin thrown for ever into 
devouring flames ? Is not here inexpressible justice ? But what is this jus- 
tice upon creatures which were made, to that justice upon his Son, by whom 
he made the creatures ? What is this to the Son of God traihng a weak 
body for thirty-three years in the world, suffering the indignities of men and 
devils, bearing the weight of an infinite wrath ? What are all other judg- 
ments to his bloody sweat in the garden, or the groans of this divine person 
upon the cross, of more worth than innumerable worlds of creatures ? Who 
ever knew before the power of God's wrath? Ps. xc. 11. For as there is 
no proportion of creatures to God, so there is no proportion of the death of 
the Son of God for a time, to the death of all men and angels together. 
Consider the circumstances to render the justice of God more visible. 

[1.] He was innocent in his own person. He was beloved by his Father, 
had never displeased him ; the sins he suffered for were none of his own by 
commission, he made them his own by a voluntary submission, and God 
made them his own by a penal infliction. God would have sin punished in 
the person of our surety, though he was his only begotten and perfectly in- 
nocent Son. 

[2. J He was willmg to pay the debt. He offered himself up with a design 
to glorify his Father, to restore the creation to its former loveliness, to renew 
the delight that God had in his works when he pronounced them good, a 
consideration which one would think might sweeten the severest justice ; yet 
nothing abated him, he must groan and bleed to death. 

[3.] Yet he endured sorrows unexpressible. The powers of darkness had 
their hour against him, all the curses of the law were thundered out against 
him, while he was clothed in the garb of a sinner, as if when he had been 
leading to the cross, G-od had particularly spoken that word to him, ' Cursed 
is he that hangs upon a tree,' Gal. iii. 13. He was condemned and tormented 
by his servants, and those whose salvation he sought and designed ; he was 
subject to that which no man, no, not the wickedest man, had ever endured 
in this life : the heavens were darkened upon him, earth forsaking him, none 
seemed to have pity upon him ; ' terrors took hold upon him, and pursued 
his soul as the wind ; his soul was poured out in him, his bones were pierced, 
and his sinews took no rest,' Job xxx. 15-17. He had an angel to comfort 
him, but with no commission to remove the cup from him that his Father 
held out for him to drink. What a demonstration of the justice of God is 
here : that he in whom ail nations of the earth were to be blessed, whom the 

150 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

angels in heaven bless, the saints on earth bless, yea, and is the blessed of 
his Father, yet is made a curse by him ! 

[4.] Deserted by his Father. His prayers were not answered for deliver- 
ance, not the least ear lent to his cries in his weightiest distresses. He was 
deserted as to the comforts of a Father, to be given up to the strokes of his 
wrath, as if he had discarded all bowels of compassion towards him. God 
dealt not with him as a Father, but as a God of justice; whence Christ 
upon the cross calls not upon God by the name of Father, which was his 
wonted custom, and as he had used that title in the garden, but by the name 
of God: 'My God, my God.' God became as it were cruel to him, and 
' with strong hands opposed himself against him,' Job xxx. 21, Nay, God 
regarded him not, as if he were for a time ashamed to acknowledge him for 
his Son. And when they taunted him upon the cross, ' He trusted in GoJ, 
let him deliver him, seeing he trusted in him,' though they reflected upon 
the name and glory of God, he would not at present take notice of the suffer- 
ings of his own name in the reproaches of the Jews, nor remit upon that 
score anything of his indignation against the sins of men, when it was the 
fittest time to vindicate his Son's innocence, because for this he was con- 
demned, his making himself the Son of God. But he was so intent upon 
revenging sin imputed to his Son, that he regarded not the present actual in- 
dignity offered to himself, so that our Saviour himself seems to be astonished 
at his Father's silence in such a case, since his words, ' My God, my God, 
why hast thou forsaken me ? ' are uttered a little after that reproach of the ■ 
Jews in the story. Mat. xxvi. 43, 46. This was the highest act of justice 
that the arm of God could put forth, to make the soul of his dearly beloved 
an offering for sin, whereby he manifested that without blood there could be 
no atonement, Heb. x. 7. And since no other blood had a sufficiency in it 
to quench the flames of his justice, God would single out the best blood in 
the whole creation wherewith to satisfy it; a blood though created, yet the 
blood of the Creator. Never could earth or hell read such a lecture of divine 
justice as in this case. For if God should damn thousands of worlds, his 
justice would be glorified, but in a company of little creatures; it would be 
but a devouring a few drops of a bucket.* But in Christ it is glorified in 
the man that is his fellow, Zech. xiii. 7. It is a stronger testimony of a 
prince's justice to condemn his son, his only son, for a crime, than to con- 
demn a shiftless and friendless creature that hath not wherewithal to live. 
This doth manifest God's nature to be as just as it is gracious, that he will 
be as severely intent upon the punishing obstinate offenders, as he will be 
graciously intent upon the pardoning penitent sinners. It is equally in- 
credible to the presumptuous sinner to believe God severely just, as to an 
humble soul to believe God magnificently gracious. It is not without cause 
therefore that the apostle doth urge his discourse of the justice of God on 
Christ, and thereupon the justification of believers, with a repetition: Bom. 
iii. 25, ' To declare, to declare, I say, his righteousness.' For in Christ we 
see God doth declare as well the rigours of his justice as the grandeurs of his 
love ; for that sin should not be pardoned without punishment in his Son, 
is the height of justice; that he should expose his Son as a sacrifice for 
rebels, it is riches of grace. It is clear that justice in God is his essence, 
not, as in us, a quality ; and that he is to sinners a consuming fire. The 
knowledge of God, as thus represented in Christ, should stop the course of 
a daring sinner. God had not contrived the death of his Son but for the 
declaring his justice as well as magnifying his grace. The knowledge of God 
in bis justice, on Christ is comfortable to a believer; and the more, since 
* Gurnal, part ii. p. 658, somewhat changed. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 151 

that perfection of God which is most terrible is rendered a foundation of joy, 
for God is gracious in being righteous: Ps. cxvi. 5, ' Gracicus is the Lord, 
and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.' If he had not been righteous ir 
his Son, we cannot conceive how with honour he could have been merciful 
to us. The severity of his justice on Christ glorifies the greatness of his 
grace to the believer. By how much the punishment on Christ was the 
sharper, by so much his mercy to the believer is the fuller. This vindictive 
justice is joined with his pardoning mercy, Exod, xxxiv. ; because his not 
clearing the guilty illustrates his pardoning the guilty upon the account of 
the Surety. It is a foundation of a plea for every believer. The justice of 
God hath drunk up the blood of Christ as a full satisfaction ; it is therefore 
glorified in the highest manner, whereas in the damnation of men the debt 
had been always paying and never paid; and so justice had been always 
satisfying and never satisfied, and so had been always glorifying and never 
fully glorified. But here the debt is paid, and justice hath no more to 
demand ; whereas in the other it would have been always receiving and 
always demanding more, because the payment could never have amounted to 
a full sum. In the punishment of creatures, justice would have had its due 
by parcels, but in Christ it hath its full demand; and this may be pleaded 
with God by a believer. This is the knowledge of God we have by Christ, 
which is as terrible to any impenitent as it is comfortable to a penitent 

(5.) The holiness of God is manifested by Christ. His justice is founded 
in his holiness: 'The holy God is sanctified in righteousness,' Isa. v. 16. 
His holiness is illustrated by his justice; he is exalted in judgment and sanc- 
tified in righteousness. Had not Christ died upon the cross, we had not had 
a discovery of the ingratitude and baseness there was in the first sin against 
God and in all that followed it ; nor could we have had so full a prospect of the 
holiness and purity of God's nature as in the dreadful punishment of Christ 
for sin, because sin never appeared in its blackest and bloodiest colours, and 
nothing was ever able to shew us the true tincture of sin comparably to the 
blood of the Son of God. This perfection did sparkle in the commands of 
the law, which he gave angels and men for the rule of their obedience. The 
constancy of this holiness appeared in the renewing the law in tables of stone 
to the Jews, adding thereunto the ceremonial law, made up of sacrifices of 
beasts for the expiation of sin, as typical of a greater sacrifice, whereby he 
would declare that he would never be pleased with iniquity. But this mani- 
festation was with a fainter light than in a crucified Christ. If ever sin 
appeared odious, it was in the death of his Son. Here we see nothing but 
frowns and displeasures against the breach of his righteous law, his destes- 
tation of sin to be as great as his indignation, his hatred of it to be as infinite 
as his wrath against it, both joining hand in hand together to declare the 
contrariety between the beauty of the one and defonnity of the other, strik- 
ing it to the heart, and condemning it for ever to that death and dissolution 
the greatness of the evil had merited, and publishing an irreconcilable enmity 
to the filthiness and loathsomeness of it, shewing that he would rather have 
his Son die than sin live. He never declared the heinousness of sin in itself, 
and its hatefulness to himself, so much by all the vials of judgments poured 
out upon the world, by all the flames and torments of hell, as by the humi- 
liation, groans, and sufierings of his only Son. That was the hatred of sin 
in the persons of his creatures, this his hatred of it in the person of the man 
his fellow, bearing his indignation for sins never committed by him, wherein 
he was both 'white and ruddy,' Cant. v. 10, an innocent and a sufierer; pure 
in innocence and ruddy with blood. It was the intention of God to manifest 

152 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

his holiness and his justice in this affair. When he was accused — ^Mal. 
ii. 17, * Every one that doth evil is good in his sight' — that he delighted in 
evil men, and had stripped himself of his holiness and justice, and seemed 
to countenance the wicked in his providential dispensations, the answer the 
prophet by the Spirit of God gives to this charge is, Mai. iii. 1, that the 
Lord should come into his temple (a place approved to Christ in the Gospel), 
whereby I shall make a full discovery that I neither delight in evil nor will 
suffer it to go unpunished. And by righteousness which God declares in the 
death of Christ, Rom. iii. 26, some understand the holiness of God, which 
is evidenced by his being just and a justifier. He is first just, that he may, 
with the honour of his holiness and justice, justify the sinner beheving in 
Christ, whence the great praises of God in the Revelations, as well as in 
Isaiah vi., a gospel vision, are for this perfection of holiness. Rev. iv. 8, 
XV. 4. And herein the holiness of God may be considered with delight, 
which did before affright the sinner, and make him deplore the impossibility 
of his own or any other's standing before so pure a majesty, 1 Sam. vi. 20. 
It is not only discovered in Christ, but honoured ; and justice, the fruit of 
it, being satisfied, both smile upon men capacitated by Christ to stand com- 
fortably before both of them. It is declared also in setting us so exact a 
pattern as the holy of holies visibly for our imitation in all ways of humility, 
self-denial, obedience, and love to God. The sum is this: Though God had 
manifested the purity of his nature in his threatening annexed to the law, 
and in the punishment of man after he had sinned, and in the law by the 
sacrifices of beasts, yet these manifested God's hatred of sin very little in 
comparison of the death of his Son. God being more willing to punish sin in 
his Son than to leave it unpunished, shews an extreme hatred of iniquity.* 

(6.) The veracity and truth of God is manifested in Christ. Christ ' gave 
himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,' 1 Tim. ii. 6, to fia^- 
Tv^iov, for a testimony (it is a noun, not a verb) : a testimony not only 
of his grace, and the abundant goodness of God in redemption, that he 
would have all men to be saved, ver. 4, excluding none who have the condi- 
tions of faith and repentance ; but also a testimony of the truth of his first 
promise, constituting him the only mediator as the seed of the woman. His 
passion was a testimony of the veracity of God in that promise whereby it 
was accomplished. ' Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,' John i. 17 ; 
grace in regard of our pardon, truth in the regard of the promise. This 
attribute was highly discovered, in making good the promise of the seed of 
the woman, after so many revolutions of time, weary expectations of his 
coming, contrary appearances, a stay of four thousand years between the 
promise and the performance ; whereby the faith of the ancient believer was 
almost nonplussed, had not God supported it by a succession of prophetical 
predictions, as assurances that he would make good his word ; all which 
were to the utmost point fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ. 
His veracity, in the promises of assistance made to Christ in this great under- 
taking, which were the objects of our Saviour's confidence : Isa. 1. 7, 9, ' The 
Lord God will help me;' which were accomplished in bearing up the human 
nature under such a sea and load of sufterings, making his arm bare rather than 
his truth should sink in the promises made either to his Son or his creatures. 

Veracity in his threatenings ; he had declared in paradise his certain 
resolution to punish the violations of his law, which he could not recede 
from, without making a breach upon the holiness of the Deity. This threat- 
ening, which Satan had made man believe that God would falsify, he kept 
up without any spot upon his truth, any breach of his word, and yet disap- 
* Mestrezat in Heb. i. 3, pp. 98, 99. 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in cheist. 153 

pointed the devil of the great end he aimed at in his lie. He makes in 
Christ the threatenings of the law and the promises of the gospel kiss each 
other ; both Uve comfortably together, and the honour of his truth is pre- 
served in both, which have contrary aspects, as far distant as heaven and 
earth, east and west in the furthest points, so that it was an impossibiHty in 
the judgment of men, that God could be true to himself, and be merciful to 
men, if he were immutably true to his threatening. God starts not one step 
from his word, breaks not one tittle of his righteous commination ; his 
threatenings are as certain as they are dreadful, and rather than one iota of 
them shall pass away, or be accounted an empty word, or a copy of his 
countenance, he will give up his Son for the breach of that law to which his 
sharp threatening was annexed. Herein the immutability of God is declared 
to be as great in his will as in his nature. It is impossible for him to lie, though 
for the saving his Son from death ; which gives us such a representation of 
God in the infallibility of his promises, as aifords us a strong consolation, 
Heb. vi. 17, 18. The soul that knows Christ cannot but without scruple 
rest upon his word, and think nothing more becoming him than to credit 
God, who hath been punctual in keeping his word, though the relation of a 
Son, the miseries to be endured by this Son of his love, and also the yearn- 
ings of his bowels, stood in the way to move him to a breach of his word, 
had it been possible ; and since God hath not the same reason to fall back 
from this word of promise (which is a demonstration of his goodness natural 
to him), as he seems to have had to fall back from that wherein his justice, 
his strange work was to be manifested, the soul is carried out to a reUance 
on him beyond any rational possibility of a doubt. If ever he would have 
denied himself, it would have been in the case of his Son, whose prayer for 
the passing away of the cup could not make him alter one tittle of what ha 1 
passed from his lips. When his own glory in the good of his creature was 
concerned, he coiid not deny himself, 1 Tim. ii. 13 ; no, nor in the con- 
cerns of his Son. He hath hereby declared, that if he be wanting to his 
faithfulness, he would be wanting to his nature ; and to break his word, 
would-be to deny his deity ; which is such a discovery of God, as dreadful 
to an impenitent, as delightful to a believer ; for he hath manifested his 
truth to be as much his nature, as his holiness, grace, and justice. 

(7.) The power of God is manifested in Christ. Hence Christ is called 
* the power of God,' as well as ' the wisdom of God,' 1 Cor. i. 24. Not only 
in the fruits of the gospel upon the hearts of men, but in his office, wherein 
was manifested the power of God in redeeming the world. It was in him 
God tore up the foundations of the devil's empire, disarmed all the curses of 
the law, overthrew the false conceits of the world, knocked oil the fetters of 
their captivity, demolished the power of death, snatched souls from the flames 
of hell, unbarred the gates of heaven, prepared everlasting mansions, * laid 
his beams in the waters,' the foundations of an happy eternity in the misery, 
afflictions, death, blood of his only Son. He restored man to glory by 
weakness, to wisdom by foohshness ; he made the law lose its sting in the 
sides of him whom it struck, took away our captivity by misery, flung death 
to the ground by death, quenched hell by its own flames, opened heaven by 
a cross, cemented an everlasting habitation by blood, and condemned sin 
by a sacrifice for it. By a crucified man, and a weak flesh encompassed 
with infirmity, the God of heaven subdues the god of the world, destroys 
the empire of the proud spirits, and subdues principaHties and powers under 
his feet, who besides their usurped authority had a vast ambition to preserve 
it, and a strength -and subtlety unconquerable by the power of man ; and 
hereby shews, that no evil was so great but his almighty arm could put in 

154 chaenock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

execution, what his immense wisdom had provided as a remedy against it. 
By his strength he gives a being to his own word and promise, when neither 
angels nor man could conceive the methods of the execution, even after the 
promise of bruising Satan by the seed of the woman was declared. It is 
seen in raising Christ from the dead, after he had sustained the weight of 
the sin of the world upon him, and bringing him forth with success and 
glory, after that great encounter with the powers of hell ; which power is 
called ' the glory of the Father :' Rom. vi. 4, ' As Christ was raised up from 
the dead, by the glory of the Father,' dia bo^ra ; by the glory of the Father, 
as noting the efficient cause, or to the glory of the Father, as noting the 
final cause, being for the glory of God's power. In powerfully raising a 
church to him from the seed of his blood, in spite of all spiritual and secular 
enemies, defending it and supporting it under the most terrible waves of the 
world, that he might be acknowledged, adored, and praised in this world, 
and that which is to come. The power of God is not so manifest in laying 
the foundation of the earth, stretching out the heavens, turning the wheel of 
providence, as in this, which is the topstone of all his providences in the world, 
to which they tend, and wherein they centre. ' Twice we have heard that 
powder belongs to God,' Ps. Ixii. 11, 12, * Also unto thee, Lord, belongs 
mercy.' Once we have heard of it in creation ; more gloriously in the work 
of redemption, wherein his power and his grace were linked together, as well 
as in creation his power and his goodness. And this is a comfortable ma- 
nifestation of God, his power is as great as his mercy, and they join hands 
together. His power is known in Christ to be able to save us without giving 
his enemies any ground to reproach him ; and his mercy is made known, 
whereby he is willing to save us. 

Use. If the true and saving knowledge of God is only in and by Jesus 
Christ, it will afford us matter for our, 

I. Information, and it informs us, 

1. Of the insufficiency of reason without revelation. Though there be 
some relics of the law of nature, like Seth's pillars, standing in the heart, 
the mind of man paved with some broken pieces of the tables of the law, 
yet among all those fragments there is not one that hath the inscription of 
Christ the mediator upon it. Nature never preached the doctrine of a 
Saviour, and the necessity of faith ; and therefore by all the endowments of 
nature the soul cannot be informed of the true nature of God. Mere reason 
in innoceucy was never a key fitted to all the wards of divine mysteries. 
The beauty of God is not discerned in the same way as we discern the beauty 
of nature. Reason, though it be * the candle of the Lord,' Prov. xx. 27, yet 
it is but a candle, and can no more discover the natm-e of God as he is to 
be known in Christ, than a candle can help us to see the sun when it is 
masked by a thick cloud. We cannot comprehend what is revealed of God 
in the creature, much less can we arrive to that by our own reason, which 
no creature under heaven, nor in heaven, of the highest endowments, can 
make known to us without a revelation from God. Reason presents us but 
with some dark shadows or notions of God only. 

(1.) Reason is blind in the things of God. Can we render a satisfactory 
reason of anything under our feet, and thoroughly uncipher the characters of 
nature ? How can we then unlock the cabinet of God ? If we understand 
not what is below us, how can we understand what is above us ? If we 
could picture the soul of man in his lapsed state, it must be painted without 
eyes, covered with a thick mist, more crooked in his will and afiections than 
anything can be misshapen and monstrous under the heavens. A clear-eyed 

John XYII. 3.] the knowledge of god in cheist. 155 

reason can only be in an uncorrupted soul. Never speak of right reason in 
the things of God without a supernatui-al illumination, and the guidance of 
revelation, till you can shew a soul free from all manner of corruption, as 
white as snow, and as innocent as a standing angel. Since the fall there 
is as Uttle of pure reason in our minds, as there is of an exact holiness in 
our will, and the Spirit is as necessary to enlighten the one as to incline the 
other, the one being as full of prejudices and mistaken principles as the 
other of corrupt and perverse habits. Hence man is represented in Scrip- 
ture, Eph. iv. 17-19, with a mind as vain as his will is crooked, an under- 
standing as much darkened towards God as his will^is alienated from the 
life of God, as great a blindness of heart as there is madness of afiection, 
and therefore the apostle gives it no better a title than darkness, Eph. v. 8, 
comprehending thereby the race of all mankind naturally. And what can 
better express the deplorable nature of the mind and reason, which so many 
men are proud of, than darkness, the horror of the world, the cloud to the 
beauty of it, the distracter of the fancy, and the spring of fears ? It is by 
darkness we are blinded from seeing the comeliness of things in the world ; 
it is in darkness we have the most affrighting fancies ; and such a dismal 
thing is man fallen, without any power to open his own eyes, without any 
more ability to become light in the Lord than darkness hath to change itself 
into the light of the sun. Man is said to have no more understanding in 
regard of the spii-itual things of God than a beast, Ps. xlix. 20. Not a man 
as considered in Adam, and upon that root, that understands God, Rom, 
iii. 17. He is bhnd as to the object which he was created to know and 
contemplate. The world, by all 'the wisdom of God' discovered in the 
creation, ' knew not God,' 1 Cor. i. 21. By all those things wherein the 
wisdom of God appeared in creation and providence, in regard of the order, 
harmony, beauty, and effects of them, the world, with all their reasons and 
speculations, were ignorant of God, All worldly wisdom cannot remove that 
darkness which is upon the understanding as to heavenly things ; for the 
corruption like smoke rising up still from the fm-nace of that hell in the 
heart, darkens the heavens from our sight, and it is as impossible that we 
should know God while our corruption remains in its full force, as that an 
eye, bemisted by an uninten-upted succession of thick vapours from other 
parts of the body, can clearly behold any object. Peter, whose eyes were 
something opened, thought he had great reason to dissuade Christ from suf- 
fering, but his Master sharply rebukes him, and tells him he did not ' savour 
the things of God,' Mat. xvi, 23, he understood not the nature and design 
of God, The blindness of reason is seen, by considering that most of the 
reason we have in the world is the fruit of education. What a miserable 
thing would a man be, if he were bred up among beasts in a desert ! What 
a stupid statue of a man would he be, rather than a man ! There is no 
knowledge of God, man since the fall can lay claim to by his own reason, 
without some common illumination. We know nothing of God by the 
creatures, but as God spreads an inward light upon the mind. In nature 
there is a manifestation in us, as well as a manifestation to us, Rom, i. 19, 
yet it is a common illumination, 

(2,) Reason is uncertain. It is a wandering vagabond, coins lies, and 
reports falsities as truths. Is it not more often deceived in things of a 
divine concern which are above our natural capacity, than the sense is in 
sensible objects, which often mistakes things because of their distance ? Is 
not the whole scene of nature troubled with janglings and controversies ? 
What knowledge is there in the world that is not perplexed with a thousand 
doubts ? Is not that interest, education, and often passion, which we call 

156 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

reason ? Are not our minds often seduced by our humours, and drawn 
aside by a faction of passions ? How can that mind which is swayed by the 
bestial part of man frame right notions of God ? Do the beasts that perish 
understand him ? And man is no better since the fall. Is the knowledge 
of God bred and nourished by flesh and blood ? Some of the heathens were 
so sensible of this uncertainty, that they counted it their only knowledge, 
that they knew nothing as they ought to know ; and some of them believed 
that God from heaven could only be the revealer of truth. So much are 
men's thoughts entangled in divine things. 

(3.) Reason in a natural man is an enemy to the knowledge of God in 
Christ. It receives not the light that shines upon it, John i. 5. It offers a 
strong resistance, it reflects it back, as a stone wall doth the beams of the 
sun, without suffering the light to pierce into any part of it. It is from 
hence the gospel hath not the same advantage upon men, as things of a 
moral concern, which are written in the law and have a counterpart in the 
remainders of the law of nature in the heart of a man. But the gospel finds 
nothing of kin to it in the soul, but rather principles that oppose it ; the 
mysteries of Christ, wherein the grace, justice, wisdom of God are discovered, 
seem foolishness to a natural mind. It seems to them a folly to imagine, 
that God should put his Son to death for the demonstration of his justice, 
that man should be justified by his blood ; and upon this account it is that 
the apostle saith, 1 Cor. ii. 14, that * a natural man receives not the things 
of the Spirit of God, for they ax-e foohshness unto him.' He doth not say 
a carnal man, but an animal, a soully man ; he doth not speak of one led by 
the affections of the flesh, but those wise men that are led by flashy reason, 
and by the common estimated wisdom and principles of the world, and order 
their lives according to the rational dictates of the world ; such an one 
' receives not the things of the Spirit of God,' he doth not say receives not 
the things of God, for he knows something of God ; but not the things of 
the Spirit of God, i. e. he knows not God evangelically, embraceth not, 
apprehends not, affects not, the knowledge of God in Christ in the gospel 
spirit. The reason is, because ' they are foolishness to him.' If the apostle 
meant a man wallowing in sensual pleasures, and conducted by his bestial 
appetite, he might rather say. Such an one receives them not because they 
savour of wisdom, because they are against the pleasures of the flesh, than 
because he accounts them foolish ; but he is one given to the study of 
wisdom, and disaffects them, because he thinks them contrary to that which 
he thinks wisdom, to that which hath prepossessed his mind. No sensual 
man in the world can in his own judgment and conscience disapprove of things 
morally good, and known so by the common hght of nature as foolish ; but 
such an one rejects and hates the knowledge of God in the gospel ; for as 
a rich man hates nothing more than poverty, a sensual man nothing more 
than a seriousness and sobriety of life, so a wise man hates nothing more 
than that which he thinks to be folly. With what contempt did the 
Athenians reject the doctrine Paul preached to them, under no civiller a title 
than that of babbling ! Acts xvii. 18. Carnal reason is the most furious 
beast in the world. A natural wise man is too lofty to know God in divine 
methods, who is best discerned in a way of humility and self-denial. And 
at the best, the notions of God, by the representations of reason without 
Christ, lose much of their majesty, beauty, and commanding power over the 
hearts of men, they are weak and faint, for it is a represention by a declining 
and disproportioned light. 

From what has been said in this case, it follows, 

(1.) That there is a necessity of revelation and illumination. There 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 1o7 

must be first an external revelation of the object ; and secondly, an internal 
illumination of the faculty. There is a word of revelation, which is the 
gospel revealed to the understandings of men ; there is a Spirit of revelation 
requisite besides, which the apostle begs for the Ephesians, who had the 
object already revealed to them, that their understandings might be further 
enlightened, Eph. i. 17 ; so that the further understanding of G-od and his 
mysteries in the gospel, after the first illumination, is not a work of the bare 
reason and understanding of man, without further operations of the Spirit 
in and upon them. 

Suppose that the light of reason were come to that point, to know that 
our chief good consisted in communion with God,* yet no man could know 
that God was of such a gracious and condescending nature, and were willing 
to communicate himself in the choicest manner, since man was a sinner and 
had incurred his wrath and malediction, without some divine revelation 
which must discover God to be of such an encouraging nature. 

(2.) We ought to submit our reason to revelation. God doth not give us 
reason to quarrel with, but to discern and entertain divine revelation. He 
hath given us reason to examine revelations, whether they bear a divine 
stamp upon them. He hath not therefore imposed things upon men without 
undeniable characters of their divine authority. Whatsoever hath been 
revealed which reason could not of itself reach, has been attended with 
miracles which could not be wrought by any created power, and bore the 
marks of omnipotency upon them. We have not reason to comprehend all 
the parts of divine revelation, shall we therefore deny it to be from God ? 
Adam, and the angels, too, in heaven, may with as much reason turn atheists 
because they cannot comprehend God. Some truths revealed may, if not 
be formally demonstrated by reason, yet receive some clearness and evidence 
from it after they are revealed. But as Adam had, and the angels have, 
clear reason to prove to themselves, and experience too, that there is a God, 
though they cannot fathom the infinite depths of his nature ; so there is 
clear reason to manifest the Scripture which gives us a declaration of Christ 
to be the revelation of God, though we cannot grasp all the parts of that 
divine revelation, and make every thesis therein clear to a natural reason. 
There are such arguments for it that contradicting ingenious reason cannot 
but be startled at. We ought therefore to submit our reasonings to God's 
declaration. The rational creature was made to serve God. His reason, 
then, ought to be held in the rank of a servant ; the light of reason ought 
to veil to the author of reason, and the light in the mind ought to veil to 
him who enlightened it when man came into the world. Eeason ought to 
follow faith, not precede it. The stars borrow their light from the sun, not 
the sun from the stars. Reason, indeed, may come in with an auxiliary 
force after a revelation is made, for the maintaining the truth of it, and 
clearing it up to the minds of others, and may be a servant to revelation 
now under Christ, as well as it should have been to any revelation in the 
state of innocence. We ought therefore to submit our reason to God, not 
think to mate him in knowledge any more than we can in majesty and 
infiniteness, nor set up a spark to vie with the sun. Pride put out Adam's 
eye at first ; and the pride of reason cherished will continue us as blind as 
beetles in the things of a heavenly concern. 

2. Information. The excellency of the gospel and Christian religion. 

The Christian religion is a perspective wherewith to look to heaven, it 

presents us with that knowledge of God which neither all the angels in 

heaven, nor creatures upon earth, were ever able without Christ to convey 

* Mestrezat. 

158 charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

to us. Christ's being the image of God is a reason why the gospel is so 
glorious, 2 Cor. iv. 4, 1 Tim. i. 11. It is called 'the glorious gospel of 
the blessed God,' wherein the glory of God's perfection shines forth, because 
in that Christ is made known to us, and in him the beauty of God is dis- 
played to our view. The knowledge of God in nature was in darkness, in the 
law it was in shadows, in the gospel it is in light. In nature it was a light 
as at midnight, under the law as in the dawning, in the gospel as at sun-rising; 
for by reason the knowledge was by candle-light, in the law by torch-light, 
in the gospel by a sunbeam. The doctrine of the Trinity, obscurely deHvered 
in the Old Testament, is more cleared up since the coming of the Messiah, which 
could never have been found out by reason, nor yet can be demonstrated by 
reason, though it be capable to furnish us with some illustrations of it. 
The heathens disputed about God, and the Christians know him. It answers 
the ends of all religion. Religion respects God ; it must have the know- 
ledge of God therefore for a foundation. If it hath not the right knowledge 
of God, it is superstition. All true religion conduceth to the creature's duty 
and happiness ; our duty and happiness is to know and love God. This 
religion only gives us a knowledge of God honourable to him, and presents 
us with inducements to love him comfortable to ourselves ; and whatsoever 
makes God known to man in his own glory, and for man's comfort, is cer- 
tainly in reason the most excellent religion. Whatsoever renders God 
venerable and amiable to the minds of men is true ; for it cannot be sup- 
posed that infinite goodnees should create the world, and communicate 
itself with a design to be hated and contemned by his creatures, but to be 
feared and loved. Whatsoever therefore doth present God in the richest 
streams of goodness to the creature, with honour to himself, hath truth for 
the foundation of it. 

(1.) This religion represents God with honour. It renders God as just 
as merciful, and as merciful as just. It sets forth the riches of the one 
without darkening the glory of the other. It presents God in the depths of 
his wisdom, heights of his love, equity of his justice, stability of his truth, 
beauty of his holiness, wonders of his patience, and glory of his power, 
without offering violence to any principle of reason. The gospel is most 
divine in the articles to be beheved of God, most magnificent in its pro- 
mises, unquestionably holy and advantageous to the world in its precepts. 
It unveils a God to encourage to duty, and twists our duty with God's 
honour. What can be more reasonable ? or how can the creature honour 
God more than to fear his justice, trust in his goodness, turn to him because 
of his mercy, depend upon his truth, and glorify his grace, accept of a 
righteousness from him, and be freed from guilt by him ? It pulls the 
creature from itself to make it all in and by God. It brings God to the 
state of a God, and the creature to a creature's posture ; it sets God upon 
his throne and the creature at his feet, exalts heaven and depresseth earth. 
It shews us that God is all our repose, that our rest and felicity is to love 
him. It shews us the unreasonableness and folly of our natural conceits of 
God. It discourages everything that hinders us from a conjunction with 
him ; instructs us to abhor everything that made our separation from him, 
to embrace everything that may further our return to him, and renders man 
incapable of any centre, any end by himself, any repose but in him. Where 
is God set out more illustriously, and with greater incitements to love him ? 
Since his love to man hath reached the highest point, what is wanting to 
heat us, what is wanting to inflame us ? But do we not disgrace this hon- 
ourable religion by not elevating our souls to God, having hearts as c( Id as 
ice, and hke salamanders, that cannot burn in the midst of such a fire ? 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 3 59 

(2.) It represents God with unspeakable comfort to the creature. The 
first notions of God in the gospel flash like lightning with comfort upon the 
disconsolate soul. He discovers himself as a Father of mercy, because the 
Father of Christ ; as a God of tenderness and consolation ; as a God that 
would enter into the heart with all his sweetness if we would but open ; 
would spread his wings over our souls and dwell in the midst of us, unite us 
in eternal bands to himself. He sends to us ' the express image of his 
person,' Heb. i. 3, one of his own nature to take ours, that we may freely 
converse with him in that image, which we could not immediately with God 
because of the distance of our natui-e. A communion between man and a 
creature of different nature is hard ; man cannot converse with an angel or 
a beast, much less with God. But the Godhead holds out his hand in the 
humanity of Christ, to take us by the hand and lead us into his chambers. 
In Christ, God condescends to shew his face to the creature, whereby he 
renders his nature amiable, and the believing creature comfortable. There 
is such a knowledge of God in it as can comfort a man upon a deathbed, 
appease his conscience, direct his eye to a delightful sight of another world, 
make him embrace death with joy ; such advantages as the knowledge of 
God, in the whole book of nature, all political skill, and the choicest specu- 
lations, cannot afibrd a man. These things delight him at present, help 
him to pass his life with some content, but are unable to administer the 
least cordial dram at a dying hour. In other religions we may know some- 
thing of God, little of our own misery, nothing of a remedy ; but in the 
gospel we know God, ourselves, our misery, and our medicine. We see a 
God fit to be trusted by us, one that hath given the greatest evidence of his 
care of the world. No stronger testimony can be given than his sending 
his Son to declare it ; acting so about his Son, and in his Son. Who can 
question the providence of God, and his taking care of human affairs ? Who 
can dispute the tenderness of his bowels, when he hath writ his care and 
compassions in the blood of his only begotten ? 

^ (3.) The knowledge of God in Christ hath in the gospel been mighty suc- 
cessful. Whatsoever discovery of God was among the heathens before the 
manifestation of Christ did soon veil to that which was discovered by him. 
The idols fell down at his feet, Dagon gave way to the ark, and that which 
was limited to the Jewish nation extended itself to the utmost bounds of the 
earth, and brought people to the acknowledgment of one God in his glory 
and sovereignty, as it had been predicted : Zech. xiv. 9, ' And the Lord 
shall be king over all the earth ; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his 
name one.' The mountain of the Lord's house was hfted up above all the 
idolatrous mountains, and the whole frame of idolatry the devil had erected 
and preserved so many ages in the world against the traditions left by Adam 
was demolished ; and so much hath God been discovered in his truth, that 
not one of those heathen idols, so much famed in their writers, is acknow- 
ledged for a god in any part of the world. In the eastern parts, indeed, they 
have some idols where the Christian religion is expired, but the names of 
Jupiter, Apollo, &c., are wholly buried among those nations that before adored 
them, and scarce any part of the world that we know of doth acknowledge 
now a multiplicity of gods. The discovery of Christ hath been the cause of 
this. The Turks, who acknowledge Mahomet for a prophet, yet acknowledge 
him not for a god. The true God, that had been cast out of the world by the 
subtlety of the devil, and had confined himself in his worship to the small spot 
of Judea, is restored by Christ to the knowledge of men, and to a worship due 
to him, and the adored idols sunk at the foot of the cross. The knowledf^e of 
God covered the earth in respect of plenty and abundance, as the waters cover 

IGO charnock's works. [John XVII. 3. 

the sea; superstition was demolished, and errors about God dispersed. Hath 
not, then, the gospel and the Christian religion the greatest trophies ? Can 
anything claim an equal honour with it ? Is there any religion in the world 
whereby Grod hath been so fully discovered, restored to his right, to that right 
which the common reason of the world must acknowledge due to God ? It 
hath defaced no notions of God which were according to true reason, bat 
cleared them, given us the reasons of those proceedings of God, obscure 
before, and added a worthy and satisfactory account of God, which innocent 
reason could not reach, and the most corrupted reason hath no firm ground 
to quarrel with ; all which cannot be ascribed to any other profession in the 
world but the Christian. This is the glory of the gospel, this is the fruit of 
our Saviour Jesus Christ. 

3. Information. How inexcusable is the ignorance of God in them that 
hear so often ! God was but faintly discovered in the creatures, in the 
Jewish time was obscured by shadows, but that which was a mystery in for- 
mer ages is clearly revealed, so that there is now no mysteriousness in the 
nature of God, so far as to hinder our direction to a happy enjoyment of 
him. The things of God are as plain as the sun, so that whatsoever ignorance 
there is of him under the preaching of the gospel is not invincible, but affected. 
Every man under the gospel may be greater in point of knowledge than John 
the Baptist. Shall any man behold the beams of the sun every day, and not 
cast his eyes up' to see that body from whence they shoot ? With what face 
can we call ourselves Christians, if we have no desire to know God as revealed 
in Christ ? Shall we worship a God we know not ? Are we created by God 
and preserved by God, yet are content to be wilfully ignorant of him, to whom 
we owe our being and preservation ? Can we pretend any affections to him 
whom we desire not to understand ? A worse charge will be brought against, 
and a sharper punishment inflicted on, such, than upon the heathens, who 
were ' given up to a reprobate mind,' because they ' liked not to retain God 
in their knowledge,' Kom. i. 28, when it was a knowledge only by the dim 
light of creatures. What do they deserve that will not embrace nor retain 
the knowledge of God by a clearer light in Christ ? It was the end of the 
whole creation to point us to God, Ps. xix. civ. ; it was the end of the work 
of redemption to bring us to an acquaintance with God. By a wilful ignor- 
ance of God, we cross both the end of creation and redemption, and slight 
God as our first maker, benefactor, and restorer. He that doth not know 
God in Christ has no true knowledge of God absolutely, because it is no God 
as conceived by him, and packed together of various inventions of his own ; 
it is not a God according to Christ's revelations, but his own imagination 
and fancy. 

II. Use of exhortation. 

1. Let those that have the knowledge of God in Christ bless him for it. 
The seventh day was appointed to bless God for the discovery of his good- 
ness and other perfections in the creation. The first day is ordained wherein 
we should bless God for the discovery of his perfections in redemption. The 
' name of Christ' should be as an ointment poured forth,' Cant. i. 3; we 
should delight in the fragrancy, and praise him for the odours and savours 
of it. The patriarchs had a knowledge of Christ, and therefore a knowledge 
of God afar off, Heb. xi. 13 ; they saw the promises afar off (i. e. the pro- 
mises of the Messiah), obscure and dark : men have not a distinct sight of 
the objects they see at a distance. What reason have we to render the praise 
due to the name of God for bringing us, as it were, to see him face to face! 
Christ bestows a blessing upon such, which was denied to many prophets 
and kings, referring to the knowledge of the Father by his revelation of him, 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in christ. 161 

Luke X. 22-24, as though the old believers saw nothing nor heard anything, 
yet they that were pronounced blessed then had not seen Christ dying and 
rising, and the coming of the Spirit, whereby the apostles had a clearer 
knowledge of the nature of God. We have the full testimony of it in the 
gospel. What blessing should we reflect back upon God, and how should 
our hearts be filled with venerations of him ! And where there is the know- 
ledge of God in Christ, it will be perfected in time in all the fruits of it. In 
Christ, God is our God in covenant, to communicate himself to us in all 
things we are capable of ;••' as when the sun communicates itself to us, it is 
to enlighten us with that light which it hath. When a knowing man com- 
municates himself to one ignorant, it is to give him part of his knowledge. 
If creatures communicate their goods according to their condition, God will 
also render us partakers of a divine condition, which extends to the banish- 
ing all ignorance and errors, and to the bestowing on us a fulness of wisdom 
and knowledge, as well as holiness and happiness, as much as the condition 
of the creature will permit ; therefore glory not in riches and strength, or 
anything else, but ' glory in this, that you know the Lord,' Jer. ix. 23, 24. 
2. Let such as want the knowledge of God in Christ endeavour for it. It 
is by this we gain a union with God. When we have an understanding to 
know the true God, we are then * in him which is true :' 1 John v. 20, ' And 
we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding 
that we may know him that is true ; and we are in him that is true, even in 
his Son Jesus Christ.' God lives in such, and they in him. We are united 
to him who is truly discovered in his Son Jesus Christ. Calvin observes 
this intimation from the apostle's expressing it without a copulative, for the 
particle even is not in the Greek. Those that seek to know God without 
Christ have not any light that can satisfy them; they know that there is one 
God, but they have no means of union to him, or communion with him, 
without the mediator. Without Christ we can neither know God nor know 
ourselves. Without him there is nothing but darkness and ground of de- 
spair, nothing but confusion to us appears in the nature of God, nothing 
but trouble and misery in our own nature. f We are desirous God should 
know us in our misery, and know our want and indigence we lie under ; 
and is it not a folly for us not to know God in his fulness ? We can make 
but slender guesses at God till we see him in the face of a mediator. 
To this end, 

1. Study the gospel. The gospel hath the same titles in part that Christ 
hath. It is called the power of God, and the wisdom of God; as instru- 
mentally it declares Christ to the world, who is essentially the power and 
wisdom of God, and mediatorily and by way of excellency, as he discovers 
the perfections of God to the world ; and the gospel is so by way of subser- 
viency, to inform our understandings, conduct us to God, and excite our 
motions. It is in this God makes the church's windows as agates, Isa. liv. 
12, 13, or, as others, jasper stone, clear as crystal, more fit for windows than 
dark agates. And, indeed, the light of the church is compared to jasper, as 
Rev. xxi. 11. The issue of all is to be taught of the Lord. It is unworthy 
for any man to trifle away his time in the knowledge of human things, with 
a neglect of this. Should not an eye-salve be more desirable to a blind man 
for the restoration of his sight, than a purple robe ? What comfort can 
learning, riches, greatness, yea, a thorny crown and sceptre, be to one as 
blind as a mole in spiritual things ? Angels know more than any creatures, 
of the depths of God's wisdom in creation ; they see the several engines 
* Mestrezat, Ber. iv. sur. Ileb. viii. pp. 407, 408. t Pascal, Pens. p. 151. 

VOL.. IV. L 

162 charnock's works. [John XVII. 8. 

whereby the creatures perform their motions, yet they are not said to in- 
quire into those things, or please themselves with philosophical meditations, 
but to be students in the wisdom of God, in the mysteries of the gospel, 
which presents them with a scheme of God, more ravishing than that in 
creation. The knowledge of God in the gospel is more glorious than the 
knowledge of God by nature, as much as Scripture revelation is above natural 
reason. There hath been something of God in Christ known in the church, 
"ever since the first promise of the seed of the woman. Abraham saw Christ's 
day afar off, the prophets predicted him, he was wrapt in types, the Israelites 
beheld him in their paschal lamb, the stricken broached rock, the nourishing 
manna, the divine propitiatory, and the daily sacrifices. But what is all 
this to the knowledge of him by the gospel, and consequently the knowledge 
of God by him since his incarnation, since the shadows fled away, and the 
sun hath appeared in its splendour ? 

2. Submit yourselves to the prophetical office of Christ as his disciples. 
He is as real a prophet now to instruct the soul, as he is a priest to inter- 
cede for it, or a king to rule it. As God is propitious through Christ, so he 
is only an instructor through Christ. As the power of God in the conver- 
sion of the soul, so the wisdom of God in the instruction of the soul, breaks 
out through Christ. He only that can bring us to glory, can guide us by 
his eye, Ps. xxxii. 8. He is the Lord that shews us light, Ps. cxviii. 27. 
If we would have light, we must use the beams of the sun. If we would be 
knowing, we must have recourse to some skilful person in the science we 
would learn. Resignation to Christ is the first step to divine knowledge. 
Christ will not teach any that proudly strut against his office. It is the 
master's delight to teach an inquisitive and humble scholar. It was ' given' 
to the disciples, those that had devoted themselves to him, * to know the 
mysteries of the kingdom of God,' Mark iv. 11. Receive him, therefore, as 
the great prophet of God's appointing, furnished with skill to propose to you 
the knowledge of God, and efficacious ability to imprint it upon your minds 
by an inward illumination. Have a solemn veneration for the letter of the 
gospel ; but lift up your eyes to Christ as a prophet, begging of him to open 
the eyes and seal instruction, to unlock the soul and enlighten the under- 
standing ; and say as Zophar to Job, * Oh that God would teach and shew me 
the secrets of wisdom ! ' Job xi. 6. He is God's interpreter ; to discover 
God was the end of his coming. His office is to teach ; put him upon the 
exercise of it. He hath a charge from the Father to declare his name, he 
will not be unfaithful in it. Plead his charge, he hath promised to declare 
it ; urge him with his truth. 

3. Endeavour after suitable afi"ections to whatsoever you know of God in 
Christ. Let the holiness of God in Christ be the awe of your souls. Let 
us not dandle any sin which God so hates, that he would not remit it without 
the price of the blood of his Son. Tremble at that justice which drank such 
draughts of precious blood in the punishment of sin, and consider every sin 
in its utmost demerit. Admire and bless that wisdom, which made itself so 
eminent in the untying so many knots, passing over such mountains of 
difficulties that he might shew himself a hater of sin and a lover of his crea- 
tures, that he might entwine his mercy and justice in perpetual embraces. 
Let us have as strong afiections of love and joy, as the devils, by their know- 
ledge of God as discovered in Christ, have of horror and hatred. We see 
in that, not only the manifestation, but the satisfaction of his justice ; they 
see the manifestation of it, and the dissatisfaction of it for ever with them. 
They have such a knowledge of God in Christ, as to nwaken their consciences ; 
we may have such a knowledge of God in Christ, as to calm our consciences. 

John XVII. 3.] the knowledge of god in chbist. 163 

Their terrors are as much increased by that discovery, as a believer's comfort. 
They behold G-od in Christ, their implacable and inexorable judge ; we may 
behold God in Christ, a tender and condescending Father. They know a 
God in our nature, imparting his own nature to us; and refusing their nature, 
to leave them to lie in their fallen state for ever. The terrible attributes 
become sweet in Christ to man, and more dreadful to them. Let the 
motions of your will, and the affections of your soul, rise according to the 
elevation of your knowledge of God in Christ, more or less. 

To conclude ; let us behold his justice, to humble ourselves under it ; his 
pardoning grace, to have recourse to it under pressures of guilt. Let us 
sweeten our affections by the sight of his compassions, and have confidence 
to call upon him as a Father in our necessities. Not any discovery of God 
in Christ, but is an encouragement to a forlorn creature, lost in his own 
sense. His perfections smile upon man ; nothing of God looks terrible in 
Christ to a believer. The sun is risen, shadows are vanished, God walks 
upon the battlements of love, justice hath left its sting in a Saviour's side, 
the law is disarmed, weapons out of his hand, his bosom open, his bowels 
yearn, his heart pants, sweetness and love is in all his carriage. And this 
is life eternal, to know God believingly in the glories of his mercy and justice 
in Jesus Christ. 


And when lie is come, he will reprove the world of sii7, and of rir/hteous- 
ness, and of judgment : of sin, because they believed not on me. — 
John XVI. 8, 9. 

OuE Saviour in this chapter shows what was the intention of his discourse 
in the former, which was, first, to forewarn his disciples of, and forearm them 
against, the violence they should meet with in the world after his departure 
from them, in the chapter foregoing, ver. 20 ; which violence should be 
the hotter against them, because it would be thought an acceptable service 
unto God to assault them with the sharpest persecutions. He therefore 
wisheth them to remember what he had said, in the fourth verse of this 
chapter : * But these things I have told you, that when the time shall come, 
you may remember that I told you of them.' He knew the jealousies of 
men's hearts, how apt upon every occasion they are to make unjust reflec- 
tions. Therefore, saith he, consider it well, and do not have hard thoughts 
of me, when you come to feel these suflferings I now speak of. I tell you 
before of them, that you may have no cause to blame me, as one that dealt 
falsely with you in concealing the sting, while I present you with the honey. 
No ; I acquaint you with the worst as well as the best part, the bitterest as 
well as the sweetest. Then, secondly, he supports his drooping disciples, 
who began to faint at the thoughts of his departure, John xv. 26 ; and also 
in this chapter, which he doth by the promise of a Comforter to be sent unto 

You may observe, first, that God doth not send any affliction upon his 
people, without providing them also a cordial ; as a wise physician, who 
prescribes a purge to carry away the corrupt humours, and a cordial to sup- 
port the spirits. Our Saviour tells them of the Comforter that should refresh 
them, as well as acquaints them with that misery that might deject them. 
The same was God's procedure with our first parents after the fall : first, he 
revives them with a gracious promise, before he denounceth a grievous stand- 
ing sentence upon them. And, 

Secondly, Observe that God sends afflictions on his dearest children. 
These apostles that were the salt of the Jewish nation, preserving them from 
a total putrefaction, those that Christ had laid in his bosom, revealed the 
secrets of his Father, and the mysteries of redemption to, and prayed for 
their preservation, and intended to do it further in a solemn manner (as he 

John XYI. 8, 9.J conviction of sin. 166 

did in the following chapter), had culled them out as witnesses to bear up 
his name in the world, and given them an assurance of being in glory with 
him ; yet these must be hated, and killed, and depressed under the violence 
of the wicked world. 

The miseries they should endure are two, John xvi. 2 : 

First, Excommunication : ' They shall put you out of the synagogues.' 
The Jews should not think them worthy to be in the church. 

Secondly, Destruction : ' Whosoever killeth you will think he doth G-od 
service. They should not be thought worthy to live in the world. 

And the grounds of this violent proceeding are two : 

(1.) Superstitious zeal. They shall think they do God good service in so 

(2.) BHnd ignorance : ver. 3, * These things will they do unto you, be- 
cause they have not known the Father.' These are the two great grounds of all 
persecutions that are in the world, superstitious zeal and blind ignorance. 
You may observe. 

First, How often is religion pretended to justify cruelty ! God bad not 
any church in the world but among the Jews at that time, yet the body of 
them do set themselves in opposition against those few disciples that bore up 
the name of Christ in the world, and under the pretence of religion they 
would send them out of the world. So contrary to the main design of God, 
which is to promote charity to man, as well as love to himself. 

Secondly, Nothing is so great an enemy to true Christianity as ignorant 
zeal ; nothing so hurtful as passion, clothed with the purple of a seeming 
piety. A zealous Paul will be a persecuting Paul, because zealous in the 
external part of the Jewish religion. The superstitious Jews did more 
oppose the progress of the gospel than either the profane sort among them, 
or the blind heathen. 

Thirdly, We may observe in the chapter how Christ giveth them the reason 
why he acquainted them with these things now, and withal, why he did not 
tell them of them before : ver. 4, ' These things I have told you, that, when 
the time shall come, you may remember that I told you of them. And these 
things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.' He 
was with them, and by his personal presence did give them a remedy upon 
any emergency. He was a screen to keep oflf the rage of men from them, 
by receiving it upon himself. 

Fourthly, He searcheth into the causes of their sorrow : ver. 5, 6, • But 
now I go my way to him that sent me, sorrow hath filled your hearts.' 

(1.) His departure from them, ver. 6, that had filled their hearts with 
sorrow, the thoughts of that. And who could blame them for grieving at the 
parting with so good and tender a master, and to part with him when a deluge 
of misery by his own prediction was flowing in upon them, and to part with 
him upon such terms, and by such a death as to outward appearance would 
reflect on them as his followers, as well as on him their master ? Such ap- 
prehensions of the storm could not but stagger an ungrown faith, and nip 
their budding hopes and joy. Probably their carnal conceptions of a carnal 
kingdom being foiled by our Saviour, was the ground of all. Alas ! have we 
left all to follow him, and expected great outward advantages, and that we 
should be near him, and be his friends ; and are we thus mistaken in his 
person and design, and fallen from the top of our hopes into the depth of an 
unexpected misery ? Such conceptions they might have, and therefore their 
sorrows were the greater. 

First, Observe, that spiritual apprehensions are an antidote against un- 
belief, and the boitow conseijuent upon it. All such sorrow in a Christian 

166 chabnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

ariseth from ignorant, and false, and mean, and sordid, and unworthy notions 
of the design and the truths of God. Had these weak and heavy apostles 
had right and spiritual conceptions of their Master's work, they had rejoiced 
as much as now they grieved. None can live to Christ, as dying and rising 
for them, who have no other knowledge of him but * after the flesh, 2 Cor. 
V. 15, 16. Carnal conceptions of the deeps of God do leave a very gloomy 
darkness upon the soul. Therefore he searcheth into the causes of their 
sorrow, the first of which was his departure. 

Secondly, Their carelessness in inquiring whither he went ; which he tells 
them of in a way of reproof : ver. 5, * Now I go my way to him that sent 
me ; and none of you ask me, Whither goest thou ? ' Had they inquired of 
him the reason of things, their grief had been prevented, and their joy estab- 
lished. It was to heaven he was to go, upon their account as well as his 
own, to a Father that loved him, and them also. 

1. Observe. Those things which are ground of joy in themselves are, by 
our neglect of a due inquiry, and our mistakes, matter of grief to us. How 
apt are good men to draw matter of sorrow from grounds of joy ! The best 
man is a very ignorant interpreter of the designs of providence. We cannot 
see the beauty of providence, because of the black mask that veils it. For 
want of inquiring of Christ the end of his death and ascension, the reason of 
his going, and the place whither he went, they tasted not that comfort which 
this might have afi"orded them, and missed at present the design and intend- 
ment of it. 

2. We may observe, that the way to true comfort is to inquire into, and 
consider well, the reason of divine mysteries. Had they understood the 
reason of his death, the reason of his ascension, the reason of his going to 
his Father, they could not have grieved, but rather have rejoiced. A slight 
knowledge will make but a slight grace, and flashy staggering joy : 2 Peter 
iii. 18, ' But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ.' Know how he is a Lord, and how he is a Saviour, and upon 
what accounts and grounds ; and growing in such a kind of knowledge is the 
way to grow in grace. 

Fifthly, He informs them of the necessity of his departure for their advan- 
tage. It was necessary for him to take possession of his kingdom, sit down 
upon his throne ; necessary for them, that thereby they might enjoy the 
choicest fruits of his purchase : ver 7, * It is expedient for you that I go 
away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.' 

1. He illustrates this necessity by the contrary, ' If I go not away, the 
Comiorter will not come unto you ; ' therefore, if you would have the Com- 
forter come, it is necessary that I go. 

2. He confirms it by an asseveration, ' I tell you the truth,' I speak truly 
to you, ' If I do not go, the Comforter will not' come.' There is one to 
come after my departure to supply my absence, who shall carry on the work 
of redemption I have laid, with greater success to the conviction of the 
world, who shall be in your ministry with you, and shall convince men 
of their sins, and of that remedy I have provided. 

We may observe, 

First, How tender is our Saviour of grieving his weak and distressed 
people ! He doth not rate them for their unbelieving sorrow, and forbear 
any further dealing with them ; he might have chid them for not believing 
him upon his bare word, but he condescends to give them an affirmation, 
next to an oath, ' I tell you the truth.' He is always very careful not to 
break a bruised reed ; and is like his Father, who by his oath hath given us 
strong consolation, and a mighty prop for our tottering faith. 

John XVI. 8, 9.j conviction of sin. 167 

Secondly, observe this, the death and ascension of Christ were highly 
necessary for the descent of the Spirit. 

(1.) This choicest benefit we receive from God could not have come, 
unless the justice of God had been satisfied, and his favour procured by a, 
sufficient sacrifice. How unreasonable is it to think God should bestow the 
highest of his favours, while his justice was not contented ! Christ by his 
death appeased the anger of his Father, and bare the punishment we had 
merited, and opened those treasures of grace which by reason of our sins 
had been shut up from us. Besides, the death of Christ was so perfect an 
obedience, that it gained all the love and afiection of his Father as a requital ; 
it was so highly grateful to him, and the pleasure he took in it was so great, 
that because of that he would give to Christ and his people whatsoever was 
most dear and precious to him. To have this right of sending the Spirit, it 
was necessary Christ should die. The rock was to be struck by the rod of 
Moses before it did send out water ; and Christ, the spiritual rock, was to be 
struck by the curse of the law before the Spirit (which is often in Scripture 
compared to water) could flow out. And though the Spirit was sparingly 
communicated before the death of Christ, yet it was communicated, and 
that upon the promise which Christ made of dying for men in the fulness of 
time, upon the account of that death which was to be suffered in due time. 

(2.) The Spirit could not come unless Christ had ascended ; for by his 
going to the Father, he means his death and ascension. The Spirit could 
not come but by the gift and mission of the mediator, on whose head he 
was first to be poured, and flow down from him on all believers. Besides, 
Christ received not those rich gifts from the hand of his Father, to com- 
municate to us, till he had entered into the true sanctuary not made with 
hands. He received them for himself before, to fit him for that obedience 
he was to perform by the death of the cross ; but he received them to com- 
municate unto us after his ascension, then he received gifts for men. What 
he purchased by his death, he took possession of at his entrance into heaven. 
The end of the Spii-it's coming could not be carried on without Christ's 
death and ascension; for the Spirit was to manifest the infiniteness of God's 
love to man, and declare the means of salvation. Now, the principal reason 
upon which this manifestation was to be built, was the death of Christ ; he 
must therefore die, and rise again, and ascend, before the grounds of this 
reason could be valid ; which appears afterwards in the reasons rendered of 
his ' reproving the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.' His 
death was necessary to satisfy God's justice ; his resurrection and ascension 
to manifest God's acceptation and approbation of his death. The sending 
the Spirit being a part of his royalty as mediator, it was not convenient he 
should be sent till Christ was crowned, and sat down on his throne in his 
kingdom. There are two benefits by Christ : acquisition of redemption, 
which was by his death ; and application of that redemption, which is by 
his intercession in heaven, and his Spirit on earth So that if he had not 
ascended, we had wanted the Spirit to make application, and to render us fit 
for it ; we had wanted the preparation for it, and the comfort of it. Then, 

Thirdly, we may observe, that the presence of the Spirit is a greater 
comfort than simply the presence of Christ in his flesh. ' It is expedient 
for you that I go away ; if I go not away, the Comforter will not come.' It 
is better for you I should go, because then the Comforter will come. Christ 
is a comforter ; but the Spirit is more intimately a comforter than Christ in 
his fleshly presence. Christ in his first coming did possess himself of our 
flesh, and converse with his disciples outwardly ; but the Spirit is to possess 
himself of our hearts inwardly : Gal. iv. 4-6, ' When the fulness of time 

168 charnock's W0RK8. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 
to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adop- 
tion of sons ; and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his 
Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.' Christ dwelt among us in the 
flesh ; the Spirit doth not only dwell with a believer, but in him, John 
xiv. 17 ; not only dwell with you by outward declaration, but he shall be in 
you by inward motion and inspiration. And you see he giveth him here 
the title of Comforter. The name signifies one that speaks eloquently, 
persuasively, with much facility, elegancy, and affection, in such a manner 
as mightily works upon others, and pleasingly gratifies them. It signifies 
both a comforter and instructor, both which agree well to the Holy Ghost. 

First, He was to acquaint the world with the highest mysteries of God 
manifest in the flesh ; to open the secret of God's love to the world, and 
the resolves of eternity ; to draw the curtain from before those truths which 
neither the eye of nature, nor the more open eye of the Jews were able to 
pierce into because of the veil, ver. 13. He was to ' guide them into all 
truth,' the knowledge and observance of all truth necessary. 

Secondly, He was to witness of Christ; and therefore might well be called 
an instructor. As Christ unfolded the treasures of his Father's love, and 
purchased divine blessings by his passion, so the Spirit was to bear witness 
to the commission Christ had to ofler up himself, and the validity of that 
offering, and the nature of his purchase. It was a thing incredible in itself, 
that a God of infinite tenderness should expose his innocent Son to suffer- 
ings and death for rebellious creatures. It was necessary the Spirit should 
be employed to persuade men inwardly of the reality and truth of this, of 
the authority of Christ, his sincerity in dying, and the efficacy of that death, 
and the necessity of their interest in it by faith, and to apply all to the 
believing soul with comfort, and fill it with peace by virtue of this expiation. 

Now what is this Comforter, advocate, or instructor to do ? He will 
reprove, or rather convince, sXiy^si ; the word here translated reprove is 
sometimes so rendered : 1 Cor. xiv. 24, ' He is convinced of all.' It is the 
same word which is here, and also in Jude 15, ' To convince all that are 
ungodly of their ungodly deeds.' It signifies to reprove by way of argu- 
ment, to manifest by an undeniable demonstration the truth or falsity of 
such an opinion, so as to stop the mouth of the guilty or erroneous person, 
that he cannot find so much as a fig-leaf of an excuse, or a starting-hole 
from it. It is to charge a thing so home and so close as to bring the con- 
science under the power of truth, and to make it self-condemned, to convict 
us by our own conscience ; so the word is rendered in John viii. 9. So the 
Spirit was evidently to demonstrate the guilt of sin, and the beauty of 
righteousness, and the certainty of judgment. 

To convince the world. The Spirit was not only given to the apostles, to 
set up light in their hearts, but to the world in a large sense, to justify Christ 
before them. Not only to those that shall be seriously affected under a sense 
of sin, and turn to Christ, but to convince others in the world of sin, who 
will never step any farther, nor yield to the power and authority of it, nor 
acknowledge the truth, nor accept of Christ and his righteousness. 

What is the Spirit to convince of? Of sin, of righteousness, and of judg- 
ment. A threefold object the Spirit was to be conversant about. 

I. He was to convince of sin. The light of nature was not so extinct but 
some sins were to be discerned. All the most barbarous nations, agreeing 
in some common notion of justice and righteousness, they knew that many 
things they did were worthy of death by divine judgment ; and they perceived 

JonN XVI. 8, 9.] CONVICTION of sin. 1C9 

by sharp punishments inflicted on some notorious offenders in n particulnr 
manner, how odious some actions were to God, and how criminal before him. 

First, The world understood not the extent of sin. They knew some sins, 
but not all the kinds of sin to which wrath is due ; they looked upon some 
sins as part of their happiness, rather than their misery. What were clearly 
against the light of nature, crimson and scarlet sins, they could discern, and 
acknowledge themselves for them worthy of death ; but there were some 
molehill sins, peccadilloes, against which they had no help, by consideration 
of the mercy of God, by laying hold of the righteousness of Christ, and the 
necessity ot faith in him. They armed themselves with the mercy of God, 
without considering the righteousness of Christ. It opens not the malignity 
of sin, nor understands all the aggravations of it, -which are necessary deeply 
to affect the soul. 

SecondJij, The world did not understand the sin of their nature. The 
world would not acknowledge it for unrighteousness, would not apprehend 
itself in a state of sin, because of their commendable qualities in the eyes of 
others. The world is not sensible of its change from the image of God by 
creation into the image of the devil by corruption. It understands not the 
extent of original sin, the depravation of their rational faculties, the lameness 
and impotency of their free will, nor the sinfulness of the first motions of 
their hearts ; nature applauds its own power and self-ability in the midst of 
its weakness, and an affection to God under a boiling enmity. 

Thirdly, The world did not understand the sin of unbelief. As the light 
of nature could not discover a Christ to them, so it could not discover the 
sin of unbelief to them ; how could it convince of their unbelief, when it did 
not discover the object to be believed in. But the Spirit shall convince of 
a state of sin, of the depths of it in the heart, the streams of it in the life, 
and especially of unbelief, which renders the disease incurable, since there is 
no other medicine but the blood of Christ, and no other way of partaking of 
that medicine but by faith ; it will evidence they are born in sin, can do 
nothing but sin, and cannot but by faith be delivered from those bonds of 
sin, but must die in them ; that if they believe not in Christ, that came to 
redeem fallen mankind, their sins will lie on them, they will perish in them, 
and lie under the curse of God. Now that sin in general is here meant — 
the Spirit shall convince of sin — as the object of the Spirit's conviction, is 
clear, because, 

First, He names it in general, as noting the whole mass of sin. 

Secondly, Because it is in vain to convince men of the sinfulness of their 
nnbelief, unless they be convinced first of the necessity of faith. And what 
ground have they to be convinced of the necessity of faith, unless they find 
such loads of sin upon them as they are never able to bear, such guilt as 
they are never able to answer for, or remove from themselves ? 

Thirdly, Because the Holy Ghost condemns all other sins, as well as un- 
belief, and therefore convinceth of them ; not only of unbelief, but other sins 
that stand in the way of salvation. 

Fourthly, The Spirit in the text was to pronounce the whole world out of 
Christ to be in a state of sin and death ; because, when the world would 
plead its righteousness, and seem to establish trophies to itself, shield itself 
by its own righteousness, the Spirit should condemn that righteousness as 
not sufficient, because else it had been in vain for God to send his Son to 
work another righteousness. That is the first thing, the Spirit was to con- 
vince of sin. 

II. The Spirit was to convince of righteousness. 

170 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

1. Some refer it to the righteousness of Christ's person ; that is, his going 
to the Father was an evidence that he was a just person ; heaven would not 
else have entertained him ; it would have been no receptacle for an impostor, 
and one that to his last gasp should persist in a known crime. The Spirit 
should convince the world by undeniable testimonies and demonstra- 
tions, that he was an innocent person, that he was no malefactor when he 

2. Others refer it to the righteousness of Christ's office, and his merits 
imputed to believers. And, indeed, the coming of the Spirit was a testimony 
of his acceptation with the Father, for the Spirit had not come in such a 
miraculous manner as was manifest in the apostles, had not Christ in heaven 
had an acceptation of his sufferings from his Father. 

3. Others understand it thus. He shall convince of the insufficiency of 
human righteousness. By the light of nature men had some particular 
notions of justice. By nature, they knew in some measure what was right ; 
they knew they were not to do wrong, that they were to be advantageous to 
the community ; they knew they were to cherish those that had been bene- 
ficial to them : hence they deified those that were public benefactors, either 
by the discovery of arts that were useful to human societies, or the defence 
of their country in an invasion, or the delivery of those that were oppressed, 
from the common plagues and scourges of mankind. These they boasted of, 
their moral virtues, their invented worship, the service of their gods, and 
their good intentions. Now, since by the light of nature men could not con- 
ceive of a higher righteousness than justice between man and man, and an 
external devotion towards G-od, the Spirit was to convince them of the weak- 
ness of this conceited righteousness, and the want of a better, shewing that 
Christ's righteousness is the only true righteousness of God, because he is 
gone to the Father, and shall not return again to be a sacrifice for sin. For 
if righteousness should have been by works, Christ had died in vain. 

III. The Spirit was to convince of judgment. Some understand it that 
the judgment of this world concerning Christ was unjust ; and the Spirit was 
to convince that it was so. Others, to convince of the damnation of the 
devil, and consequently of all that adhered to him : ' Of judgment, because 
the prince of this world is judged.' Others, of the deliverance of man, which 
was evidenced by the condemnation of the devil, subduing him upon the 
cross, taking away that sin whereby he had power over man. Others, of 
the judgment of the world concerning oracles, superstition, and the worship 
of idols, which they thought an acceptable worship. The Spirit should con- 
vince that this was a false judgment, since the devil was cast down from his 
chair of oracles, and the mouth of the father of lies was stopped, and the 
prince that usurped the government of the world, and to whom men paid 
ready obedience, was cast out and stripped of his power ; also, convince of 
judgment, of the consequent of this righteousness and merit of Christ, and 
the certainty of God's judgment concerning him ; because the devil is cast 
out, which is a sufficient evidence that God hath adjudged the victory to 
Christ, since the devil is dismounted of his power ; and that perfection of 
holiness and freedom from sin shall be obtained at last, since the great 
captain of sin is slain, and there is no hopes of his rising again to secure his 
own standing, or destroy a believer's interest; for if the power of the Captain 
of their salvation did in his humiliation break the strength of the devil, 
much more in the state of exaltation will he keep him from ever reducing his 
people to that misery wherein they were before. And in this part of con- 
vincing, the Spirit did work as a comforter. Now, to * convince the world 
of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment,' and to shew the further extent of 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 171 

Bin, and the necessity of another righteousness, required a mighty power; 
since these apprehensions which the world had, had reigned so long in them, 
and the new propositions and declarations were in themselves incredible to 
blear-eyed reason. Who could imagine that the Son of God should take 
flesh, and die upon the cross, and the devil be conquered and ruined by the 
death of the Son of God ? Who could have imagined these things ? Had 
the Son of God come in triumph into the world, with legions of angels, and 
visibly cast the devil from his throne, and visibly given forth his laws, then 
the world could not but have believed on him, and submitted to him : but 
to talk of a victory over a living devil by a dying man ; of the necessity of 
believing in a crucified person, that sufiered death as the vilest malefactor; 
to speak of the righteousness of God, wrought by one that was put to death 
as a criminal and a blasphemer, in the judgment of a whole nation, and his 
own countrymen too ; these were such seeming contradictions to the weak 
reason of the world, without the divine light of the Spirit manifesting the 
reason, and divine methods, and the nature of the things which he was to 
instruct men in, as a comforter, as a teacher of the world, that they could 
not possibly take place in them by any less power than an almighty one. 

One thing more: some think these convictions not to be by an inward 
illumination, but by an objective testimony of the Spirit, by miracles and 
extraordinary gifts conferred on the apostles, whereby the truth of what 
Christ had said and spoke was confirmed and demonstrated. Though this 
be true, yet it is not all : there was an objective conviction by miracles ; but 
was not there also a secret inward conviction by inspiration ? The Spirit 
was not only to dwell among men, or ivith them by outward acts, but in them, 
John xiv. 17. The Spirit was to be sent into the heart by an inward opera- 
tion, as well as by an outward demonstration of miracles, and the Father 
and the Son promised to make their abode with the souls of believers, and 
manifest themselves to them : how, except in this manner ? All the works 
of the Spirit are couched in this act of convincing of sin, of righteousness, 
and of judgment. What is to be done here, but hating sin and encouraging 
our faith in Christ, because of his merit and his ascension to the Father, and 
heightening our hopes by the assurance of the conquest of sin and Satan ? 
And all these are the acts of the Spirit in every believer, more or less, to the 
end of the world. The convincing of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, 
do in a manner comprehend all the acts of the Spirit in a believer. There- 
fore, it is more than an objective conviction. Thus much concerning the words. 
I shall pitch upon these two observations : 

Obs. 1. That the Spirit of God is the author of conviction of sin. And, 

Ohs. 2. That unbelief (that being the reason rendered, ' of sin, because 
they believe not on me') is a sin of the greatest malignity against God, and 
danger to the soul. But for the 

First, The Spirit is to convince of sin : not only in general, but in parti- 
cular, of unbelief, consequently of the root whence it grows, the food that 
maintains it, and every sin that stops the entrance of the grace of faith. He 
was to shew the demerits of sin, whereby men might apprehend and be ascer- 
tained of the necessity of believing in the Mediator proposed, when they saw 
the depths of filthiness broken up, and the mountains of sin discovered, and 
not a mite of solid righteousness visible either in their natures or actions. 
The Spirit of God is the author of the conviction of sin. I shall shew, 

First, That the Spirit doth convince of sin. 

Secondly, It is necessary the Spirit should throughly convince of sin, if 
ever a man be convinced. 

Thirdly, How and by what means the Spirit doth work this conviction. 

172 chaenock's works. [John XYI. 8, 9. 

Fourthh', What sin, or what in sin, he doth most convince of. 
Fiftlily, What the difference is between convictions proceeding from the 
Spirit more immediately, and those from any other cause. 
Sixthly, The use. 

I. That the Spirit doth convince of sin. We shall speak to it in some 
propositions. • 

First, All convictions of sin do, either mediately or immediately, come 
from the Spirit of God. As it is commonly said, whencesoever truth imme- 
diately cometh, it originally ariseth from the Holy Spirit ; so, whatsDever 
the insti'ument be, the principal cause of the application of conviction is from 
the Spirit. There is a common and a special work of the Holy Ghost. All 
convictions of men, though they may some of them arise from some more 
immediate cause by the word, are the Spirit's work efficiently, by the word 
instrumentally. Conscience is naturally a dead and stupid thing, man a 
brutish creature, being fallen ; and, being flesh, he resists and disputes against 
any convictions of sin ; and therefore, if conscience be not stirred up by the 
Spirit, it would never rise up in any self-reflection : Gen. vi. 3, ' My Spirit 
shall not always strive with man, for he is flesh.' As man, being flesh, is 
perverse against the reasonings of the Spirit, so, being flesh, he would never 
have the least distaste of any iniquity, unless the Spirit did excite those relics 
of natural light which remain in the soul. As those relics do remain in us 
by virtue of the mediation of Christ, so all the awakenings of them to any 
sense, or the reformations which have been wrought thereupon in the world, 
have been by the Spirit of Christ. All the sense that any of those of the old 
world had, was from the inward motion of the Spirit inviting them to repent- 
ance : ' My Spirit shall not always strive with man ;' implying that it did 
strive, and it was in subserviency to Christ the Mediator that the Spirit did 
strive with that generation of men. Upon which account Christ is said 
by the Spirit to go and * preach to the spirits in prison, which sometimes 
were disobedient, when the long-sufifering of God waited in the days of Noah,' 
1 Pet. iii. 20. 

It was that Spirit of holiness and truth whereby Christ was quickened, 
which was no other than the Holy Ghost ; and these disobedient persons to 
whom Christ preached thus by his Spirit, are called spirits, in relation to the 
state wherein they now are in prison, before the resurrection, not in relation 
to the state wherein they were when the Spirit did strive with them. What- 
soever sense there was upon any in the old world, was from the striving of 
the Spirit of God with them, as the Spirit of the Mediator, by whose inter- 
position those relics which were in them were kept up, and that reason which 
they had was conveyed to them, and did remain in them. By this Spirit 
Christ is said to go and preach unto them. So that all motions of conscience, 
all convictions, whether upon those that reject them, or those that receive 
them, are from the Spirit as the Spirit of the Mediator. From this power 
did the terrors of Cain and Judas arise, so far as it was the work of illumi- 
nation, exciting their rational faculties, though the sin and unbelief in those 
terrors did not arise from the Spirit. The stick stirs the water by the child's 
agitation, the mud is raised, though the stick doth not convey the mud to it, 
nor immediately touch it, but by the water. When the discovery of sin in 
its evil is made by the Spirit, that is a good work ; but if men abstain from 
that sin, the evil of which they see, out of a servile principle, that is evil ; 
the discovery and restraint is good, but the principle is evil, being the efi"ect, 
not of any love to God, but enmity to him, and love to themselves. All the 
convictions of sin do either mediately or immediately come from the Spirit 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 173 

of God in any person whatsoever, it is from his striving with them that they 
do arise. 

Secondly, This is the office of the Spirit. The word comforter, 'xaPaxAzTog, 
signifies an advocate, and is so translated when it is used of Christ ": 1 John 
ii. 1, ' If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ 
the righteous.* Now, the office of an advocate is to convince the party he 
appears against of his crime, and the injury he hath done to his chent ; to 
answer his reason, and stop his mouth, and make the mattsr of f.ict evident. 
The convincing work of the Spirit is an advocacy to the soul ; he appears 
and manageth the cause as an advocate ; he arms himself with the curses of 
the law against it. He is an advocate for God and his righteousness in the 
law ; hut in the work of consolation the Spirit is an advocate for the soul, 
and the righteousness of the gospel, against the rigours of the law ; so that, 
while the Spirit is an advocate against the soul, he must as necessarily 
accuse and argue against it, as when he is an advocate for Ihe soul, he must 
refresh and pacify it, and plead for its support. In regard of this office he 
is called * a spirit of bondage' : Rom. viii. 15, ' Ye have not received the 
spirit of bondage,' &c. ; which, though some would understand only of the 
outward Mo?aic dispensation, it seems to be an inward work of the Spirit in 
the hearts of men. The intent of the apostle may be sometimes to shew the 
liberty of believers from the ceremonial law, to which the Jews were in bond- 
age ; but it doth not appear that it was the intent of the apostle in this 
place. Yea, it is to be considered that he wrote to the Christians in Rome, 
who were not all Jews, and very likely but a few of them were so, and so 
were never under the bondage of the Jewish ceremonies, but the burden of 
Pagan rites. As he is a ' Spirit of adoption,' exciting the soul to cry Abba, 
Father, he works orderly in the heart after faith ; therefore, as he is a Spirit 
of bondage, he stirs up fears inwardly in the heart before failh. The apostle 
speaks in the former part of the chapter of the actings of the Spirit in be- 
lievers, of the Spirit's dwelling in them ; the necessity of a man's having the 
Spirit of Christ for ' mortifying the deeds of the body' through the Spirit, 
which respects men in particular in a state of faith ; therefore what he means 
here is an inward work in the hearts of men, as well as the other operations 
of the Spirit, which he mentions both before and after it ; so that the Spirit 
of bondage respects men in particular before a state of conversion ; he is sent 
into the heart as a Spirit of bondage. Terrors, therefore, which are inward 
in the soul, and are called the Lord's terrors, Ps. Ixxxviii. 15, 16, are here 
called the Spirit of bondage ; not as if it bound the soul, but discovers those 
bonds which are by nature upon it, lays open the judgments of God against 
it, sets conscience at work to gall men for sin, and giveth not only a notional 
knowledge, but a sensible feeling of the weight of them. As he is called the 
' Spirit of truth' and the ' Spirit of adoption,' because he applies the pro- 
mises of gi-ace, so he is called the ' Spirit of bondage,' as he gives a sight 
of those fetters that are clapped on by sin and Satan, and applies the law as 
a ministration of death, as that whereby the man is concluded or shut up 
tinder sin, and at present sees no way to escape. Now, the natural conse- 
quent and effect of this work must needs be fear. As the contagion of sin 
is discerned by the law, and the curses of the law, without the appearance 
of the evangelical remedy, there must needs be pangs and ten-ors. The law 
shews only the guilt, but not the pardon ; opens the command and threat- 
ening, but whispers not a syllable of comfort without perfect obedience. In 
the application of the threatenings, he is a Spirit of bondage ; in the appli- 
cation of the promises, he is a Spirit of adoption. As he flashes fire in the 
face of a sinner, so he strews comforts in the heart of a believer. 

174 charnock's wobks. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

Thirdly, The Spirit is tho infuser of all grace in the heart, and therefore 
is the author of all preparations to grace, or anj'thing that hath an_y tendency 
that way. It is by the Spirit of grace any are made sensible of their pierc- 
ing Christ, Zech. xii. 10, and brought to mourn over him. The same Spirit 
that springs up their mournful tears, fixeth their believing eye, both upon 
their sin, and on the person they had abused by it : ' The love of God is 
shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost,' Rom. v. 5, as he manifests 
the love of God to us, or raiseth up our love to God ; which cannot be with- 
out loathing sin, and a sense of it in the heart and life, to enable the soul 
to hate it. The true sense of God's goodness cannot be without the sense 
of our naughtiness. When the Spirit doth both these, it is a Spirit of adop- 
tion ; when it works only a sense of sin, it is a Spirit of bondage. As all 
righteousness and truth are works of the Spirit, so all works that are ante- 
cedaneous to, and necessary for, the attaining and preserving true righteous- 
ness, are the fruits of the Spirit, among which deep convictions are none of 
the least. It is by the Spirit that we see, as well as crucify, the lusts of 
the flesh. 

Fourthly, The Spirit of God is promised in the times of the gospel, for 
such operations as this of conviction, as ' a Spirit of judgment,' and ' a Spirit 
of burning :' ' When the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughter of 
Zion, and purge the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit 
of judgment, and by the spirit of burning,' Isa. iv. 4. A spirit of judgment 
to convince them, a spirit of burning to refine them, and consume their 
greater and lesser iniquities. He cites the souf before a tribunal, before he 
baptizes it with fire to refine it ; and that this is to be understood of gospel 
times, will appear from the 2d verse, ' In that day shall the branch of the 
Lord be beautiful and glorious ' ; and this is part of that excellent fruit that 
shall be in the earth. In regard of this the Spirit is called fire, to scorch in 
conviction and self-condemnation by its heat, as well as to comfort by its 
light and warmth : Isa. xl. 7, ' The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, 
because of the Spirit of the Lord that bloweth upon it.' Our carnal con- 
fidences stand firm until he hews them down ; our righteousness is amiable 
until the Spirit blows upon it, and dissolves its paint ; beautiful, until the 
Spirit snatches ofi" the disguise. This is a gospel promise, that flesh should 
appear what it is. It should be made desolate, and convictions be wrought 
in men of the ugliness of sin, and the emptiness of their own righteousness, 
and the insufficiency of everything that comes under the title of flesh. This 
is a gospel promise of what the Spirit should do when the glory of the Lord 
should be revealed. Flesh should appear to be what it is, a manifest con- 
viction be wrought of the ugliness of sin, the emptiness of our own righteous- 
ness, the insufficiency of everything that comethjunder the title of flesh. The 

II. Second thing is to shew, that it is necessary the Spirit should do this 
work of convincing. There is as much need of the Spirit to convince us of 
the guilt of sin, while we are in a state of nature, as there is of the Spirit to 
comfort us under the apprehensions of guilt, and the charge of an accusing 
conscience. There is as much need of the Spirit to do the one as to do the 
other. For, 

1. The light of fallen nature is insufficient of itself to cause a thorough 
conviction. It is true, there is a natural law in men's hearts, which dis- 
covers some duties to be done, some gross impieties to be avoided. There 
are common notions left in man which may conduct him in a moral course, 
without which human society could not be preserved. These are, that there 
is a God, that this God is to be worshipped, that he is righteous, who re- 

John XVI, 8, 9. J conviction of sin. 175 

wards those that seek him, that there are evil actions worthy of death, that 
there is a judgment to be inflicted upon the commission of sin, a self-satis- 
faction and peace in the avoiding of it, and performing such things as are 
good, and comely, and honest, and of good report ; and from such principles 
as these, common in man, those laws in all nations against enormities, which 
are praiseworthy, and are the bands and ligaments of society and of govern- 
ment, did arise. Now, these habitual principles in the mind, if read over, 
will judge and censure some acts of unrighteousness : some ' works of the 
flesh are manifest, such as these, adultery, fornication,' &c.. Gal. v. 19, clear 
by natural light to be the works of the flesh. Conscience must more or less 
naturally set in order before a man's eyes some sort of unrighteousness, such 
unrighteous actions which are contrary to those implanted notions, and 
plainly tell them, without any other proof than what is in them, that ' they 
that do such things are worthy of death,' Rom. i. 32 ; because they are 
against the universal law imprinted in human nature, and against the acknow- 
ledged principles placed in us by God. For the knowledge of righteousness 
and sin, and also of God's piercing eye, whereby he seeth all sin, and of his 
impartial justice, which hath store of punishments for the violaters of his 
law, is almost as deeply imprinted upon the mind of man by nature as the 
notion of a God ; for, indeed, they do naturally flow from the notion of a 
supreme cause, the governor of the world. Wherefore, in many cases, God 
appeals to men's reason, and the principles that are left in them, Isa. v. 3, 
Ezek. xviii. 25, and is willing to stand to the unbiassed judgment of their 
own minds. But natural light discovers not sin bo fully as it is necessary 
for a man to be convinced of it, in order to the entertainment of Christ, and 
the grace of God in and by him. For natural light, 

First, Discovers not the root of sin. But there is a necessity a man 
should be convinced of the root of sin. Men do not by nature understand 
the universal pollution of their nature, nor feel the heaviness of the sin of 
Adam. It shews us that something is amiss, and much amiss, but whence 
this disorder doth arise nature of itself is wholly ignorant, hath not so much 
as a regular guess, without revelation. The light of nature is too dim to 
pierce into the depths of evil ; it acquaints not with the fomes of sin, and 
that inward strength of evil that gave birth and nourishment to those un- 
couth actions ; some actual evils it discerns to be so, but not the depraved 
principle of them. Some actual evils are loathsome to men by nature, but 
not the principle of them ; men are not sensible what possession the evil 
spirit of Adam hath of their souls. There must be, therefore, some other 
light to pierce through the clouds of nature, and search into the depths of 
the belly, and bring to view that habitual inconformity of our nature, to that 
rectitude required of us, and once possessed by us. 

Secondly, It discovers not sin as the greatest evil in the world, neither did 
ever nature hate sin as such, because nature is not endowed with any 
spiritual affections by its natural descent. It never had a due sense either 
of the authority or holiness of the lawgiver, nor ever considered sin as a 
contempt of the sovereignty and purity of the lawgiver and his law, wherein, 
indeed, the intrinsic evil of sin doth consist, James ii. 10, 11. Nature did 
excite some fears upon the guilt of sin, but no grief for the filth of sin. Men 
by nature respect sin as it stands in relation to the justice and omniscience 
of God, as it is the object of his sight and knowledge, and the object of his 
revenging justice and wrath, but not as it stands in contrariety to the purity 
of God. As it is an afflictive evil they may regard it, but not as it is a pol- 
luting evil ; as staining their reputation, not as defiling their souls. Nature 
givcth us but a little prospect of the beauty of God's holiness, whereby we 

176 chaknock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

must measure the heinousness, malignity, and odioueness of sin. As from 
the weakness of the relics of natural light there are no strong and powerful 
motions to God, because, though nature discovers something of God, yet not 
in all his perfections, and the amiableness of his nature ; so the convictions 
of sin are weak, because there is not by that light a discovery of the 
abominableness of it to God, and the intrinsic pollution, which is as essen- 
tial to sin as guilt. Neither, indeed, doth nature discover the consequents 
of sin in their dreadfulness, and that wrath which will at last meet with it, 
and overflow the sinner. The mind, therefore, must be enlightened by some 
higher power to understand the holiness of God, thereby to conceive the im- 
purity of sin. 

Thirdly, Nature discovers not the extent of sin in the invisible and secret 
veins of it. Many branches of sin are invisible to nature ; it doth not dis- 
cover sin in its latitude. Nature acquaints not with all the duties to be done, 
nor the manner how to do them ; therefore, tells not of all the sins we are 
to shun, nor the manner how to avoid them. It utters not a syllable of 
Christ the mediator, in whose name we are to perform our, duties, nor of the 
sanctifying Spirit, in whose strength we are to perform them ; nor of faith, 
through which principle we are to do them ; nor of the glory of God in all 
the ways of it, for which end we are to do them ; nor of the evangelical 
promises, from which we are to take encouragement for the doing of them ; 
and, consequently, doth not shew the extent of sin, which consists in the 
failing in all these. It did, indeed, dictate since the fall that God was to be 
worshipped, and that with the best strength of the creature, but not the man- 
ner and way of that worship, and therefore informs not of sins committed 
against the true worship of God. It discovers not the sinfulness of the first 
motions, and of the inward workings of lust. The Jews, that had the im- 
provement- of nature by tlie discoveries of the law, knew not the first inward 
motions, v. ben stifled, to be sin. They needed, though not the correction 
of the law, yet the interpretation of our Saviour in his sermon on the mount. 
What sins nature did make a discovery of, it did only manifest in some 
pieces and parts, not in the whole scope of them. As the light of nature 
did not shew the law of God in its wideness, so neither sin in its foulness. 
It is necessary, therefore, that there should be some higher power to dis- 
cover those sins that are beyond the ken of natural light. By the light 
of the sun we see the atoms and motes, that we can never discern by the 
light of the stars. 

Fourthly, Nature discovers not unbelief, the greatest sin of all. Nature 
doth not convince of unbelief; what sight of it can nature direct us to ? 
The works of creation evidence not the mystery of redemption, so 
the light of creation doth not evidence the sins against that mystery. The 
light of nature discovers a Creator, but not a Redeemer ; because, though 
God made the world in order to that glory he intended to get by 
redemption, yet he made not the world as a Redeemer. And though it 
was made by that person who was the Redeemer, yet it was not made 
in the way of redemption, nor with the manifestation of those attributes 
of love, wisdom, and righteousness, which were evident in the work of 

A toad, upon the view of its image in a glass, knows not its own deformity, 
nor the excellency of a man, or some other creature superior to it, and there- 
fore knows not how to measure its own deformity ; nor doth a natural man, 
with his depraved reason, know himself by the glass of the word to be of a 
viperous brood, without some common work of the Spirit. Men by nature 
are not ashamed of sin as sin : Rom. vi. 21, ' What fruit had ye then in 

John XYI. 8, 9.] . conviction of sin. 177 

those things, whereof ye are now ashamed ?' Xow ashamed, intimating 
that in the state of nature they were not ashamed. They were now 
ashamed under the new light whereby they saw them in their nature, not 
before, under their natural darkness, wherewith their eyes were closed. 
Nature never discovers its own deformity. That is the first thing ; the light 
of nature is insufficient to discover or convince thoroughly of sin. Nature is 
insufficient for this work. 

(2.) The law barely of itself doth not convince thoroughly of all sin. It 
discovers, indeed, more clearly some sins than the light of nature, in regard 
it doth more evidence the sovereign authority and holy nature of Grod, and 
consequently discovers the nature of guilt and the greatness of the filth of 
sin, and brings to view upon an examination of the heart those Uttle sprouts 
and branches of sin in the first motion which are not visible by star-light ; 
yet this discovers not the main condemning sin, it discovers not the work of 
redemption by Christ. It commands faith in what God reveals, but not 
faith with such a modification, directed to such an object as a dying Re- 
deemer. The voice of the law is not, * He that believeth shall be saved,' but 
* Do this and live.' The knowledge of other sins is by the law, but the 
knowledge of unbelief by the gospel. Yet this doth not convince us of all 
actual sins of itself, not in regard of the inability of it as a rule, or want of 
perfection in its prohibition of sin, but in regard, not only of the multitude 
of our sins and infirmities, but the weakness of our nature. Whence David, 
Ps. xix. 12, cries out of secret sins, ' Who can understand the errors of 
his life ? Lord, cleanse me fi-om my secret faults.' He rightly imagined 
there were more sins in him than fell under his discover}- by that light. 
These properties of the law can never be exercised but in the hand of God, 
as it is an instrument of his managing and directing. How few souls, 
among those multitudes of the Israelites, were rightly and thoroughly con- 
vinced by the thunderings at mount Sinai, at the first publishing of the law ! 
The word is a sword, yet the sword of the Spirit, and can no more make 
gashes in the conscience without the Spirit to wield it, than a sword can 
pierce and cut without a strong arm to add force to its edge. God himself 
appearing to a man by his bare word to his ear, without exerting a power on 
his heart, cometh short of attaining to this end. It was not presently that 
Adam came to a downright acknowledgment of his sin, though charged with 
it by God in the garden. Nor did Cain come to a kindly conviction and 
confession of his sin, after all God's disputes with him about his sin, and 
manifestations of his patience in making a hedge of his providence round 
about him. So that the law, as it doth not discover all sin, sins which are 
immediately against the gospel, so it is unable of itself to convince without 
some powerful hand, the power of the Spirit of God, to manage it. The 
reason of this insufficiency is. 

First, The wrong notion of things, and the blindness of mind, in natural 
men under the gospel. It is a notion that will not enter into the hearts of 
men naturally, that sin is so odious and abominable to God. Many things 
they count very light, and prop up themselves with a hope of mercy, and it 
will not enter into their heart (it is so deeply inlaid in their natures), that 
there is need of the death of the Son of God to take away the guilt of sin, 
and the power of the Spirit to wash away the filth of it. They are not ready 
to believe this, unless the arm of the Lord pull up such notions, and root 
others in them. Hence Isaiah cries out, ' Who hath believed our report ? 
and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? ' Who hath believed that 
ever sin is attended with that guilt that the Messiah must be smitten of God, 

178 chaenock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

stricken and afflicted, to repair the breaches sin hath made ? We have false 
opinions of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and therefore the Spirit 
doth confute an opinion (as the word iXsy^siv signifies) which had been 
settled in the soul ; it shews us sins we never dreamt of, a righteousness we 
never imagined, and a new fountain of holiness. Rom. i. 21, ' When they 
knew God, they glorified him not as God, and became vain in their imagin- 
ations, and their foolish heart was darkened.' Man believes he is as God 
created him ; he is ignorant of the corruption of his blood, believes himself 
holy in his unholiness, righteous in his unrighteousness. Vice is hid in the 
soul, worse than any outward disease in the body. Men easily find their 
bodies ill-afi'ected, but understand not the state of their souls possessed by 
sin, because the understanding, which should judge of the disease, is ill- 
afiected itself. The foolish heart of man is darkened, and being darkened 
cannot understand the disease, because that is the power of judging, and 
that being corrupted, cannot judge in the things it suffers. This makes 
soul-diseases naturally incurable, causeth men to refuse the medicines, shun 
all means of recovery, and be angry with them that apply remedies. Men 
may converse with the law, understand the letter of it, while they are igno- 
rant of the intent ; a man may see a glass without a reflection on himself. 
Paul, a pharisee, was a student in the law, a doctor fit to teach the letter of 
the law, yet there was a veil between him and the spirit of it, until the 
Spirit held the law close to his conscience, Rom. vii. 9. We may have the 
outward letter and outward work too, when yet the brightness of it, by reason 
of the thick mist on the mind, reacheth not the remote part of the soul. 
Bring a man that hath lost sight and smell into a nasty filthy place, he 
knoweth not but that it is a beautiful garden, until his eyes be opened and his 
smell restored. Therefore there is a necessity of the Spirit to enlighten 
the mind in this first work as well as in all consequential acts. A necessity 
of the Spirit to enhghten our minds, who, in regard of his omniscience, is 
able by the Hght of the word to bring sins to view, out of their skulks and 
hiding-places. How great is this ignorance of themselves in the best ! We 
know but in part, and as ' in a glass darkly,' either God or ourselves. And 
as we stand in need of an high priest to pity us under our infirmities, so of 
the Spirit to discover them to us, that we may have a spiritual discerning of 
a spiritual mischief. For as there is a common natural and a spiritual know- 
ledge of God, so there is a natural and a spiritual knowledge of sin : natural 
when men know such a thing to be sin, but spiritual when they understand 
the spiritual filth, and pollution, and mischief of sin. There is need of the 
Spirit that we may spiritually discern the spiritual mischief, that we may 
know spiritual truths in a spiritual manner, that we may know sins also with 
a spiritual eye. Since the darkness of the mind is the cause of a vain walk- 
ing, Eph. iv. 17, 18, that can never be in any sort a remedy, which is the 
cause of the disease, therefore the wrong notions of men make them un- 
capable of working this conviction upon themselves by the law. 

Secondly, Another reason is, a natural enmity to any such discovery, 
which is universal in all men. There is nothing men more naturally abhor 
than any thing tending to the rooting out those vicious habits they are 
deeply in love withal. As men, when they know Grod, have no mind to 
glorify him as God, so men, when they cannot avoid the knowledge of the 
threatenings of God, have no mind to believe them and consider them as the 
threatenings of God. Convincing arguments always meet with contradiction 
from nature. It is for this very reason men hate the light, lest their deeds 
should be reproved, their deeds they be convinced of: John iii. 20, ' Every 
one that doth evil hates the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 179 

should be reproved ;' which hght they would love well enough were it not 
attended with so unpleasing an effect. Our Saviour pronounceth it univer- 
sally of all mankind, ' Every one that doth evil hates the light ;' and who by 
nature can pretend an exemption ? Not a man by nature but abhors more 
to have a conviction of sin, than the best believer abhors those deeds he is 
convinced of; and this makes the conviction utterly impossible by the mere 
strength of nature. Hence we are compared to wild asses, that snuff up the 
wind, endure hunger and thirst, undergo any inconvenience, rather than be 
convinced of a miserable state, and submit to be reduced to a better. Hence 
where do you find a man that yields to the first arguments brought against 
his lusts, but struggles and strives against such conviction ? Nay, do they 
not cherish their beloved sins under rebukes, draw a curtain between 
themselves and the law, and will see no faults in what they affect ? "What 
an irrational folly did possess the pharisees, who, because Christ by raising 
Lazarus had got a name and a greater number of disciples, would have killed 
Christ and him, as though that power that raised Lazarus, after he had been 
dead three days, could not have preserved him from them, or, if they had 
killed him, could not have raised him again, and restored life to him as often 
as they had stripped him of it, or turned them into their graves ! So hard 
is it to convince men of sin, yea, and of common and rational truths, against 
the overswaying love of their passions and interests. There is need then of 
some superior power to set the light before men, and fix their eyes upon it ; 
for naturally men reject all impressions which come upon them from any 
declaration of truth, and are no more friends to it than darkness is in league 
with light, and cannot from themselves have any due reverence to the word 
on the account of the authority of it, and the holiness of God the author of 
it, but endeavour to extinguish it as soon as ever they see any sparks of it in 
their hearts. 

Thirdly, The weakness and falseness of natural conscience is another thing 
that proves nature's insufficiency to such a work. 

(1.) The weakness of it. Conscience, indeed, hath a natural power of 
judgment, but not higher than the light in it. A clear light is necessary to 
a right judgment ; and when there is a light in it, yet itself being dull and 
sleepy, must be roused up to perform its office. As original corruption hath 
darkened the mind and enfeebled the will, so it hath darkened this faculty 
(for there is no room in the house that is privileged from infection), and the 
greater the strength of sin, the weaker is the sense of it ; for the defilement 
increaseth the insensibility, Eph. iv. 19, which is the state of men by nature, 
it being the state of all the Gentiles. The fuller of dead works, the more 
listless must it be in its office ; for the strength of sin puts the conscience 
under a restraint, and makes that a prisoner to it, which should be a spy and 
monitor against it ; ' who hold the truth in unrighteousness.' There is an 
imprig'onment of truth, and though conscience doth sometimes reflect the 
light of the law upon the soul, yet because of its weakness it is as unable to fire 
the soul as a small spark is to inflame a reeking dunghill, or a burning-glass 
to fire anything when the sun is masked with thick clouds and fogs. Some- 
times conscience makes false determinations and reflections for want of know- 
ledge ; sometimes no reflections by reason of stupefaction by sin, which is the 
effect of every sin, till it be roused by the voice of God. Perhaps Adam's 
conscience might be put almost into as deep a sleep by sin as his body had been 
by his Creator when he took Eve out of it ; for though he was sensible after his 
fall of his being stripped of his righteousness, yet he doth not seem to be con- 
vinced of his sin till God had spoke, which awakened his conscience. Just 
after by his sin he fell from so great and so happy an estate, the Scripture 

180 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

giveth no remark of any aflfrightment he had till he heard the voice of God. 
Prisoners are jolly in the gaol till they hear of the coming of the judge, 
though they know the crimes they are guilty of. In some, conscience is so 
sleepy, or rather dead, that it may be said of them, as of those, Acts xix. 2, 
who when they were asked 'whether they had received the Holy Ghost,' they 
' had not heard of such a thing as the Holy Ghost :' so these have not heard 
of such a thing as conscience. 

(2.) The falseness of conscience, and its easiness to be deceived, shews the 
unlikelihood of nature's ever convincing. An ' evil conscience,' being opposed 
to a 'true heart,' by the apostle, Heb. x. 22, is a false conscience. The 
falseness of conscience lies in not pressing what it knows. Every man by 
nature hath the same general and natural notions which a renewed man hath ; 
but conscience makes not the soul sensible of what it knows, by urging 
things, and bringing them to a particular application, and drawing them out 
in rank and file. Though it hath a commission as God's deputy, yet it 
neglects its charge, is bribed, and overawed, like an officer in a town, who 
neglects the trust reposed in him by the governor. It is apt to be deceived 
by outward performances, which doth incapacitate it to convince men 
thoroughly ; it is apt to have its mouth stopped by the husk of a duty in- 
stead of a kernel ; it troubles rather for gross sins than for spiritual ones ; 
nay, it doth not ordinarily rebuke for any spiritual sin ; leaves off reproving, 
and rather applauds men when tbey engage in outward performances ; saith, 
' Well done, good and faithful servant ;' it is usually contented with the out- 
ward performance, though there be more of self in it than of aim at God's 
glory ; with the work of the law, though there be not the power of the law 
written in the heart. If it hath any voice at all, it is not loud, but faint, like 
that of Eli to his sons, Do no more so ; and it is apt to speak peace when 
there is no ground of peace. This is universally the disease of conscience in 
natural men. It conspires with the other faculties, not to be injurious to 
the carnal interest in the soul. There must therefore be, on the account of 
its falseness and weakness, some higher power to rouse a sleepy conscience, 
rectify a depraved conscience. Unless the eye be more piercing, the judg- 
ment more sound, conviction can have no progress. Until the bullet be shot 
by the Spirit, it will fall short of the mark. 

Fourthly, A fourth reason which shews the insufficiency of nature to such 
an end is the false disguises of sin, and the pretences for it, which make the 
universal conviction of it impossible to nature. Besides those notions of sin 
which naturally are in men's own minds, they are swayed much by the 
common sentiments of others concerning this or that practice ; and when 
any vice is esteemed a virtue, it is above the power of nature to affect the 
heart with that which is commonly applauded as a matter of praise. The 
sinfulness of actions which are attended with profit and honour is not easily 
perceived ; the whole bent of nature stands in defence of them, interest, 
profit, and credit ; whatsoever is dear to men, they are mighty champions for 
it. Covetous, and ambitious, and proud men, and whosoever are guilty of 
those sins that stream from these fountains, do not easily acknowledge their 
crimes, because they lie hid in the heart, they continually besiege the mind, 
fill up all corners of the soul, that true reason hath not room to lift up its 
hand. Those that are given to sensual pleasures and intemperance appear 
more easily to acknowledge their sins in the intervals of lust, because these 
are more brutish ; but as for others their sins are more refined, accounted 
necessary and generous ; they have cloaks and covers for them of frugality, 
fortitude, &c. Whence it appears men are more easily brought to a sense 
of, and turning from, brutish vices than from internal ones, those which spring 

John XVI. 8, 9. J conviction of sin. 181 

up from a root more fast settled in the heart, those vices which bring in 
honour, profit, and esteem, such being more dear to men than those of plea- 
sure, which may be laid aside, and men being at great pains in undertaking 
to nourish their ambition. In some things, men have an imagination they 
act generously and bravely, even in their vices, which renders them more 
inflexible to any reflections of conscience, and shews a necessity of some 
higher power to take off" the mask of sin, and discover it without its disguise. 

Fifthly, The subtle evasions of carnal reason render the universal conviction 
of sin impossible to mere nature. What glosses will a winding wit put upon 
sin, present evil as good, and good as evil ! Ever since man drew in the 
serpent's breath, he hath imitated the tempter in this his masterpiece of 
false representations. Excuses for sin are equally derived with the sin of 
our nature from our first parents in their first sin. Adam and Eve did not 
deny their crimes, but cast the blame from themselves, Adam upon Eve, Eve 
upon the serpent. And Adam wraps God himself up in the society of his 
crime, charging it on that snare that his wife was to him. Thus great 
sinners imagine themselves innocent, when they can excuse their sin by the 
inducement of others, and the constitution of their bodies, as if anything 
could force the will ; they will have subtle distinctions for the extenuating of 
their sin, though their spots appear in all their garments, and may be seen 
without searching for. Men will not many times believe themselves sinners, 
by reason of the subtle distinctions that a corrupt wit will find out, though 
their blackness be as visible as that of a negro, and argue against strong 
rebukes as much as a troubled conscience will against grounds of comfort. 
Men naturally stand upon a sense of honour, are loath to condemn themselves 
under apparent crimes, and for fear of punishment will rather reflect upcn 
God, and by distinctions blunt the edge of his word. And there are other 
corrupt reasonings, by promises of future repentance, hopes of mercy, f n- 
titling presumptuous sins infirmities, and such as all men by nature are 
incident to, whereby they nonplus conscience and delude their souls ; and 
though they confess sin in the general, yet they suspend as to a particular 
confession. Till this self-love be discovered and overawed by the Spirit, 
little good is to be expected. There is therefore need of the Spirit, IXs^ysiv, 
to confute these calumnies and stop men's mouths, and bring down the c'on- 
trivers and inventors of them to lick the dust. God only, who is omniscient, 
and knows all the wards of the heart, can search the secret parts of it, and 
bring sin to light, and the soul to spiritual reason. 

Sixthly, The natural levity and inconstancy of the soul, renders it im- 
possible to nature to convince. It is from this instability, those wrestings 
of Scripture, and evasions to turn away the dint of a rebuking argument, 
do arise : 2 Peter iii. 16, * Which they that are unstable and unlearned, wrest 
to their own destruction.' They are naturally like clouds which have no 
certain basis, therefore as soon can a natural cloud fix as they. Hence, 
men's convictions are like fits of an ague, which have their intervals, and 
at last wear quite away. Man can have no composedness nor consistency 
in himself, while he is hurried about by various ends and objects, while in "a 
state of nature. All the power of nature can no more make an impression 
on such fluid persons, than a man can draw a picture upon the water, or 
plough the rivers, and make them receive seed and bring forth fruit. In- 
stability scatters and divides the powers of the soul, that they cannot unite 
in any serious reflections. So that you see nature is utterly insufficient, 
and there is a necessity of some higher power than nature to convince the 
soul of sin. I shall add a, 

(3.) Third argument. As neither nature nor law can do it upon those 

182 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

accounts, and therefore there is a necessity of the Spirit for this purpose ; 
so it is necessary that this thorough conviction which ends in conversion, 
should be the work of the Spirit, in regard of the honour of God, that the 
whole new state, with all its antecedents, as well as consequents, may be of 
God ; that the hewing the stone, as well as setting it in the building, the 
preparations of the members, as well as uniting them to the head, may owe 
itself only to the divine power, that all cause of glorying in ourselves may 
be cut off, according to the intent of the gospel. If a man should convince 
himself, and make himself sensible of sin, though afterwards he should be 
brought to a through conversion and close with Christ, yet the glory of the 
first sense and preparation will be the glory of the flesh ; but all flesh, in 
everything which concerns our recovery, must be silent before God. As the 
Spirit doth all things about the head Christ, so he doth all things about 
those he intends his members. As Christ was led by the Spirit to be 
tempted by the devil, that he might have a sense of sin, and be acquainted 
with the craft and subtilty of that adversary, which had brought all the dis- 
honour upon God, and sunk all mankind in misery ; so the Spirit doth con- 
vince his members of sin, suits the word providentially to make impressions, 
worketh and preserves these impressions in them, that the whole work, the 
ploughing up the fallow ground of the heart, as well as the sowing the seed 
in it, may redound to the glory of God in the entire praise of it. 

So that, you see, it is necessary the Spirit should convince of sin. Nature 
cannot do it, cannot convince of the root of sin, and it cannot convince of 
the evil of sin, and it cannot convince of the latitude of sin, nor of unbelief. 
And the law, that cannot convince of unbelief, nor indeed of any sin, without 
the Spirit's management of it, it being the sword of the Spirit. The reason 
of the insufiiciency of nature, which is, the wrong notions of things, the 
blindness of mind under the gospel, and a natural enmity universally in 
every man that doth evil against any such discovery, the weakness and 
falseness of natural conscience, and the false disguises of sin, pretences for 
it ; all which render universal convictions impossible ; and so doth the levity 
and unstedfastness of the soul ; beside the necessity of it for the honour of 

III. The third question is. How doth the Spirit work these convictions ? 
And before I speak to that, take only this caution. Though the Spirit doth 
work these convictions in the hearts of men, and it is necessary he should, 
yet slavish fears, desperation, and other sinful things consequent upon the 
knowledge of ourselves, are not the work of the Spirit, and therefore do not 
flow from him by any immediate impression of his upon the soul ; but they 
are the consequent of this sight and sense men have of the dreadfulness of 
their state, which the Spirit shews them, by fixing their eye on the glass of 
the law, and their thoughts upon their miserable condition. As when a wild 
beast is tied to a post, or shut in a den, the hand that fastens or shuts him 
in is not the cause of his snarhug, and tossing, and beating himself against 
the wall ; this is a consequent of his own wild disposition, as being in such 
a state ; or, as the wrath of Grod, which kindles hell, and locks and scorches 
the damned in the perpetual prison, this as punishment and a physical evil 
belongs to God, and is his proper act, but not those blasphemies and curses 
which rise from the pain of the damned. If men in afiiictions, which may 
be remedied, do curse God, Isa. viii. 21, much more will it be consequent 
upon an endless misery, where there is no hope of redress. It is impossible 
that a man under punishment, without the hopes of a pardon, and being 
wholly corrupt, should have good thoughts of a revenging God. Yet though 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 183 

God inflict what is just, he doth not excite what is evil and unjust. So, 
though the Spirit makes impressions upon men, discovers the misery of their 
state, sets their sins in order before them, by the awakening of conscience, 
and by his motion fixeth their minds on the consideration of them ; yet those 
sinful fears, accusations of God, charges against God, are not the effect of 
the Spirit in them, but the bubbling up of their own hearts naturally incident 
unto that state they are apprehensive of. And now to proceed unto that 

Third question. How doth the Spirit work this conviction ? The great 
instrument whereby the work is wrought, is the law ; he acts in such a 
method in conviction as a Spirit of bondage, as he doth in assurance as a 
Spirit of adoption. As he is a Spirit of adoption, the gospel is the instru- 
ment whereby he works assurance ; as he is a Spirit of bondage, the law is 
the instrument, which is in a way of syllogism. When he comforts, it is in 
this manner : ' He that believeth shall be saved ;' but the soul assumeth, 
But I believe, therefore I shall be saved. So it is in this of conviction, 
' Every one that believeth not, shall perish ;' the soul assumeth. But I be- 
lieve not, therefore I shall perish. Every one that is unholy shall not see 
God ; I am unholy, saith the soul, therefore I shall not see God. The first 
proposition is the evidence of Scripture, the second is the evidence of con- 
science, the third is the evidence of reason in a rational deduction. It is as 
a solemn court of judicature : the first proposition consists of matter of law. 
He that believeth not shall perish, the assertion of God ; and. He that is 
unholy shall not see God ; this is matter of law, the assertion of God. The 
evidence as to matter of fact, is given in the second proposition. But I be- 
lieve not, but I am unholy. The sentence is pronounced in the third, 
Therefore I shall perish, therefore I shall never see God. In the first, the 
soul is arraigned ; in the second, tried and cast ; in the third, condemned. The 
instruments then which the Spirit useth in convincing, are. 

First, The law, which is the rule whereby to judge of the moral good or 
evil of actions ; and conviction is nothing else bat the formal impression of 
sin by the law on the consciencu, or the reviving that which was before im- 
printed ; the blowing off the dust from the letters of the law written in the 
soul. The 

Second instrument the Spirit useth is the conscience, in the conviction of 
the fact. This tells the soul of its breaking the law, and contempt of the 
lawgiver ; flies in the face with a Thou art the man, and aff"ects him as if 
the law had pronounced him by name accursed ; upon which account con- 
science is called a witness, Rom. ii. 15. And when this cometh and gives 
full evidence, the mouth is stopped, Rom. iii. 19, and the soul is said to 
die, Rom. vii. 9, is no more able to answer the accusations of the law, when 
applied by conscience, than a man deprived of life is able to answer a word 
at the bar, but remains as dead in law, under a sense of guilt. To assist 
conscience in this work, is the greatest work the Spirit hath to do, which 
otherwise would be silenced by men's lusts, or bribed to give in a false, weak, 
or slight witness, icjnoramus, or mince the matter. As in the syllogism, 
whereby we come to assurance, it is the hardest matter to frame the second 
proposition. But I believe, but I love God ; the hardest matter to find out 
the truth of grace ; so it is the hardest matter in this way of conviction to 
find out sin, to be sensible of the guilt of sin. As many Christians do not 
own and find the truth of grace, by reason of their fears, and doubts, 
and darkness, so many a sinner will not own his sin, by reason of his self- 
love. Therefore the Spirit doth first work by the law, this is the breath of 
his lips, wherewith he slays the wicked, Isa. xi. 4, which hath a greater force 
in the hand of the Spirit, than the eloquence of the mightiest orator, and 

184 chaenock's wokks. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

makes men fall down under the power of it. As conversion is a knitting 
the heart and the gospel together, so conviction is a knitting the heart and 
the law. As the Spirit dwells in sons in a way of comfort, to make them 
call God Abba, Father ; so he is in sinners, in a way of conviction, to make 
them regard God as a judge. As by the word men are forewarned from sin, 
so by the word men are reproved for sin. This is the Spirit's instrument, 
for God doth not in an ordinary way act immediately, but useth instruments 
in all his works ; not that we say that the law is the cause of salvation 
(that is only by the gospel), — it is no more the cause of it, than the lancing 
of a wound, letting out the putrefied matter, is the cause of the cure, — but it 
discovers the depth of the wound, and that corrupt matter which, residing 
there, would hinder the cure, and fester, and end in putrefaction ; or, as one 
saith, it is but as a fisherman beating the river, or troubling the water to 
drive the fish into the net. The Lord drives men into the net of the gospel, 
whereby they are catched for God. There are three acts of the law, justify- 
ing, directing, and convincing ; the justifying act of the law is out of doors, 
and a condemning act stepped into the room, since men are ' concluded under 
sin,' Gal. iii. 21-23. Man in his fii-st creation stood in an indifi'erency to 
the promises and comminations of the law, according as his carriage should 
be, but when sin came, the promise of the law was of no force, because the 
condition of obedience was not performed, whereupon man lay under the power 
of the curse. The directing power of the law remains, as a rule to guide us ; 
for the work of Christ was to reduce us to obedience. The convincing power 
of it is of perpetual use, for the discovery of the depth of sin in the heart : 
Ps. xix. 12, ' Who can understand his errors ? Cleanse me from my secret 
faults.' Of perpetual use even to believers too, in regard of the contest with 
spiritual sins, even for the discovery of spiritual sins. There is a spiritual 
use of a spiritual law, to manifest those sins to a believer ; in which respect 
it is not a terror to a believer, but a delight, because it discovers the ene- 
mies of God in the soul, and makes it run to the fountain of Christ's blood 
in the gospel for the cleansing of them ; so that the more this revealing 
power of the law is used, the more occasion hath faith to manifest itself in 
recourse to the gospel promise. In these two latter respects the law is of 
constant and necessary use : the convictive is necessary to affect us with 
sin, and the insufficiency of our own righteousness ; and the directive is not 
destroyed, but enforced by the gospel. We must know ourselves, and 
know Grod ; the law giveth us a knowledge of God in his authority and 
holiness, and a knowledge of ourselves in our subordination and vileness. 

First, The Spirit discovers sin by the law. It is the end of all laws to 
inform the understanding of what is to be done, and consequently of men's 
deviation from them : and so absolutely necessary the law is for this dis- 
covery, that the apostle owns all his knowledge of sin to come from thence : 
Kom. vii. 7, ' I had not known sin but by the law ;' by this sin is revived : 
Kom. vii. 9, ' When the commandment came, sin revived ;' as the mois- 
ture in wood is excited by the fire, wheezing out at the end, which was not 
discerned before. The rectitude of the rule discovers the crookedness of 
our nature ; the perfection of the law, the degenerateness of the soul ; the 
purity of the law, the pollution of the heart ; the spirituality of the law, the 
carnality of our minds. The rule being altogether excellent, discovers a 
man altogether vile : Gal. iii. 19, ' The law was added because of transgres- 
sion ;' to discover the filth, stench, and venom of a man's heart and 
actions, and make him to lie under the condemnation of it, without any accu- 
sation of the righteousness of God. Hence it is said, that ' The law entered 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 185 

that sin might abound,' Rom. v. 20 ; not to make it abound by encouraging 
the commission of it, but by impressing the conviction. A man before 
thinks himself a scanty and mole-hill sinner, but after the sight of the law, 
deep consideration, and the sense of it, he seeth himself a large and moun- 
tainous sinner, though he may appear small to the eye of man. And the 
Spirit discovers by the law the extent of sin ; by the breadth of the law, the 
Spirit helps us to" measure the latitude of sin. Naturally we think not sin to 
be so great as it is, but its dimensions are seen through the glass of the 
word, which shews it to be exceeding broad ; as a star which a child thinks 
is but a little spark, is known and discerned by an instrument to be bigger 
than the globe of the earth. The Spirit shews the extent of the precept, 
and thereby measures the wideness of the sins ; he discovers the purity of 
the precept, and thereby the filthiness of sin. And as he discovers sin, so, 

Secondly, Secret and lurking sins he discovers by the law. The Spirit, 
by this dissecting knife, opens the entrails of the heart, to manifest the secret 
holes and traverses of this inward serpent ; as when the body is opened, 
all the little strings within are plainly seen to the back-bone, r£rgap^j]X/(r- 
u.ha, everything in the whole composition of it lies open to public view, 
Heb. iv. 12, 13. It divides soul and spirit ; it discovers what cattle litter 
in the affections and fancy. It doth unmask those spiritualised sins which 
harbour in the understanding and will ; those lusts which appear abroad in 
the garb of virtues, as acts of gallantry and generosity ; though they looked 
like stars of the firmament, it shews them to be but some unhappy vapours. 
The Spirit by the word opens both heart, and mind, and affections ; the 
spiritual and sensitive part of the soul of man brings the conscience, as he 
did Ezekiel, from chamber to chamber,^ to see the vermin which crawl in 
every part ; and as in dissection we see the valves and small fibres of the 
body, so the thoughts and intents of the heart, the secret aims wherein the 
spirit of wickedness lies, the counsels which gave the first birth unto sin, the 
close intents that had a fair outside, like a venomous serpent in a golden 
box, these the Spirit brings to light ; it rifles the very corners, and sheweth 
the inwardest and the least things, and fetcheth up that mud which lay 
under a clear stream, which conscience was not acquainted with before. And 
this discovery of lurking sins is not from the innate power of the law, — that 
hath not a power of omniscience, — but by the Spirit working by that law. ^ It 
is God that ' searcheth the heart,' Jer. xvii. 10 It is God's heart, like 
Elisba, in 2 Kings v. 26, that goes with every man when he doth this or that. 
The Spirit doth work by the law, in the discovery of sin, both as to the ex- 
tent of it, and as to secret sins. So, 

Thirdly, It discovers the wrath of God due to sin by the law. As the 
gospel is a glass reflecting the glory and love of God upon the heart, so the 
law is a pure glass reflecting the holiness and wrath of God upon the con- 
science. The gospel represents God upon a throne, with a sceptre of grace 
and righteousness ; the law exhibits him upon a tribunal of justice, with a 
rod of iron and wrath. As the gospel is called the ' word of reconciliation,' 
60 the law is the word of wrath ; it shews a man lying under God's displea- 
sure at the brink of the pit, and holds him quaking over the smoke of hell. 
As the gospel is the ministration of life, so the other is the ministration of 
death ; it shews wrath entailed upon the least as well as the greatest ini- 
quity, brandisheth and darts curses against the sinner. God is discovered 
in arms against the soul, going forth conquering and to conquer, with death 
and hell marching before him : Rom. ii. 8, 9, ' indignation and wrath, tribu- 
lation and anguish, on every soul that doth evil.' Sin is shewn in its filthi- 
ness, and wrath in its dreadfulness ; sin, too, in its guilt. By the law we 

186 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

discern our debts, and are assured they must be paid. The law lays hold 
of every sinner, like that servant in the Gospel, and, with a dreadful voice, 
claims the debt, * Pay me that thou owest !' That is the first thing the 
Spirit works by the law as an instrument. 

Secondly, The Spirit doth stir up the natural notions and acquired know- 
ledge in the mind in this conviction. He lets loose those truths in the heart 
which were prisoners in the chains of unrighteousness, to be assistant in this 
work, as invaders put arms into the hands of those prisoners which had been 
under a force before. This work is the exciting and reflecting the light and 
knowledge in the understanding upon the conscience, whereby the creature 
feels the heat of the light, which in its direct beams he did not ; nor doth 
knowledge swimming in the brain afi'ect ; he blows up the sparks of reason 
to a height, and, like the sun, draws forth the sap of those notions implanted 
in the heart, making them sprout up according as he first set them. For, as 
the sowing this seed was by the hand of the Spirit, so the improvement of 
these principles sown is, by the breath of the Spirit, in a way of common 
grace. He caused the birth, and he causes the growth too ; that which he 
had sown he preserves and excites, so that when these notions are excited 
by the Spirit, men see double to what they did before discern of the secrets 
of wisdom and righteousness, and accordingly that there are more transgres- 
sions according to the law of nature than men usually dream of, which makes 
them justify God in the way of his judgments : Job. xi. 5, 6, ' Oh that God 
would speak and open his lips against thee, and that he would shew thee 
the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is ! Know, there- 
fore, that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.' It is an 
answer to Job's complaint, that his afilictions were without ground ; which 
Zophar answers, that if the secrets of wisdom in the law of nature were 
excited, it would discover sin enough to justify God in his proceedings. 
The law of Moses was not in being in the time of Job, but in the original 
copy, the law of nature, and the common notions of mankind. The Spirit 
stirs up these in this conviction, and though the Spirit takes these, and 
works by the excitation of natural light, yet he brings in also another light, 
because the chief conviction he aims at is the corruption of the state, not 
only that of corrupt acts ; the necessity of a mediator and a sense of spiri- 
tual sins, which cannot be wrought merely by that light which is naturally 
in the mind. It stirs up, therefore, principles already impressed, and intro- 
duceth principles not yet impressed, and binds both of them on the soul; for 
it convinceth by way of argument, and therefore its convictions must be 
founded on somewhat which the soul knew before, or arise from a new light 
attended with a greater evidence. Now, the Spirit of God doth not put out 
nature by the shining of grace, but improve, perfect, and regulate it, putting 
it into a right channel, making it to serve the ends of grace ; so in this act of 
conviction, he maketh the natural knowledge subservient, and rouseth up that 
knowledge which lay rusty and useless. There is use of this, for God acts 
in a rational manner, that reason may be employed in this case ; hence are 
his appeals to men (Isa. v. 3) of a depraved reason, ' inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.' 
Had reason no competency at all to judge of the unprofitableness and the bad 
return the vineyard had made to God, the appeal had been fruitless ; but the 
appeal implies that even natural reason would have cast the verdict on God's 
side ; so in conviction the Spirit doth stir up that natural light in the mind, 
and that acquired knowledge that it hath to be assistant in this work. 

Thirdly, The Spirit doth irradiate and enlighten the mind and practical 
judgment. The Spirit brings a man to belief of the truth in the word by 

John XVI. 8, 9. J conviction of sin. 187 

clear and undeniable reason, and by rectifying and elevating the understand- 
ing. As he makes the characters written upon the heart legible, so he 
enlightens the dim mind, and snuffs the candle of the Lord, that they may 
be read, Prov. xx. 27, that thereby ' the inward parts of the belly' may be 
searched. In this regard he is called a Spirit of bondage ; not that he brings 
us into bondage, but as he opens the curtain of sin and the blind eye to see 
the bondage sin hath brought it into. The truths of God in the word have 
an objective light, and the Spirit doth enlighten the mind, not by discovering 
new notions and giving new objects of knowledge only, but by creating a 
dogmatical faith and an assent unto those principles, and helping us to 
receive right and distinct notions of those things which are represented. 
And it is such a faith which the Spirit in this work doth create, which is 
not only apprehensive but quietative ; it not only apprehends the things 
themselves, but the soul rests in them for truth, not that they are grounds 
of comfort in themselves, but doth clearly assent to them for truth, and own 
them, and fully assent unto them. There is a faith of assent common to men, 
but the Spirit quickens this faith in conviction that it hath a fuller prospect 
of these things which he doth discover, which were weakly and imperfectly 
assented to before ; and the soul weighs these particulars which the Spirit 
sets before it more seriously than ever it did. This is a necessary work of 
the Spirit, for a stupefied judgment is a bar to any recovery ; but when the 
light of the word and the light of the mind meet together, the issue is a full 
discovery of the motes in the soul and sink in the heart. 

Fourthly, The Spirit excites and actuates the conscience, sets the con- 
science to smite, as David's heart smote him, upon the Spirit's touch by the 
ministry of Nathan. Most men know such and such actions to be sinful ; 
they know unbelief to be a damning sin, God to be a righteous God, Christ 
the only Saviour, yet how few know these things convincingly, with an appli- 
cation of them to the conscience ! How few have the descent from the spe- 
culative to the practical judgment, to be affected with them and with their 
own deplorable state ! The Spirit, as it increaseth the light, it doth sharpen 
this faculty of conscience for self-reflection ; direct beams are darted in to 
shew the object, and an edge is put upon the faculty to do its office. Light 
is shot in upon the understanding by the Spirit in the word, and fire is 
struck upon the conscience ; suitable passions are raised in the heart by 
that light in the mind. As the Spirit of adoption giveth efficacy to the 
gospel, in affecting his soul with righteousness, so, as he is a Spirit of 
bondage, he giveth efficacy to the law to affect the conscience with guilt ; 
he lets loose the natural activity of conscience, he arms it with a renewed 
commission, he opens the mouth of this herald of God, and makes it de- 
nounce dreadful things ; he enlargeth it to take in the impressions of wrath, 
and transmit them to all parts of the man ; he reviveth the guilt, and rouseth 
the conscience, the serpent in the bosom ariseth and hisseth, and conscience 
in man being awakened, lashes him. Thus sin being revived, and conscience 
awakened, they lay the soul flat and breathless. * Sin revived, and I died.' 
Guilt is so strongly reflected, that a man doth not simply understand him- 
self to be in a damnable state, but feels in himself the filthiness and misery 
of that state, and becometh a judge and witness against himself, acknow- 
ledging the righteousness of God, and the unrighteousness of his nature. 
Conscience, thus actuated by the Spirit, pleads sharply from the law against 
the soul (as a king's attorney doth against a prisoner at the bar), takes ofl' all 
excuses, beats it off from all apologies made in its defence, and reproacheth 
him for it. Job xxvii. 6. It brings not only the substance of sin but the cir- 
cumstances to mind, and what rebukes itself gave before to hinder the com- 

188 charnock's wobks. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

mission, just as it will at the last day deliver those truths that were suppressed 
and clouded in unrighteousness, and usher them in as so many speaking 
witnesses ; the memory is also revived to assist conscience in this work. 
Now, the Spirit only can excite conscience ; though conscience hath a power 
to judge, yet it must have a light to judge by, and because it is sleepy and 
dull, it must be soundly roused ; and therefore there is the same need that 
the Spirit should set conscience right, as any other faculty ; because that is 
depraved, as well as the understanding is darkened and the will perverted. 

Fifthly, The Spirit brings forgotten sins to mind, and presseth them upon 
the conscience. As the Samaritan woman concludes Christ to be the Mes- 
siah, because he ' told her all that ever she had done,' John iv. 29, so the 
renewing upon us the sense of all that ever we did, is an evidence of the 
Spirit's work. When old, forgotten sins are brought to light in the mind, 
it is an effect of God's Spirit, who is greater than our hearts, and knoweth 
all things. Thus the Spirit doth set in order youthful sins in old age, makes 
men to 'possess the sins of their youth,' as in Job; and gathers iniquities 
laid in the dust together, upon the beating the drum of conscience, and fills 
the soul with the sense and consideration of them, and brings in an old score 
of sin with many items. Item, such a time a contempt of God ; such a time a 
speculative wickedness ; such a time a quenching of the Spirit; profane speech ; 
swarms of vain thoughts and vile lusts ; the many aggravations of sin against 
mercies, in the very face of God, when a pardon was offered ; rebellion against 
the light of conscience ; stifling holy motions ; breaking the bonds of love ; the 
influence our sins had upon others ; principles and root of sin ; enmity to God ; 
secret rising of heart against the purity of the law. Thus it brings sins 
that were forgotten, and sets them home : Ps. cxix. 59, ' I considered my 
ways.' He counted his ways and his sins one by one, as the word there 
signifies, as much as he could, and as the Spirit of God directed. Though 
many times the Spirit lays one sin closest, yet all the rest are brought in, 
and severally charged ; as in a pestilent disease all the humours wherewith 
the body was troubled before run into that infectious disease ; and the soul 
is made to read those sins as plainly as if they had been committed but the 
day before. A wicked man 'knoweth not whither he goeth,' 1 John ii. 11; 
he hath no clear knowledge of the nature of sin and the dreadfulness of wrath. 
But the Spii-it in this work makes us not only see sin, but giveth an intuitive 
knowledge of it; draws the veil from the face of sin, washeth off its varnish, 
pulls away its fine dress and attire, and presents it as the greatest evil, and 
in its most Ethiopian deformity. 

Sixthly, The Spirit fixeth the sense of the most terrible attributes of God 
upon the soul in this work. His justice, eternity, holiness, are brandished 
against him, and mercy seems standing aloof from him. He makes him look 
upon justice incensed, holiness disparaged, mercy slighted, power preparing 
a Tophet of wrath, and kindling it against it, and eternity perpetuating the 
punishment ; and hides all considerations of God that might give hope of relief. 
Upon these perfections of God, which breathe terror against the sins of men, 
is conviction founded. Men naturally have a greater sense of God's mercy 
than any other attributes, because mercy and patience are more continually 
exposed to their view, in the warm sun, influences of heaven, fruitful showers, 
and kindly provisions, which multiply the notion of his mercy in the minds 
of men. And from those ideas, fortitied by these common works of kindness, 
and from self-love in men's breasts, doth arise men's confidence and presump- 
tion in the mercy of God. And therefore the soul is never soundly convinced 
of its own natural state till self-love be shaken, and the other attributes of 
God seriously pondered and owned. When the soul is in a dead sleep, there 


John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin, 189 

is no consideration of justice ; and when awakened by the law, without the 
sight of the gospel, and a discovery of his mercy in Christ, like Adam and 
Eve the soul runs from God's presence, and every voice of God is terrible; 
and finding himself culpable, and seeing nothing but a sea of sin, he fears 
the justice of God, that the sovereign Judge of all the world will bring him 
to a speedy account, and inflict that death that he knows himself worthy of. 
Now, the consideration of these attributes have in the holiest men always 
caused in them reflections on their iniquities. Hence holy men in Scripture, 
upon some apparition of God, or an angel, were full of apprehensions of God's 
holiness and their own impurity, which possessed them with expectations of 
death, when they looked upon God as a consuming fire, and themselves as 
dry stubble, Ezek. iii. 6, Judges xiii. 22, Isa. vi. 6. 

Seventhly, The Spirit of God removes, in this work of conviction, all the 
former supports which the soul leaned upon. It blows up all the little castles 
of defence, pufis them away as chaff, makes conscience work through all the 
plasters laid on to assuage the grief, lays the soul naked without any cover- 
ing. The heart of man being stufied with self-love, frames a multitude of 
miserable comforters as weak as Adam's fig-leaves; but when the Spirit 
ariseth in the ministry of the law, he tears all those coverings, nonplusses 
all those subtile evasions, breaks all those props and crutches in pieces, and 
casts down the soul before the foot of God's righteous judgment, that it dares 
not cast a glance, a loving look, towards that Sodom which God hath fired ; 
knocks ofi" the hands from all those things whereby men would compound 
with God and their guilty consciences ; all the strong reasonings for the life 
of their lusts, and the presumptuous arguings for the salvation of their souls, 
fall before the battery of the word, which like an engine plays against the 
high-built and pleasant imaginations. He pulls up the foundation of their 
own righteousness, strips it of its painted garment, and makes them look upon 
their pretended beauties as loathsome deformities. When sin revives by the 
commandment, the sinner dies in the former opinion he had of himself ; the 
sentence of death in himself is attended with death in all his comforts. And 
upon this account afilictions are mighty helpful to this work, when the Spirit 
sets in with them. When the supports of sin are drawn away, the evil of sin 
is more seen, which was not observed by men in the midst of their wealth 
and pleasure. When he ' holds them in afflictions,' then ' he shews them 
their work and their transgression, wherein they have exceeded; he openeth 
their ear also to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity,' 
Job xxxvi. 8-10. On this account God takes afflictions as the proper season 
to carry on this convincing work. For the rod puts life into the word, and 
makes men look inward to their consciences, and outward to their actions. 
When their fonner supports are pulled down about their ears, and conscience 
is quickened by the Spirit, then is the time for it to shew its commission ; 
whereas in the hurry of pleasures it was wholly silent. And while the Spirit 
doth arm conscience against a man, he doth suspend the force and fury of 
his lusts, which before stopped the mouth of it. 

Eighthly, The Spirit makes the soul intent upon the consideration of its 
sin, and those evidences which are brought in against it. 

(1.) Upon the consideration of its sin. The thoughts of his sin haunt 
him like so many ghosts, and conscience, like Zipporah to Moses, flies in his 
face ; not once, but with a repetition, ' A bloody husband hast thou been 
unto me.' It gives no respite, every thought is a particular sting; wherever 
he looks, sin stares upon him ; and wherever he is or moves, conscience is 
with him, thundering in his ears the curses of the law, and flashing in his 
face the fire of hell, and presenting the black scroll to his consideration. 

190 oharnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

His sin is ever before him, which Job calls, chap, xiii, 27, a putting his feet 
in the stocks. He cannot move but he feels the smart of his wounds at 
every motion. The Spirit ' seals instruction ; ' he sets such a brand upon 
the conscience, that all the art of men cannot raze it out ; it is held in by 
the law, Rom. vii. 6, and ' filled with bitterness,' Job ix. 18. The Spirit 
stakes him down, and points him to his sins. Lo, these are thy sins, and 
these will be thy plagues without a conversion. He will not let him take 
one sweet draught, nor a mouthful of cool air ; he fixeth his eyes upon sin 
with sorrow, as much as his eyes were before upon it with joy. The soul 
had heard a thousand times of its lying, swearing, drunkenness, unclean- 
ness, and other wickednesses ; the necessity of conversion, the misery of 
hell, and the pleasures of heaven ; but all were vanishing sounds, till the 
Spirit sounds the trumpet of the law, and fixeth truths upon the conscience, 
and maketh reason perform its office ; then he ' holds the eyes waking,' Ps. 
Ixxvii. 4, and the soul cannot speak of anything but its trouble. For as 
the Spirit brings to remembrance the promises of Christ, and fixeth them as 
a ground of faith, brings to remembrance the precepts of Christ, and settleth 
them upon the soul as a ground of obedience, so, as a Spirit of bondage, he 
brings the threatenings of the law, and leaves the stamp of them upon us, 
that we cannot look oif from them ; inlays the law in the heart as a law of 
death, as in conversion and faith it is engraven as a law of life. Thus Christ 
dealt with Paul ; Acts ix. 4, tells him of his persecuting, ' Saul, Saul, why 
persecutest thou me ? ' When Paul would know who it was who spoke to 
him : ver. 5, ' I am Jesus of Nazareth ;' yet holds his eyes still upon his 
sin, ' Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.' These considerations 
break in like a deluge on the soul, so that none can stop them, and they 
attend the person at his bed, and table, and shop, and walk, and they in- 
corporate themselves wuth him. And the Spirit 

(2.) Doth follow the soul with one word after another, and presseth and 
urgeth more and more that which may make a thorough conviction. The 
word to natural men is like a flash of lightning, that scareth and vanisheth ; 
it is like an arrow shot against a brazen wall, that immediately falls down 
again ; it is a glass wherein a man seeth his face, and quickly forgets his 
own physiognomy. But the Spirit in this work holds the glass before the 
face, presseth upon the soul the pure interpretation, the sense and meaning 
of the law, drives it deep, like a nail that cannot be pulled out, doth many 
times providentially guide a man to those places of Scripture that sharpen 
the conviction, and rend the soul wider, as a torn garment is by every nail 
that catches hold of it ; and never leaves it till he brings it to subscribe, I 
am the man whose name is written here, I am the man who is meant in 
this curse. But then. 

Ninthly, The Spmt springs up fears in the soul at the consideration of this 
state. Fears, so far as they are not sinful, are the work of the Spirit, as a 
Spirit of bondage ; he concludes it under a state of unbelief, makes it under- 
stand the intolerableness and duration of its misery in that state, puts the 
question to it, whether it can dwell with everlasting burnings ? The Spirit 
presents it with a pure law, a righteous judge, and a deserved wrath. Now 
it is natural for any man under the just sentence of the law for a capital 
crime, to be full of dread. There is fire and thunder in the particular 
application of the law, as there was in the first dehvery of it on mount Sinai ; 
and since the transgression of the law, there is nothing but death, horror, 
and the curses of it, ready to seize upon the soul. It may well set the 
holiest men, when they examine themselves by it, on trembling, as Moses 
did at the delivery of it, Heb. xii. 21. And indeed it is impossible for the 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 191 

Spirit to act, in an ordinary way, but according to the nature of that word 
which is presented to the mind. If a promise be applied, the proper con- 
sequent of that is comfort ; if a threatening be impressed upon the mind, 
the proper consequent of that is terror ; if a precept, the immediate opera- 
tion of that is obedience. Therefore the Spirit can be no other but a spirit 
of bondage, exciting troubles in the soul, as it works by the law, because 
there is no promise of reward in that, but to those that perfectly obey. If 
the law met with a pure heart, free from all taint of sin, the Spirit would 
engender comfort by it ; but since there are deep spots in the hearts and 
natures of all men, God by the law only persuades them of the truth of 
that ; and it is impossible that from the law alone anything should arise but 
what is slavish. If the Spirit speak no other word but the law, it can pro- 
duce nothing but terror and condemnation. What terrors must then seize 
upon the spirits of men, and what distresses be rooted in their souls, when 
they consider themselves cut off from all hopes of mercy by the law, havincr 
broken it, and no promise giving any ground of comfort, but a curse pro"^ 
nounced by the violation of it ? And how severe that is you may see : Gal. 
iii. 10, ' Curseth is every one that continueth not in every thing to do it.' 
Now when a man seeth he hath no title to heaven in regard of the curse, no 
disposition to heaven in regard of his nature, and that the curse of the law 
is his right before the legal bar, and beholds the sparklings of wrath, with- 
out any cloud to shelter him, can a man see this without self-condemnint^, 
and a crying out, ' I am undone, I am undone ' ? When conscience is thus 
awakened, sin thus presented, the law thus manifested, and the soul held 
down to the consideration of all, it is as impossible it can be without in- 
ward convulsions, as the ground without earthquakes which hath air in its 
bowels without any vent. This thunder from Sinai raiseth nothing else but 
blackness, and darkness, and storms in the region of the soul. 

Lastly, The Spirit, in a saving conviction, brings the soul after this wound- 
ing to a self-debasing and humiliation. Man is the most backward in the 
world to the charging guilt upon himself, he is more skilful at self- excuses 
than self-indictments ; but the Spirit brings the soul to comply with the end 
of the ministration of the law, which is, ' that every mouth may be stopped, 
and all the world become guilty before God,' Kom. iii. 19. By this revela- 
tion of the secrets of the heart, and the urgency of conscience the over- 
powering work of the Spirit, the soul makes a positive conclusion against 
itself to the glory of God, 1 Cor. xiv. 25. Thus by sharpening his arrows 
in the hearts of his enemies, Ps. xlv. 5, he makes his enemies fall under 
him, in an acknowledgment of his righteousness and power, and the unlike- 
ness of their hearts to the pui-ity of the law ; not extenuating the guilt, but 
loading themselves with it to a self- abhorrence ; abhorring themselves in 
dust and ashes, counting themselves as dead dogs, to violate so holy, right- 
eous, just, and good a law; and turning all their self-righteousness to shame, 
heartily wishing those sins which gall them had never been committed. And 
after this, when the gospel is presented, the soul enters into debates with 
itself, and makes a judicious comparison between the first covenant, and 
condemnation by that, and the second covenant, and life by that. Here are 
flames of wrath, and there are rivers of joy ; here is a lake that burns, there 
is a paradise that refresheth ; here is a flying roll, full of curses, which will 
seize upon me, there is a rich gospel, full of blessings, that is offered to me ; 
here is death to sinners that will not have God to reign over them, there is 
life to believers that submit with the obedience of faith. If I sin while I 
live, I must perish when I die ; I must be saved by grace, or be punished 
by wrath. And shall I sin away my hopes, to fall into a miserable eternity? 

192 charnock's works. [John XYI. 8, 9. 

shall I sin myself to death, when the promise of grace is freely made to me 
in order to my salvation ? Thus the soul is brought to a sense of sin by 
the law, and the insufficiency of the creature, and then welcome Christ, and 
gospel, and covenant, and promises of grace ; welcome the yoke of Christ. 
And when it cometh to this, then conviction ends, hath its perfect work, 
concluding in a thorough conversion and acceptance of Christ. 

IV. The fourth thing ; what sins, or what in sin the Spirit doth chiefly con- 
vince of ! The conviction by any other cause is partial, it is but half baked, 
roast on one side, and raw on the other ; the Spirit's conviction is universal, 
he holds a right rule to the crooked heart ; he measures all the dimensions 
of the soul, and of sin in it, considers root and branch, leaves and fruit. As 
the Spirit in a good man mortifies all sin, cleanses from all sin, so in this 
work he discovers all sin. 

First, The Spirit usually singles out some one sin at the first to set home 
upon the soul ; sometimes some base unworthy action, some blasphemous 
word, some disparaging thought of God, some captain and master sin, which 
is first brought out to face the soul, and presented in its hideous shape : 
as crucifying the Saviour of the world was charged by Peter upon the Jews, 
Acts ii. ; fornication upon the woman of Samaria, by Christ, John iv. 18. 
As the Spirit of adoption, in working assurance, evidenceth to the soul some 
one particular grace which is wrought in the soul, whereby he may be able 
to judge of his state ; so, as a Spirit of bondage, he presseth some particular 
sin at fii'st, whereby a man may judge of his deplorable condition. Some 
one sin the Spirit takes hold of, to begin this work of conviction. But 
though one sin chiefly sticks in the conscience at first, yet in the Spirit's 
work all others do rush in afterwards to have their share. When one bee 
cometh forth and stings one that hath disturbed the hive, the rest come out 
to revenge the quarrel ; or when one mastifi" sets upon a passenger, all the 
rest will come barking in. The guilt of one sin is let loose upon the con- 
science ; not that the work ends here (for then the soul might be lost), but 
this is an introduction. Judas's thought dwelt only upon one sin. Mat. 
xxvii. 4, betraying innocent blood, that did afi'ect him ; but he never searched 
further into the kennel, never into the depravation of his nature. But the 
Spirit begins at one, and leads the soul from chamber to chamber, from lust 
to lust, till it hath viewed the whole den by degrees ; for he doth not shew 
all at once, that the soul for whom he hath kind thoughts may not fail 
before him. 

Secondly, The Spirit usually convinceth the soul first of gross sins. He 
begins with these, because they are more legible and obvious by natural 
light, which of itself condemns them, and sets the soul speechless. As in 
the siege of a town, batteries are planted against that part of it which is 
weakest. Sins in the conversation 'are more visible than those that lie 
secret in the heart, other sins are obscured by these outward ones, as stars 
are by a bigger light, and a little spot by a greater stain ; these are more 
visible to the inward senses, and more easily read by conscience, by prin- 
ciples of reason which rise up in accusation of them. David's murder and 
adultery first afl'ected his conscience by Nathan's ministry, but in the pro- 
gress he complains of his hypocrisy, Ps. li. 10 ; of those sins which poured 
in their streams to the increasing that river, those auxiliaries which had 
contributed their assistance to maintain his heart in its hardness for that 
sin. As in thankfulness one great mercy appears, but when that is dissected, 
the whole train of mercies appear ; so in conviction, one gi'oss sin first shews 
itself, and when this is discerned, the whole litter comes in view. Christ 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 193 

rouseth Paul for his persecution first, but after, if spread further on his 
conscience ; for he acknowledges himself not only a persecutor, but a blas- 
phemer and injurious. The Spirit holds the conscience to the visible letter 
of the law before he applies the invisible spirit of it to the heart, and afiects 
the heart with that which is biggest, because of its nearness, rather thaa 
others, which, though as bad or worse, seem less by reason of their remote- 

Thirdly, The Spirit from thence proceedeth to the conviction of the bosom 
sin. All men worship some golden calf, set up by education, custom, 
natural inclination, or the like ; and while a Delilah lies in the bosom and 
engrosseth the affections, the soul cannot be set with its love upon God ; and 
if the heart be disafiected to this, the others are more easily hated. When a 
general is taken, the army runs. This is the great stream, others but rivulets 
which bring supply. The disaffecting the soul to this, facilitates the re- 
maining work, because this is the strongest chain wherein the devil holds a 
man, the main fort. The Spirit fights against the lighter parties that come 
forth, but chiefly against that which hath been the great commander of all 
the other forces against Grod, and the greatest confidence of the devil. As 
a -wise general directs his force against the stoutest body, w^herein the 
strength of the enemy consists, when that is worsted, the arms presently 
fall out of the hands of the rest. Other sins are as the stragglers of an 
army, by the routing of which the victory is not obtained, but by the shatter- 
ing the main body. The Spirit doth chiefly convince of this bosom sin. 
Violence was the soldiers', extortion was the publicans' sin, and the Spirit 
directs John Baptist against these ; hypocrisy was the darling iniquity of 
the Pharisees, Christ plants his battery most against this ; Paul, in his whole 
progress after conversion, abhors most his persecution. As sanctification is 
a cleansing a man from his iniquity, so is a conviction of the Spirit, a dis- 
covering to a man his proper iniquity, Ps. xviii. 21. 

Fourthly, Thence the Spirit directs the soul to a sight of its corruption 
by nature, opens the root of bitterness, makes us smell the sink of sin, 
discovers the dunghill whence all these little serpents derived their Hfe and 
strength, shews us the rotten core as well as the worm-eaten skin ; that the 
nature of the person lies in wickedness, as a mole in the earth, or a carcase 
in putrefaction, 1 John v. 19, all under sin, no good spring in the heart; 
that there is poison in the heart, that taints every work of the hand, ima- 
gination, fancy, thoughts of the mind, and motions of the will. He brings 
a man from the chamber of outward to the closet of inward sins, until he 
arriveth to the large room of nature ; bids him see if he can find out one 
clean corner in the heart, and so conducts him to the first sin of Adam, 
makes him behold the first fountain whence all issued, and all little enough 
to make the proud heart stoop to God. He makes him consider he is 
deeply concerned in that first sin, though so many revolutions of years have 
passed. This makes a man vile in his own eyes, that he cannot look upon 
himself, but with confusion and an universal blush. God looks to this sin 
of nature as the ground of punishment : Gen. vi. 5,6,' The imagination of 
the heart was only evil,' and therefore it repented God that he made man 
on the earth ; therefore the Spirit doth afiect most with this in conviction. 
As Christ came to cure the wound of nature, so the Spirit shews the im- 
purity of nature in order to that cure; he would not else act upon the 
foundation Christ had laid. He is sent to convince men of their need of 
Christ, therefore of that which lays men under the greatest necessity of Christ, 
which is the violation of the first covenant, and the evil consequents of it. 


194 charnock's woeks. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

As the Spirit in mortification strikes to the root of sin, so in conviction he 
digs to it ; as in sanctification he cleanses from the sink of sin, so in con- 
viction he shews it. Christ, in his discourse with Nicodemus, lays this 
open to him, who thought the doctrine of the necessity of regeneration a 
strange kind of discourse, and must needs think so, until he understood, John 
iii. 6, that ' that which is born of the flesh is flesh,' that nature was uni- 
versally depraved. David begins with a sense of his adultery in his con- 
viction, but traceth up his sin to the spring, his natural conception, Ps. 
li. 5. He followeth the young cubs to the old one's den, where he found 
sin's mark upon every member at his first formation. If the Spirit did not 
convince of this, he did little or nothing to the purpose ; for as long as we 
think there is any good in us, we shall depend upon it, and never go to 
Christ. But when we see the running issue of nature, as well as the out- 
flowings of nature, then we shall with open arms fly to him. To be ignorant 
of this, and complain of other sins, is a sign of conscience but half awakened. 
This is the proper work of the Spirit, and it cannot be done without this ; 
the branches and fruit are visible, so are the beams and rafters of a house, 
but the root and foundation lies under ground. The Spirit shews this cor- 
ruption of nature not b}' a glimmering but clear light ; not only shews a man 
that he is fallen, but makes him see the heavens in their glory, from whence 
he fell ; hell in its misery, to which he fell. He afiects him with his nature, 
as the seminary of all sin, as a womb to prepare and ripen sin, until a suit- 
able temptation is offered to give birth to it. 

Fifthly, The Spirit convinceth of the evil nature of sin ; and this is a 
necessary work of the Spirit. As in striving against it, the renewed soul 
quarrels with it as it is sin, so in a thorough conviction the Spirit doth un- 
mask it as it is sin ; he presents it under those considerations upon which 
the soul is to fight against it ; he evidenceth it sensibly to be enmity to 
God, to his essence, attributes, his law, turning the back upon God with 
the greatest scorn, and lifting up the heel against him, Jer. xxxii. 33, 
<;ndeavouring to despoil God of his government (whence sinners are said to 
be without God in the world), casting the holy law behind their backs, pre- 
ferring a dirty creature before the Creator, a base lust before a blessed 
Jesus. He doth evidence every sin to be idolatr}^ an implicit adoration of 
Satan : ingratitude, because our mercies are received after our lives were 
forfeited ; theft, in robbing God of that reverence that is due to him, and 
the revenues of his glory ; unbelief, not believing his promises whereby he 
allures, nor his threatenings whereby he scares; unfaithfulness, in breach of 
covenant, and abundance more bound up in the womb of sin; this the 
Spirit doth convince a man is in the nature of sin, in every sin. Now, the 
Spirit shews sin to be an injury to a gracious God, impurity, disingenuity 
against a holy God, disloyalty to our supreme Lord, a breach of a holy 
aiid righteous law, a stab to the heart of Christ, a shedding the best blood 
that ever was, and such a heinous thing as is not to be remitted without the 
blood of God. As the Spirit's second conviction, of the righteousness of 
Christ, is as it is the expiating cause of the sin of man, so his first discovery 
of sin is, as it appears to be the occasion of the death of Christ. Without 
this conviction of the evil nature of sin, the Spirit is not like to attain its 
end ; for there cannot be a conversion till a man be sensible of what sin is 
in its own nature, aversion from God, alienation and contrariety to him. 

Sixthly, The Spirit doth convince of the filthiness and pollution of sin. 
Sin is the contagion of the soul, the universal stain of nature; nothing but 
pollution succeeded in the place of original purity. The Scripture doth set 
forth sin to us under all the vilest terms, calls it an Ethiopian blackness, 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 195 

spots, mire, dirt, dung, plague, ulcer, sore. As there is a saltness in every 
drop of water in the sea, so there is a filthiness in every action of sin. The 
Spirit discovers the naughtiness of the heart, and the nastiness of lusts, 
being more loathsome than toads, and infectious than plagues : Isa. Ivii. 20, 
the wicked man's heart is like the sea, * casting up mire and dirt.' The 
Spirit in this work doth (as it were) spread dung in the face of the sinner, 
he shews what slime and frogs it hath left behind in every part it hath 
touched, that he may feel as well as see the loathsomeness of it. When the 
Spirit Cometh thus as a judge into the soul, though we seem to be washed 
with snow-water, and our hands appear clean, yet we shall be as plunged in a 
ditch, that our own clothes will abhor us. Job ix. 30, 31. Then a man 
sees himself bemired from head to foot, like one over head and ears in a 
common sewer. By seeing original sin, we see the defilement of it, how it 
hath infected the whole nature ; and that human nature is not like a river to 
purify itself, but its mud is increased rather than diminished. If the Spirit 
should stir up all the stench of sin, and unmask all its ugliness, without 
making any further progress, utter despair, fury, confusion, self-hatred, 
would be the effect of it. The Spirit in this work must needs discover this 
filthiness, if he attain his end in it. For as the soul in sanctification is to 
purge out sin by the strength of the Spirit, so it is necessary by conviction 
it should see the filth of that that is to be purged out, as an incentive to 
cleanse it. No soul will hate it, no soul will move its hand to its expulsion, 
till it be stripped of its painted colours, till it be shewn in its native black- 
ness, till the sei-pent be stripped of his skin, and manifested in the venom 
and poison of its nature. Cain saw his sin in the wrathful efi'ects, as it was 
not forgiven, but not in the polluting effect, as the blood of his brother had 
defiled his conscience. When we see the guilt, it terrifieth us ; and the 
filth, it shameth us : the one makes us desire ease, the other cleansing. 
Without this sight we cannot justify God in his righteousness, nor admii-e 
him in his patience, that he did not long since fling such nasty vessels on 
the dunghill; without a sight of this we can never hate sin spiritually. 
Sensibleness of the wrath that is due to it may make us fear it, but it is 
sensibleness of the filthiness of it that must make us loathe it. Both these 
are the designs of the Holy Spirit in conviction, to make God appear admir- 
able, desirable, and sin appear hateful. Then, 

Seventhly, The Spirit convinceth of spiritual sins, and this is the great 
work. It convinces of the corruption of nature, the nature of sin, and the 
filth of sin ; but it presseth most upon spiritual sins, the first motions, self- 
conceit of our own worth, pride against God, unbelief, and the like. Con- 
science hath a natural edge to wound a man for those sins which render a 
man inexcusable by the light of nature ; but some sins lie remote out of 
sight, as spiritual wickedness in the high places of understanding, will, and 
affections, yea, and of conscience itself; a clearer light and a more piercing 
principle is requisite for the discovery of these. Drunkenness, murder, 
luxury, theft, &c., are sins condemned by the general consent of nature ; 
the works of the visibly defiled flesh are manifest, but the works of refined 
flesh lie closer in the inward corner, and are not so easily discovered, though 
there is a greater defilement in these than men commonly imagine. Other 
sins disgrace us more in the eye of men, and these defile us more in the eye 
of God. The soul, which ought to be a living temple for God, is defiled by 
these sins, which is as if the throne of a prince should be besmeared with 
dung. That is worse in the eye of God, which consists in a conformity to 
the devil, God's great enemy, than that which consists in a conformity to 
the brutish creature, as sins'of the flesh are. They are the strength of sin, 

19G charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

the heart and life of the body of death, the main fort, the other sins are but 
the outworks. The great end of the Spirit is to convince of these. The out- 
works must be first taken, therefore gross sins must be first known ; yet 
there is no hopes of conquest while the main strength remains invisible. 
As sanctification begins at the sins of the flesh, but grows up to a cleansing 
from spiritual sins, so must a sense of sin in order to sanctification sail the 
same course. These being the subjects of the Spirit's sanctification, as that 
wherein the enemy's chief strength lies, are the subject of conviction too ; 
and herein consists the spirituality of conviction. As the strength of an eye 
appears in discovering the spots in the sun, which lie covered with a rich 
robe of light, so the strength of conviction in the spirituality of it is dis- 
cerned in the eye's discovering the stains in the heart, which are covered 
with a beautiful cloak of outward morality. When sciences are learned, the 
rudiments and more obvious principles are known before the mysteries are 
understood, and men grow up from a common to an abstruse knowledge ; 
so the Spirit leads us from a sight and sense of more visible, till it dives at 
length to the secrets of sin, to the deceivableness of unrighteousness in the 
spiritual antichrist working in the soul. No spiritual conviction without a 
conviction of spiritual sins. A natural man may by natural conscience be 
convinced of great sins against th'e light of nature, as a dim eye can read a 
great print ; but such are usually most sensible of sins against the second 
table, or more open sins against the first; but the Spirit convinceth of the 
more inward imperceptible sins, afi"ects it with those against both tables. 
Paul was convinced not only of the sins he acted without, as his persecution, 
but of sins dwelling in him, springing up in him, and discovering themselves 
by their motions in him. And, 

Eighthly, The Spirit convinceth the soul of its own impotency and weak- 
ness. He shews the sinner his filth and his chains ; how lust brings guilt 
and slavery ; how his understanding is deprived of true light, and his will of 
true Hberty ; whence there is an utter inabihty to make up the breach 
between God and the soul, from whence his best righteousness smells rank, 
and contracts a taint from that corruption which is derived from Adam unto 
the whole human nature. Men naturally glory in their own power, they 
think grace no more than walking according to the rules of blinded reason, 
they understand not the depth of their wound, nor their weakness by it. 
Sins of infirmity they think they have, which are to nature only like the 
scratch of a pin, not like the stab of a sword ; they think their vitals are 
sound and strong still. But the Spirit convinceth the soul that her wings are 
broke, and her feet crippled, and her hands possessed with a dead palsy ; that 
man hath an universal impotency, spiritual feebleness, his weakness as incu- 
rable as bis wickedness, that he can no more strengthen himself than purge 
himself, Kom. vii. 15. The Spirit convinceth man that his best strength is 
but a shadow of righteousness, that as he was mutable in righteousness in 
innocency, so since the fall he is immutable to sin, and unable to turn from 
it ; that he is a slave to his lusts, held in chains till they be knocked ofi", shut 
up in a prison that he cannot break, and under the power of a jailor that he 
cannot conquer. Without this he would think to lick himself whole, and 
never lie sighing and sobbing at the foot of Christ. Though a man naturally 
justify himself, yet when the Spirit deals with him, overturns all his props, 
and discovers him overgrown with feebleness as well as sinfulness, he cries, 
like Job, chap. ix. 20, 21, ' If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn 
me : if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were 
irfect, yet would I not know my soul ; I would despise my Hfe.' 
Ninthly, He doth continually convince of the consequences and demerits 

John XVI. 8, 9.J conviction of sin. 197 

of sin. He doth dissect sin, and shew it in its circumstances, and he doth 
convince and set home upon the soul the demerit of sin ; and (though he 
doth also propose the gospel) he sets home that wrath which is deserved by 
it. For he speaks a language quite contrary to that of the devil to our first 
parents, persuading Adam that no wrath would ensue upon it ; that he should 
meet with life in eating the forbidden fruit. The Spirit's method is contrary 
to that of the devil ; death is the wages of every iniquity. You shall be as 
gods, saith Satan ; you have made yourselves like devils, saith the Spirit ; 
are transformed into the devil's nature, fallen into the devil's condemnation. 
The Spirit sets home what it deserves at the hands of God ; although he doth 
propose the gospel, yet he affects the soul with what sin hath deserved. 

V. The fifth thing is. What the difference is between the convictions of the 
Spirit by this or that instrument, by nature, law, and gospel. What differ- 
ence there is between the Spirit's setting sin before us in a way of conviction, 
and Satan's setting sin before us, who doth interest himself sometimes in this 
conviction of sin, when it is attended with much terror ; what the difference is 
between the sense of sin barely from natural principles, and a sense of sin 
that is wrought by the Spirit ; then what the difference is between a legal 
and an evangelical conviction. 

1. Though there are some beams of candle-hght in nature, which make 
a discovery of some unrighteousness, whence arise rebukes of conscience, 
yet nature is not able to furnish us with a full conviction, and such a one as 
is necessary for our repair. Blind nature cannot see the rubbish, much less 
remove it ; depraved nature is not sensible of all its crookedness, much less 
can it rectify it : it cannot hew and prepare itself for the introduction of the 
image of God. The highest natural improvements of our natural faculties 
cannot guide us into the close dens and chambers of sin, and give us a true 
prospect of the poisonous entrails of it. Nature may spring up some good 
operations in the heart, take nature in its latitude, what a man maybe in his 
natural state, before his conversion to Christ ; nature as it is propped up by 
the mediation of Christ, and as there are some commendable relics left in it, 
there are still some inbred principles which bring forth many excellent things 
according to their proportion ; as there is virtue in the earth since the curse 
of it after man's fall, to bring forth many excellent plants and medicinal 
herbs. But these convictions by nature are, 

First, Light and uncertain, of a short duration ; they are sudden qualms 
and fits upon some observation of outward judgments. As all judgments are 
sent to make men sensible there is a God in the earth, and that there are 
unrighteous actions that are displeasing to him, upon these judgments there 
are some reflections in a natural conscience, some sense of God, what is due 
to sin, and what deviations are from him ; but they continue no longer than 
the cause that raised them ; they are sudden frights and startings, which soon 
settle again, as in a sudden fright and start nature is speedily reduced to its 
former temper, and the blood that was put on the sudden into another mo- 
tion is quickly brought to its former consistence. They are usually like a 
land-flood, which causes an inundation, but sink not into the roots of the 
soul : Ps. ix. 21, they are ' put in fear,' and while they are in fear, they 
' know themselves to be but men.' It is a work not so much upon the judg- 
ment as upon the affections, therefore it is like a fire falling upon flax, and 
other combustible matter, which flames and expires, and you see its death 
almost as soon as it begins to live ; whereas, those convictions that arise 
from the Spirit settle upon the judgment, and, like a fire in a log of wood, 
are kept aUve in the soul, eat into the soul, dive into the bottom, produce 

198 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

serious and lasting affections. Conscience is staggering and unfixed, there- 
fore whatsoever ariseth from it, partaketh of the uncertain nature of the 
cause. We shall be moveable in our affections, unless first stedfast in our 
judgment ; until then, there can be no abounding in the work of the Lord. 
The apostle makes one the cause of the other : 1 Cor. xv. 58, ' Be stedfast 
and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.' First a sted- 
fastness in judgment, and then a settlement in the affections, and then an 
abounding in practice. No conviction can fasten in a rolling and unballasted 
mind, no conviction that ariseth from nature. Besides, fear is an unwelcome 
passion, as love is a delightful one ; nature is held longer in the chains of 
love than in the fetters of fear : the one it hugs and embraceth, the other it 
knocks off. The whole course of nature strives against flashes of fear, and 
•will not endure the object of it ; not invite and encourage its stay, but rather 
is up in arms against it ; and, upon this account, those convictions that arise 
barely from natural principles, from anything of bare nature, are not of long 
duration. Any conviction from nature is like the smart of a prick of a pin 
in the flesh, which is soon forgot ; a conviction by the Spirit is like the stab 
of a sword in the heart. The arrows of nature are easily plucked out, but 
God's arrows stick fast, Job vi. 4. Nature likes not to retain anything of 
God in its knowledge, Eom. i. 28 ; but the Spirit imprints things and holds 
them upon the soul, binds his corrosive to it, that it cannot shake it off. 

Secondly, Convictions by nature do at best but stand at a stay ; they are 
not growing. If the convictions by nature do remain, yet they are not 
growing convictions, they gather not strength and perfection every day ; if 
they do not decay and fall, as a seeming star, into dust and rottenness, yet 
they rise not up into a stronger light, are not in a state of progress, but are 
stinted to low measures. If they do seem bigger, it is by an external addi- 
tion from multiplied causes and renewed observation of judgments, not from 
any internal principle of an enlightened mind ; but, in the conviction of the 
Spirit, the light }■ esterday was as the light of a torch, to-morrow as the moon, 
and still rising till it be as the sun, which discovers the filthiness and little 
motes of the heart, as the sun doth the filthiness as well as the beauty of the 
earth ; and this light will increase sevenfold, as the light of seven days put 
into one : Prov. iv. 18, ' The path of the just is as the shining light, that 
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.' His path from his first step- 
ping into anything that tends to it, is as the shining light, -which shines more 
and more unto the perfect day ; whereas the way of the wicked is as dark- 
ness : a sudden gleam of light lighting upon him and vanishing, leaves his 
eye under more darkness than before. The Spirit makes a progress from 
the first step towards righteousness, till the dawning of the day of righteous- 
ness in the soul. As Christ came not only to give life, but to give it more 
abundantly, John x. 10, so the Spirit giveth not small flashes of light in the 
mind and conscience, but an abundant and growing light. Usually, convic- 
tions of nature do stand at a stay ; nature wUl not row long against the 
stream, but at last be carried down by its force. Talents not improved are 
quickly lost, and plants, when they begin to wither, never cease till quite 
blasted, unless influenced afresh by the beams and showers of heaven. 

Thirdly, Natural convictions arise from some external cause, spiritual from 
the word imprinted upon the soul. Natural convictions are, from some 
natural outward cause, only from the sight of judgments on others, or some 
personal afflictions on themselves ; but the word is the sword of the Spirit, 
Ephes. vi. 17, whereby he cuts open the soul. By this he did execution 
upon those whose hands were red with the blood of Christ, Acts ii. This 
is always his instrument to cut, though he useth judgments and afflictions 

John XVI. 8, 9. J conviction of sin. 199 

as whetstones to sharpen the edge, or as a mallet to strike it in the deeper. 
David, a most intelligent person, well skilled in natural notions, was not 
convinced of his sin of murder and adultery by any immediate excitation of 
his natural principles, or those spiritual notions in his mind, without the 
instrumentality of the word in the mouth of Nathan ; that man of under- 
standing was not sensible of his sin, till Nathan came with a message from 
God, and upon this alarm the Spirit arms his memory, and conscience, and 
understanding, to carry on the work, 2 Sam. xii. 7, 8. The filthy soul and 
the pure word are brought together when a spiritual conviction is wrought, 
and it discovers milHons of loathsome lusts which the dim light of natm-e 
could never discern. That is the first thing ; the difierence between the 
convictions of nature and the Spirit. 

2. There are also differences between legal and evangelical convictions. 

First, In regard of the principles whence they proceed. 

(1.) A legal conviction ariseth from a consideration of God's justice chiefly, 
an evangelical from a sense of God's goodness. A legally convinced person 
cries out, I have exasperated a power that is as the roaring of a lion, a jus- 
tice that is as the voice of thunder ; I have provoked one that is the sovereigQ 
Lord of heaven and earth, whose word can tear up the foundations of the 
world with as much ease as he established them. This is the legal convic- 
tion. But an evangelically convinced person cries, T have inccused a good- 
ness that is like the dropping of the dew ; I have offended a God that had 
the deportment of a friend, rather than that of a sovereign. I have incurred 
the anger of a judge, saith a legalist ; I have abused the tenderness of a 
father, saith an evangelically convinced person. Oh my marble, my iron 
heart, against a 'patient, wooing God, a God of bowels ! It makes every 
review of acts of kindness to be a sting in the conscience ; it makes such a 
person miserable by mercy, and scorches him with the beams of goodness ; 
turns the honey into a bitter pill, and useth a branch of the balsam tree as 
a rod wherewith to lash him. wretch, to run from so sweet a fountain 
to rake in puddles ! to rush into a river of brimstone, through a sea of good- 
ness ! What a cut is it, when ingenuity is awakened, to reject a natural 
goodness, much more an infinite goodness ; to reject the goodness of a man, 
much more that of a God ; the goodness of a friend never provoked, much 
more the goodness of a God that had been so highly incensed ! There is a 
torture of hell in both, kindled by the breath of the Lord ; in the one by the 
breath of his wrath, in the other by the breath of his goodness. One is in- 
flamed by justice to a sense of rebellion, the other by goodness to a sense of 
his own vileness. This is that which was promised should be in gospel 
times, that in the latter days men should fear the Lord and his goodness, 
Hos. iii. 5. That is a true evangelical conviction, that springs fi'om a thorough 
sense of God's goodness, when the goodness of God excites ingenuity, as well 
as the majesty of God strikes a terror. 

(2.) A legal conviction springs from a sense of God's power, an evangelical 
from a sense of God's holiness. Power is the relief of a friend, and the 
terror of an enemy. Faith pitcheth upon the power of God for its establish- 
ment, and unbelief sinks under the sense of God's power with confusion ; 
the beHever stays himself upon the name of God, but the sinner languisheta 
under the consideration of the mightiness of that stroke that power can in- 
flict. An evangelical convict dissolves under the sense of God's holiness, 
the other falls under the sense of God's power. I have ofi"ended majesty 
that can punish me, saith one ; I have ofiended purity that would have 
sanctified me, saith the other. As the forgetfulness of God's power and 

200 charnook's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

majesty is the cause of men's sins, we regard not how corrupt our practices 
and offerings to Grod are, when we consider him not as a great king and 
dreadful Lord, Mai. i. 14. As the forgetfulness of this is the cause of sin, 
so the remembrance of his greatness is the cause of man's reflection ; but a 
beam of God's holiness shining upon the understanding makes a soul more 
sensible of its dross than all the flames of wrath. The angels solemnly ap- 
plauding of God's holiness, which they cried up in Isaiah's hearing, Isa. vi. 
3, 5 ; — one cried to another, ' Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,' — cast him 
down in a sense of his vileness. Then said I, ' Woe is me ! because I am a 
man of unclean lips.' The sight of their covering their pure faces with their 
wings made him abhor, and cry out of the uncleanness of his soul. He 
saw the sun in its purity, and himself in his darkness and filthiness. A 
conviction by wrath is like a fire which only scorcheth ; a conviction by 
holiness is like that of the sun, which burns by its heat, and discovers atoms 
by its light. The one measures his loathsomeness by the judgment of men, 
the other his filthiness by the holiness of God. Was I made for God ? did 
not his holy as well as his powerful finger frame me ? and am I so base as 
to wallow in corruption ? But, 

(3.) Legal conviction ariseth only from a sense of the omniscience of God, 
but an evangelical ariseth from a sense of the disaffection of Grod to sin. 
The cause why men sin is the unbelief of God's omniscience, and the cause 
why they are troubled is a sense of this attribute, and not of God's hatred 
of their sins. The first impression from the edge of the word is, * that all 
things are naked and open before him with whom we have to do,' Heb. iv. 
13 ; and that sins, even secret sins, are set in the light of his countenance, 
Ps. xc. 8. Men will forbear their actions of folly when they think the eye 
of a grave man beholds them, but are bold to commit them when his back is 
turned. If a prince be unknown behind the hangings, when subjects speak 
treason, they will be afraid when they discover he hath overheard them ; not 
because they spoke it, but because he heard it ; they consider it as the object 
of his knowledge, and the mark of his vengeance. A legalist considers God 
only as privy to his iniquity, the other as he is disaffected to it ; he would 
never be troubled for his sin, if it never came under God's notice ; the other 
sinks under it, because it is the object of God's displeasure. The one 
shakes, because he is convinced God observes it ; the other trembles, 
because he is sensible God disapproves it. 

(4.) A legal conviction is a sense of sin in the death of the soul, an evan- 
gelical is a sense of sin arising from the death of Christ. One person seeth 
sin in the misery of his soul, and the other in the cross of the Redeemer. 
The moral law condemns sin, and the practice of the ceremonial acknow- 
ledged that condemnation. The offerer saw himself in those sacrifices which 
died for him, guilty of death ; hence in the renewing of them there was a 
remembrance of sin, Heb. x. 3, and the killing of them was a bond or hand- 
writing, whereby they confessed themselves obnoxious to the curse, and 
debtors to punishment. Col. ii. 14. This was only a sight of sin in the 
death of a beast, though it typified the death of Christ. An evangehcal con- 
viction seeth sin in the sighs and groans, cries and agonies, suffering and 
blood of the Son of God, an only Son, an innocent Son, unspotted as to any 
inherency of sin in his person, only submitting to the imputation of sin to 
him, and infliction of punishment upon him, even to a commotion of soul 
and body. This giveth a clearer evidence of the demerit of sin to a full con- 
viction, than the whole latitude of threatenings, or the roarings the damned 
utter, or the destroying millions of angels and men. This giveth ground for 
a full sense of the inviolable sanction of the law, the reasonable severity of 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 201 

justice against us, and the unavoidable demerit of sin, more than thousands 
of sacrifices could discover to the Jews. The voice of Christ's blood dis- 
covers more the malignity of sin than all men or angels are able to express. 
In this glass doth the Spirit shew it, to convince the soul in an evangelical 
manner. One seeth sin in the handwriting of ordinances against him, and 
the other sees it more meltingly in the tearing and cancelling this bond and 
bill by Christ upon the cross. That is the first thing, they differ in the 
principles whence this sense doth arise. 

Secondly, They difier in regard of the object of the conviction, or matter 
they are convinced of. 

(1.) A legal convict accounts his torture the greatest evil, an evangelical 
his sin. Both indeed are burdened, the one with his punishment, the other 
with his desert of it ; one counts his torment hateful, the other his sin abo- 
minable. The first is troubled there is not a beam of mercy, but not 
troubled that he hath not a spark of grace. He groans under the presages 
of damnation, but not under the want of holiness ; he is of the devil's temper, 
Why dost thou torment us ? but doth not desire to be restrained from sin, 
but to be kept from torment ; cries out as Lamech, Gen. iv. 23, ' I have 
slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt' ; not to God's 
dishonour, no complaint of that. It is true, he hath no pleasure in his sin, 
in the remembrance of it at the present, not for want of affection to it, but 
because it is embittered to him with the gall in his conscience ; the law spits 
fire in his face, and makes his beloved object too hot for his holding ; his 
allegiance to sin is not cast oflf, but at present only interrupted in the exercise. 
The other, the evangelically convinced man, cries out of his sin as the greatest 
burden. My God I have dishonoured, his Spirit I have grieved, his name I 
have slighted, and his mercy abused. And therefore the one, vrhen his rack 
is laid aside, and the storm in his conscience blown over, falls as roundly to 
his former course as before ; or if he abstains from that sin which was a 
cause of his smart, he opens his heart for more spiritual, and therefore more 
rooted iniquity, which breaks out into worse. Some think Ananias and 
Sapphira were in the number of those that had their hearts pricked at Peter's 
sermon, but their covetousness in a great measure remained in their afi'ec- 
tions, and ended in lying against the Holy Ghost. Such lay aside their 
apparel as players, to put on a disguise that suits the part they are to act, 
but strip themselves after, to put on their old garment again. Whereas 
the other, that is evangelically convinced, is more tender and careful to avoid 
the smallest slip as well as the grossest, not only when his conscience tor- 
ments, but when the heat is allayed ; careful to avoid sin in his duties, as 
well as in his more public conversation ; he is afraid of the sting of sin, as 
well as of the sting of punishment ; he judgeth sin his greatest evil, and 
next to that the want of God's favourable presence : ' How long wilt thou 
forget me, Lord ; how long wilt thou hide thy face, for ever ? ' Ps. xiii. 1 . 
But then, 

(2.) A legal convict is convinced of some sin, but he is also conceited that 
he hath some good. An evangelically convinced person is sensible he hath 
no good dwelling in his flesh ; his conviction is more universal, the other's 
is more limited ; a legal conviction lays a man but half dead, an evangelical 
lays him wholly dead ; he hath no esteem of his sin, nor any of his righteous- 
ness. One is sensible of his sin, but not of his utter insufficiency to redeem 
his soul from everlasting death ; the other sees fully what poor stuff his own 
righteousness is to make a saviour of. The Spirit, as it discovers the ugli- 
ness of sin, so it discovers the rottenness of that righteousness wherewith a 
man stilted himself up ; it makes all seem as grass, and fading flowers, and 

202 ch.vrnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

of no value. The other, like the prodigal, though he be sensible of his 
misery, yet he thinks to preserve himself by husks. A true convict seeth 
himself under the curse of the law, without ability in anything but Christ to 
take it off; he seeth a necessity to have Christ to deliver him, or he must 
be for ever bound ; and Christ to raise him, or he is utterly lost ; whereas 
the other thinks he is able to raise himself. The one thinks to repair him- 
self out of the ruins of nature, and raise up a building of righteousness by 
materials of his own hewing ; the other, like Job, abhors not only sin, but 
himself too. Job xlii. 6, and speaks not a word of that integrity he boasted 
of before. The one knows himself a debtor to the law, but thinks himself 
able to do something to content the creditor, and patch up his credit by 
promises of refornoation ; he lies down in sparks of his own kindling, wraps 
himself in a garment of his own weaving, thinks himself rich by conceits 
framed in his own mint, and fancies that he is able to silence the clamours 
of the law, and lick the wound of his conscience whole ; as Saul thought to 
redeem his credit with God by the sacrifice of beasts, after he had offended 
in the case of Amalek : he makes self a God, and idolises his own power. 
This is a secret self-pride, that runs in the channel of the whole nature from 
Adam ; and as sin is irritated by the law, so these thoughts start up by it, 
and make many that seemed to begin to be spiritually convinced, to end in 
the flesh. As sin revives by the law, so doth this pride rise up afterwards, 
and is the ruin of many. Hence arise those frequent excuses of men before 
they will come to a downright confession ; whereas the other, that is evan- 
gelically convinced, is dead to his own righteousness, as well as his sin ; he 
is sensible he hath no activity in himself, unless grace inspire him with a 
new principle. He performs duties, but doth not idolise them ; puts forth 
his power to the utmost, but doth not rest in it ; he seeth the emptiness of 
his righteousness, as well as the foulness of his sin ; and thinks the one as 
unable to deliver him from the stroke of justice as the other to deserve it ; 
and despairs of help and relief from the spring of nature. Paul, when a 
Jew, was of the same stamp with his brethren, thought to keep up his repu- 
tation with God by an external observation of the law, but when the law 
came in the hand of the Spirit, he died ; saw not only his damnable condi- 
tion, but the insecurity of his soul upon any legal foundation, and the rotten- 
ness of all his former services to bring him to heaven. Then all his natural 
and moral excellencies were as unvaluable as before they were amiable ; they 
were loss in his sight. And to heighten his vile esteem of them, he adds 
dung, a dunghill righteousness, things of no account as to justification ; yet 
none more holy than Paul, by a holiness derived from Christ by the Spirit 
after conversion, as none was more moral before by the strength of nature. 
Thus was he dead to the law, convinced of the vanity of any confidence in 
legal services ; not that he might live to sin, but to God, by a new power 
derived from Christ, Gal. ii. 19, for he was supplied with sap from that 
crucified root. Now what was really the attainment of Paul, is so of every 
true convert, and is the desire of every evangelically convinced person. This 
conceit which the legalist hath of some good in himself, ariseth from the con- 
sideration of himself, compared with those that defile themselves more in 
sin. A sense of our own vileness, when truly convinced, ariseth from our 
consideration of the perfection of the law of God ; for measuring ourselves 
with the holiness of God, we see nothing at all that bears proportion to him. 
MoraHty is but as the moon, which is glorious if compared with a candle, 
but faint if compared with the sun. 

Thirdly, There are differences in regard of the carriage of the persons 
under each of these works of conviction. 

John XYI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 203 

(1.) Legally convinced persons snatch at comfort, though never so false ; 
an evangelical convict looks for comfort only from the mouth of God. The 
one doth not kindly own the supremacy of God, and therefore makes not 
full and close addresses to him for healing, but seeks for shelter from every 
hedge, like Saul in his melancholy to music, and in his distress to the witch 
of Endor ; like Pharaoh to his magicians, the charming pleasures of the 
world. He thinks, by thus being in a fool's paradise, by the pleasures of 
sin to choke the sense of conscience ; take a receipt from any unskilful hand 
rather than fi'om the physician ; worldly mirth, carnal advice ; or at best he 
runs to sermons, and fasts in hopes of remedy, catches at any passage in a 
sermon to ease his soul. Sometimes he endeavours to stupefy his trouble 
by smful diversion ; he moves hell for ease, and cries, Give me comfort, or 
I die ! Sometimes he snatches a promise wherein he is in no manner con- 
cerned, and claps it on by a misapprehension, and so charms his trouble for 
a time ; and in this he is assisted by the devil, who is skilful in this art, and 
so he makes a flower of paradise prove poison. Such wrest the Scripture to 
their own destruction, and to allay the storm is all they look for. Now, an 
evangelically convinced person, he longs for comfort from that Spirit which 
first impressed the sense of sin. As he was struck by the law, so he will 
be healed by the gospel only. He longs for joys, not of the world, but of 
God's salvation ; his eye is fixed with Heman's only upon the God of salva- 
tion, Ps. Ixxxviii. 5. He will wait God's leisure, and take nothing but what 
the word ofiers ; examine well whether the word belongs to him. The 
Spirit makes him, like Christ, inquire into anything that is alleged, that he 
be not deluded by Satan's fair pretences ; he longs for healing by the Sun 
of righteousness, that he may come and scatter the darkness he sits in. All 
the good opinion of men concerning him cannot give him a grain of true con- 
tentment ; he is willing to do anything with the gaoler for the saving his 
soul—' Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?' — resolved to undergo the hardest 
conditions prescribed by the word of God ; but he knows all the true spring 
of comfort is the blood of Christ, the covenant of grace, the promises sealed 
by that blood, and a sound and substantial faith in them, and till milk spout 
from these breasts into his mouth he will not be contented ; he is for no 
other peace but that which is the fruit of God's lips ; whereas the other is 
satisfied with a slight answer, warms himself by his own sparks, drinks of 
any puddle, so he may but quench his inflamed bowels, and regards not 
faith in Christ. Such coolers make men go on more resolutely in the ways 
of death afterwards, since they can quickly have an allay for conscience when 
it begins to stir. These legally convinced persons snatch at comfort though 
never so false. 

(2.) A legally convinced person would only be freed from the pain, an 
evangelically convinced person from the sin, the true cause of it. Like 
swine, they would not have the cudgel, but they would have the mire; would 
have a freedom from the lash of the law, but hate to come under the yoke of 
Christ. They hate the iron that is come into their side, but not the crime, 
as a malefactor doth the gaol or a thief the gibbet. Such a one had rather 
have a rotten heart than a painful rack ; he had rather have a putrefied soul 
than a deep incision. The one cries for a plaster to ease his conscience, 
the other for an axe to be laid to the root of his sin. He would keep his 
right hand and eye, provided they would not fester. The other would not 
have any corner of his heart inhabited by any sin ; he is desirous it might 
lose its empire and dominion in the heart. He hath a respect to God's tes- 
timonies, though tremblings at the considerations of God: P^. cxix. 119, 

0, ' My flesh trembles for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments ;' 

204 chaknock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

the other, like the man possessed in the Gospel, would not have the devil 
tormented in him, and utters not a word to have the devil cast out of him, 
Luke viii. 28. He that is evangelically convinced looks forward to sin that 
may tempt him, and is watchful against the occasions of it ; the other at 
best looks only backward to those already committed, and spends this dis- 
affection he hath only on that for which he is racked ; he singles out that to 
wreak his anger upon ; he doth not fall on the troops of sin, not upon sin 
in general, but some particular sin which hath been painful to him ; he hath 
no disaffection to the pleasure promised in other occasions, though he hath 
a distaste of the pain for that which is past. If the legalist be wrung into 
some reformation, it is with as much regret to part with his darling sin as 
David with Absalom, or Adam to be turned out of paradise. Though he 
forbears it, he doth not abhor it; if he abhors it, it is only the pain, not the 
sin ; and the reason is, because there is no higher principle in such a person 
than fear and self-love, and to one or both of these all the reformation he 
hath owes its original. He is only afraid of hell, and could he enjoy sin 
without terror in his conscience or wrath in hell, he did not care if the glory 
of God were lost for him, whether ever he came at heaven or the presence 
of Grod, whether ever he had an hatred of evil or acted good ; he distastes 
the evil only. But one that is evangelically convinced distastes the foulness 
of sin, relishes the excellency and beauty of hoHness, because of its suit- 
ableness to its Creator. Where there is fear only, there is nothing but 
bondage and a legal frame. The voice of one legally convinced is, How 
shall I do this wickedness, and open the flood-gates of wrath ? The voice 
of an evangelical convict is this. How shall I do this wickedness, and sin 
against God, and spurn at his bowels ? 

Fourthly, There are differences in regard of the effects of these, and 
(1.) A legal conviction doth not of itself soften, but rather harden ; an 
evangelical is melting and submissive. The making a fleshy heart and dis- 
posing it to such a frame, is the incommunicable property of the covenant of 
grace, and was never within the verge and compass of the law. The law, 
like a cannon, thunders only bullets and cursing, not a word of a promise 
but to perfect righteousness ; therefore a legal conviction cannot be attended 
with any melting fruit. It is like a hammer, that may break a stone in 
pieces, yet every part retains its hardness. After a mere legal conviction, 
the heart is commonly harder, as water ; if it grow cold after it is heated, 
freezes harder than it would have done if it had retained its native cold, 
without the interruption of a contrary quality. All those strivings of the 
Spirit with the old world abated nothing of that evil figment, those evil 
imaginations, which lodged in the heart continually. And it is observed, 
that though the Israelites heard the thunder, saw the lightning, the moun- 
tain burning with fire, the blackness, darkness, and tempest, as a prepara- 
tion for giving the law, which made them tremble, yet before forty days 
were over, they had not only forgotten that law, but they sin against that 
God whose power they feared, renounce God and his power over them, and 
make themselves a golden calf, Exod. xxxii. 1, 4. The scorching of the 
law makes the burned place more brawny after the fire is out. The under- 
standing may be soundly convinced, yet the heart not melted ; the one is 
from the undeniable evidence of truth, the other is from the kindly influence 
of the Spirit. But when the Spirit convinceth the heart in a spiritual 
method, it shines like the sun in the heavens, which thaws the cold and 
frozen earth, and makes a man to be as melting wax before God. Oh how 
immense is this love of God, that should offer me a Christ, provide a 
Redeemer, set him apart from all eternity for me that am self- condemned, 

John XYI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 205 

while I was a rebel, for me who am a firebrand of hell ! inestimable 
mercy ! melting goodness ! free grace ! Then he calls to his heart, 
Down, rocky heart, down to the very dust ; lie as low as hell by abasement, 
since Christ hath made himself so low for thee ! This is always attended with 
humility ; such a person falls down on his face and worships God, 1 Cor. xiv. 25, 
and with submissiveness will bear the indignation of the Lord, Micah vii. 9. 
And therefore a renewed man, that is past these pikes, is more humble under 
a sense of his own vileness than all the legalists ever were ; for the Spirit 
keeps his foundation firm, which he first laid, whereon to build the super- 
structure of grace and comfort. As this sense of sin, the root, grows 
downward, so these noble fruits grow upward. The sense David had at 
his conviction for the blood of Uriah, made him startle at the num- 
bering the people, and afraid of the water fetched from the well of Beth- 
lehem, but he poured it out before the Lord, lest he should seem to 
countenance the shedding of any blood. Well, then, the legal conviction 
is as a brick in the kiln, burned and hardened ; the other like gold, in- 
flamed and melted, separating itself from the dross. 

(2.) A legal conviction of itself tends only to destruction, evangelical to 
health and salvation. The law presents nothing but condemnation and ruin, 
and can speak no other language ; its mouth is filled only with curses, with- 
out the mixture of any one blessing for degenerate man : what can be the 
issue of this, but confusion and endless torment ? Not the least drop of com- 
fort streams from it. It is impossible but that when it chargeth home the 
violation of the law, and brandisheth all its curses, self-condemnation and 
despair must reign in the conscience ; and conscience, the deputy of God, 
when awakened, cannot but (like the Israelites) subscribe an Ameji to every 
curse. The law, like mount Ebal, is barren of comfort ; blessing grows 
only upon the mount of the gospel. Hence, many under sharp terrors of 
the law have endeavoured to make away themselves, and leaped into the 
flames of hell to avoid the sparks. This of itself, like poison, works to the 
dissolution of the temperament of the body ; but evangelical is like physic, 
which, though it disturbs the humours, yet it tends to the preserving and 
rectifj-ing the complexion of the body. And by this at last the scul is 
brought to such a frame that it is willing to lie under afllietion and torment, 
yea, under the fury of devils, rather than sin against God ; for fear and in- 
genuity in the soul join hands to the keeping of God's commandments. 
The one discovers the disease, the other the remedy ; the one causes fear, 
the other hope ; the one shews the plague, the other discovers the plaster ; 
the one is like a dart in the side of a deer, that makes him run further from 
him that shot it, the other is as a chain to draw the soul nearer to God. 

(3.) A difi"erence in regard of duration. The legal conviction is like a 
convulsion fit of the earth, when it quakes and trembles, and afiects all that 
feel it with amazement, but holds not long ere it return to its natural con- 
sistency and stability ; but an evangelical conviction lasts as long as we live, 
and is not cast ofi" but with the mantle of the body ; then the sense of sin 
shall be left, and we wholly taken up with the praises of a Redeemer. With- 
out this, grace would not grow and thrive to a due maturity. 

3. Thu-dly, As there is a difierence between those convictions which rise 
from nature, and which rise from the law, so there is a difierence between 
Satan's setting sin in order before us, and the manner of the Spirit's pre- 
senting it to us (for Satan doth sometimes set sin in order before the soul, 
and there is a difference between their methods). In convictions begun by 
the Spirit, Satan doth interest himself, and if he cannot stifle them, he en- 
deavours to increase them. Though they are not in themselves acts of com- 

206 charnock's works. [John XYI. 8, 9. 

fort, vet they are the act of a comforting Spirit, and in order to comfort ; 
but the devil impresseth them only as a terrifying spirit. God sometimes 
employs him as his officer after conversion for a correction of his people, as 
a beadle to discipline vagrants when they stray from their duty ; but there 
is a manifest difference between the impressions of guilt made by him, and 
those stamped by the Holy Ghost. 

(1.) Satan sets sin in order as an accuser, the Spirit as a comforter. 
The tendency of a spiritual conviction is comfort, the intention of Satan is 
only to charge us with our fault. Satan, as an enemy, with violence brings 
his charge ; the Spirit, as a friend, with tenderness doth impress conviction 
upon the soul. Satan hath no mind to awaken the conscience, but would 
rather lull men asleep in a carnal and endless security as to this world, and 
not discover the danger until they feel the stroke ; he rather tempts to sin 
than accuseth for it, and sets men before the cannon of wrath, and giveth 
them no warning until they feel the bullet at their hearts, and are shattered 
in pieces by it. When he hath a full possession of the heart, all things are 
in quiet, and this great deceiver doth what he can to hinder true conviction; 
and this great Pharaoh doth not double the burden until he is like to lose 
his prey, and is afraid the soul should be snatched out of his hands ; then 
he charges, as before he charmed. He chargeth violently, therefore his 
title is, ' The accuser of the brethren,' Rev. xii. 10. He is also diligent in 
it, for he doth accuse them day and night : he is no less an accuser, and a 
dihgent accuser, of men to their own consciences. His accusations do not 
precede, but follow, the Spirit's conviction, to spoil the Spirit's work, and 
keep off the soul from coming under any other government than his own. 
Satan doth only accuse hke a councillor at the bar, with violence doth im- 
plead the prisoner that he is counsel against, rakes up all crimes that can be 
found, prefrents them with the sharpest edge, blunts all his apologies made 
in his deitnce, giveth no direction to procure a pardon ; if the man look 
after any, he puts him out of hopes of obtaining. This Satan doth when he 
is afraid lest he should lose a man that he finds soundly convinced by the 
Spirit, and ready to go off from him, when other means are successless. He 
deals with such a soul as with Job : after God had granted him liberty to 
afflict him, he dispatched not one messenger with good news to him, but 
hastened one after another with tidings of his loss and misery. He doth 
rather over-accuse than under-accuse ; he is a lying spirit, and being envious 
too, that delights in the misery of others, he cares not what he saith to 
strengthen his charge. He would not speak truth to God when he accused 
Job, but makes a charge of hypocrisy, and a false prognostication of Job's 
cursing God, if he were stripped of his worldly riches. Job i. 11 and ii. 5. 
And he accuseth Job to his friends of more than he was guilty of ; this he 
doth to drive to despair. But the Spirit is a Spirit of truth ; he sets sins in 
order as they are, and is a Spirit of tenderness, convinceth the soul with a 
compassion to it. Satan deals with the soul as the thieves with the man in 
the Gospel, whom they left for half dead, but had no pity on his wounds. 
He acts quite contrary to Christ, and the Spirit of Christ in the world. 
"When the Spirit is only a con\'incer, Satan will be a comforter, tells them 
sin shall do them no hurt, there is no cause of fear ; but when the Spirit's 
conviction operates kindly, and is like to be a preparation to Christ, when 
the Spirit begins to be a comforter, then Satan will be a convincer ; then 
his language is. Nothing will cure. Satan tormented men ; Christ, when 
he was on the earth, cured them. The Spirit, being Christ's deputy, acts 
as Christ did when he was here, and with the same affection as Christ did. 
Not but that the Spirit reproves sharply, as Christ did upon occasion Peter 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 207 

and the Pharisees, and yet, upon compliance, was as gentle as before severe. 
The Spirit doth accuse for sin, but doth also shew a righteousness to answer 
those accusations, if it be embraced, 

(2.) Satan presents God only as a Judge to punish. The Spirit in the 
progress of conviction represents him not only as a Judge, who hath the 
power of punishment, but as a Sovereign and Father in Christ, who hath the 
power of pardon. Satan presents God upon several occasions, either armed 
only with fury, or covered only with a robe of mercy ; one, when he would 
drive to despair, the other when he would settle the heart in presumption. 
To a soul convinced thoroughly of sin, which is upon the threshold of conver- 
sion, he represents God as the Lord of the world, calling him to account in 
the strictness of justice ; not as the reconciler of the world in Christ, not as 
standing with a pen dipped in the blood of Christ to cross out his debts upon 
his resignation to him. He tells the soul God is a God of terror, without a 
mite of mercy, never shews God in all his perfections ; but the Spirit, being 
'the Spirit of truth,' John xvi. 13, discovers God in all his excellencies. 
Satan is the ruler of darkness : Eph. vi. 12, 'The ruler of the darkness of 
this world.' He discovers nothing but what may increase the darkness in 
man, like that in himself, that God is revengeful and false, not willing to 
make good any word of grace ; not only accuseth the soul to itself, but ac- 
cuseth God to the soul, and chargeth God falsely. He represents God as 
armed with wrath ; the Spirit represents him as calmed by Christ. Satan 
tells the afflicted sinner only of an iron rod in God's hand ; the Spirit tells 
the sinner of a gracious sceptre ; Satan shews justice brandishing terror, and 
the Spirit goodness with melting bowels. Not but that the Spirit shews 
the justice of God in the law against sin, but it is to make way for the bet- 
ter welcome of the mercy of the gospel ; as Joseph carries himself like a 
judge, sends his brethren to prison, not to keep them languishing there, but 
to shew the affection of a brother, with the more comfort to them, and ad- 
vantage to his own designs. 

(3.) Satan conceals the remedy for sin by the mercy of God ; but the 
Spirit discovers it. The devil may aggravate the disease, but not tell us of 
the true medicine ; the devil discovers sin as an executioner, and nothing 
but the sin ; the Spii'it, as a physician in order to a cure, discovers both the 
wound and the plaster, the disease and the remedy. Satan shews only fire 
to inflame, but he never acquaints the soul with the blood of Christ to quench 
that flame ; he is only a fiery serpent to sting, but never directs to the brazen 
serpent to cure that sting. Since he knoweth that all the strength and acti- 
vity to cast off his yoke lieth in the knowledge of, and closing with, Christ, 
he useth all arts to keep us from the knowledge of the gospel, and the gracious 
condescension and good will of Christ, that we might not, by becoming Christ's 
subjects, cease to be his slaves ; therefore he uses all the power he hath, as 
' the god of the world,' 2 Cor. iv. 4, to blind the eyes of men, that they may 
not see a spark of the light of the glorious gospel, which he doth by putting 
strange fancies into the hearts of men ; but the conviction of the Spirit is in 
order to the manifestation of the things of Christ. To the convinced soul, 
the devil shews only the curses of the law, but the Spirit shews the promises 
of the gospel. The devil is an envious spirit, and since he is thrown down 
from heaven, veils any light that comes from thence, that men may not look 
that way. The Spirit's conviction is in order to the manifestation of the 
things of Christ: ' He shall receive of mine, and shew it unto you.' Not but 
that the Spirit, many times, first shews justice with a drawn sword, and 
mercy with a veiled face, and doth not discover the promises for a while, and 
entertains the soul with this language : Look upon a doleful eternity, an 

208 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

nnavoidable wrath, consider the easiness of utter ruin, how life and endless 
miseiy hang upon a small thread, and a puflf of Grod can send thee among the 
damned ; but this is but temporary, and to make the remedy more estimable ; 
but the devil is always for obscuring the gospel, and flashing the law in the 
face of the sinner. 

(4.) When Satan cannot conceal the remedy, he endeavours to disparage 
it, to keep the soul under terrors and a sight of sin, in opposition to that 
remedy. But the Spirit convinceth of the foul evil of sin, and also magni- 
fies the excellency of the remedy provided against it. Satan would make 
them believe the blood of Christ is too shallow to cover the mountains of 
their iniquities ; the Spirit wounds to raise an esteem of the depths of that 
blood. Since the devil cannot conquer Christ, he will endeavour to disparage 
Christ, and the merit and value of his blood ; the Spirit was sent to glorify 
Christ, which is contrary to the devil's designs, to disparage him : John 
xvi. 14, ' He shall glorify me.' As Satan would wholly hide the mercy of 
God, so when he cannot, but that it breaks out, he extenuates the gi-ace of 
the covenant, fills men full of disputes and carnal reasonings against the 
riches of grace, and latitude of the promise. He sets up pride in the heart, 
as he did in Adam, against the grace of God ; it was his old trade to make 
men jealous of God : the same arts he doth exercise still, with more subtilty, 
as being assisted with a large stock of experience since the fall. Distrust ot 
God was that he tempted Adam to, and Christ himself, putting the thing to 
an If, ' If thou art the Son of God.' Satan presseth upon them their sin, 
as unpardonable ; at first, to encourage security, he tells them sin is so small 
that justice will not regard it, and afterwards so gi-eat that mercy cannot for- 
give it, that they are past the limits of grace, that the candle of their lives 
will not bum long enough for a true repentance ; but the Spirit never 
acquaints the soul with any such news ; for this is against the nature of the 
gospel, this is to bely the terms and tenor of it, for he always proposeth the 
gospel in its true terms of faith and repentance. He shews sin in its ugly 
colours, as an object of justice, while it is cherished, and the sinner as an 
object of mercy in the gospel, when repenting. The Spirit presseth it as a 
duty to believe, Satan presseth it upon their consciences that they ought not 
to believe, that swine must not meddle with pearls, nor dogs with jewels, that 
to believe is to presume, that they provoke God in closing with mercy, before 
they have a fitness for it. Such things are the language of many under troubles, 
when Satan puts his finger into them, and by this means keeps men ofi" in a 
sight of sin, from closing with the promise. If a promise appears, Satan 
darkens it ; if the soul cometh to close with it, Satan endeavours to beat ofi 
their fingers, and tells them they have not, nor are ever like to have, qualifi- 
cations for the promise ; but the Spirit is sent on the same errand that Christ 
came on, to manifest the name of God, the freeness of his mercy, and that 
the gospel is as large in blessings to penitents and believers, as the law is in 
curses to impenitents and infidels, and clears up the things which are freely 
given us of God, gospel gi-ace and favour, gospel promises. These are ' the 
things freely given us of God,' 1 Cor. ii. 12. But if the soul, like Joshua, 
doth look towards the angel of the Lord, Satan will be at hand to turn away 
his eyes from him, Zech. iii. 1. 

(5.) The devil always, in setting sin before the soul, endeavours' to drive 
it to despair, the Spirit to encourage it to faith ; the one to sink it in despair 
of pardon, the other to excite it to a mourning for sin. Satan would drive 
it to blasphemy, like those, Rev. xvi. 11, that * blasphemed the God of heaven 
by reason of their pains, and repented not of their deeds.' But the Spirit 
instructs with the conviction, teaching us to justify God, and condemn our- 

John XVI. 8, 9.] coN^^CTION of sin. 209 

selves, to quell our murmurings, and justify God's procedure, and make us 
submissive to God's righteous judgment. Satan discovers sin, to drive the 
soul to a worse sin than that which he hath discovered, and set the soul more 
at variance with God. Satan is an evil spirit, and is ' a roaring lion, going 
about to devour,' 1 Pet. v. 8. The Spirit seeks to support, and discovers sin, 
to make men humble before God, and to have good thoughts of God's ten- 
derness. The language of the Spirit is, thy case is desperate in itself, but 
there is balm in Gilead, there is eye- salve. The language of the devil is, 
God hath forsaken thee, as to Saul, who thereupon slew himself on his own 
sword; as he spurred Judas to sin after self-conviction, so he hurried him 
as fast to the halter, thence to hell. Thus he endeavoured to engage Job in 
an open hostility against God, and spared no way to gall him, and move him 
to so cursed a rebellion. When such motions are found by any persons 
lying under a sense of sin, and wrath due to it, they may conclude them not 
to be any touches of the Holy Spirit, who, being a Spirit of holiness, can 
never stir up such sinful motions. Satan hath a great advantage to this end, 
to drive to despair, from the guilt of our consciences; and an advantage to 
accuse us, from the darkness and ignorance of our hearts, and unacquainted- 
ness with the largeness and extent of the gospel. He is also skilful in all 
the terrible threatenings of God in the word ; he hath read them all over, and 
draws what darts out of that quiver he pleases to answer that end. He can 
open the fountain below, the spring of our sin, the window above, the stream- 
ing of justice, and cause a deluge of despair ; and, being a perfect hater of 
God, he endeavours to imprint upon men the same disposition. Whereas, 
the Spirit being love, and acts of love principally ascribed to him, aims at 
the drawing the soul to such a frame of love, and opens our sin to make us 
despair in ourselves, and the treasures of the gospel, to make us run to God 
with open arms, shews the greatness of sin, and also the attainableness of 
mercy, upon our return and repentance. The Spirit being sent as a com- 
forter, his principal intent is, not to terrify, but that he may lay more lasting 
and stronger foundations for comfort ; and, being a wooer and solicitor for 
Christ, when he tells us of our misery by our match with sin, it is not like 
Satan, to make our union straiter, but to break it off, and bless us with a 
better ; and therefore, when he shews the ugliness and misery of sin, it is to 
raise our esteem of Christ, and promote our acceptance of him. 

(6.) Satan works violently and suddenly in this case, and most by the 
passions and humours of the body, rather than by reason ; but the Spirit 
works upon the mind, therefore he is an enlightening Spirit. Satan works 
upon the reason by the passion, the Spirit upon the passion by the reason ; 
he first enhghtens the mind, and brings light into the heart, and the rational 
faculties, the proper subjects of light, and by this means winds up the pas- 
sions to what pitch and tune he thinks fit. Satan first works upon the humours 
of the body, as melancholy', and the hke. Satan works violently, as upon 
passion, as he buffeted Paul ; boxes a man to and fro, so that he hath no 
time to do anything but consider his misery : whereas the Spirit proposeth 
the object, helps the soul to consider, and by degi-ees leads to a further 
knowledge of the light of the gospel, from a glimmering to a shining light, 
until the knowledge of the Lord break in in its full glory. The Spirit also 
is more particular in his convictions, as acting omnisciently, which Satan 
being a creature cannot do ; who cannot discern all sins, but guesses at some 
thoughts and actions, and therefore his setting sin before men is more con- 
fused. The Spirit's setting sin before men is more particular and orderly ; but 
in the whole, Satan acts as a convincer only, the Spirit as a convincer and 
comforter : one aims at terror aad despair, the other at comfort and faith. 

VOL. IV. o 

210 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

VI. The application. 

Use 1. Of Information. If the Spirit of Christ be the author of conviction 
of sin ; if this is the order God proceeds in, then, 

First, The gospel doth not destroy reason and rational proceeding. It is 
agreeable to common reason, that old principles should be exploded, and 
appear unworthy, base, unreasonable, and weak, before new ones be intro- 
duced and entertained. The working of the Spirit is according to the nature 
of man, moves not in contradiction unto, but in an elevation of reason ; he ex- 
plodeth principles, which were planted in the mind before, and discovers 
principles which reason cannot disown, though it did not before apprehend ; 
he doth not extinguish reason, the candle of the Lord, but snufls it, and 
adds more light, reduces it to its proper manner of operation, and sets it in 
its right state towards God ; brings fresh light into the understanding, and 
new motions into the will. He doth not dethrone reason and judgment, but 
apply it to its proper work, repair it, sets it in its true motion ; as mending 
a watch is not to destroy it, but rectify that which is out of order, and re- 
store it to its true end. Religion is not the destruction, but the restoration, 
of reason. The arguments the Spirit useth are suited to the reason of men, 
otherwise conscience could not be moved, for conscience follows judgment : 
it is not an act of judgment, but imagination, that reason doth not precede. 
As the service God requires is a rational service, so the method he uses in 
conversion is a rational method. 

Secondly, We may from this doctrine see the excellency of the gospel 
state. The foundation of it is laid by the Son of God ; the application of it, 
and the preparations to that application, are wrought by the Spirit of God. 
The whole Trinity concern themselves in man's recovery : the Father con- 
trives it, the Son lays the foundation of it in his blood, the Spirit prepareth 
the soul for the participation of it. The Father shews the evil of sin, by 
making his Son a sacrifice for it ; the Son acknowledgeth the demerit of sin, 
by consenting to his own expiatory death ; the Spirit bears witness against 
the evil of it, by discovering to us the filthiness of its nature, ' For when he 
is come,' ' the Comforter whom I will send,' John xv. 26, ' he shall testify 
of me,' saith Christ. The Spirit doth it as the fruit of Christ's purchase, 
and gift of Christ's royalty ; he breaks the rock, subdues the heart, fills it 
with the bitterness of sin, that it may taste of the sweetness of grace ; he 
shakes the rod of damnation over men, to make them fly to a golden sceptre 
held out to relieve them. The first covenant spake terror only, and spake 
no more comfort to men than devils, sealed them up to destruction, without 
one spark of light to shew the way of salvation ; but the Spirit in the gospel 
giveth us light to see our misery, but in order to our apprehension of the 
remedy ; he makes us know our state, that we may know our Saviour ; he 
fills men with trembling and amazement in a way of grace, for his service ; 
not in a way of judgment, as a preparation to their down-lying in eternal 
flames. God hath provided an agent to do that, which Christ by reason of 
his flesh was not so likely to do. The garb wherein Christ appeared 
offended the world ; it was incredible to man that God should send his Son 
in so mean a condition. From this the world drew pretences for their unbelief, 
but the glorious appearance of the Spirit cuts off all these pretences. Man 
can have no excuse from the convictions the Spirit makes. This seems to 
be part of the expediency of Christ's departure, that the Spirit might con- 

Thirdly, All convictions and convincing discourses must not be exploded 
as legal ; they are the work of the Spirit, as the royal gift of Christ, and the 
fiuit of Christ's ascension ; nay, the first work of the Spiritas a comforter, 

John XYI. 8, 9. J conviction of sin. 211 

a fruit of the promise of the Spirit as carrying on the design of Christ. The 
convictions of the Spiiit are no moi'e legal, than the blood of Christ a legal 
blood, the priesthood of Christ a legal priesthood, the offices of Christ legal 
offices. The works of the Spirit, in what way soever, are evangelical in their 
end, since the foundation on which they are built is a gospel foundation. 

Fourthly, We see the mighty power and excellency of the word in the 
hand of the Spirit. The Spirit is the author of conviction, not immediately, 
without the proposing any object, but in and by the word. The Spirit, like 
Christ to the woman of Samaria, discovers ' all that she had done,' John 
iv. 29. The word in this hand is a hammer to break the hardest rock, a 
fire to melt and devour the compactedest metals, a spirit to enter through the 
closest bars, a rod to smite the stoutest sinner, a breath to slay the highest 
wickedness. It makes men to assent to what they loathed, sets them on 
fire, though they use all their arts to quench it, Rev. xi. 10. It doth torment 
those that dwell on the earth, while they are in an earthly and carnal frame. 
The holiness of the word is evidenced, in shewing us the filthiness of our 
souls ; the power of the word manifested, in pulling down that which exalts 
itself, though it be never so strong a hold ; the divine authority is manifest, 
in revealing the secrets of the heart, though lying hid, not only from the 
eyes of the world, but also from the present knowledge of the soul itself, 
1 Cor. xiv. 24. Like the sun, nothing is hid from the light and force 
thereof; it edgeth a man's conscience, sets him a- trembling, because it is 
the voice of the Lord. When the Spirit fastens it on the soul, it will make 
the highest mountain to shake, the heart of an incarnate devil to tremble ; 
put such a cup of amazement in the hands of a sinner, that all the pleasures 
of sin shall not put the taste out of his ; it will make a prince come down 
from a throne, let fall his sceptre ; make David throw his crown from his 
head, and Ahab change his purple into sackcloth, and the jailer spring in 
trembling before his prisoners. Wonder not at this powerful efiect, since 
the word is managed by the hand of the Spirit. 

Fifthly, If the Spirit be the author of conviction, how weak then are all 
means of themselves, till the Spirit set them home upon the conscience ! 
Could nature thoroughly convince, what need of the Spirit ? Threatenings 
will not savingly aftright, nor promises powerfully allure, without the power 
of the Holy Ghost to imprint them. A man may read them ten thousand 
times over, and have no full reflection upon himself, as concerned in them, 
without the operation of this mighty arm. All the Jewish sacrifices were 
too feeble to expiate sin without the death of Christ ; all the powers in the 
world are too weak to convince of sin without the arm of the Spirit. How 
foolish is it for man to depend upon his own resolution, to think the sense 
of sin necessary, and yet put it off" until another day, when this sense is not 
in his own power, but at the Spirit's pleasure, and there is as much need of 
the Spirit to touch us with a sense of sin, as of the angel's descent to move 
the waters, to the bestowing of health ! 

Sixthly, If the Spirit be the author of conviction, we may hereby judge of 
the motions of the Spirit, and distinguish them from motions from other 
causes. The Spirit never moves to sin, or anything that appears sinful. 
That Spirit which is to display sin in its black colours, in order to con- 
viction, can never solicit to the embraces of it, in order to damnation ; that 
Spirit which shews sin in its hellish shape, can never invite the soul to 
espouse deformity. He that is sent to convince of it, can never be so false 
to his office as to daub with it. Impure breathings are not the issues of a 
Spirit of holiness ; injuries and falsities against God never take their rise 
from a Spirit of truth. Whatsoever therefore hath a tincture of sin, what- 

212 chaknock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

soever is per se an occasion of sin, can never come from the Spirit of God, 
let what revelation soever be pretended ; especially whatsoever disparageth 
Christ in his undertaking, in the glory of any of his offices, and the honour 
of God by him, this receives no encouragement at all from the Spirit, whose 
employment it is to reprove for unbelief, and whatsoever shelters itself under 
the wings of it. He is Christ's deputy, and will not infringe the main end 
of Christ, which was to set up holiness and pull down sin. The Spirit can- 
not move to anything that destroys the foundation of Christ's gospel. 

Seventhly, If the Spirit be the author of the conviction of sin, we see then 
who is the great author of stifling convictions, and hindering them from com- 
ing to a good issue. It must be something contrary to the Spirit of God; 
who is that but Satan ? It is a character of a child of the devil to be an 
' enemy to all righteousness,' Acts xiii. 10 ; much more is the devil, the 
father of that child, an enemy to all righteousness. And thus said Paul to 
Elymas when he withstood the apostle, and endeavoured to divert Paulus 
Sergius from entertaining the word. The devil hath no such ememy in the 
heart of man as faith, because this brings the soul from under his power, to 
be subject to another head ; he sets his strength against the plantation of 
it, and likewise against the preparation for it. His design is against right- 
eousness and holiness. He first assaulted the righteousness of Adam's 
nature in paradise, and endeavours to prevent any restoration of righteous- 
ness to the soul, by keeping men ofi" from the means of it, raising the spirit 
of persecution against it, instilling into men false imaginations of the unplea- 
santness of it, the pleasures of sin, and the easiness of a deathbed repent- 
ance, and stifling convictions, which are the first step to happiness. He 
finds corrupt principles in men, which he arms against the attempts of the 
Spirit. The Spirit first convinceth of sin, and then of righteousness. The 
devil goes quite contrary: fii'st he endeavours to convince of a false right- 
eousness, and, when that will not prevail, then he convinceth of sin. When 
he cannot prevent a sinner's seeing sin in its deformity, then he will endea- 
vour to hinder him from seeing grace in its beauty and lustre. When the 
sinner is impenitent, he represents Godasstrippedof his justice, that he may 
not fear. When conscience is soundly stirred, he labours to render it fruit- 
less, and stop the torrent of conviction; strips God of his mercy, that he 
may increase the man's fears; he tells him his former sins are swelled 
above mercy. He tells the bold sinner that he hath a righteousness, and 
that God hath no arrows in store for him ; he tells the troubled sinner that 
he hath nothing but sin, and that God hath no bowels reserved for him. 
He always contradicts the method of the Spirit of God, and still is, what he 
was from the beginning, a liar ; he endeavours to comfort when the Spirit 
troubles, and troubles when the Spirit comforts ; he will speak peace when 
God cries guilt, and cries guilt when the Spirit cries peace ; he is all for the 
gospel when the Spirit handles the law, and is all for law when the Spirit 
utters the gospel. Hence he hath his ' fiery darts,' that is, the fear of death 
and damnation by reason of sin and imperfect obedience, which he suggests 
to the conscience, Eph.\d. 16. Thus he walks contrary to the Spirit of God. 
You see then who is the author of stifling conviction. 

Eighthly, If the Spirit of God be the author of conviction, how sinful is 
it then to resist the convictions of the Spirit ! It is a new and worse rebel- 
lion added to all the former, more immediately against God, and offering 
violence to the Spirit, and in some degree a doing despite to the Spirit of 
grace, by whose influence convictions are made. It is something above a 
sin against mere knowledge, because it is against the present dictates of the 
Holy Ghost, a depriving him, as much as a man may, of a great part of his 

John XVI. 8, 9.j conviction of sin. 213 

office, and consequently of all, because he cannot be a comforter unless he 
be first a convincer. The Spirit shews a readiness for your cure, and it is 
a more than ordinary provocation to slight a physician when he stands ready 
with his medicines. It is a justification of ourselves in the face of God, and 
of all those sins we have committed, when we will not regard anything that 
God saith against them; it is to be the devil's second in his war against 
God and our souls. 

II. If the Spirit of God be the author of conviction, it afi'ords a use of 
comfort. It being the peculiar work of the Spirit, it is a mighty comfort to 
them that comply with the operations of the Spirit, listen to these convic- 
tions, and do admit them to take possession of the soul. 

Fii-st, It is a matter of comfort that the Spirit should take upon him this 
office of curing us, that he will condescend to be a chirurgeon to so many 
putrefied souls, deals with them in the word, and employs his lance to let 
out the corrupt matter ; that he will vouchsafe to bring the law and our con- 
sciences, the gospel and our hearts, together. The blessed Jesus submitted 
to be a sacrifice that he might be our righteousness ; the Spirit undertakes 
to be our instructor that he might be our comforter, and stirs up the mud in 
our consciences that is so loathsome in itself. The Spirit might have stood 
aloof of, and left us and our sins to nuzzle together, without troubling him- 
self about our state. 

Secondly, The convictions of the Sph-it will have a good issue, if they be 
not resisted. You need not fear a lance in the hands of love and tenderness. 
He is God's agent, Christ's deputy, to rescue you. He hews not those that 
submit to him for the fii-e, but for the building ; he cuts that he may heal, 
burns that he may cure ; he is only to open the passage into your hearts, to 
let in some of the blood from the pierced heart of Christ. As wars in the 
world go before the end of all things, so convictions and tumults in the soul 
are the presages of an approaching redemption. There is good hopes, since 
he is entered upon the first part of his work, the conviction of sin, that it will 
not be long ere he proceeds to the second, which is the conviction of right- 
eousness. If the Spirit did not intend your good, he would never have 
pressed so hard upon you at any time, never given a heart to comply, but 
have left you blind in your sins till destruction had seized upon you, and 
hurried you to perpetual imprisonment. But though now you are prisoners 
il is a comfort, because you are prisoners of hope. The Spirit wounds, and 
wounded souls are the fittest objects for compassion. The sight of sin must 
precede the purging of it, and then the fruit of it is true consolation. Isa. 
Ixvi. 1, God dwells ' with the humble and contrite spirit;' noil will dwell, but 
I dwell; I dwell there when I wound and bruise, but the end of my dwelling 
there is not principally to bruise, but ' to revive the spirit of the humble.' 
The Spirit is Christ's deputy, therefore doth nothing but pursuant to Christ's 
office, and that is, to turn a ' spirit of heaviness ' into the ' garment of praise,' 
Isa. Ixi. 1. He came ' to seek and save them that were lost,' to bind up that 
which was broken, and strengthen that which was sick, and deliver them from 
their destruction, Ezek. xxxiv. 12, 16, ' in a cloudy and dark day.' Such a 
temper was our Redeemer of when God entrasted him ; such a temper is the 
Spirit of. Our Redeemer would not have sent one of a difi"erent nature from 
himself; the same nature is in all the three persons ; they are one in nature, 
one in affection, one in design of the salvation of man. What though the 
troubles of any man may be grievous at present, and he may be like a hart 
hunted and standing at a bay, at a loss what course to take ! It is no ground 
of discouragement. When our sins were set home upon our Redeemer, they 
put him to a stand : John xii. 27, ' What shaU I say ? ' Yet the issue was 

214 chaknock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

glorious to God and himself, and to poor souls. The Spirit will deal no 
otherwise with the members than God with the Head. 

III. Use of exhortation. If the Spirit be the author of conviction, the 

First exhortation is to those who have been convinced by the Spirit. 

(1.) Be thankful to God. It is a matter of praise that God hath 
driven you to him, though with sharp lashes, and a greater matter of 
praise if he drew you only with cords of love. That God should em- 
ploy his Spirit to be his solicitor to sinners ; that he left you not to find 
out the filthiness and danger of your state by your own blind eyes. You 
have had fairer draughts of his power and goodness. When you were 
under troubles, did you ever think the mountains would have been re- 
moved ? did you ever think comfort would have dawned on you ? Since 
any of you have received light, you see the blessed skill and power of the 
Spirit ; you were * brought low, and he helped you,' Ps. cxvi. 6 ; bless 
your strong deliverer ; bless that skilful chirurgeon that cured though he 
lanced. When Peter was brought out of man's prison, he considered it 
with great astonishment ; much more consideration is due when we are 
brought out of God's prison, Ps. xlii. 6. It was God's counsel in your 
reins, though sharp like the pain of the stone, bless him for it. He hath 
given you but a drop of hell, when he might have shot all his granadoes into 
you, and at last have shot you out of his sling into hell. He hath brought 
you from prison that he might bring you to a throne of grace, and give you 
a pardon. 

(2.) Compassionate others, and assist" the Spirit, when you find him at 
work upon others, in such a condition. By this we become like Christ, who 
learned pity to us by experience of our infirmities ; and we should learn it 
to others, by reflection on what we felt ourselves. To quench smoking flax 
is to be unlike our Saviour, and thwart the work of the Spirit ; kindle it, 
therefore, into a quicker flame by your breath. Nothing so tender as an 
afflicted conscience, which therefore must be tenderly dealt with. Eake not 
in the wounds of any that are afflicted for sin ; to help forward affliction will 
be as Httle pleasing to God in spiritual as temporal troubles. The Spirit 
acts in this office as a comforter, and the comforts you have had are for 
others as well as yourselves : 2 Cor. i. 4, * Who comforteth us in all our 
tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble 
by the comforts wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.' Pour in, 
therefore, balm, and not vinegar. 

(3.) Take heed of offending and quenching the Spirit. Let not new sins 
make the Spirit take his old sword into his hand ; the second wound will be 
worse than the first. Love enraged strikes more keenly. David had more 
sharp terrors after his fall into the sins of murder and adultery than any 
time before that we read of. Anguish and terror will fall on the doers of 
iniquity, to the Jew, the professing party, as well as to the Gentiles, Rom. 
ii. 9, 10, but glory and peace, spiritual communications of divine goodness, 
and an unspotted joy, attend the doing good. If you would avoid wounds of 
conscience, avoid sins which grieve the Spirit. Conscience, that checks men 
for acts of a sensual life, even for those that are more generous, never checks 
the soul for its aspiring upward, and attempts toward a closer communion 
with God. Peace is the ' effect of righteousness,' Isa. xxxii. 17 ; the loving 
God's law affords great peace, peace in abundance, Ps. cxix. 165. Peace 
can then only be as the river, when our righteousness is as the waves of the 
sea ; therefore quench not that Spirit that hath convinced you, and do not 
by new sins drive him away. 

(4.) Exercise faith much. Faith was first acted by you before you were 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 215 

brought from under those pressures you felt ; it must be still acted for keep- 
ing them from returning on you. Faith was the medicine that cured your 
wounds, and faith is the only antidote to prevent new ones ; faith acted will 
make your inherent righteousness more vigorous, and the more holiness the 
more peace. Christ constantly in the eye will make Christ formed in the 
heart thrive and rejoice. 

Secondly, The second branch of the exhortation is to those who are under 
convictions for sin. If there be any that at present are under conviction 
for sin, 

(1.) Murmur not against God. It is the Spirit's work; murmur not, 
therefore, against him ; let not your hearts fret within you while the Spirit 
is raking up the mud to make you view it ; let there be no breakings out of 
impatience whereby to quench the Spirit. Murmuring is the way to lose 
the possession of our souls and the expectation of our comforts. Deal not 
with God as Job's wife would have had him to have done, ' Curse God, and 
die,' Job ii. 9. Tumultuousness of spirit against God is a diabolical temper, 
a resemblance to that of the damned, who blaspheme God under their tor- 
ments, and curse God when sin gnaws their conscience. To lie patient under 
the Spirit's hand is a Christ-like frame, who uttered not a word against his 
Father, when the sins of all the world were laid upon him to bear the punish- 
ment of them. Speak well of God, and as bad of the loathsomeness of your 
hearts as the Spirit himself doth. This is a holy compliance. To hinder 
pettishness, consider God as a sovereign who hath power over you, and as a 
gracious sovereign who hath an affection for a man under his rebukes ; repre- 
sent him to yourselves, not only in his severity, but in his mercy also, laying 
the foundation deep that he may make the building more strong, beautiful, 
and lasting. Murmur not, unless you had rather remain in league with the 
devil than have the band broken. 

(2.) Run to the same hand for healing which wounded you. The wounds 
of the Spirit may sometimes be skinned over by other helps, and left in- 
wardly rankling, but they can be cured only by the same hand that made 
them : Isa. Ivii. 17, 18, ' For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, 
and smote him : I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly, in the 
way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him ; I will lead him 
also, and restore comforts to him, and unto his mourners.' It is the sense 
of God's wrath, the forfeiture of his favour, and the sinful distance man 
stands in from God, which chiefly chargeth the soul ; the taking off his 
wrath, the beaming of his favour, filling up the gulf between God and the 
soul, belong only to God. The longing of a woman cannot be satisfied with 
the most delicious fruit if she hath not the very thing she longs for, but there 
will be indehble characters printed upon the foetus. Since our natural blind- 
ness by the fall, we are not able to find out truth, there is need of his Spirit 
to enhghten and guide us ; hence is he called the Spirit of truth. And since 
sin raiseth storms in the conscience, which no wit of mere nature or strength 
of reason can compose, there is need of the Spirit to silence the storms of 
conscience ; hence he is called a comforter, to dispel them. As you are 
wounded by the Spirit in the word, so look for cure from the Spirit in the 
word. Nathan had assured David of a pardon by God's order ; David 
would expect the joy of it only from God by his Spirit : Ps. li. 12, ' Restore 
to me the joy of thy salvation.' Though he had an assurance from Nathan 
of a pardon, he would have it also from the Spirit of God. If the Spint be 
silent, no other voice can be musical ; give God, therefore, the honour of 
his own prerogative. The key of peace is held in the hand of God, not m 
the mouth of the creature ; peace is contained ia the cabinet of the word, 

216 chaenock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

and God only can unlock it ; it is an effect of God's creating power, Isa. 
Ivii. 19. Since the conquest sin hath made of us, the heart is but a tem- 
pestuous place ; there is always matter for storms, as in the world for ex- 
halations ; when they are raised, only Chi-ist by his Spirit can say to the 
waves, ' Be still.' Spiritual storms will obey no other voice. Till you find 
anything in the world that can equal God in a creative omnipotency, ex- 
pect no peace from it ; sin must be removed before peace can be settled. 
Only the blood of Christ can stop the mouth of conscience, and none but 
the Spirit can drop it into the conscience. The application of it is only 
by the Spirit, as the offering it on the cross was by him. But it must 
not be in a way of enthusiastic expectation. As he wounded you in the 
word, so he will heal you by the word also. He is faithful to Christ that 
sent him, and takes of his to shew it to us, that is, of his truths ; he takes 
his healing herbs out of no other garden. Though peace be the fruit of 
a creative power, yet it is the fruit of the lips. And the Thessalonians 
received the 'joy of the Holy Ghost' by receiving the word,' 1 Thess. i. 6. 
Thirdly, Have recourse to Christ's atonement. Troubles of spirit are the 
arraignment and indictment of the soul before God. It is by Jesus Christ 
only, in whom God hath writ all the characters of his mercy, that we can be 
freed from the danger. In him you will see a wrathful justice appeased, and 
a provoked God reconciled. It is this blood only that quenches the fury of 
God and the fire of conscience ; it is by his blood only we are justified, and 
by this blood only can we be pacified. An infinite wrath you fear, an infinite 
satisfaction must expel your fears ; that that quenches the fire of conscience, 
must be water from the well of salvation. There are two things trouble a 
convinced sinner, the sight of guilt and the weakness of righteousness. He 
sees himself much in debt, and nothing to satisfy, is sensible he is come 
short of the glory of God, that the righteousness of God will bar heaven 
against his unrighteousness. He must then go to Christ to pay his debt, 
and impart his righteousness. When David found iniquity prevailing, he 
had recourse to this, Ps, Ixv. 3. Christ is a physician for the sick, a saviour 
for the lost, a redeemer for the captives, a refiner for the filthy, a sm-ety 
for the debtor, and a priest for the sensible sinner. In him we may see 
both our weakness and our remedy ; his riches will make us sensible of our 
poverty, his fulness of our emjDtiness, his medicines of our sickness, his ran- 
som of our bondage, his glory of our misery. This is the way to make a legal 
conviction commence evangelical. 

Fourthly, Those that are under conviction should wait upon God for a 
good issue. Be not too hasty to break prison, but stay God's leisure ; call 
upon him, and he will be near you in a way of grace, though not immediately 
in a way of comfort. ' The Lord is nigh to all them that call upon him in 
truth,' Ps. xlv. 18. It is not for want of means that God doth not presently 
comfort ; he hath endless comforts by him, but he stays for a fit season, that 
he may come with double love, for his own glory and his creatures' advantage ; 
as Christ deferred the raising Lazarus till certainly dead, that the mii-acle 
of his resurrection might be indisputable, and his glory in raising him more 
illustrious. God leaves men under a cloud to exercise their faith, which 
many times is most strong where there is least feeling, otherwise it would 
not be faith but sense that would make us come to him by prayer; he keeps 
the day dark that we may fly to him in prayer, which we should not regard 
had we comforts at pleasure. Hannah's soul must be poured out in tears 
before she can have the desire of her heart. God keeps us under matter of 
prayer, before he giveth us matter of praise, that we may praise him with 
higher strains : * He that hath torn will heal, he that hath smitten will bind 

John XVI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 217 

up,' Hosea vi. 1. Exercise what little faith there is in such a case, Christ 
did so in his agony : ' He ofiered up strong cries and prayers to him that 
was able to save him from death.' God will knock oif your fetters in time, 
when the soul finds the greatest need, and is in the fittest posture to glorify 
him : Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in a day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, 
and thou shalt glorify me ;' implying that God will dehver at such a time 
when there is the greatest occasion to glorify him ; when you are most humble, 
he will hear your cry, 2 Chron. vii. 14. 

Fifthly, All the time of your waiting for the taking off your trouble which 
may be upon your spirit, desire cleansing as well as comforting grace. To 
desire only comfort is more selfish, to desire purging is an aim more at the 
glory of God, who cannot be honoured without holiness. David put up 
more prayers for purging than pardoning mercy. The waters that proceed 
from the throne of the Lamb are not only refreshing and cooling, but also 
purging and cleansing. A divine nature is necessary to a divine peace ; 
cordials are not so necessary, but may be dangerous, when the humours are 
strong ; purging is then more needful. The comforting Spirit is first a Spirit 
of holiness, and Christ is Melchizedek, a king of righteousness, before a 
king of peace. Besides, restoratives are best when purgatives have gone 
before. Now because men are apt to run to wrong means, and take ways of 
stupefying rather than rightly appeasing conscience, it will not be amiss to 
give some directions to avoid this rock on which some split. Man is so full 
of enmity against God, that he takes hold of what first comes to hand, and 
would rather gather ease from any thing than go to a mediator of God's 
appointment. A sense of sin is always attended with a look after a remedy : 
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me ? Take heed of some 
things in such a case : 

(1.) Take heed of false opinions. As the word is the instrument of com- 
fort, so the truth upon which comfort is founded must be tried by the word. 
The Spirit must take of Christ's, the truths of Christ, and shew it to us : 
' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart ; the commandment 
of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes,' Ps. xix. 8. Poison may be fair 
to the eye, and delightful to the palate, but hurtful to the life. Men in 
distress of spirit are apt to catch at every rotten plank, like men ready to be 
drowned. Puddle-water will be swallowed down in extremity, as eagerly as 
the juice of a delicious grape ; the appetite desiring something to cool the 
bowels, considers only what may give it some refreshment. False judg- 
ments either of the disease or of the proper remedy are equally dangerous. 
In this case men are like sick persons, that ask advice of every friend, scrape 
up many remedies, but never go to a skilful physician. Take heed of false 

(2.) Take heed of carnal counsel in such a case. For if the Spirit be the 
author of conviction, cleaving to any carnal counsel is turning the back upon 
the Spirit. Flesh and blood are bad counsellors in this affair, they will con- 
sult their own ease and seek their own satisfaction ; to consult with them is 
to disobey God, Gal. i. 6. Christ would not suffer one that desired to be 
his disciple to turn back, and take leave of his friends, which was but an act 
of civility, Luke ix. 61 ; perhaps, because by them he might have been 
diverted from his religious resolution, and his answer to him intimates as 
much : ver. 62, ' No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking 
back, is fit for the kingdom of God.' Unbelieving hearts, unbelieving friends 
are the worst counsellors in the world, and the most miserable comforters, 
their counsels are the devil's delight and the Spirit's grief. Such will quench 
not only the fire in the conscience, but the Spirit too that kindled it, and 

218 charnock's works. [John XVI. 8, 9. 

cause him to depart. The best way in this case is, to have the counsel of 
the wicked far from you, Job xxi. 16. 

(3.) Our own righteousness and a road of formal services is to be taken 
heed of. In this case our own righteousness is so far from being a means to 
ease us, that it is a bar to true peace, by keeping us from that righteousness 
that can only purchase it, and only effect it in us. Pride was the cause of 
our ruin in Adam, and what was the cause of our ruin cannot be our remedy. 
This temper manifests the heart to be full of the proud pharisee's, an enemy to 
Christ, for it grudges him the title of a Saviour. An imperfect righteousness 
cannot afibrd a perfect peace ; the righteousness of a sinful nature is not the 
righteousness of a pure law ; a thorough conviction throws away a man's right- 
eousness asjwell as his sin, in point of justification and in point of consolation ; 
and to expect peace from a road of formal duties is to trust in the arm of 
flesh. Paul calls all things so when he opposed ' rejoicing in the flesh' to 
' rejoicing in Christ,' Philip, iii. 3. By flesh he means all things different 
from Christ, and to go to a creature is to depart from the Lord. Take heed 
therefore of valuing your own tears in the room of Christ's blood, your own 
petitions in the room of his intercessions, and applauding yourselves in a 
vain righteousness, instead of the meritorious satisfaction of the blood of 
God, as though a few good duties could expiate a multitude of sins. What 
are a few tears but a drop to the sea of our guilt ? What are our petitions but 
as the breath of a child to the storms of our provocations ? our righteousness 
but as a mite to the many talents of our unrighteousness ? Sinful duties 
cannot make an infinite and holy satisfaction. As these were not our saviour, 
so they cannot be our comforter ; they have no blood to shed for us, and 
therefore hate no power to heal us. 

(4.) Take heed of carnal contentments and sensual pleasures. Saul called 
for music to drive away the evil spirit ; so do some for sensual delights, to 
drive away the Holy Spirit ; set up projects in the world to avoid the noise 
in their own consciences ; and sometimes sinful merriments to expel the good 
Spirit by an impure devil, is as if a man should endeavour to quench fire 
vpith burning pitch, or cure the gout by a stab at the heart. Thus men use 
all arts to stifle convictions, but the end of their mirth is heaviness, Prov. 
xiv. 13. What creature can cure the wound that God makes ? What can 
comfort when the Almighty troubles ? All carnal contentments can no more 
remove inward and spiritual distempers than a crown can cure the headache, 
or a golden slipper the pain of the gout. Therefore, go to none of these 
things, but run to that hand which did wound you, unto the Spirit of God, 
who is the author of conviction. The 

Third exhortation, to those who are desirous to have spiritual conviction ; 
to be convinced of sin. 

First, Desire the Spirit to pull the scales from your eyes which Satan hath 
put on ; beg of God, ' What I see not, teach thou me ;' desire him to lead 
you into the seminary of corruption, and cause you to possess your sins, till 
you cry out. Guilty, guilty ; to see them in their filthiness, not as a dunghill 
in a picture, but as a real dunghill, offending a delicate smell. This course 
Job took. Job xiii. 23, when he considered the multitude of his sins: ' Make 
me to know my iniquity and my sin,' not only with a simple but sensible 

Secondly, Meditate much upon the sense Christ had of sin. Consider how 
his undertanding was enlarged to the highest pitch of knowledge ; not a grain 
of malice or ingratitude in the bowels of sin but was within the compass of 
his apprehension. He understood the hoUness of that God that was offended 
with sm. Conceive Christ in his agonies ; consider how much sin hath dis- 

John XYI. 8, 9.] conviction of sin. 219 

pleased and injured God, sunk and ruined the soul, and this may be some 
assistance, by the means of the Spirit, for gaining a spiritual conviction. A 
spiritual sense Chiist had, and the consideration of him and imitation of him 
is the way for us to have a spiritual sense of sin. 

Thirdly, Study the law in its spiritual meaning, and in the extent of it. Paul 
apprehended the law in its spirituality, which before he understood according 
to the Pharisaical interpretation, which dulled its edge in its operations. 

Fourthly, Set every doctrine you know home upon your conscience. There 
is a double knowledge, dogmatical and aflfectionate. We may know many 
things that do not affect us ; we may be affectedly ignorant, when we are 
dogmatically knowing. Paul knew the law by the means of Gamaliel, at 
whose feet he sat, but had no sense of it, till Christ came and brought the 
sense of it from his head to his heart. 

Fifthly, Attend upon the means. God will honour the word with con- 
vincing men of sin, even of those sins which the light of nature would mani- 
fest : as David of mm-der and adultery, which God would convince him of 
by the prophet. 

Sixthly, Suppress not any convictions when they flash in upon you ; let 
them have their perfect work. Cherish every conviction the Spirit fastens 
upon you while it is warm upon your affections. It is dangerous to suppress 
it. The Spirit's operations will not be fruitless ; it will end in a full con- 
viction, or in a curse. If the Spirit hath invited himself, and hath been 
refused to be a physician, he may leave you remediless ; he may have no 
more hand to knock, but dust to shake off from his feet, as a token of his 
final leaving you. And wait upon God in the use of means ; it is there that 
the Spirit doth breathe ; it is by the word he doth convince, as well as by 
the word he doth comfort. 


OJ sin, because they believe not on me. — John XVI. 9. 

There were two observations in this text : 

1. The Spirit is the author of conviction of sin. 

2. Unbelief is a sin of the greatest maHgnity against God. 
For the second, 

Of sin. Not of sins, but sin. The Spirit convinceth of all sins, but chiefly 
of a state of sin, of unbeUef. 

First, As the fountain of all sin. It was the first sin of Adam. Not un- 
belief of a mediator, but the not giving credit to the precept of God, and 
the reality of God's intention in commanding. There was a jealousy that 
God had not dealt sincerely and plainly with him in the precept, as if he 
thought the prohibition was not so much an act of his sovereignty, as an act 
of his envy. It was the cause also of all the sin that grew up to such 
maturity in the old world ; they had not faith in that first promise made to 
Adam, and without question transmitted by him to his posterity. The faith 
of Abel is applauded, Heb. xi. 4 ; consequently the unbelief of Cain, the 
head of the wicked world, is marked. If Abel's sacrifice was more excellent 
in regard of his faith, Cain's was more vile in regard of his unbelief.* The 
apostle, shewing that faith makes the difi'erence between the godly and the 
wicked, begins his discourse with the two examples of faith and unbelief in 
those brothers. Abel's faith seems to be thus in his offering: 1. He con- 
sidered his own sin transferred upon that innocent victim, thereby under- 
standing the demerit of his sin, as deserving wrath and death for it. 2. He 
considered that this sacrifice, being the blood of a beast, could not take away 
sin ; but that it was typical of the Lamb promised, upon which his sins were 
to be transferred, and to whom they were to be imputed, and accordingly 
acted faith on that promise of the seed, and desired God not to impute his 
sins to him, but to that Lamb which was to be slain ; and this the very 
nature of his sacrifice, being bloody, and the character the apostle gives of 
his faith, intimates. Cain had not faith in the promised seed ; he brings an 
ofi"ering to God of the fruits of the ground, not a bloody sacrifice, whereby 
he might signify the acknowledgment of his own desert, and his reliance 
* Illyric. in loc. 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 221 

on that Lamb of God whose heel was to be bruised, who was to be made an 
offering. The kinds of their sacrifices imply two different conceits in them. 
Cain's seems to be only a present to acknowledge God the author of the 
good things he had, at the best, or to oblige God rather ; for the ground of 
all his wrath was, because God did not respect his offering, did not testify 
a well-pleasedness with it. His offering was no signification of his sin, nor a 
type of the promised seed ; he owned God as creator, not as redeemer.* 
Cain and his posterity, which infected the old world, disregarded that pro- 
mise of the seed of the woman, slighted the offers made in it, and resisted 
the strivings of the Spirit with them against their unbelief, which was 
principally the matter of the Spirit's striving, because he acted with them as 
the Spirit of Christ the Messiah, 1 Peter iii. 18, 19, and therefore to 
accept him with a sense of that sin, which was properly against that person 
in whose name he came and by whom he acted. The Spirit was then in the 
world striving against their unbelief in the promise, as he is now in the 
world striving against unbelief in the performance. 

2. As the ligament and band of all sin : John viii. 24, * If you believe 
not that I am he,' the Messiah sent of God, ' you shall die in your sins ;' 
unless you believe me to be that seed of the woman, promised by the merit 
of my death to reconcile the world, you will sink with all the mass of your 
sins upon you. If unbelief be removed from a soul, the guilt of all other 
sins departs with it ; if that remain, the guilt of all other sins is bound and 
fastened with an adamantine chain upon the soul, and that with more 
crimson aggravations ; where the notices of a mediator have been revealed, 
there is a superadded guilt to all the rest. As faith is the only means 
whereby we gain a pardon, so unbelief is the only formal cause of condem- 
nation, though other sins are the meritorious cause of eternal death. As no 
price had been paid for our redemption, unless Christ had offered his blood, 
so no application can be made of that price to us without faith in that blood. 
Upon this, sins are flung into the depths of the sea ; upon the other, they 
remain with their whole weight upon the soul. 

In general. That unbelief is the greatest sin, appears, 

1. Because God employs the highest means to bring men to a sense of it. 
This is in the text. It is the work of the Spirit to convince of this sin. 
The odiousness of sin to God appears by his sending Christ to expiate it ; 
the odiousness of unbelief to God appears by his sending the Spirit to re- 
prove it. That which calls for the Spirit's descent from heaven, in order to 
a conviction of it, is attended with black aggravations. This is the great 
errand of the Holy Ghost to the world ; the first thing he does is to open 
the understanding, the eye of the soul, to see the malignity of other things, 
in order to convince the conscience of this before he changeth the will. 
This is the principal fort against which the Spirit plants his battery, and it 
is the last that is surrendered. A terrified sinner would run from the shot 
that is showered about his ears ; he would reform, he would be holy, but 
cries out still, loath to believe. The prodigal will be next door to starving, 
before he will come to his father ; and the woman with the bloody issue will 
spend all her estate before she will come to Christ. 

And indeed it is a sin so deeply rooted that, 

(1.) Reason cannot convince of it. Christ, the object proposed, is above 
the reach of a rational eye, and therefore the sin against him is not discerned 
in its blackness by mere reason. Reason will not inform a man of the 
stupendous love of God in sending his Son to die for men, that were and 
* Catharin. nxuoi/a dutriav, more sacrifice, more ackuowledgment of God. — Heb. 
xi. 4. 

222 oharnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

would be unprofitable servants. Neither doth it consist with the natural 
notion men have of the justice of God, to lay upon an innocent person the 
sins of guilty offenders. It cannot naturally enter into any man's heart, 
that he that by power and wisdom made the world, should design by the 
cross and the foolishness of preaching to save it ; that he that is infinite in 
love and mercy should make his Son to suffer. It is not therefore by the 
sparklings of bare reason men can see the blackness of this sin. Other sins 
may be known by natural light, because the duties to which they are op- 
posite may he known by the light of nature. As the Spirit only discovers 
the greatness of Christ, the excellency of his person, the preciousness of his 
passion, so it also only shews what a sin it is to reject Christ. As faith is 
' the gift of God,' Eph. ii. 8, a grace more pecuUarly the birth of heaven, 
so the extirpation of its opposite must only be from God. 

(2.) Natural conscience of itself helps not in this conviction. It indeed 
maintains the quarrel against other sins, and plains the way for the Spirit's 
victory. But in this case there is no auxiliary force fi:om conscience, nothing 
of a natural interest to plead for faith. It finds all the powers of the soul 
prejudiced against it, maintaining a war against the doctrine of the gospel ; 
and the tide of our own natures carry us forcibly against it. The Spirit 
enters the lists singly and maintains the duel alone. So that what was said 
of the temple may more properly be said of this, ' Not by might, nor by 
power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.' 

2. It is a sin against the gospel ; not as a killing law, but an healing 
command ; a blacker sin, because against a better covenant. It is his peculiar 
gospel command ; a precept of the highest valuation with him : 1 John 
iii. 23, * This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of 
his Son Jesus Christ.' Not only in regard of his authority (for so others 
were his commands), but in regard of the affection he hath to it, it being 
most pleasing to him, as ver. 22 intimates. The disobedience of this com- 
mand, then, is most disgustful and hateful to him ; it is his command, as 
being the last that ever he will give ; it is a dispensation from the rigour of 
those commands in the covenant of works, but is to be followed with no 
dispensation by any other. The sin against it, then, is against the utmost 
gracious command that God will ever give. Other sins are against the 
precepts of his sovereignty, this against the precepts of his grace, as well as 
his sovereignty. The keeping this command brings him near to us to abide 
in us, ver. 24, the breaking this command sets him at a distance from us, and 
makes our persons and services loathsome to him. Wickedness against the 
gospel is greater than wickedness against the law, because the evangelical 
revelation hath more of grace and more of glory, the sin against it hath more 
of contempt and more of heinousness ; a sin against that is a sin dyed seven 
times blacker, and will have a furnace seven times hotter. It is against 
the gospel, which is so holy a declaration of God's will that there cannot be 
an holier ; so good in itself, so profitable for man, that nothing can be 
better ; the sin therefore against it is so bad, that nothing can be worse. 
The law or covenant of works never discovered the object of faith, and 
therefore never enjoined any such formal act of faith in a mediator, and 
therefore takes no cognisance of this sin of unbelief. It, not making known 
the person to be believed in, cannot make known the sin of not believing. 
If the law commanded faith in relation to the object of Christ crucified, it 
must then acquaint us with Christ crucified. It would be an unreasonable 
law to enjoin an act about such an object, and never discover one syllable 
of that object to us. It doth not appear that Adam had any knowledge of 
Christ ; the revelation of that bears date after his fall, at the time of the first 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 223 

promise. If unbelief were a sin only against the law, then those that reject 
the gospel would be liable to no more punishment, than if they had been 
only under the law ; but they will, as will appear in the sequel of this dis- 
course. This faith is the peculiarity of the gospel ; and when Christ is said 
to come * preaching the gospel,' the matter of it is, ' repent and believe,' 
Mark i. 14, two things that never entered into the heart of the law to con- 
ceive. It is therefore a sin against the whole gospel, since the design 
of that is to remove our suspicions of God, and establish a trust in him ; 
upon which account the Gentiles, that are without the gospel, are described 
by the title of men ' without hope,' 1 Thes. iv. 13. Unbelief is a making 
ourselves without ground of hope, contrary to all the encouragements of hope 
which God gives us in the gospel. 

3. UnbeUef is a sin against the highest testimony. It is against the two 
greatest witnesses that ever were, or can be, viz., the Father and the Son. 
The Father in the Old Testament, the Son in the New : John viii. 17, 18, 
' I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears 
witness of me.' What did they witness ? That Christ was the light of the 
world, ver. 12. The Father witnessed this in the Scripture : Isa. Ixix. 4, 
* I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles ; ' and by the works he did, John 
X. 87. Christ the eternal Xoyoi; (the word) bears witness to his human 
nature. Since the testimony of two men of credit is worthy of belief, much 
more the testimony of two persons in the Deity, infallible in their testimony, 
in whom there can be no suspicion of falsity. Therefore Christ saith to 
Nicodemus, John iii. 11, ' We speak that we do know, and testify that which 
we have seen.' We, i. e. my Father and I ; in answer to Nicodemus, who, 
ver. 2, acknowledged him a teacher come from God; therefore, saith Christ, 
we, God who hath sent me, and I, witness this. The witness follows, ver. 15, 
that ' whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' 
It is a sin against the witness of the whole Bible. 

4. As faith is the choicest grace, so that which is opposite to it must be 
the greatest sin. It hath as high a place among sins, as faith hath among 
graces, and hath the precedency of all other sins, as faith hath the pre- 
eminence above all other graces ; and what faith is in the nature of grace, 
unbehef is contrary to it in the nature of sin. Faith glorifies God, unbelief 
vilifies him ; one justifies him, the other condemns him. * Faith works by 
love,' Gal, v. 6, excites a love of God, and is excited by it ; unbelief works 
by hatred. Faith is the spirit that quickens all obedience ; all the fruits of the 
Spirit grow upon the root of faith ; all the fruits of the flesh grow upon the 
root of unbelief. Faith turns common works into acts of grace, as the 
chemist doth metals into gold ; unbelief turns all into dung and poison. 
Faith makes every prayer, though weak, an acceptable sacrifice; our prayers 
can no more enter into heaven by unbelief than the Israelites could enter 
into Canaan. As Christ is ' precious to them thatbeheve,' 1 Peter i. 7, so is 
he odious to them that believe not ; as faith is a consent to take Christ for 
an husband, so unbelief is a flat refusal of him. Faith cuts off" all self-exal- 
tation : Rom. iii. 27, ' Boasting is excluded by the law of faith,' and by the 
grace of faith too ; unbelief supports it. It is a keeping up a pride greater 
than that of Adam's, a pride against God ; it is indeed the Beelzebub, 
the prince of all those legions of sinful devils that quarter in the heart of a 
natural man. 

5. It is more odious and loathsome to God, and hath in some respect a 
greater demerit in it, than sins against the light of nature. ' The killing an 
ox is as the slaying a man,' Isa. Ixvi. 3. Not simply the killing an ox, but 
by reason of the unbelief in the Messiah, the ground of keeping up the 

224 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

ceremonial worship by sacrifices after the exhibition of Christ in the promise, 
which made a worship formerly instituted as odious as murder, which was 
a disparaging the image of God. Sodom was not defiled by its pollutions, 
as Capernaum was by refusing Christ. Who can think of the sin of Sodom 
without indignation and horror ? Yet the punishment of unbelievers being 
greater than theirs, impUes the sin to be more grievous ; because the un- 
spotted righteousness of God would not inflict a punishment above the merit 
of the offence ; he exacts no more than iniquity deserves. Job xi. 6. Now, 
' it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment 
than for' a city or person that rejects the oflers of the gospel. Mat. x. 15. 
That city was an epitome of hell both for sin and judgment, yet that defiling 
sin hath less guilt, less filth than the rejecting, purifying gospel grace. The 
punishment of Sodom should be like that of the whip to the punishment of 
rebels under the light of the gospel, which should be as the torment of a 
rack. The sin therefore is of a lighter tincture, like petty larceny to murder. 
All other sins indeed strike at some one or two attributes of God, and of 
God as considered as Creator ; but this is a formal injury to God in all his 
perfections, and as appearing in the richest dress. Other sins being con- 
versant about some created matter, preferring some creature before God, 
this is a preferring that very sin, the loathsomest thing under heaven, before 
a God of glory and an excellent Saviour. Other sins are conversant imme- 
diately about some inferior object, this strikes directly at God himself. It 
is therefore called the sin: Heb. xii. 1, 'Let us lay aside every weight, and 
the sin which doth so easily beset us.' The name of weight is given to 
other sins, but unbelief is called the sin. Most understand it of original 
concupiscence ; but since it is the use the apostle makes of the former 
doctrine, Heb. xi., concerning the excellency of faith, I think it is more 
consonant to understand it of unbelief, the sin contrary to that faith he had 
been so highly commending. This is the provocation: Num. xiv. 11, 'How 
long will this people provoke me, and how long will it be ere they believe 
me ? ' They were guilty of many other provocations, but God reckons their 
incredulity as the top of all. It flings most dirt upon all the attributes of 
God, and doth not only wrong the Deity singly considered, but bears a spite 
at all the three persons. 

In handling this subject, I shall shew, 

1. '^Vhat is to be understood by unbelief. 

2. Wherein the sinfulness of it consists. 

1, What is to be understood by unbelief. 

First, negatively, what it is not. 

We must not understand by it. 

First, a want of assurance. Drooping spirits may be believers. There is 
a manifest distinction made between faith in Christ and the comfort of that 
faith ; between beheving to eternal Hfe, and knowing we have eternal life : 
1 John V. 13, ' These things have I written to you that believe on the name 
of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.' There is 
a difference between a child's having a right to an estate, and his full know- 
ledge of the title. There may be a trust in God where there is a walk in 
darkness, Isa. 1. 10. If faith be not assurance, unbehef is not the want of 
it. If faith were assurance, a man would be justified before he believed ; he 
must be justified before he can know himself justified. The object always 
precedes the knowledge of its existence ; the sun must be risen before I know 
it is risen. If the want of assurance were this unbelief, a child of God 
would be an unbeliever every time God is pleased to draw a oloud between 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 225 

heaven and the soul, and deny him the present tastes of the hidden manna. 
UnbeHef is a sin, the want of assurance is not ; to have it is not our duty 
but God's dispensation ; he hath obUged the believer to seek it, but not to 
possess it. Assurance is a fruit that grows out of the root of faith : the 
fruits in winter appear not upon the tree. Because I see not a flourishing 
top, shall I deny the existence and sappiness of the root ? Mary, when she 
wept at Christ's feet, had no assurance of his love, yet Christ sends her 
away with the encomiums of her faith, acted before the comfort dropped from 
his'lips, Luke vii. 48, 50. The characters of faith may be written in the 
heart as letters engraven upon a seal, yet filled with so much dust as not to 
be distinguished ; the dust hinders the reading of the letters, but doth not 
raze them out. 

Secondly, not every interruption of the act of faith. Faith may lie asleep 
in the habit, when it doth not walk about in the act. A man upon this 
account can no more be called an unbeliever than a man asleep can be called 
a dead man. A behever may, like Samson, lose his present strength while 
he retains his life. Christ's prayer propped up Peter's faith from failing, 
when there was as little appearance of faith in him at one time as of life in a 
dead man ; yet all that time there was a pulse of faith beating in him, which 
was made sensible by his Saviour's look. Faith is the vital principle : ' The 
just shall live by faith,' and where this is, though in a weak degree, such a 
person cannot be denominated an unbeliever. Fogs and mists darken the 
sun, but put not out that eye of the world ; the sun shines though there be 
an interception of his beams. Yet this is but temporary. A true believer 
cannot be long without acting faith, no more than a living man can be with- 
out breath and some kind of motion. Thomas was not without faith, though 
his faith was at present asleep and had a defect in it. 

Thirdly, not doubts, which may frequently step up in the soul. Such 
there are in the beginnings of faith, when the state of the soul is like that of 
the twilight, a mixture of light and darkness. Such a condition the soul is 
in, in its first conversion; as the Jews were when the chains of their captivity 
were knocked ofi", 'like men in a dream,' Ps. cxxvi. 6, 7, scarcely believing 
the performance of that which they vehemently desired, expected and believed 
in the promise, scarce imagining that they, so lately dead in a civil sense, 
should live and return to their land. When men are in a state of nature, 
they are most swayed by self-love and presumption ; when they come into a 
state of grace, there riseth up jealousy and fear, and they think they cannot 
run far enough from the other extreme. This is a jealousy principally of 
themselves, but it redounds upon God. The mother and nurse of it is a 
secret partial infidelity, the ignorance of the promise, power, and extent of 
the mediation of Christ. This is not an unbelief habitually settled ; it is 
rather a misbelief than unbelief, and rather a start of passion, a fit of infirmity, 
as Asaph : Ps. Ixxvii. 10, ' This is my infirmity,' when he had doubted 
whether there were any mercy left in God, when he believed God had parted 
with all his bowels, it was from a sudden storm, not a settled way of argu- 
mentation. Not only at the beginning of faith, but after a full-grown faith, 
there may be some doubtings. David was none of the lowest form ; when 
in a fit he gives the he to God through the sides of his prophets : Ps. 
cxvi. 10, 11, ' I said in my haste all men are liars ;' I did not seriously, 
and as my judgment, say so. All men are bars, the prophets too, who have 
brought to me the message of a kingdom. He casts the dint of his passion 
in the face of the promise ; this was the pang of unbelief, not an evil heart 
of unbelief. He was a man after God's own heart in his state, though not 

VOL. IV. p 

226 * chaenock's woeks.'' [John XVI. 9. 

in that act. Doubting doth not imply a want of faith, but a weakness of 
faith. Christ acknowledgeth the few grains of Peter's faith when he reproves 
him for doubting : Mat. xiv, 31, '0 thou of little faith, wherefore didst 
thou doubt?' A divine spark may live in a smoke of doubts without a 
speedy rising into a flame. When grace is at the bottom of doubting, 
there "will be reliance on Christ, and lively petitions to him. Peter's faith 
staggers when he began to sink, but he casts a look, and sends forth a ciy to 
his Saviour acknowledging his sufficiency : Mat. xiv. 30, ' Lord, save me.' 
Sometimes those doubtings strengthen our trust, and make us take faster 
hold on God : Ps. Ivi. 3, ' What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.' 
This was a fear of himself or others, rather than a jealousy of God. Had 
he had unworthy suspicions of him, he would not have trusted him ; he 
would not have run for remedy to the object of his fear. The waverings 
where faith is, are like the tossings of a sbip fast at anchor (still there is no 
relying upon God), not like a boat, carried by the waves of the sea to be 
dashed against a rock. If the heart stay on Christ in the midst of those 
doubtings, it is not an evil heart of unbehef. Such doubtings consist with 
the indwelling of the Spirit, who is in the heart, to perform the office of a 
comforter against such fears, and to expel those thick fumes of nature. 

Fourthly, Neither are temptations to unbelief and unbelieving thoughts 
injected, the unbelief I mean. If these be not entertained, though in regard 
of their matter they are unbelieving thoughts, yet formally they are not acts 
of our unbelief. If such thoughts in themselves were acts of our unbelief, 
while they are disowned by us, what shall we say to Christ, who had as great 
incentives to diffidence proposed to him by the devil as are to any of his 
members, Mat. iv. 3, who yet was without the least spot ? The proposal is 
Satan's, the entertainment only makes them ours. A true believer will not 
harbour such thoughts of God ; they may be forced in, and paused upon, but 
they can find no standing credit in the heart, but will be regarded as the 
hissings of the old serpent. If you receive them as a flash of lightning in 
your faces, shut your eyes against them, give them their pass, and command 
them to depart with a Get thee hence, Satan. If you pour out tears upon 
every assault, as Asaph did after he had had a multitude of them (Ps. Ixxiii. 21, 
* Thus was my heart grieved, and I was pricked in my reins,' his soul and 
pU his aflections were wounded, because of those foolish imaginations of 
God) ; I say, if we do thus, and run to heaven for help, it frees us from the 
charge of a state of unbelief upon this account. That cannot be unbelief 
that resists unbehef. TMiatsoever votes against such thoughts is not a friend 
to them. If they be entertained with a temporary delight, unless they fully 
overcome the soul, they do not declare us in a state of infidelity. But if 
thi^y are received, delighted in, applauded, and grow to a settled and rooted 
notion, and spread their fruits in the hfe, the person cannot be excused 
from the charge of unbelief. 

Fifthly, Kor is it an unbelief of some truths through ignorance, provided 
they be not fundamental. Zacharias was a believer, and expecter of the 
Messiah, Luke i. 6 ; he could not else be said to be righteous, walking 
in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless, yet believed not that particular 
word spoken to him by the angel, ver. 20 ; and the disciples believed not the 
testimony of those that witnessed the resurrection of Christ, Mark xvi. 11, 
18, 14, Every error in the head doth no more destroy the truth of faith, 
than every miscarriage in the hfe through infirmity nullifies the being of 
grace, or every spot upon the face impair the beauty and features of it. 
The apostles, those glorious instruments of the propagation of the gospel, 
and the first commissioned ambassadors of Christ, believed all the time of 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 227 

Christ's life, and after his death too, according to the notion of the Jews, 
that the Messiah was to rear a temporal kingdom. Herein their errors were 
the same with the Jews'. But they had a faith in believing this person Jesus 
to be the Messiah, and resting upon him for salvation ; so that they had an 
habitual faith in the person, with a partial unbelief. The Jews had a total 
unbelief in the person, though an assent to, and mistaken expectation of the 
promise ; nay, after the Spirit of God descended upon them, they would not 
believe the conversion of the G-entiles, though the Scripture was more full 
of promises of that than the conversion of the Jews ; and they limited that 
precept of Christ of preaching to every creature as if it were meant only of 
that nation ; yet those times were the richest for the knowledge of Christ and 
faith in him that ever were ; and though before that they were ignorant of the 
design of the death of Christ, and did not believe his resurrection upon a de- 
claration of it, yet certainly their habitual faith was not expelled. Peter's 
faith did not fail at the time Christ lay in the grave, for both the promise 
and prayer of Christ was a bar against it. Their faith, indeed, was stupe- 
fied and nonplussed at present ; but it is one thing not to believe through 
weakness and ignorance, and another thing not to believe thi'ough wilfulness 
and neglect of enquiries. They did not believe the resurrection of Christ ; 
but Peter, when he heard the news of it, did not supinely rest in his un- 
belief, but ran to infoiin himself, Luke xxiv. 12. If a fundamental truth be 
not believed, be not enquired into, if a man is wilfully ignorant of it, I know 
not how he can be excused fi-om unbelief; nay, if we have a doubt of any 
truth of God, and cherish that doubt with complacency, and are afraid it 
should be a truth, and wish it false, I question whether this be consistent 
with true faith. I am sure such an one is guilty of unbelief in that act, 
because it is an act of the will, delighting in that which is contrary to faith. 
Sixthly, Nor is it a negative unbelief {carentia simplex fidei) which is in 
the heathens, that is here to be understood. The schools distinguish 
infidelity into negativa and j^rivativa ; the one is in the heathens, who never 
had the means of faith ; the other privative, which is carentia fidei dehitce 
inesse, is in those who are acquainted with the doctrine of the gospel, and 
therefore are obliged to believe. The heathens' unbelief, say the school- 
men,* is not their sin but then* punishment, arising from the ignorance of 
divine revelation. There is a natural incapacity of acknowledging and 
believing that which never was discovered to them. A man may study sun, 
moon, and stars, yet never learn such a lecture as the death of the Son of 
God for the redemption of the world. Their rain is not properly for the sin 
of unbeUef, but for the sins against the first covenant, and against the law 
of nature, known and accepted by them ; yet then- ruin is for the want of 
faith, because those sins cannot be wiped off, but by faith in the blood of the 
second covenant ; but they are not immediately chargeable with it as a sin. 
But the unbelief of those who live under the gospel, and believe not the re- 
port made to them, either from an affected ignorance, gross laziness, not in- 
quiring into the truth, or a desperate contrariety to it, is a sin for which they 
are condemned. The heathens are under a material infidelity, because they 
are utterly ignorant of the matter of faith, never had an}i;hing of divine 
revelation ; yet their ignorance being so great as to exclude faith, it is a true 
infidelity. But those who have had sufficient proposals of the gospel, and 
receive it not in the truth and love of it, are guilty of a formal unbelief. 
The former necessarily want faith, because they want the object of it ; the 
latter voluntarily want faith, because they have the revelation of the object 
made to them, and will not embrace it. This is not a sin in the heathens. 
* Aquiu. 2da. 2ds&. qu. x. art, 1. 

228 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

If it were a sin not to believe, the obligation to believe must arise from the 
law of nature, or from some new declaration ; not from the law of nature, 
because that could not instruct them in the doctrine of justification by a 
mediator. There are notions of morality writ in men's hearts by nature, 
but none of the gospel, and naturally men are obliged to no other obedience 
than what Adam in innocence was bound to ; but Adam in that state was 
not bound to believe in a mediator, not because of any natural inability in 
him, but because of the unfitness of such a declaration of redemption to 
him in such a state, which needed no recovery, he then standing by another 
title. But since Adam was obliged, as a rational creature, to believe what- 
soever God should reveal, and so bound to believe in Christ upon the reve- 
lation of Christ to him, such an obligation indeed lies upon all men, as they 
are rational creatures, and the posterity of Adam, to believe when a revela- 
tion is made to them ; and when such a revelation is made to the heathens, 
they would be condemned for not believing, because in Adam they had 
power to believe, and lost it. But till that revelation be made, infidelity in 
the heathens is not their crime, no more than it is a crime to disobey a law 
which was never published and made known to the people. They can no 
more be condemned for not believing than you would punish a man in the 
night for not seeing the sun before it is risen, or for not dancing at the 
sound of music he never heard. The light of the gospel never dawned upon 
them, nor the sound of it ever arrived to their ears, yet they are condemned 
for want of believing in Christ, as a sick man dies for want of mediciue to 
cure him, but his own sickness is the cause of his death. They are only 
obliged by the law of creation, but the gospel was not delivered to Adam by 
the law of creation, as he was a common person, but after he had put him- 
self out of that capacity by his fall, and the headship put into other hands, 
the hands of Christ. The Scripture is clear in this. If it be ' the con- 
demnation that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather 
than light,' John iii. 18, the rejecting this light is not their condemnation, 
unless it shines upon them. And Christ tells his apostles, John xv. 22, that 
if he ' had not come and spoken to the Jews, they had not had sin ;' they 
had not had the sin of unbelief, which is the highest condemning sin ; they 
had not been guilty of it, if they had not had declarations of the gospel by 
the mouth of Christ and his ministers. And though some think the heathens 
will be judged according to the gosjiel, because of Rom. ii. 16, * God will 
judge all men according to my gospel,' yet that is to be understood only 
according as it is revealed in the gospel ; for, ver. 12, he speaks of the 
judgment of the heathens by the law of nature, and the judgment of the 
Jews by the law of grace. He speaks of their being judged by Christ as it 
is declared in the gospel, but not of the gospel as the rule whereby they 
shall be judged who never heard of it ; for God doth not bind any to a mere 
impossibility, nor require more of men than what he hath given man by 
creation power to do. 

Secondly, But positively by unbelief we must understand, 
First, A denial of the truth of the gospel. When men assent not to the 
doctrine of the gospel by an act of the understanding ; * when, like Julian 
the apostate, they regard it as ysXurd xat (pXva^hv, a matter of laughter, a 
mere trifle ; or, as the Jews call the gospel, ]"lt^ P v3, a volume of lies ; or 
as a French papist said of the epistles of Paul, that he believed them no more 
than he did ^sop's fables. I doubt there may be many such among us. I 
am sure the practical unbelief among us argues this dissent in the under- 
standing to lurk in more than we imagine, as the foundation of all the other 
* Clark's Sermons, p. 116. 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 229 

unbelief. The first temptation Satan assaults the soul with, after some 
awakenings of conscience, is to question the matter to be believed. If he 
can hinder men from laying the foundation of truth in their understanding, 
he prevents all the superstructure, which cannot be raised without it. Many- 
there are who, because they cannot comprehend the mysterious ways and 
counsels of God, which seem unlikely and improbable to reason, deny the 
whole word ; whereas it would be more suitable to submit to God's will than 
to question it. Such a dogmatical unbelief, which is not very rare among 
us, is an exploding the whole doctrine of the gospel, which is inexcusable 
and irrational, since men every day believe other things upon far less evi- 
dence than they have for the gospel, whose divine authority is witnessed by 
the manner of its propagation in all ages, contrary to the power, strength, 
parts, and eloquence of the world, and supported by a concurrence of provi- 
dence against and under the violences of men. 

Secondly, A doubting of the truth of the doctrine of the gospel. Many 
who will not openly deny it, yet question whether it be true, and think that 
which is true uncertain and dubious ; this is unbelief. Such a doubtful 
opinion is no full assent, but a floating judgment, a suspicion that it may be 
true, and a suspicion that it may be false, like a pendulous weight which 
swings to and fro, as much on one side as on the other. There is an uncer- 
tainty in the speculative judgment, when a man knows not what he should 
assent to. There is indeed sometimes a doubting of admiration, which riselh 
not from any contrariety in the heart to the matter proposed, but implies a 
suitableness of the heart to it ; but by the greatness of the thing ofiered it is 
dazzled, as the eye by the splendour of the sun. Such an admiration was 
Abraham's at the power of God to raise seed out of such a dry root. Gen. 
xvii. 17 ; such a doubt had the blessed Virgin, which was joined with a 
modest inquiry for better instruction, Luke i. 24, her reason being non- 
plussed in the manner of the thing revealed to her above the course of 
nature. But where there is a doubt of diflidence of the great truths of the 
gospel,* regarding them as of doubtful credit, this is unbelief, because it is a 
judgment contrary to the doctrine of faith ; for we are not only to believe that 
the things revealed are true, but that they are certain and infallible. As all 
suspicion is an opinion of evil with light conjectures, so a suspicion in mat- 
ters of faith is an opinion offalsity upon light conjectures. Such a suspicion 
includes a judgment contrary to faith, because, without some judgment in 
the case, there cannot be an opinion of one thing or other. Since all men 
are in the rank of believers or unbelievers, a suspension of our belief of the 
doctrine of the gospel cannot be ranked under the banner of faith ; it is at 
best, for the present, a more modest refusal, rather than a downright rejec- 
tion. As a man is thought to refuse a proposition when he seems unwill- 
ingly to comply with it, and will take time to consider, he that is not with 
Christ is against him, he that receiveth him not refuseth him. If faith be a 
certain knowledge, — John xvii. 8, ' They have known surely that I came out 
from thee,' — then an uncertain opinion is unbelief. In many men there is 
uncertainty from an acuteness of understanding, whereby they are dextrous 
in raising objections, as Mark xi. 31, 33, which makes them uncertain how 
to steer themselves, like a needle between two loadstones, which refuseth 
neither, nor closeth with either of them. Such an unbelief there is among 
many of us, a believing a probability of the gospel, not the certainty ; nay, 
scarce the probability, but owning it outwardly, as they would do a fashion. 

Thirdly, Refusal to accept heartily of Christ upon the terms of the gospel, 
which is opposite to justifying faith, when there is not a fiducial motion to 
* Suarez, vol. v. Disp. xvi, sec. ii. parag. 2. 

230 charnock's woeks. [John XVI. 9. 

Christ as the centre. There may be assent, and, as some divines say, upon 
a divine motive, yet a man still under the notion of an unbeliever ; for a 
dogmatical faith is not always accompanied with a jtistifyirig, though a justi- 
fying faith always supposeth a dogmatical, or assent to the truth as ante- 
cedent and preparatory, or else including it in its essence. The devils, fn m 
evident experience, believe there is a God, and believe the principles of the 
Christian religion (as we believe the wind blows, the sun shines, and the air 
freezeth) ; and they have had experience of the power of Christ wasting their 
kingdom. Both these faiths, dogmatical and justifying, must go together. 
There is a double act of the soul, the understanding to propose, the will to 
embrace, suitable to the double object in the promise, which must be con- 
sidered as true, and so move the understanding as good, and so affect the 
will. This dogmatical faith is necessary, as a glass window that lets in the 
light. This unbelief is when, though men profess an assent to the truth 
with their understandings, yet they consent not to it with their wills, and by 
reason of corrupt habits, embrace it not as good ; when, though there is not 
an evil head, there is 'an evil heart of unbelief,' Heb. iii. 12. They may 
may well be said not to believe a thing, who, though they believe the truth 
of it, yet have no due estimate of the goodness of it ; when there is a suffi- 
cient evidence made to them, both of the truth and goodness of the matter 
revealed, they will not come up to the terms of the gospel. Such as those 
are in every assembly, who, though they dissent not from the truth of the 
Scripture, and the dogmatical points in it, yet they never seriously reflect 
upon them, have not valuations of them. They may have approbations of 
the truth as it is rational, but not an esteem and application of it as holy. 
They have no sense of the need of Christ, nor of the worth of Christ ; value 
not the commands to obey him, nor the promises to rely upon him, nor 
Christ to embrace him, nor the threatenings to fear him. The precepts, as 
well as the promises of Christ, are the objects of faith, so the precepts, as 
well as the promises, are the objects of unbelief. The precepts are not the 
formal object of faith, but of obedience ; yet he that believes not the precept 
believes not the promise, which is an encouragement of obedience to the 
precept. They then are unbelievers who, though they would have the safety 
Christ hath purchased, will not pay him the service he hath merited ; who 
postpone the commands of the gospel to the indulgences of the flesh ; who 
would have salvation, but reject the yoke. They renounce the articles of 
the gospel, that would preserve their sins, which Christ principally came to 
save from ; and God counts such no less unbelievers than he did the Jews, 
who cried, ' The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,' and would 
have nothing of the image of the Lord in their hearts. So then unbelief is 
properly a sin in those places where the gospel is preached ; they are guilty 
of it who have heard the gospel. We must not cast it off from ourselves to 
the heathens ; it is, indeed, their punishment, but our sin. That is dis- 
obedience to a law which is against that law, when it is revealed and known ; 
and that is unbelief which is disobedience to the law of faith when discovered 
to men. Denial of the truth of the gospel, or contempt of the terms of the 
gospel, are properly and truly unbelief. 

But of this practical unbelief I shall speak further in the sequel of this 
discourse. None will deny that the Jews were guilty of positive unbelief, 
who, though they did believe the gospel as it was veiled in their Mosaical 
rites, and firmly believed a Messiah, yet were opposers of him when the 
mask was taken off. What they believed in the Old Testament they re- 
jected in the New. So among us men believe Christ to be the Messiah ; 
they believe him with their heads and deny him with their hearts ; they 

John XVI. 9. j [ unbelief the greatest sin. 231 

assent to him in the notion, and deny him in the application ; they believe 
his person, and reject his doctrine. 

2. Wherein the sinfulness of unbelief doth consist. 

I. First, It is against God. 

II. Secondly, It is worse than the sin of the Jews against Christ. 

III. Thirdly, It hath many other reasons of sinfulness in it. 

I. First, It is against God. 

It strikes peculiarly at God. "Whatsoever is done against any institution 
of God is interpreted by God as done against himself. When the Israelites, 
weary of Samuel's government, desired his resignation, and the electing of a 
king, God calls it a rejecting of himself, 1 Sam. viii. 7, that he should not 
reign over them. The slighting a mortal creature in the ends whereto God 
hath appointed him, being a contempt of God, by whose authority he acts, a 
rejecting of Christ, who is the highest ordinance of God, whose words are the 
words of God spoken in his name, as God foretells, Deut. sviii. 19, is a 
breathing forth the highest disdain of God. Though it be an enmity imme- 
diately against Christ, it redounds to God, because Christ is his Christ, his 
anointed. The conspiracy is joint against both, a ' taking counsel against the 
Lord and his anointed, to break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords 
from them,' Ps. ii. 2. Let us cast away the promises of an eternal kingdom, 
and those threatenings of hell,* whereby they would allure us or scare us 
into an allegiance, to submit our necks to the yoke of their laws. Let us 
slight all those reasons, and spurn away those vain hopes and fears, those cords 
whereby they would draw us unto their power. It casts a dishonour upon 
God more than all other iniquities ; it is a departing from him after the high- 
est and clearest declarations of his nature, a representation of him under all the 
disparagements imaginable, and under all encouragements of complying with 
him. As those that trust Christ are ' to the praise of God's glory,' Eph. i. 12, 
so those that distrust him are to the dishonour of his name. 

1. It is the greatest reproach and undervaluing of God. He calls it a 
wearying of him more than other sins : Isa. vii, 13, ' Will you weary my 
God also ?' The sin of Ahaz, upon which this speech was uttered, was a 
distrust of God, not properly this unbelief we are speaking of. God had 
declared his intent to preserve Judah against the invasion of the Syrian, and 
to defeat the counsels of the league against them. To strengthen Ahaz his ^ 
belief in the promises, he commands him to ask a sign as a seal of this 
assurance, and gives him the choice of what sign he pleased ; wisheth him 
to put his power to the utmost trial, either in heaven or earth: ver. 11, 
' Ask it either in the depth or in the height above.' Judgments against the 
enemies, from the bowels of the deep to the windows of heaven. And as he 
gives him liberty to employ his power, so he assures him of the tenderness 
of his mercy: ver. 11, ' Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God ;' though thou 
hast been so wicked an idolater, if thou wilt repent, confide in me, walk ac- 
cording to my will, I will be a God in covenant with thee, I will be a God to 
preserve thee, and a God to judge thine enemies ; thy Jehovah in being their 
Elohini, and manifesting my power for thee against them. Ahaz his answer 
seems to be a start of a modest humility, though indeed it was disobedience 
not to do as God commanded him: ver. 12, * And Ahaz said, I will not ask, 
neither will I tempt the Lord ;' he would not tempt God, or as some read 
the word nD:N, J will not exalt God ; the words import, I will not trust God, 

» Foleng. iu loc 

232 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

I will send to the king of Assyria, who can better save me than the Lord. 
As he did, 2 Kings xvi. 7. I will fortify my cities, train my soldiers, crave 
assistance of my neighbours. Observe, though God, in his message to him, 
offered himself to be his God in covenant with him, Ahaz would not accept 
of the proffer, owns him not as his God in his answer, ' I will not tempt the 
Lord;' not, I will not tempt niij God, which had been an argument of his 
trust, and so had altered the tenor of his answer to an humble resignation. 
Ahaz would not be beholden to God, he would not honour God so much as 
to give him an opportunity to glorify his great power ; if we read the words, 
' I will not exalt the Lord.' Upon this God promiseth a sign, ver. 14, that 
' a virgin should conceive and bear a Son, and call his name Emmanuel,' 
and this should be a sign. I will not discourse how this was to be a sign to 
Ahaz, or the body of the people then in being ; but take notice, every unbe- 
liever is an Ahaz, reproacheth the kindest offers of God. God calls to men 
to turn to him, to place their whole confidence in him ; but men reject the 
offer, run to creatures, and thus weary God. If it was so great a scorn of 
God, not to accept his proffer for a temporal deliverance, not to regard any 
sign from him, how great is it not to regard the sign of his greatest power, 
wisdom, and love, which he hath manifested in that Son bom of a virgin, 
who is Emmanuel, God with us ! An unbeliever is such a scorner of God, 
that he is not willing that that dirt he hath cast in the face of God by his 
other sins should be wiped off ; not willing to sanctify that name by be- 
lieving, which he hath profaned by other sins against the law ; will not 
embrace that Christ which God offers him, whereby he may in some sense 
render him a satisfaction for all the wrongs God hath sustained by him. 
As faith ' gives glory to God,' Rom. iv. 20, so unbelief casts reproach and 
scorn upon him. 

2. It robs God of the honour of all his attributes. He that beheves not 
God, doth fling dirt in the face of all those attributes which were illustrious 
in the work of redemption : of his wisdom which contrived it, of his right- 
eousness which executed it, of his mercy which is infinitely commended by 
it, of his truth which is engaged to make good the intent and purchase of it 
to every one that believes. Either men believe not that God will perform 
what he saith, and then it is an injury to his truth ; or they hope for salva- 
tion by some other means, and then it is a contempt of his wisdom ; or 
that the things proposed by him are not amiable and desirable, and then it 
is a reproach to his goodness ; or they trust to some creature helps against 
his command, and then it is a disobedience to his sovereign authority, or 
they think him not able to effect the things he hath promised, and then it 
is a disparaging his power and suflSciency. Whatsoever attribute in God is 
a ground of, or an encouragement to, faith, is struck at by unbelief. The 
grounds and encouragements of faith are these : God is infinitely wise, and 
cannot be deceived ; he is infinitely true, and cannot deceive his creature in 
declaring what is false ; he is infinitely good, and will not deceive his creature, 
for deceit is most opposite to love and goodness ; he is infinitely happy, and 
hath no reason to deceive his creature, which could not add to his happiness ; 
whereas deceit among men sometimes improves their interest, but deceit in 
God would dissolve the Deity ; he is infinitely powerful, and well able to 
make good what he asserts, to confer what he promiseth, inflict what he 
threatens. As all these are indisputable grounds of faith, and are owned 
and honoured by it, so they are blemished in their reputation by unbelief, 
and marked with a base alloy ; they are all foolishly charged by it, and made 
the common scoff of it. There is not an attribute but may draw up a par- 
ticular indictment against an unbeliever, for an offence against its crown and 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 233 

dignity. And as there was not an attribute but God intended to glorify in 
Christ, so there is not one but this sin doth really vilify. 

3. It is an undeifying of God, as much as lies within the compass of a 
creature's power. He that denies any one attribute of God, seems to deny 
God himself, to ungod him, strips him of the glory of a deity. Take but 
one pin, necessary to the frame of a watch, and you take away the perfection 
of it. Those attributes which unbelief stabs, are essential to the being of a 
deity. God can no more be a God without them, than the sun can be a sun 
without light, or any of us men without a rational soul. Unbelief is not so 
indulgent as to divest God of the honour of one perfection, but of many ; 
nor so mild as absolute atheism, which denies the being of a God. It is a 
less scorn to deny that ever there was such a man as Caesar, than to affirm 
indeed there was such a person, but he was a fool, coward, false, cruel, and 
the vilest man that lived : it is better to deny his being, than to count him 
infamous. Unbelief strips God of his richest robes, his highest virtues,* 
which were more singularly glorified in redemption, than they were in the 
creation, or could be in the creation of innumerable worlds, more glorious 
than this without the death of his Son for them. Not to acknowledge God 
in Christ, is to deny him that glory that the creation and common providence 
cannot afford him. As our Saviour was tormented by the Jews in every 
part of his body, — head with thorns, face with spittle, hands and feet with 
nails, and wholly with reproaches in what was dearest to him, — so is God 
dishonoured by unbeUef in every perfection. As their actions denied Christ 
to be the Saviour of the world, so the acts of this sin deny God to be the 
God of the world. 

4. It strikes at all the three persons. As all have an hand in the salva- 
tion wrought by Christ, so the rejecting that redemption dashes a blot upon 
all. They all sat in joint consultation about man's redemption ; they were 
joint in counsel, joint in publication of it ; the Father in his first promise to 
Adam, and in a voice at Christ's baptism ; Christ in his person, and the 
Holy Ghost bearing witness by the gifts conferred upon men after the ascen- 
sion of Christ, which was a testimony of his glorious entertainment : Acts 
V. 31, 32, ' And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the 
Holy Ghost, which God hath given to them that obey him.' The Father 
sends, Christ dies, the Spirit offers to apply ; the neglect of this is against 
the wisest counsel, the greatest persons in being. The Spirit was the great 
witness after the ascension of Christ, by the collation of eminent gifts, 
whereby a divine approbation was given to the doctrine of Christ from 
heaven. He revealed nothing but what Christ had before done, and wrought, 
and built upon that foundation, John xvi. 14, he glorifies Christ, for he 
receives of his. He discovers the eternal counsels of God, the depths of 
divine wisdom, which * the heart of man could not conceive,' 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10; 
The Father bears witness to Christ by undeniable miracles ; the Spirit adds 
his testimony by internal operations, and urging the truths of Christ upon 
the hearts of men ; Christ bears witness to himself by his obedience and 
death. So then, any slight of Christ is a slight of the Father and the Holy 

But particularly. 

First, It blemisheth the truth and veracity of God. He that believes 
' sets to his seal that God is true',' John iii. 33, i. e. he approves and de- 
clares solemnly the truth of that revelation God hath made.f Men fix their 

* As the word is, 1 Peter ii. 9, ' Shew forth the praises {a^tTas, the virtues) of him 
who hath called you.' 

t Daille, Sermou sur Jean iii, p, 458. 

234 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. A 

seals to contracts to ratify them ; faith is as the subscription to the word of 
God, protesting that what God speaks is true. And it is the highest glory 
a creature can give to the Creator, to acknowledge him a God of eternal and 
immutable verity. Since Christ, ' whom Grod hath sent, speaks the words of 
God, ver. 34, since what he declares is not simply his own, but the instruc- 
tions of his Father ; the acknowledging those declarations to be true, is an 
acknowledging the truth of God in Christ. Now, as the true believer glori- 
fies not only the truth of the Son, but of the Father, so the unbeliever 
outrageth not simply Christ, but God the Father, whose counsels and com- 
mands are published by him. As assent is a justifying God, as the people 
and the publicans, by assenting to the truth John Baptist declared, are said 
to do, Luke vii. 39, so a dissent is casting an aspersion of falsity on God. 
In common sense, when we say we believe not a man, we declare him to be 
false ; and no better a title than that of a liar doth this sin give to God : 
1 John v. 10, ' He that believes not God, hath made him a liar, because he 
believes not that record that God gave of his Son.' It is as certain that he 
gives the lie to God, as it is certain God cannot speak a lie to him. Thus 
men write deceit upon the promises when they do not believe them : ' Though 
I have redeemed them, yet have they spoken lies against me,' Hosea, vii. 13 ; 
DIDN, though I redeem them, though I have promised them redemption by 
Christ, yet they slander me as if I were the falsest person in the world. We 
bely God when we believe not his threatenings, and promise ourselves im- 
punity under sin : Jer. v. 12, ' They have belied the Lord, and said. It is 
not he, neither shall evil come upon us ;' as if his promises were like the 
picture of a sun, without heat and light ; his threatenings like the sound of 
pot-guns, as if the one were toys, and the other bugbears. This is to repre- 
present God a cozener and impostor, though he hath engaged his royal word ; 
to make the whole Bible an heap of fallacies. The glory of a man is his 
credit ; it is an honourable character, such a man is a man of his word ; it 
is a disgraceful character of God to fancy the first truth guilty of lying ; it 
is a title he hath joined with his honour as a Creator, that he ' keeps truth 
for ever,' not to part with it any more than with any other perfection, no 
more than with the title of Creator : Ps. cxlvi. 6, ' Which made heaven, 
and earth, and sea, and all that is therein, which keeps truth for ever.' 
These represent him with no truth to keep, or no heart to preserve it. 

The guilt of it in this regard will appear. 

First, It is in this respect a greater sin than despair. Despair is de- 
servedly counted an horrid sin, a wrong to the mercy of God ; but this is 
greater. Unbelief is against a divine good as it is in itself,* for as much as 
in us lies, we make God the author of a lie. Despair is opposed to a divine 
good as communicable to us, and therefore is a less wrong to God ; despair 
questions not the stability of divine faithfulness in itself, but the communi- 
cableness of that good promised to the soul ; but unbelief lays a battery 
against the divine nature. Despair acknowledgeth the truth in regard of the 
object, but doubteth in regard of the subject ; they count the divine procla- 
mation true, but think themselves without the compass of it. 

Secondly, It strips God of the glory of his nature, who can as soon cease 
to be, as cease to be true. Some say that if God should appear in a human 
shape, light would be his body, and truth his soul ; so essential is truth to 
the Deity, 'it is impossible for God to lie,' Heb. vi. 18. If we fancy him a 
liar, we fancy him no God, because we represent him doing a thing impos- 
sible to the divine nature, changing an unchangeable goodness into a hateful 
unfaithfulness. What is his power, knowledge, sufficiency, if truth and 
* Suarez, vol. viii. disp. xvi. sec. ii. parag. 3. 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin, 235 

faithfulness, the glory of all, be wanting ? As sincerity is the beauty of all 
graces, so veracity and holiness is the lustre of all divine perfections. To 
give the lie is incivility to an inferior, insolence to a superior, a kind of 
treason to a prince ; yet this may be done without unmanning a man, or 
deposing a prince, but it cannot be done to God without degrading him to 
the condition of those lying vanities we trust to. It is, indeed, so heinous 
as that it puts upon God the character of the devil, who is called ' the 
father of lies,' as though God should be projecting nothing else from eternity 
(as the devil hath been from the time of his fall) but to mock and cozen the 
souls of his creatures into everlasting destruction. It is to count him worse 
than the devil, by how much they fancy him more powerful, but equally 
false. It is strange that a man who knows in some measure what God is, 
should be so insolent and blasphemous as virtually to charge him with a dis- 
sembhng nature ; yet so unbelievers do, though not in positive opinion^ yet 
by interpretation and practice. And as they make God as bad, so they 
make themselves worse than the devil, who believes the truth of God, though 
he feels only the terror of it, and nothing of the comfort. 

Thirdly, It makes God guilty of perjury. God hath not only obliged 
himself by his royal word, but his solemn oath, ' two immutable things,' 
Heb. vi. 17, 18. His promise, considered alone, is of eternal verity ; he is 
true and unchangeable ; he doth not promise one thing and purpose another. 
To this he hath added his oath, to remove all controversy and doubt which 
may arise in the mind. Not to beheve a man of an honest repute, when he 
swears the truth of a thing before a magistrate, is a gross uncharitableness, 
unless we certainly know, or have strong presumptions, that what he swears 
is false. How black is it then not to beheve God speaking ? how much 
blacker not to believe God swearing ? As the oath of God, the caUing all 
his perfections, his very being as a testimony to the truth of his assertion, 
is the highest ground of assurance that can be given, so the not believing it 
is the highest injury itiat can be otiered to a God of truth. He anneseth his 
oath to his word for the encouragement of sinners to faith and repentance : 
Ezek. xxxiii. 11, ' As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.' 
As I am an eternal, immortal being, so surely do I deUght not in the death 
of a sinner, but in his conversion and life. How great a charge of peijury 
doth unbelief bring against God, whose condescension hath been so infimtely 
wonderful as to give us his oath for a cure of oui* mistrust, to invite men to 
faith and repentance upon the security of his own eternal life and being ! 

Fourthly, It is aggravated from the clearness of the revelation. The higher 
the revelation is, the stronger arguments there are of the divine authority, 
and the greater contempt of the truth and authority of the person so reveal- 
ing. If an angel should bring a message from heaven, what man would be 
jealous of the truth of it, when brought by so pure a creature ? But this 
revelation was made by the Son of God, who lay ' in the bosom of the 
Father,' John i. 18, and is truth itself; to the propagation of which truth, 
neither the wit and eloquence, the strength and valour, the wealth and inte- 
rest of the world can lay any claim. It hath appeared in the whole progress 
with a divine stamp in the forehead of it. The first declarations of it were 
laid in the sufferings of the publishers : Could such multitudes be thought 
to lose their lives, so dear to man, for a mere falsity ? No man is so 
mad as to invent a fable, and to stand to it to the loss of his life, and what- 
soever is of most account with him in the world. Would any affection to 
Christ have animated them to expose themselves to the sharpest suflferings, 
had they had but any jealousies that Christ was an impostor ? No, they 
would rather have expressed their hatred than their love (who can love an- 

236 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

other for a gross abuse of him ?) or had they been so extravagant as to be 
desirous to keep up the credit of their Master, would they for it have made 
themselves the public scorn and off- scouring of the world ? It could not be 
covetousness or ambition, or any other lust, which could be the principle of 
their publication of Christianity ; the little wealth they had, they forfeited 
for it. No ambition could build any hopes of worldly honours upon the doc- 
trine of a crucified Christ. The Jews had lately crucified the Master, and 
were not like to honour the servants for a charge of murder against the Son 
of God. The Gentiles were not likely to receive it, and applaud them for 
it by any strength of nature. Ambitious men take rational courses for at- 
taining honour ; but this was against the rooted customs of the world, which 
are hardly parted with ; and contradicters of ancient rehgions use to be vio- 
lently persecuted to death for the honour of their acknowledged gods. But 
had such principles excited them to a publication of this doctrine, surely they 
would gladly have desisted, after they had found their hopes without suc- 
cess, when they found blows instead of honours ; or they would have armed 
the professing multitudes, and conquered countries ; but they used not their 
swords against their enemies, but received the strokes of their enemies' 
swords into their own breasts, for the defence of the doctrine ; and tbat not 
for a time, but during their whole lives. Not one sword was drawn in the 
defence of it by any votary to it. They resisted no force used against them, 
though, by reason of their multitude, they were capable of preserving them- 
selves, and of offending their enemies. Their disciphne was strict, the 
maxims of their doctrines were advantageous to mankind ; they thwarted no 
moral precepts that were amiable by the light of nature, but highly advanced 
them ; there could not be a way of publishing it more clear and full, to ma- 
nifest it to be the truth and doctrine of God, than this. Had it been uttered 
by the voices of angels in the air, we might have suspected them to be 
impure devils as soon as holy angels. When the way of the revelation of 
the gospel hath been altogether divine, without any taint of worldly means 
for the propagation of it, the not believing it, the not complying with the 
precepts and promises of it, is an high contempt of divine truth. 

Fifthly, It is aggravated from the performance of God's gospel promises. 
It is a great sin not to believe the truth of God when it is declared, but a 
greater not to believe it when it hath been made good. It is not only a 
word, but ' a tried word, as silver tried in the fire,' which hath been found to 
be good and sound metal, and free from all mixture of baser metals, as lead 
or tin, with it, Ps. xviii. 80. ' The word of the Lord is tried,' Ps. xii. 6, 
and there have been experiences of this in all ages. Not one among all those 
multitudes that have sincerely professed him, could charge him with falsity. 
God hath given the highest evidence of his veracity in making good the pro- 
mises of assistance to our mediator in the exercise of his office. The promises 
were made to him as mediator and undertaker of that great work of suffer- 
ing for us. The performance, therefore, of them to Christ is a manifestation 
of God's truth to us ; for though Christ was the immediate subject of those 
promises, yet God's glory in our good was the ultimate intendment of them ; 
and what was promised and performed in the head, is influential upon all 
the members, and is the main ground of faith, and so proposed in Scripture. 
The resurrection of Christ is everywhere set out as the strong foundation of 
faith in him. God carried him through the gulf to a glorious immor- 
tality. Since, therefore, God hath performed the greatest promises, wherein 
his power could be engaged (for his power and truth were then tried in the 
highest manner), it is a great disparagement to him to distrust his truth in 
those things which require less power to effect them, after so great an expe- 

John XYI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 237 

riment of his faithfulness. Unbelief denies that truth is crowned with a rich 

Again, This sin would frustrate the truth of God in the promises remain- 
ing to be fulfilled by Christ, or but in part fulfilled. God promised him a 
seed, a generation to serve him. This was an article in the covenant of 
redemption, as the great encouragement of Christ to undertake that work. 
If all were of the unbelie^'er's mind, would not the truth of this promise lie 
in the dust ? Every unbeliever would have it so. He is a child of the devil, 
and like him envies God a glory, the glory of his truth and power ; and, 
like Ahaz, Isa. vii. 12, ' I will not exalt the Lord,' if the word tempt may be 
so read, as some read it. 

The power of God was the chief ground of faith in the promise in Abra- 
ham's time, Rom. iv. 21 ; but since the performance, not only the power of 
God, which he had given an evidence of in the creation, but the truth of 
God, whereof he had given an evidence in Christ ; and in this sense the 
fathers' not knowing God by the name Jehovah is meant, Exod. vi. 3. They 
did know God by that name ; for Abraham calls the mount Moriah so, Gen. 
xxii. 14. But they knew him not by that name in regard to the faithfulness 
and truth of God, which that name signifies. As the unbelief of the Jews, 
after the deliverance from Egypt, where God had manifested himself 
Jehovah, was greater than before, so it is greater now, because it is a»ainst 
the highest manifestations of God as Jehovah, in accomplishing his promise 
in the assistance of Christ, and bringing forth the mediation promised. 

Sixthly, This is aggravated from our believing creatures before God, 
whereby we lessen the esteem of his truth below that of a creature. Have 
not we many times trusted the honesty of man, who in his best estate is 
vanity, and given him credit for many pounds ? Not to believe the great 
promise of God in Christ, wherein he hath made himself in a sort our debtor, 
is to debase the credit of the unerring God below that of a mutable mortal. 
How corrupted is that nature that will believe man, a wicked man, a lying 
man, rather than God, who is under so many obligations of promises to 
make good his word ; nay, believe man's falsities before God's verities ? Do 
not men believe often the vain predictions of men, and their promises of 
help and furtherance of business of concern, and receive them with more 
gladness and confidence than ever we received the clear promises of the gos- 
pel ? The credit of God, that cannot lie, is of less value with men, and hath 
a lighter influence upon them, than the word of a deceivable creature. What 
a reproach to God is it for a man to give no credit to his word, sealed by the 
blood of his Son, and confirmed by various repetitions, and yet will trust an 
inconstant element with thousands, which may be lost by the fury of winds 
and waves ? A patent of an earthly honour from a temporal prince is highly 
valued, when the great gospel charter, where the truth of God is engaged 
for security, is slighted, the highest faithfulness not esteemed worth the cre- 
diting. When God is not beheved, we must needs give credit to the devil ; 
if we believe not Christ, we beHeve the devil, there being but those two 
heads, one by God's authority, the other by his own usurpation. Unbelief, 
then, changeth the devil into a god, a liar from the beginning into truth, 
and the truth of God into a lie, and the God of truth into a liar ; it prefers 
the dictate of the devil, and so owns the faithfulness of the devil above the 
faithfulness of God. 

Seventhly, It is the greater contempt, because God doth highly value his 
truth, 3'ca, above all his name : Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ' Thou hast magnified thy 
word above all thy name.' Whatsoever of God's name should drop to the 
ground, this shall remain glorious in all successions of ages ; it shall stand 

238 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

firmer than the ordinances of heaven, without the staggering of one iota or 
tittle of it. Nothing is so dear to God as his truth ; he will fold up the 
heavens like a garment, and crumble the earth to dust, before one tittle of 
his word, of his gospel as well as his law, shall vanish and pass away. Mat. 
V. 18. God values the promises of the gospel no less than the precepts and 
threatenings of the law ; his truth hath an interest with his love in the one, 
as well as with his authority and justice in the other. The wrong is greater 
to us when we are struck through the sides of that which is most precious 
in our esteem. This sin, therefore, as being against the truth of God, is 
odious to him. As it is irrational not to love the chiefest goodness, so it is 
irrational not to believe the supreme truth. No man but disesteems another 
that will not take his word, when yet himself knows he is a mutable crea- 
ture. How much greater is the offence against the God of unchangeable 
faithfulness, to put the lie upon him by not believing those truths he hath 
so solemnly proclaimed and miraculously confirmed ? Has not the eternal 
truth reason to be offended with men for not believing him, when he pro- 
miseth and swears too ? It is strange that if God had a deceitful and 
dissembling nature, he should discover it at no less expense than the royal 
blood of heaven, and not deceive men without such solicitous entreaties of 
them to believe in him through his Son. To count a man a liar is to stop 
all passages to a conversation with him ; to conceive of God under such a 
notion is not only to deny any commerce with him ourselves, but to count 
all foolish that address to him or are willing to believe him. 

Secondly, It casts a black aspersion upon the wisdom of God. The wis- 
dom of God appears not singly in the gospel, but with admirable variety of 
mysteries and contrivance, Eph. iii. 10, ' manifold wisdom of God,' a depth 
of counsel in the forming it, a glorious contexture of means for the com- 
pleting it, wnsdom in the drawing out the glory of his grace from the rubbish 
of sin, in breaking the neck of the devil's designs, by those means whereby 
be wrought our ruin, even by the human nature, in bringing about man's 
redemption by the disgrace, infirmities, weakness of human nature, means 
seeming contrary to so glorious an end ; the admirable uniting justice and 
mercy in one point, reducing them to one end with an entire consent, the 
manifestation of the highest hatred of sin, and the choicest love to the 
sinner by one and the same act ; all these are treasures of wisdom opened in 
Christ. His wisdom is more glorious in the contriving redemption than in 
laying the platform and model of creation. That God might create millions 
of worlds is obvious to the conceptions of men that understand him to be 
omnipotent, and give more sparkling evidences of his wisdom in the fabric. 
But how he should make justice and mercy conspire together with a joint 
consent, and salve the honour of all his attributes in the recovery of guilty 
man, is an abyss of wisdom which transcends the conceptions of men and 
angels till it be revealed, and after the discovery must needs leave them in 
eternal astonishment. This must be no inconsiderable affair, which is the 
object of the highest wisdom in the Deity. 

Now, unbelief chargeth God either, 

1. With folly in regard of the unnecessariness of it. If men think they 
have ability to save themselves (as all justiciaries and fondlers of their 
own righteousness virtually imagine), what a needless work was this in God, 
to make his Son a sacrifice for man's salvation ! No wise man would spend 
his time to contrive a way to make birds to fly, which have both wings and a 
power to exercise them to that purpose, or to make cork to swim, which 
bath an aptitude because of its sponginess. What is the secret ground of 
the rejecting Christ, but a conceit in man that he hath a power to save him- 

John XYI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 239 

self without him ? For since sahation is highly desirable, if we will not 
accept it from another upon his terms, we imply we can attain it by our 
own power. What is the language of this, but that God busied, himself to 
no purpose, and was employed from eternity in a needless affair, which is a 
most unworthy reflection upon God and Christ ; since God, being infinitely 
wise, he would not have purposed it, and Christ, being the wisdom of God, 
would not have debased himself to death, had it not been for the highest 
concern both to God and man. It had been inconsistent with the wisdom 
of both, the one to purpose, the other to undertake, such a task, but for the 
most weighty necessity and the most advantageous benefit. It was the will 
of God that Christ should take a body for our sanctification : Heb. x. 10, 
* By the which will we are sanctified ' ( j. e. by the will of God which Christ 
came in his body to perform) 'through the ofiering of the body of Jesus Christ.' 
What doth unbelief but blot out the characters of God's wisdom, the orders 
of his will, accounting it unnecessary for God either to prepare Christ a 
sufieriug body, or for Christ to ofi'er up himself to God in it ? It imputes 
the rejoicing of Christ at this body to an ignorance and folly in him, as if it 
were a folly in God to command it, and a folly in Christ to obey such a 
command, a fraitless design and an unnecessary employment. Unbelief 
indeed is nothing else but a cavil with the judgment and reason of God. 
Upon this score the apostle chai'geth the incredulity of the gentiles ; they 
counted the gospel foolishness ; the choicest mysteries of divine skill were 
of no better repute with them than the nonsense of fools and the extrava- 
gancies of madmen : 1 Cor. i. 23, * Unto the Greeks foolishness.' 

2. Or, if men do account the coming of Christ necessaiy, and so free 
God from the charge of folly, they at least charge his wisdom with a mis- 
take in the means of salvation, as if it were undertaken without precedent 
consideration. Either Christ hath sufiiciently performed his office or not ; 
if he hath, why is he not accepted by faith ? If he be not accepted, there 
is a tacit imputation in the refusal of believing that the wisdom of God was 
defective in the person he appointed, that God was frustrated in his expecta- 
tions, that he pitched upon a weak and unworthy person, unfit for so great an 
honour, and unable for so vast a weight. Hereby they impair the credit of 
Christ and prudence of God. It must be an act of wisdom to entrust Christ 
with the weight of all his glory, since God can no more be deceived himself 
than he can deceive his creature. But doth that man think it so, that will not 
trust Christ with his soul according to those terms upon which he is offered ? 
Doth he not reproach God of weakness by a refusal to imitate him, and de- 
posit the concerns of his soul in the same hands wherein God hath trusted 
the honour of all his excellent perfections ? If God depended upon Christ 
for his richest glory (for where there is a trust reposed there is a kind of 
dependence upon that person upon whom the trust is devolved), doth not 
that man count himself wiser than God, that will not depend upon Christ 
for the chiefest happiness ? He cannot possibly be freed from the guilt of 
accusing God of an high imprudence, who will not beUeve in and trust that 
person to whom God hath given credit for all his glory ; that thinks not 
Christ fit to be trusted by him, who hath been trusted by God with that 
which is of more value than the salvation of thousands of worlds, and by 
this ascribes a greater wisdom to his own reason and understanding than he 
will acknowledge in God's, when he seeth no comeliness in him in whom the 
wisdom of God beheld the greatest beauty and a fulness of grace and truth ; 
when that which is gold in God's eye is dirt in his, and that which is dirt in 
God's eye is gold in his. 

3. By this sin the unbeliever doth, as much as in him lies, frustrate the 

240 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

design of God's glorious wisdom, in not consenting to that which the wisdom 
of God hath contrived. The wisdom of a man, as also the wisdom of God, 
lies in choosing the end and suiting the means. When we approve not of the 
one or contradict the other, we deny the fruit of a man's wisdom to him. 
In this case we do the like to God, when we neglect the end of his wisdom, 
salvation, and reject Christ, the means and way to it ; it is to defeat his 
design, and tread under our feet the whole scheme of his counsel ; for if 
all men were of the same mind, God would have discovered himself to be an 
all- wise God in redemption to no purpose. As faith is a justification of God 
in his counsel, so is unbelief a condemnation of God's counsel, and render- 
in« it vain : Luke vii. 29, 30, ' They rejected the counsel of God in them- 
selves.' It is spoken of the pharisees' not being baptised by John Baptist. 
They did not publicly contemn it, but their non-compliance with it was a 
rejecting immediately the doctrine and baptism of John, and ultimately the 
counsel of God. When God saw man sunk into misery by sin, and under 
an impossibility to recover himself, God in his boundless mercy and infinite 
•wisdom contrived a way of restoration, proposeth it to men, and acquaints 
them with his resolve how he would have men saved ; when men refuse it, 
rebel against God's decree, they reproach his counsel as well as his good- 
ness. The word k&i7iiv, there used, signifies not a simple refusal, but reject- 
ing a thing with reproach, and a dissolution of it, a bringing it to nought ; 
as the word is used by the Septuagint, Ps. xxxiii. 10, ' The Lord brings the 
counsel of the heathen to nought.' As God brings the counsel of wicked 
men to nought, dissolves the whole frame of it, and makes their devices of 
no effect, so doth an unbeliever, as much as it is possible for him to do in 
himself, unravel the whole web of divine counsel, and would make it utterly 
insignificant. Against themselves ; some render it in themselves, in their own 
thoughts by inward pride. 

Well, then, consider how great a sin unbelief is in this regard. 
Here is the wisdom of God making a match in heaven between the 
divinity and humanity,* Christ by the wisdom and will of God stripping 
himself and becoming a worm, that you may be as glorious as an angel. 
God micht have employed his wisdom in contriving your ruin, but he sets 
it on work to build a scaffold for your salvation. Shall this wisdom be 
despised, which doth as far surpass the comprehensions of angels as the 
apprehensions of infants ? When a scholar hath made a curious book, 
wherein he hath wrapped up all his learning, an artificer a beautiful watch, 
wherein he hath laid out all his skill, what a contempt of the learning of the 
one and art of the other is it to tear the book and break the watch ! Oh 
how is the workmanship of God, which is admired by angels, dashed by 
uubeUef ! How is the unconceivable art of God blotted by the wilfulness of 
man ! God may well say to us. Is the masterpiece of my counsel of so 
slight a value as not worth your consent ? Have I caused the beams of my 
adorable wisdom to shine so bright in the gospel, to have no other return 
but a charge of folly ? You see what blackness there is in the bowels of 
this sin. 

Thirdly, It slights the goodness of God. Unbelief vilifies that which 
God designed to the praise and gloiy of his grace, and renders God cruel to 
his own Son, in being an unnecessary shedder of his Son's blood. Unbelief 
consists either in presumption or despair. Presumption on his absolute 
mercy, which, while it seems to magnify, it doth slight the constituted 
methods of his declared goodness in Christ; and, in a relying upon an 
undiscovered kindness, impairs his sovereignty, by prescribing other ways of 
* Jenkin. 

John XVI. 9. J unbelief the greatest sin. 241 

communicating himself to his creature than what he hath appointed ; or 
despair, which represents God under the appearance of a cruel tyrant, glad 
of the destruction of his creature, and changeth infinite mercy into infinite 
fury ; as if a great multitude of iniquities could throw mercy into the depths 
of the sea instead of being thrown by it ; as if the clouds could dissolve the 
sun instead of being melted by him. Presumption turns mercy into care- 
lessness, and despair into cruelty. Unbelief, in the general notion of it, 
casts a scorn before men and angels upon the unsearchable riches of grace ; 
it would hew in pieces the throne of grace, and wipe off the blood of Christ 
wherewith the mercy- seat hath been sprinkled. 

First, Thus it is a diabolical sin ; a receiving the devil's accusations of 
God before God's declarations of himself. When the devil was a murderer, 
he was a liar, John viii. 44 ; he belied God and murdered man. An un- 
believer belies God's goodness and murders his own soul. He represented 
God an hard master, envying man a felicity belonging to him ; an unbeliever 
comes nearest his nature : he slighted God's goodness in forming man ; an 
unbeliever slights God's goodness in redeeming him. The one envied God 
the glory of his work, and the other envies God the glory of his grace. 

Secondly, It is against absolute and sincere goodness. God can have no 
more addition to his perfections by redemption than he had by creation, but 
a more illustrious communication of them to his creatures. If he could 
have any real increase, he had not been the chiefest good, infinitely perfect. 
The sin might claim some excuse if God had any selfish aims, if his essential 
glory could have been made brighter by believing. But since he requires 
faith as a necessary disposition for receiving the communications of his 
favour, and what he doth offer is an advantage to the offender, none to the 
offerer, to convey a goodness to us, but not to receive anything from us, it 
is an inexcusable contempt of sincere goodness, a hewing at that redemption 
which grew up like a tall cedar from the root of pure mercy, when God 
needed not have sent his Son to die, nor a messenger to entreat, but have 
mustered up an army of destroying judgments against sinners. 

Thirdly, Against the highest goodness that ever appeared to the sons of 
men. No greater act of love could spring from boundless eternity, than 
the parting with his only delight in heaven out of his bosom for the redemp- 
tion of man ; so that he may well say, ' "What could I have done more to 
my vineyard ? ' Isa. v. 4. Unbelief, then, is a reproach of that love which 
God designed to commend to the world in the mission of his Son ; and 
therefore the ingratitude in refusing it is as unparalleled in the rank of sins, 
as the kindness it slights is in the rank of mercy. It is against a law more 
animated with love than any other dispensation of God was filled with. The 
giving his Son to die was the most stupendous evidence of his goodness, 
whence faith draws the highest encouragement, and unbelief contracts the 
most dismal aggravation ; and the greater, since it is a contempt of a greater 
kindness to us than what was shewn to the ancient patriarchs, who only had 
a promise of the Messiah, when we have the performance ; yet naturally we 
do as frowardly reject the thing performed, as they did heartily embrace the 
assurance of it. Christ is a gift, Rom. v. 16, a gift of love, John iii. 16, 
the royallest gift of God, springing from unconceivable treasures of good- 
ness. Is it a little sin to turn our backs upon the choicest gift that God 
can bestow, as though this pearl were of no more worth than a pebble ? 
What really is the language of this scorn, but as if a man should blas- 
phemously say in so many words, God might have kept his gift to himself, 
and never have troubled me with such a present ? 


242 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

Fourthly, A goodness ready to flow in upon us. The bosom of God is 
opened, the treasures of his goodness dispensed, the fountain of his grace 
running.* For men to be as deaf adders under such charms, blind moles 
under such beams, is as great a wonder of wickedness as the mercy is a 
miracle of goodness. And when the tenders of grace are made with that 
afiection and importunity, that love rides upon wings and meets us at every 
turn ; when we cannot open the Scripture but we see a transcript of his 
heart as it breathed toward us from eternity, and view the deep counsels of 
God, and the transactions of old between the Trinity about man's redemp- 
tion laid open ; how great a sin is this, to scorn treasures not only stored up, 
but ready to be given out, with the most pressing arguments and strongest 
obligations to an acceptance ! 

Fifthly, And this perpetually. It is an everlasting goodness, a kindness 
firmer than the foundations of the earth, or the battlements of the heaven, 
which God offers; it is an 'everlasting mercy,' Isa. liv. 7, like light in the 
sun that is never diminished, the element of fire never extinguished, water 
in the sea never emptied. 

Sixthly, When we have absolute need of it. How inexcusable is the con- 
tempt, when rebels in chains trample under foot declarations of pardon ! 
The necessity of the subject, as well as the excellency of the thing, and the 
unbounded goodness of the offerer ; a necessity accompanied with an in- 
evitable ruin without a leap into the arms of this goodness, still adds 
blackness to the refusal. How great a sin is it, then, to spurn at the 
beatings of God's heart, to account all the thoughts of mercy as if they had 
been thoughts of vanity, to spurn at that which angels wonder at and devils 
wish for ? This is to treat unsearchable riches, bound up in Christ, as we 
would do the most loathsome dung. For God to find out this way, to offer 
his Son, to manifest such condescending grace as to entreat us to believe, 
and for us to make our excuses that we cannot come, to resolve not to 
handle the word of life, this, this is a sin of the deepest dye, this will at last 
silence the voice, of mercy, and rouse up a roaring fury. If we could unhinge 
the world, cast a blot upon the whole creation, raise a sedition of all crea- 
tures against God as Creator, dash in pieces the whole frame, consume it to 
ashes, that no reUcs of a God should appear in it, it could not be so high 
an indignity as the striking at his bowels. What is the glory of creation 
but as a mite to that of redemption ? What is the destruction of the world 
to the contempt of his Son, the demolishing the work of his hands to the 
spurning at that of his heart ? 

Fourthly, Or, it disparageth the power and sufficiency of God. Man is 
naturally apt to question God's power, as though he were unable to bring 
his word into act. God, therefore, doth preface his covenant with Abraham 
by the title of his almightiness : Gen, xvii. 1, 'I am God almighty ; walk 
before me, and be thou perfect.' All distrust grows up from a jealousy of 
weakness or wickedness in the object of it ; cither that a man is not honest 
and will not, or weak and cannot, perform. UnbeUef, therefore, sometimes 
strips God of his power, and represents him impotent. It scantles almighti- 
ness according to the narrow apprehensions of the creature, as they, 
Ps. Ixxviii. 41, who questioned whether that strength that had secured them 
in the Red Sea, and fed them in the wilderness, could conquer the possessors 
of Canaan and give them seisin of the country. As though that God who 
had bridled the waves could not as well fell down the Anakims, who breathed 
by his leave, as well as the waters moved by his providence. If there be a 
belief that God hath an intention to perform his promise, the diffidence doth 
* Ecynolcls, 

John XYI. 9.] itnbelief the greatest sin. 243 

arise then from a doubt of his omnipotence ; if there be a belief of his veracity, 
there must be a jealousy of his ability. The apostle bottoms the faith of 
Abraham, whereby he believed he should have a son, upon the ' power of 
God,' Rom. iv. 21. Unbelief is then sometimes bottomed upon a secret 
unworthy conceit of inability in God, as if he could not be as great as his 
word ; as if he were, like the idols of men, without eyes to see and arms to 

Indeed, all unbelief doth entrench upon God's power and sufficiency. 

First, In not coming to him. It is a departure from God, not simply as 
God, but as a living God, Heb. iii. 12,* a God that hath life in himself, 
and is able to communicate it to others ; he departs from a spring to a 
puddle, and denies a fulness of life and satisfaction in that which he departs 
from. Certainly unbeHef, as it respects Christ, is a virtual denial of his deity ; 
discards him from being the living God, from having a power and sufficiency 
to save, and as it is a sin against his divine person, is a wrong to the power, 
life, and sufficiency of God. He that runs from a prince that offers to pro- 
tect him against his enemies, declares to all the world, that either the prince 
is not sincere in his offers, or unable to give him the protection he pro- 
miseth. All unbelief at least denies God the honour of his power, and doth 
depose him from the exercise of his saving omnipotence as to the unbeliever, 
and declares he can shift well enough with himself: ' He could not do any 
great work there because of their unbelief.' If all faith gives glory to the 
power of God, all unbelief vilifies it. If the power of God, as well as his 
faithfulness, be the object of faith in prayer (as it was of the faith of Christ: 
Heb. v. 7, ' He offered up prayers unto him that was able to save him '), 
then unbelief must needs strike at that which is the great ground and object 
of the grace which is contrary to it. An unbeliever thinks his soul safer in 
his own hands than in God's, and therefore will not commit it to his keeping. 
This is very visible in convinced souls before they come to Christ ; how 
often do they cry out. Can God pardon ? Can he remit ? Are not my sins too 
great for him ? Upon a diffidence of his power they are loath to lodge their 
souls in his arms ; they cannot believe he hath an arm strong enough to 
cast a blot and dash upon all their sins,f as though a mighty rock could 
not bear up a bruised reed. 

Secondly, In trusting to something else. Man is like a vine, he cannot 
subsist without some prop. A trust and faith he must have, if not in God, in 
something else, either in himself or abroad ; he cannot depart from God, but 
he hath recourse to something else. Every motion hath a terminus ad quern, 
a term to which it tends. What then we trust unto, besides God and above 
God, we render in our thoughts more powerful than God. We cannot go to 
anything for relief with a neglect of God, but we depose the true God and 
create a new one ; we acknowledge a greater fulness in some inferior good 
than in an eternal spring. A man's own righteousness, weak ordinances 
relied on with a neglect of faith in God upon his own terms, are as well 
deified as the belly is made a god by a glutton, or money by a covetous 

Thirdly, It receives an aggravation from the demonstrations of God's power 
exercised about Christ the object of faith. Unbelief is a contempt of all those 
attributes which were signally manifested about the effecter of our redemp- 
tion, whereof the power of God in assisting him in his whole course, and 
unloosing the bands of death, and setting him at his right hand, was nono 

* Living God is by interpreters understood as a reason to move them not to depart 
from God. It may also refer to a root of unbelief, 
t S. Bolton. 

244 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

of the least glorified in our redemption, since the power of God in raising 
Christ is set forth to us as a ground of faith for the imputation of righteous- 
ness : Rom. iv. 24, 'If we believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord 
from the dead.' His doing the greater work in the resurrection of Christ, 
wherein infinite power was manifested, considering what a charge of imputed 
guilt Christ lay under, is an evidence of his ability to do that which is less. 
Since it is thus, unbelief is a reflection upon this power of God, depriving 
it of the due glory which belongs to it. God hereby shewed himself willing 
to be our God upon our faith, as he shewed himself the God of Israel in 
bringing them out of Egypt ; and doth frequently, upon their incredulity and 
murmuring, mind them of his power manifested in that deliverance, as if in 
all their infidelity and unbelief they did unworthily reflect upon the glory 
of his strength in that work. And, certainly, since we are commanded to 
believe in him who by the power of God raised the dead to life, restored 
sight to the blind, conquered the legions of hell; who hath done things im- 
possible to be acted by the strength of men or angels ; one that hath made 
the power of princes and the wisdom of the world to bend to him, and lie 
prostrate before him, and come under his footstool ; the not believing in 
Christ is a denial and contempt of all this power, or a tacit ascribing those 
acts to some occult causes rather than the power of God. This is the lan- 
guage of unbelief. If those things were acted by the power of God, why do 
we not firmly, really believe, and act according to such a faith ? If we do 
not, it is evident that we do not think such things were acted, or that the 
power of God was engaged in them. What an unworthy charge is this upon 
God, when we will believe man, who is able to do nothing without God, and 
will not believe in God, who hath manifested himself able to do all things by 
his own arm, without any partner ? 

Fiftklij, It strikes at the sovereignty and authority of God. It is a debt 
we owe, as subjects, to God as our sovereign, to give credit to what he doth 
reveal, and to obey what he doth command. There is not only a revelation 
to encourage faith, but a command to enjoin it, 1 John iii. 23. If men 
believe not, they pretend some reason for their unbelief. Whatsoever any 
man's reason is, it deposeth God from the sovereignty in his soul ; because 
it hath a greater power over him to cause him to refuse God, than God's 
word and command hath to make him accept his Son. He that comes not 
for shelter, recovery, and protection to that head God hath exalted, disowns 
the authority as well as the wisdom of that person who constituted him in 
that ofiice and dignity. Since Christ is enthroned by God, and ' exalted to 
be a Prince and a Saviour,' Acts v. 31, and acts in it as vicarim Dei, God's 
vicegerent, he that refuseth to be gathered jnder his wing casts a contempt 
not only upon the person of Christ, but the authority of God, who fixed him 
in his royalty. Murder is a defacing the created image of God, unbelief is 
a contempt of the natural image of God, a treason against the Head of the 
redeemed world. It implies either a supremacy over God, or an equality 
with him ; either that he hath not power to make a revelation, a law, or to 
enjoin a behef of it and obedience to it. 

First, It is a contradiction to the resolute and fixed will of God. All un- 
belief is a dislike of God's terms, Rom. x. 3, a non-submission to the right- 
eousness of God, afiecting a power of choice ourselves, debasing the royal 
authority to our demands, and that not to the demands of our reason, but of 
our lust. It is to make the Lord of glory kiss the sceptre of our wills, and 
his sheaf bow down to ours. We would be blotting out what articles he 
hath drawn, and putting in what conditions we please, when we consent not 
to what he proposeth, and submit not to what he commands. Is not this 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 245 

to pull down his colours, and set up our own ? It is not a simple disobe- 
dience, but an evasion of his authority, not to acquiesce in and comply with 
bis conditions, imposing our own upon him, and indenting with him. We 
will have so much of Christ, and so much of our own righteousness to join 
with him. Other sins are against his sovereignty as a creator and a lawgiver, 
this against his sovereignty in a merciful design to reduce his creature to its 
happiness as well as duty. This sin therefore implies a denial of God's 
dominion, or having anything to do with his creature. It opposeth the 
return of the soul under his sceptre, and would keep man at an irreconcil- 
able distance from God. How malicious would this contradiction be, if our 
redemption had proceeded from some other hand ! Such an efflux of 
goodness, in restoring from slavery upon such Hght conditions, would have 
deserved from us an entire subjection. Such a mercy had merited an abso- 
lute sovereignty. How much more malicious is it against God, who besides 
the authority merited by this mercy, has naturally an absolute supremacy 
over us ! 

Secondly, It is an imitation of Adam's rebellion against God, in being a 
god to ourselves, or choosing another. God will have the soul of man in a 
state of dependence on him ; it cannot be otherwise, unless man were a god. 
To make an independent creature is a contradiction, for that is to make him 
a god. Adam's sin seemed to be an affecting an equality with God, to be 
God's companion and equal in knowledge, which would infer an equality in 
everything else : Gen. iii. 5, 'You shall be as gods,' or Elohim, ' as God'; 
not as the angels, for God interprets it an affectation of equality with himself 
in the ironical speech, ver. 22, * The Lord God said, Beh*ld, the man is 
become as one of us.' Unbelief would still keep up this independency which 
Adam aimed at, and whereby he quenched his own happiness and that of his 
posterity, and attempts a salvation by his own righteousness, which God 
denied him when he drave him out of paradise, that he might not invade the 
tree of life, after the new covenant made with him of faith in Christ, and so 
have any hope to attain eternal life by any other means than what God had 
proposed. This sin is an approbation of Adam's act, in an imitation of it. 
Pride against God doth as necessarily attend unbelief now as it did then. 
Unbelief was the first sin, and pride was the first-born of it. Adam first 
cast away his belief of the precept, and flung away humility at the heels 
of it. 

Thirdly, Unbelief renders God, as much as in it lies, unworthy of any sove- 
reignty. It doth not only deny his authority, but it represents him as false, 
foolish, careless, cruel to his own Son, and strips him of the honour of his 
truth, the glory of his wisdom, the designs of his grace, the arm of his power ; 
and so represents him unworthy of obedience from the unbeliever himself or 
from any else. For who can be obliged in reason to obey a God so coloured 
as unbelief represents him, one that is not to be credited, that is mistaken 
in his contrivances, that hath no thoughts of goodness, that is too weak to 
protect his creature? Nay, God himself would not judge himself fit to be 
obeyed, if he were any of those which this sin would fasten upon him, since 
all the perfections in God which are abused by it are declared in Scripture 
as inducements to obedience ; and God makes appeals to the reason of men 
to judge of his faithfulness, righteousness, wisdom, and goodness in them. 
To call a prince a fool is by the law of some countries made high treason, 
because such language concludes the prince incapable of government. The 
wiser heathens looked upon the fabulous gods of the vulgar, being represented 
vicious, unworthy of any acknowledgment, and ridiculous deities. Unbelief 
renders God ridiculous to the world, and more among us than among the 

246 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

heathens, who have absolutely denied Christ to be the Kedeemer and Son of 
God ; for they own not the revelation from God, and therefore cast not that 
imputation upon him, as the practical infidelity of those that believe it to 
be God's revelation doth ; for they acknowledge it in a pretended opinion to 
be the revelation of God, yet act as though there were nothing but falsity, 
folly, and unrighteousness in the whole design. 

Sixthly, It affronts the holiness and righteousness of God. If the setting 
forth Christ to be a propitiation for sin was to declare his righteousness, 
Rom. iii. 25, i. e. his holiness as well as his justice, what doth unbelief 
signify but that this act was unrighteous in God, that God was not holy and 
righteous in punishing his Son as our surety ? Continuance in a state of 
nature by unbelief, after the revelation of God's holiness in so eminent a 
manner, is an approbation of that sin Christ suffered to expiate, a preferring 
it before the imitation of God's holiness, so much glorified in the death of 
his Son; an affecting that which is the just object of God's disaffection, 
since God, in the highest manner that possible can be, yea more than in the 
damnation of the whole world, hath manifested his hatred of sin in the death 
of Christ. The keeping up notoriously gross practices, or unbelief, thougli 
attended with morality, is a valuing a state of nature, against which God 
hath manifested his hatred ; and therefore unbelief, after the declaration of 
Christ, draws a greater guilt upon a man than all sins before the coming of 
Christ in the flesh, and the declarations of the gospel. 

Seventhly, It is a stripping God, as much as lies in man, of all his delight. 
The service Christ did, which was delightful to God, is contemptible to an 
unbeliever, God's delight and his stand in direct opposition ; it is a repre- 
senting God cruel to the object of his delight ; it makes God a murderer of 
his Son ; it taxeth him with the greatest act of cruelty in sacrificing his 
obedient Son, the object of his delight, and renders that act of God, which 
was the greatest pity to sinners and the glory of his mercy wherein he re- 
joiceth, not only a vain and a fruitless, but a tyrannical execution. 

First, It is a refusal of Christ, the 'man that is God's fellow,' Zech. xiii. 2, 
his 'daily delight,' Prov. viii.; it is contrary to that which is most dear to 
God, slights that which is most precious in his esteem. It was all God's aim 
in all his actions in the world, ever since the first promise, to magnify himself 
in his Son. The revelation of his righteousness in and through him, and 
the compliance of men with it, was the chief end of God in the manifesta- 
tion of Christ to the world. The conversions of men to him are his plea- 
sure : Isa. liii. 10, ' The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.' 
What, then, is this sin, but a thwarting God in his main end; robbing 
him of the fruit of his counsel, the incomes of his love ; making him a loser 
by his grace ; depriving him of a joy in his works, by slighting Christ, who 
is the centre of his delight, the joy of his heart, the top of his glory ; chas- 
ing away all gladness from his soul, that he should have no pleasure in that 
which he hath contrived with so much wisdom, effected with so much power, 
but have an eternal grief in the miscarriage of his work ? It is true this 
cannot be actually done ; the counsel of the Lord stands firm, the deUght of 
God is above the injuries of men ; but this is in the nature of unbelief; and 
if this sin should have reigned in Adam, and every branch of him, from the 
beginning of the world to the last man born upon the earth, would not this 
be the effect of it ? Therefore every unbeliever, as to his part, doth that 
which would really be the issue if- all the sons of Adam were in his state. 
It frustrates the expectation of God, because God, in sending Christ, had an 
expectation that men would lay down their arms, accept of peace, reverence 
his Son, and manifest a joy in the reception of him suitable to the joy of 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 217 

God in his mission : Mat. xxi. 37, ' But last of all he sent his son, saying, 
they will reverence my son.' 

Secondly, It is a privation of faith, a grace so pleasing to God. Next to 
the delight God hath in Christ, because of the glory accruing to him by it, 
he hath a delight in faith, because it owns the glory of God in the redemp- 
tion by his Son, and honours those attributes in a peculiar manner which 
were eminent in it. Is there any grace he is more pleased with than faith ? 
Is there any grace he hath put such a dignity upon ? It is called a justify- 
ing faith, Rom. v. 1, a kind of an incommunicable attribute of it; other 
graces are the attendants, this the mistress. God is so infinitely pleased 
with it, as it stands in relation to the object, Christ crucified, that upon the 
appearance of it with a Christ lifted up in its hands, God blots out all the 
sins that stand upon record, accounts the soul righteous, opens his arms to 
embrace it, and seems to own it as a recompence for all the wrong he hath 
sustained. And what a delight it is to Christ I shall have occasion to shew 
afterward. The soul that draws back by unbelief affords God no pleasure : 
Heb. X. 38, ' If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.' 
It deprives God of all pleasure in his creature ; it disturbs the rest of God. 
This is spoken of those that were within the church, and made profession of 

Thirdly, As it is a refusal of his mercy in Christ. Because mercy is the 
perfection he delighted to manifest in Christ, Micah vii. 18, it bars all com- 
munications of it to such a soul, because he hath linked his mercy only to 
faith in Christ, where the gospel is revealed. So that when Christ is not 
believed in, the unbeliever, as far as in his power, frustrates the end of God 
in sending Christ, deprives him of that delightful glory he intended by his 
Son's death, makes void the merciful contrivance of God from eternity, 
which was the stupefaction of angels, the envy of devils, the expectation of 
the ancient fathers, and the satisfaction of believers, and, above all, the 
delight and glory of God. So that you see what a vast injury unbelief ofi'ers 
to God. 

Secondly, It is a sin peculiarly against Christ. It is a piercing him again, 
Zech xii. 10. Some think this prophecy respects, as to the time, the day of 
judgment ; others, the time of Christ's being upon the cross. It respects, I 
suppose, some time between. The prophet speaks of Christ's piercing as a 
thing past ; and at the time of his passion, there was not such a mourning 
among the Jews as is here described ; neither doth it respect the times of 
the day of judgment. The mourning, then, of the condemned world, shall 
not be from a spirit of grace and supplication, but from a spirit of hoiTor 
and despair. The result will be, since those that had not an hand in the 
death of Christ's body are said here to pierce Christ, it must be understood 
of a piercing by unbelief, which is an approbation of the Jews' cruelty to- 
wards him. Any man is guilty of an act who doth approve an act, though 
he was not formally an agent in it. And indeed the Jews did not actually 
pierce him, but the hand of a Roman soldier ; yet they are said to do it, be- 
cause they consented to the act. It is a piercing of Christ.* An unbeliever 
is a Jew in his heart and life, though a Christian in profession ; though he 
doth verbally acknowledge the coming of Christ, he doth really deny it. It 
is an unworthy usage of Christ ; it is a using him, as he speaks of himself 
in the Psalms, as ' a worm and no man,' trampling upon him with more 
violence and contempt than they would upon a worm. The vilest man in 
the world never suflered so many reproaches as Christ hath sufiered hj 

* 3p3, which signifies per/orare, is put for liXa<ripfifii7y, Lev. xxiv. 11. — Grotius in 
Zcch. xii. 10. 


notional and practical incredulity since he went to heaven, Judas, that 
betrayed him, was never so much hated by the highest professor and sin- 
cerest Christian, as Christ betrayed by him is slighted by unbelief, as if he 
were set up for a sign to be spoken against. ' As bis visage was marred 
more than any man's ' while he was upon the earth, Isa. lii, 14, so his glory 
is stained more than any man's since he went to heaven. The natural dark- 
ness of men is so thick, that instead of being dissipated by the light, as other 
darkness is, it is so obstinate, that it excludes all the divine brightness of 
Christ from the understanding and consciences of the most part of men :* 
John i. 5, ' The light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth 
it not.' It contemns by a desperate ingratitude the person of the Son of 
God, the truth of his word, the bowels of his love, the power of his miracles, 
the ministry of his death, the glory of his ascension, and the majesty of his 
offices ; and accounts the whole history of the gospel no better than a narra- 
tion of lies. 

And though men never saw the person of Christ, yet they offer violence 
to it by slighting the marks of it he hath left in the world. As a man is 
guilty of treason by abusing the statue or image of the prince, by defacing 
his seal, though he never saw the person of the prince ;f he violates his 
authority that regards it not, owns not any act of grace from him, though 
he never saw his face ; so are men guilty of trampling on the blood of Christ 
when they count it as a trifle, and unprofitable for their salvation, though 
they never saw Christ, nor ever had any communion with him, Heb. x. 29, 
when they * count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.' 

First, It is a nullifying the work of his mediation and death. It denies 
him the honour of his meritorious passion, vilifies the glory of his mediation, 
from the first counsel to the last act, sheds his blood afresh, and pours it 
slightly upon the ground, and tramples that inestimable sacrifice like dirt 
under the feet. No sin doth so immediately oppose Christ as mediator. 
This is the great antichrist in the world ; though this sin, among Christians 
at large, denies him not in his person, it doth in his offices. As faith puts 
a value upon the priesthood of Christ, eyes his death as a perfect atonement, 
leans upon him as a sacrifice upon the cross, and an advocate in heaven ; so 
unbelief, being contrary to this grace, undervalues all that faith esteems. It 
frustrates the end of his coming, which was to reduce us to God, from whom 
we had receded by unworthy jealousies of him. 

First, It renders the design of his coming a vanity, when it receives not 
the fruits of it. As he that will not use the creatures for those ends for 
which God created them, that shuts his eyes against the sun, that stops his 
mouth wilfully against his appointed food, writes a vanity upon the creation 
of God ; so he that doth not receive Christ upon those terms God offers him, 
and for those ends God sets him forth, writes vanity upon the whole work of 
redemption, and ' makes the grace of God to be in vain,' 2 Cor. vi. 1. Nei- 
ther the pains of Christ, the blood of Christ, nor the righteousness of Christ, 
attain their end in such a person, who offers to him the indignity of unbelief, 
and makes him * spend his strength in vain and for nought,' Isa. xlix. 4. 
Some think it is Christ's complaint of the incredulity of the Jews, and it will 
extend to all men that make no account of the travail of his soul, his unwea- 
ried pains and bloody passion, whereby they argue him to be a fruitless and 
a needless mediator, working miracles and shedding his blood to no pur- 
pose ; and fix themselves in a state, as if Christ had never died in respect of 
benefit, though not in regard of guilt. 

* Amyraut. in loc. f Maccov. Metaphys. lib. i. cap. xii. 

John X"VI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 249 

Secondly, It is a vilifying the price of redemption ; * accounting that 
blood -wherein Christ was sanctified, demonstrated to be the Son of God and 
Saviour of the world, and for which he was absolved from guilt, and counted 
righteous before God, and advanced that he might save them that come unto 
God by him, a common, an inefficacious thing, Heb. ix. 28. 

Thirdly, Yea, a regarding it as the blood of a malefactor. It is impos- 
sible that an unbeliever can regard it only as the blood of an innocent man, 
that may cry for vengeance like Abel's, and be as weak as Abel's blood to 
purchase salvation for the soul. It is impossible that this, though bad 
enough, in denying the efficacy of his blood, can only be the reflection ; but 
he must needs regard it as the blood of the highest malefactor that ever yet 
was in the world. In not accepting it as the blood of God, he renders Christ 
more criminal than Judas, and chargeth him with a falsity in declaring him- 
self to be the Son of God, and the mediator of the world. If Christ be the 
Son of God, and the mediator of the world, why is he not cordially owned 
to be so ? If he be not accepted heartily under those notions, the refusal 
of him declares he is not the person and officer of God, as he affirmed him- 
self to be, and so renders Christ, not only void of innocence, but guilty of 
the highest affront to the majesty of God. He that refuseth him, disowns his 
filiation, denies him to be the Son of God, sees not a glory in him ' as of the 
only begotten of the Father,' John i. 14; what faith the apostle asserts,! 
unbelief denies. An unbeliever implies the truth of what the Jews falsely 
writ to the synagogues after the death of Christ, that he was a()£oe xa/ 
avofLog, an atheist.| 

Thus do all persons that think to attain salvation by any righteousness of 
their own. Whosoever thinks he is able to enrich himself with spiritual 
blessings, to weave a covering of his own righteousness, and make payments 
of his old debts by a heap of good works, despiseth Christ's payment, slights 
the righteousness of the God of heaven, abuseth that Saviour who came to 
knock ofi" our bolts, heal our wounds, and clothe our souls. He that thinks 
to enter into heaven, and not by him, is a thief and a robber ; he robs God 
of the honour of his own constitution, and Christ of the glory of his mediatory 
office, and the right of his purchase. And thus do all persons who walk 
contrary to the end of Christ's coming, who are enemies to that spiritual life 
Christ came to set up, and friends to that sensual life he came to pull down. 
Such may pretend friendship to his person, but are enemies to his cross, 
Philip, iii. 18, 19 ; they defame the end of his suffering, as much as the Jews 
defamed him in it. 

Secondly, It is a denying the love of Christ. It is a stab at his heart, an 
outrage of his tender bowels. He suffered willingly all those torments which 
were inflicted on him, to remove from us the necessity of suffering, which sin 
had involved us in, had he not stepped in to take our burdens upon his own 
shoulders. If we will not believe in him, we deny those choice affections 
which engaged him in the undertaking, and were illustrious in the execution. 
It is as if we should think the covenant of grace more severe than that of 
works ; as if Christ were our enemy rather than our Redeemer, and came 
rather to kindle a hell for our torment, than to quench hell for us by his 
blood; as if be came to suffer for our misery, and not for our happiness. Was 
there any need of his coming to make us more miserable than we were before ? 
Did it consist with the goodness of God to expose his Son to suffering, to 
make the creature more wretched, since the misery we were sunk into was 

* Cocceius de Foede. Thes. 200. 

t Qu. ' what the apostle asserts ' ? — Ed. 

X Grot, in Mat. xxvii. 83. 

250 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

more than we were able to bear ? If it were an act of love in Christ, why 
is he not embraced by the choicest and most affectionate faith ? If he be 
not thus embraced, it clearly implies that you have no imagination of any 
affection in him, that he is rather a formidable person than an affectionate 
Saviour. It is as great a slight of his love, as if he should open heaven and 
make the proffers of the gospel from thence. If Christ should speak from 
heaven in an audible voice, and propound the gospel articles in the most 
affectionate strains, would not the contempt of it be judged by all men to be 
an ungrateful scorn of his love ? He doth speak from heaven in his word, as 
really as he bled upon the cross in his person (Heb. xii. 15, ' If we turn 
away from him that speaks from heaven'), and unbelief doth insolently abuse 
the riches of his unspeakable goodness, and slight the blood shed with an 
adorable love, without which the anger of God could not be appeased, nor 
the fire of hell, prepared for sinners, extinguished, without which the filthi- 
ness of the soul could not be cleansed, nor the glories of heaven opened. In 
despising this love, we despise all the fruits of it which the believer enjoys. 
Since Christ was so willing to offer up himself to death that we might be 
freed, and the power of the devil put to an end in us, the keeping up the 
power of the devil in its full strength, as unbelief doth, is a slighting the 
main kindness our great benefactor intended to bestow upon us. 

Thirdly, It denies the wisdom of Christ. It chargeth him with folly and 
inconsiderateness, in undertaking a task that was not worth his pains, in 
suffering for the purchase of pardon and salvation, which might be gained 
without so much ado. What did Christ aim at in the shedding of his blood, 
but the appeasing of the wrath of God, sanctification of the souls of men, the 
opening the gates of heaven, which justice, provoked by sin, had barred 
against them'? If men do not believe, certainly they have some conceits, 
that either these benefits are not desirable and worth the inquiring after, and 
labouring for, or that they may be procured by other means at an easier rate 
than faith in the blood of Christ. And is not this a charge of folly brought 
against Christ, who paid so dear for that, which they suppose they can have 
upon a cheaper account, and without being beholden to him ? Thus some 
interpret that place, Isa. slii. 19, ' Who is bhnd as my servant, or deaf as 
my messenger that I have sent ? who is blind as the Lord's servant ? ' As 
if God should introduce the unbelieving Jews, charging Christ with blindness 
and folly, who is the wisdom of God, and regarding that as contemptible, 
which was honourable in God's account. And, indeed, it seems to be the 
true sense of the place, since all the foregoing part of the chapter is a pro- 
claiming of Christ, who, ver. 1, is particularly called God's servant. An 
unbeliever injures the wisdom of Christ in not following his pattern ; he 
trusted God upon his bare word, and oath, and promises of assistance in his 
work, and a good issue and success. He that will not give credit to the pro- 
mise of God for salvation by Christ, implies that God is unworthy to be 
trusted, that his word is of no value, that all that trust him are unwise, and 
consequently that Christ himself, who exercised the greatest trust of any in 
the world, was the most unwise of any. When we follow not the practice of 
another, we imply some defect in the wisdom of that person we refuse to 
imitate. This is truly the language of unbelief ; and the Gentiles at the first 
preaching of Christ were so besotted with their own imaginary wisdom, that 
they thought the preaching of the cross foolishness, and a mere extravagancy 
of man. 

Fourthly, It wrongs the authority of Christ. It receives an aggravation 
from the greatness of the person that published the doctrine of faith. All 
law^s are lo be attended with a greater veneration, by how much the more 

John XYI. 9.] unbelief the geeatest sin. 251 

eminent the wisdom and authority of the person is. It was the Son of God 
who died by the command and commission of the Father. It is the Son of 
God that hath left the command of faith upon record. It is the Son of God 
who is the object of that faith we are commanded to have and exercise. The 
not believing, therefore, is a crime of the highest nature, in denying all the 
authority derived to Christ from the Father. Upon this score Christ chargeth 
the unbelieving Jews : John v. 43, * I am come in my Father's name, and 
you receive me not ;' you have evident marks of a divine authority in me ;* 
but because my doctrine accords not with the interests of your ambition and 
imperious lusts', therefore you receive me not. ' If another shall come in his 
own name,' who shall flatter your ambition, and preserve the dominion of 
your beloved lusts, * him you will receive.' Thus is the authority of Christ 
slighted by this sin, when the terms upon which he offers himself are dis- 
liked, when we would bring down Christ from his throne, to condescend to 
the conditions we would impose upon him ; when we set the crown upon the 
head of some darling sin, which we should set upon the head of Christ. 

Fifthly, It denies the excellency of Christ. To work faith there is neces- 
sary, first, a clear proposal of the object, supported with such reasons and 
allurements that have a strength in themselves to work upon the mind. But 
unbelief denies any such attractives in the nature of the object presented, to 
move the will to the embracing of it ; it sees more righteousness in a Barab- 
bas, soul-murdering lusts, than in a soul-saving Redeemer, when all the 
labour, study, thoughts, are for the pleasures of sin, the satisfaction of self, 
the increase of profit, and men scarce let Christ have a thousandth part of 
the thoughts. If drafi" and swill be preferred before a pearl, it is because a 
swine sees no excellency in it. As faith ' counts all things dung for the 
excellency of the knowledge of Christ,' Philip, iii. 8 ; so unbelief accounts 
the person, offices, doctrine, and laws of Christ dung and dross in comparison 
of the excellency of self-righteousness, self- wisdom, self-dependence, pleasing' 
temptations, and gilded nothings. As faith accounts all things dross to Jesus 
Christ, 60 unbelief accounts Christ dross to self. How injurious is this to 
the worth of an heavenly object ! to value a feather above a mountain of gold, 
a box of poison before a pearl of the greatest price, when nothing can come 
in competition with him, but what is infinitely inferior to him ! This unbe- 
hef sees no glory, tastes no pleasure, conceives no fulness, in that which God 
hath furnished with an unconceivable glory, and rests in with an eternal 
delight ; it represents Christ empty, whom God stored with a communicable 
fulness, a poor nothing who is a rich treasure ; it esteems Christ, who is an 
overflowing fountain, as if he were no better than a broken cistern. It is 
most certain that, while God is not chiefly affected, whatsoever is in esteem 
above him is valued as more excellent than God ; so when Christ is not 
trusted, but a creature hung upon as the object of reliance, that creature so 
received is more excellent in esteem than that Christ who is refused. 

Sixthhj, It denies the sufficiency of Christ : the greatness of his priest- 
hood, the fulness of his satisfaction, the sufficiency of him as the Son of (Jod 
to make a prevailing intercession, as if he had not a fulness of living waters 
to bestow, or not goodness enough to communicate them ; as though he were 
too scanty to free us from all misery, and fill us with all felicity. Where no 
trust is reposed in him, it implies that no benefit can be expected from him. 
The satisfaction of Christ was more efficacious to take away sin and please 
God, than the sin of man had guilt to displease him, and of more value to 
outweigh the sins of the whole world, than they had weight to press man 
down to the lake of fire; because of the marriage between the divinity and 
* Amyraut in loc. 

252 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

the humanity, whereby that person, who was man, was infinite in regard of 
his divine nature. Faith owns the fulness of this satisfaction, pleads it to 
Goii, acquiesceth in it. What doth unbelief ? It either thinks the satisfac- 
tion too short, or that a man hath no need of it, or that he hath some other 
invention to content the creditor ; but the first is as likely as any else, for, 
since Abraham's faith respected the power of God, Rom. iv. 21, unbelief 
questions the ability of God. The apostle, pressing the Jews with many 
arguments to make them sensible of the ability of Christ to ' save them to 
the utmost,' Heb. vii. 25, witnesseth that the secret sentiment in the heart 
of this sin is the insufficiency of the blood of Christ for this great end of sal- 
vation : that it is of no more efficacy to the purging away of sin than the 
blood of bulls and goats ; nor can reach the soul any more than the waters 
of a river can purge the filthiness of the Spirit. This sin therefore receives 
a mighty aggravation from the dignity of Christ's person, whereby he was 
able to make a valuable satisfaction, and actually did so. It is a * light 
esteem of the rock of salvation,' Deut. xxxii. 15, iriyEJ** of his Jesus who 
conducted them in the wilderness ; as if the rock of God's salvation had no 
more strength than a feeble pebble. It disgraceth his power in the whole 
web of his design, as if his merit were not strong enough, his satisfaction full 
enough, to procure our discharge, but we must have something of our own 
to eke it out. The blood of Christ cries to us, we regard it not ; it streams 
out fresh from his heart in the virtue of it, and flows through the pipes of 
the gospel in the offers of it, yet unbelief stops the ears against the voice, 
shuts the heart against the approach of it, as if the sacrifice of Christ were a 
sacrifice of no value. And since this sin denies the virtue of the sacrifice of 
the Son of God for the expiation of sin, the justification and sanctification of 
the soul, it would expose him to another death to make his blood efficacious ; 
since there is no means imaginable for the attaining those ends but the death 
of the Son of God. 

Seventhly, It denies Christ his right and reward. The restoration of souls 
is a part of his reward for his work: Isa. liii. 11, ' He shall be satisfied 
with the travail of his soul ;' God promised it to him. Unbelief would make 
Christ a loser, as well as God a liar ; for, if this leprosy did totally overspread 
the hearts of every son of Adam, all the travail of Christ's soul would have 
been in the service of the devil. Christ would take the pains, and the devil 
have the harvest. What an injury is this, to steal Christ's reward from him, 
to bestow it upon his enemy ; to gratify the destroyer, as though they envied 
the honour of the Redeemer ! It is his glory to have a numerous posterity ; 
when ' he was taken from prison and judgment, who shall declare his gene- 
ration ? ' Isa. liii. 8. Generations, in Scripture, are put for a people or 
family : * the generations of Adam,' ' the generations of Noah,' i. e. the pos- 
terity of Adam and Noah. It is the glory of Christ to have his dying body 
spring up into a multiplied seed : John xii. 23, 24, ' The hour is come, that 
the Son of man should be glorified.' How ? In his dying, that he may 
bring forth much fruit, as ver. 24 intimates. The occasion of our Saviour's 
speech was the desire of some Greeks to see him, ver. 20, and, in his answer, 
he intimates that the conversion of the Gentiles after his death was part of 
his glory, and the end of his death was to draw a train of believing disciples 
to him, ver. 32. If the faith of men makes the thoughts of Christ's death 
pleasant, and the death itself glorious to him, unbelief doth in its nature 
snatch this honour from Christ, and would hale him down from heaven, to 
stake him in a humiliation-state for ever, to continue him the scorn and deri- 
sion of men, which, as it is injustice in depriving him of his right, is also 
ingratitude to him, who hath done so much to make himself dear to men. 

John XVI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 253 

If the hire of a labourer was to be given him the same day, and the sun was 
not to go down upon it, because he had * set his heart upon it, and lest he 
cry against thee to the Lord, and it be sin unto thee,' Deut. xxiv. 15 ; if 
the depriving a labourer of his hire, for a small time, is a sin God marks, 
how black is that sin in the eye of God, which hath not once, but often, 
defrauded Christ of the hire he laboured for, both in his life and death, and 
will not return the soul to him for whose welfare he travailed ? What is this 
but to defeat him of the fruit of his sweat, pain, blood and death, to disap- 
point him of the satisfaction he hath set his heart upon ; or, as it is in the 
Hebrew, lifted up his soul unto, has a vehement desire for ? What made him 
bear up in his dreadful sufferings, but the joy and hopes of having a genera- 
tion to serve him ? It was to this purpose he did groan and bleed. But 
unbelief would have him an unattended Redeemer, a man of sorrows without 
a spark of joy, when it will not come to Christ that the soul might have life, 
and Christ might have glory. 

Evjhthhj, It puts Christ to the greatest grief. His soul was never more 
deeply impressed with grief before the hour of his passion than when he saw 
men would not come to him that they might have life. That his table was 
spread, and his invited guests would not accept of his feasts, did both grieve 
and incense him. When he gave his disciples so sharp a check, and calls 
them fools, it was not for their timorous and ungrateful forsaking him, but 
for their slowness of heart in believing, Luke xxiv. 25. Not their leaving 
him in the hands of his enemies, or their present charging him with impos- 
ture, but their not giving credit to what was predicted of him by the prophets. 
It was not the buffets he received, the thorns whereby he smarted, the re- 
proaches of his enemies, the wounds from the hands of the soldiers, which 
did so much damp his soul, as the unbelief of his disciples ; he seemed not 
to be afflicted with them so much as with this. This seems as grievous to 
him as the wrath of his Father, not to be trusted, and to be charged with 
falsity. To be ungratefully dealt with is more bitter to a generous spirit than 
death. This grieved him before ever he came into the world, when he con- 
ducted the incredulous generation of the Israelites through the wilderness ;* 
it may now grieve him more, since it is against more incomparable marks of 
his kindness. Is there any gi'ace that Christ doth more earnestly inquire 
after than that of faith ? If he finds it, he regards nothing else, John ix. 35. 
When he had found him that was excommunicated by the pharisees, he saith, 
' Dost thou believe on the Son of God ?W He inquires not after this poor 
man's zeal in defending him so strenuously before the council, vers. 30-33. 
'Dost thou believe?' is the only question he asks him in order to his admis- 
sion into his family. What other grace doth he admire in the centurion ? 
Mat, viii. 10. Humility, marching in the first rank, 'I am not worthy,' &c. 
seems more obvious to view. But Christ looks at the faith which gave birth 
to his humility. If faith be the grace on which he fixeth his eye with affec- 
tion and delight, unbelief must be the object of his greatest grief as well as 
anger ; it is a grieving him after God hath wiped tears from his eyes, 

3. As unbelief is an injury to God, as it is a particular injury to Christ, so 
it is also a wrong to the Spirit of God. It slights the witness he bears by 
his common illuminations to the dignity of Christ and the truths of the 
gospel, and therefore when men refuse to yield obedience to the terms of 
the gospel, they are said to ' resist the Holy Ghost,' Acts iii. 51. It is a 
sin more against the Spirit of God than any ; it is not the sin against the 
Holy Ghost, but the sin against the Holy Ghost may be without many 

* Heb. iii. 10, 17, I am grieved with this generation. And forty years was lie 
grieved for their unbelief, ver. 19. 

254 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

other sins, as it was in the pharisees, who were free from many immoral 
vices, but it cannot be without this as the main ingredient. It is a sin more 
against the Spirit of God than any, because it is the peculiar office of the 
Spirit to receive of Christ's, and shew it to men, to declare of the things of 
Christ, to bring the truths of Christ to a remembrance, to convince men of 
the necessity of Christ and his righteousness. Unbelief crosseth all those 
purposes of the Holy Ghost, the end of his coming into the world, writes 
vanity and folly upon his mission, by not subscribing to his motions. As it 
reflects upon the Father for sending Christ, so it reflects both upon the 
Father and the Son for sending the Holy Ghost. The more honourable the 
messenger is, the more base is the afi'ront both to the messenger and to him 
that sent him. This sin, as it is against Christ, is also against the Spirit of 
God, because Christ was fitted by the Spirit, and furnished with all fulness 
in his human nature, for the accomplishment of his work in the world. It 
was by the strength of the Spirit that he first entered the lists with our 
great enemy, who had first moved the rebellion of inan. Mat. iv. 1, and the 
same Spirit acted Christ in the whole course of his prophetical office. It 
was through the eternal Spirit that he ofi"ered up himself a propitiatoiy sacri- 
fice for our sins, Heb. ix. 14 ; but it is also more immediately against the 
Spirit exhorting to faith, pressing the doctrine and truths of Christ upon the 
souls of men, repeating again and again the things which concern salvation, 
offering himself to change the soul that is without form and void into a 
comely and beautiful workmanship. How great is this sin, then, that gives 
the lie to the Spirit of truth, who is infallible himself and cannot deceive, 
nor could no more be employed about a trivial and unworthy afi"air than 
Christ about an unnecessary redemption ! And since this sin is that which 
the Spirit directs his battery against, it is more peculiarly a maintaining the 
fort against the power of heaven and the summons of that Spirit, whose 
least motions we ought to obey to a full suirender. To cast away his soli- 
citations, to put bars in his way to hinder him an entry, is to quench the 
Spirit,' 1 Thes. v. 19, as if the resisting his office were a blowing out his 
life, and as much a stifling of him in the soul as when the Jewish fury cruci- 
fied Christ upon the cross. This is as great a sin, as appears by the punish- 
ment of the Jews, who were not cast off so much for the crucifying the Lord 
of life as for resisting the Spirit, who would have appHed for their cure that 
blood they had shed in their madness. Thus Stephen charged them when 
they stoned him, ' Ye always resist the Holy Ghost.' The Spirit is the 
ambassador of the Father and the Son too ; he is sent by the Father, John 
xiv. 26, ' whom the Father will send in my name ;' and sent by Christ, 
chap. XV. 26, ' whom I will send unto you from the Father.' To stand 
against an ambassador that represents two states or princes is more than to 
resist him that represents only one. Christ was sent by the Father, and it 
is nowhere in Scripture said that the Spirit sent Chi-ist, though it was given 
to him, not by measure, for the fitting him for his mediatory work, and so it 
is against the Spirit, as furnishing Christ with gifts and graces for his employ- 
ment. But there is a further aggravation in its redounding upon the Holy 
Ghost, as authoritatively sent both by the Father and the Son, to build upon 
that foundation which Christ laid. 

II. The second thing in the demonstration of the sinfulness of this sin 
was, that it is as bad, or worse, than the sin of the Jews in crucifying 

It is as bad as the Jews' crucifying Christ. It is as if we had been part- 
ners with that cursed generation at Jerusalem, that stained their hands in 

John XYI. 9.] unbelief the greatest sin. 255 

the blood of the Son of God. There is a spiritual crucifixion of Christ as 
well as a corporal one : Rev. xi. 8, ' And their dead bodies shall lie in the 
street of the great city, ^hich spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where 
also our Lord was crucified.' It is a speech concerning the death of the 
witnesses, and a description of Rome, the seat of antichrist. As it is spirit- 
ually called Sodom, and spiritually called Egypt, so the crucifixion may be 
understood spiritually, though there be something also literal in it ; for 
Christ may be said to be crucified at Rome, not in regard of the place, where 
Christ never was, but in regard of the Roman authority, whereby he sufi^ered, 
all power of capital punishment being taken away from the Jews after their 
subjection to the Roman empire. The crime pretended against him was 
against Caesar, the Roman magistrate ; he was crucified by PHate, a Roman 
president, and crucifixion was a Roman punishment. It is called Sodom 
because of luxury and lust, in regard of the idolatry of it, which is spiritual 
uncleanness (as Jerusalem is called Sodom in regard of her filthiness, Isa. 
i. 10, Isa. iii. 9, Ezek. xvi. 49, 50), and called Egypt in regard of idolatry, 
and in regard of the similitude between the oppressions of Israel in Egypt, 
and Christians under the Roman jurisdiction. Now, as the name of one 
place is metaphorically translated to another, because of the likeness of their 
sin, so, by the same rule, the similitude in sin transfers the name of one sin 
to another. Christ is crucified by the Romish power, when he is deprived 
of the honour of his mediatory office, by justling in the intercessions of the 
virgin and other saints ; of the glory of his satisfaction, in mingling with it 
the merits of other creatures ; in his kingly office, by assuming the power of 
dispensations for sin, and pardoning the punishment due by his laws to it. 
And Christ is as much crucified by an unbeliever, when he rejects or doth 
not accept him as a sufficient sacrifice, a propitiating priest, a commanding 
king, and a teaching prophet. A man is as deeply guilty of crucifying Christ 
in a spiritual manner, as the Jews were in the reproaches and scoffs of him, 
and the nailing him to the tree. As there is a spiritual entertainment of 
Christ, and supping with him by believing, and a spiritual bringing forth 
Christ in the womb of a soul, as a mother doth an infant, so there is a 
spiritual lifting up Christ upon the cross, and piercing his side. 

Another place which proves this, is 1 Cor. xi. 27, ' Whosoever shall eat 
this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the 
body and blood of the Lord.' If a man hath the guilt of any known sin 
upon him unrepented of, if he comes not with a suitable frame, when he 
hath no high thoughts of the excellency of Christ's body in the sacrament, 
be is partaker of the Jewish crime instead of a Saviour's merit, and acts as 
one that nailed him to the cross, and pierced his side, — as an affront to the 
picture or statue of a prince is interpreted an affront to his person. Now if 
the unworthy receiving the signs of the body and blood of Christ, when a 
man hath no formal intent to be guilty of so great a crime in his approach, 
but he hath some pretences of holy ends, and addresses himself to it with 
some kind of seeming seriousness, make him guilty of the death of Christ, 
bow much more must he be guilty of it, who hath no value for it, doth not 
accept of it as the death of the Son of God, and mediator of the world ?* 
He intimates that Christ did not suffer as a propitiation for sin, but as a 
malefactor, and so is like to them that crucified him. So that there are 
other ways of being counted before God the murderers of Christ, than if our 
hands had been as deeply imbrued in the blood which ran in the veins of 
bis body, as the hands of the Jews were. It is true, all had a hand in the 
killing Christ, for our sins armed the hands of the executioners ; they put 
* Vatabl. in loo. 

256 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

the hammer into the right hand of the instmments, and the nails into their 
left hand, and, as it were, compelled their cursed hands to pierce his body.* 
Our sins demanded the death of the Son of God. But only unbelievers are 
guilty of his death, because they make that blood to be shed again in vain, 
which they shed when he was crucified for them. 

1. UnbeUef is as bad as the Jews' act in crucifying him. 

2. It is worse. 

1. It is as bad, in being a virtual approbation of what they did. Every 
voluntary sin is a justification of all acts of the same nature done in the 
world. The sin of the Jews was a justifying the sins of Samaria and Sodom : 
Ezek. xvi. 51, ' Thou hast justified thy sisters in all thy abominations ;' 
those sisters, ver. 46, were Samaria and Sodom. 

(1.) It comes from the same root. There is the same disposition of soul 
in one as in the other. They were no more of Adam's descent than we are, 
and no more corrupted in their nature than any other nation. We have no 
more good naturally than was to be found among them, and they had no 
more evil naturally than what is to be found among us. Unbelief was the 
principle from whence all their rigour against him did arise ; and had they 
not first been unbelievers, they had not been the Redeemer's murderers. 

If there be the same disposition, and an interpretative approbation of an 
act, there is the same guilt in the exact eye of G-od's justice ; for God doth 
not judge by outward fact, but by the inward frames of the heart, and dispo- 
sitions of the soul. The blood of all the prophets, from the blood of Abel 
to the blood of Zacharias, was to be required of that generation of the Jews 
in whose times Christ lived, though not a man of them had ever known Abel 
or Zacharias but by the history of the Scripture, Mat. xxiii. 35, Luke xi. 51 ; 
yet Christ tells them they had shed the blood of Abel, and all the rest to 
Zacharias. Neither did they formally approve of those actions ; no doubt 
but they would in words have testified an abhorrency of Cain, as well as 
many among us will their indignation against the traitor Judas, and would 
have disowned the wicked and cruel facts of their ancestors, who had dyed 
their hands over and over again in the blood of the prophets and messengers 
of God ; yet they were still guilty of all that blood, because they had the 
same disposition of heart, by their unbelief, to do the same act as Cain did, 
who was the head of the unbelieving world ; and they did imitate Cain in his 
hatred of his brother, by hating Christ, who was to be the grand sacrifice 
tvpified by the sacrifice Abel offered, and by Abel's blood too ; and, having 
such a frame, would have used the same person with as much rigour, were 
he then aUve, as Cain did. So no doubt but there is the same disposition 
in every unbeliever to use Christ as cruelly, were he now alive upon the 
earth in the same state as he then was, and should fall foul upon the reign- 
ing sins of men's hearts, as the Jews did then use him ; for the reason is 
the same. If those Jews, notwithstanding all their glavering affection to 
the prophets that had been slain by their ancestors, would have handled 
them as sharply, and persecuted them to the death, had they been alive in 
their time, and had as faithfully performed their office and message as they 
did then, no doubt but men having the same disposition would do as much 
to Christ ; and, having the same root in them, and bringing forth the same 
fruit, where it is in their power, they would do the same to Christ or any 
other object, if it were as obvious to them as that which is the mark of their 
fury. As those Jews had the spirit of their murdering fathers in them, 
though themselves did not believe it, so every unbehever hath the spirit of 
the crucifying Jews in him, though they themselves think no such thiog, and 
* Jserimberg. de Adorat. lib. i. cap. vii. p. 48, &c. 

John X\1. 9.j unbelief the greatest sin. 257 

would with as much abhorrency detest such a fact as the Jews did that of 
their fathers. There is still the same rancorous root of bitterness latent in 
the heart and nature, as was in theirs. 

(2.) It hath the same object now, the person of Christ, though in another 
manner. Whatsoever is done against the commands, and doctrine, and 
people of Christ, against his inward motions in the soul, is done against the 
person of Christ : Acts ix. 4, ' Why persecutest thou me ?' How could the 
persecution of believers by Saul be more against the person of Christ than 
unbelief, the root from whence that furious zeal did branch ? As the 
Father appeared principally in the creation of the world, forming the design 
of it, and upon that occasion settled the law as a rule of man's obedience, 
every sin against the law is an offence against him, a blasphemy of the 
Father. But redemption being the work of the Son, by his suffering and 
resurrection, and the Son being the matter and subject of the doctrine of the 
gospel, and set forth as an object of faith, and appointed by the Father the 
lawgiver of the world, the gospel refers properly to the person of Christ ; 
and unbelief is a sin committed against the person of the Son, and an out- 
raging him. Apostasy and denying Christ to be the Messiah is by the 
apostle called a crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh : Heb. vi. 6, 
' They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open 
shame.' It is such an act as is by interpretation a crucifying the person of 
the Son of God ; it is a rejecting his person and offices, and counting him a 
deceiver, as the Jews did, Mat. xxvii. 63, and not the Son of God ; for if 
we do count of him as one sent from God, why do we not believe in him ? 
why do we run from him ? 'EauroTg, to themselves, or in, or ivith themselves, 
as much as in them lies. All his common works, which were upon their 
hearts, they kill, which is as much as a killing his person ; what they do to 
his truth, and the convictions they have, they would do to his person were 
he in their power. They put him to an open shame, for as he was derided 
and reproached as an impostor when he was upon the cross, so men by their 
unbelief shame him before the eyes of men. The action in refusing him and 
departing from him asserts that there are no allurements in him, nothing 
worthy of love, but worthy of that reproachful usage he had among his cruci- 
fiers. As apostasy is attended with this guilt in the account of the apostle, 
so is all unbelief, according to the degrees of it, more or less, because it is a 
virtual denial of Christ's being what really he is, the Son of God, and 
Saviour of the world ; which was that the Jews denied, and therefore cruci- 
fied him, and therefore is a sin against the person of Christ as well as theirs. 
As faith pitcheth upon the person of Christ as its proper object, so the re- 
fusal of the person of Christ is that which doth constitute this sin of unbelief. 

(3.) It hath the same end, the indulgence of some carnal lust and end. Is 
not our love naturally as strong to those corruptions which lie nuzzling in 
our natures ? Are we not as fond of them, as indulgent to them, as the 
scribes and pharisees were to theirs ? They did not pay a greater homage 
to their beloved sin, and adore their heart-idols with a greater veneration, 
than every one of us endeavour to pleasure ours naturally ; and this is the 
main end of every unrenewed unbelieving person. Therefore, if Christ were 
among us in the same garb as he was among the Jews, and shewed his dis- 
like of our vices and corruptions, and laid the axe to the root of them, though 
edged with so many miracles as he did among them, what reason have we 
to think that he should not meet with the same rude entertainment among 
us as he did among them ? Our nature is no better than theirs, our lusts as 
dear to us as theirs, principles of education as strong in us as theirs ; we 


258 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

have the same spiritual progenitor by nature as they had, even the devil, and 
his lusts we do as well as they : John viii. 44, Eph. ii. 2, 3, ' The spirit 
that works in the children of disobedience (acre/^/a?, unpersuadableness), 
among whom also we had our conversation in times past, fulfiUing the de- 
sires of the flesh, and of the mind,' and are as much guided by his inspira- 
tions as they ; for the apostle pronounceth it of all, of himself and the 
Gentiles, as well as Christ had before of the Jews. Would we not befriend 
our father, especially when he would put forth his utmost power and malice 
in us upon such an occasion, as he did at that time in them ? And we 
rather should use him more despitefully, because if he did come in the flesh, 
it would be contrary to expectations, whereas they expected the Messiah, and 
gloried in the promise of his coming. Had any told them before, that they 
should have used him so barbarously as they did, they would have thought 
themselves wronged and defamed. What ! to crucify him whose coming 
they longed for, and had expected in their successive generations, from the 
time of Adam's being cast out of paradise ! Yet for all this, you know how 
they used him, because he came in another garb than they expected. They 
looked for him to come as a conqueror, and he came as a person not know- 
ing where to lay his head. And what unbeliever is there among us that can 
assure himself he would not do the like, were Christ in person present, and 
struck as cross a blow at his darling corruptions as he did at those of the 
Jews in that time ? What pharisees would not swell against him, if he 
should tell them of loading men with grievous burdens, and charge them with 
their hypocrisy and foimal devotions, and thunderingly tell them they should 
die in their sins ? Is there not the same reason ? Have not men the same 
love to their vices as they had then ? What can alter their afi"ections ? 
Nothing but faith. While men, therefore, remaining in unbelief, have the 
same dispositions, the same ends, and the same motives to unbelief as they 
had, they would do the same acts against Christ, out of the same disposition, 
and for the same ends, which managed them in all that tragedy. They 
would still fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Those that sacri- 
fice the truths, precepts, ordinances of Christ to their Delilahs, would sacri- 
fice Christ himself, whose truths, precepts, and ordinances they are. If 
Christ were again upon the earth in the same state, he would be as faithful to 
his Father's instructions as he was then ; and unbelievers would be as faith- 
ful to their father's, the devil's, instructions, as the Jews were then. 

As we see in what sense unbelief now is as bad as the Jews' crucifying, as 
having the same disposition, being set against the same object and guided by 
the same ends and motives, so we shall see that 

2. Unbelief now is worse than the unbelief of the Jews, and worse than 
that act of crucifying Christ, and more grievous to him. They crucified him 
by the authority of Pilate, and pretended a law among them whereby he 
ought to die. But what pretence can there be for any man's unbelief among 
us ? Our unbelief at the last day will be an excuse of theirs.* The Jews 
resisted a truth ofiered to them, but we resist the force and power of that 
truth w'hich in the notion we own. While we receive it in our assent, we 
reject it in our consent ; we profess him to be the Son of God and Saviour 
of the world in our doctrine, and proclaim it a mere imposture in our prac- 
tice. Theirs was a rejecting him ; ours a scorn and mocking of him. Be- 
sides, we by our baptism are obUged votaries to him ; we have given up our 
names to Christ in an outward profession, and promised faith in him and 
obedience to him. The Jews did not formally so, though implicitly they 
did, as the doctrine of it was contained in the ceremonies of the law of 
* Zanch. in Decalog. cap. xii. de a7n(rrla, Thes. viii. p. 246. 

John XVI. 9. J unbelief the greatest sin. 259 

Moses and the writings of the prophets. But our unbelief is manifested 
after solemn promises to stick to him. 

(1.) Our unbelief is against the spiritual discovery of Christ ; theirs was 
not. Their sin was against his personal discovery, ours against his spiri- 
tual, in the miiaculous appearance of the Spirit in the apostles' preaching. 
The coming of the Spirit depended upon Christ's glorification, John vii. 39; 
their sin therefore could not be so gi'eat as ours, it being against a less, and 
ours against a greater, discovery of Christ by the effusion of the Holy Ghost. 
It is a contempt of Christ after a full revelation. The Jews had better ex- 
cuses to plead for the mitigation of their crime, the prophecies concerning 
the Messiah were obscure till cleared by the event, and delivered in such 
expressions that a natural understanding might conceive them to be meant 
of an outward splendour rather than a spiritual glory. The condition of 
Christ was so mean and disguised in the world, that they could scarce dis- 
cern the Lord of glory for the mask of infirm flesh, could not tell 
how to imagine him to be the Son of God, who was meaner than an 
ordinary man in his outward appearance. There were, indeed, some 
sparks of his divinity flashed out in his words and actions, but short of 
those illustrious beams wherewith he afterwards chased away the darkness 
of the world, short of that power whereby afterwards he broke open the 
gates of hell, and hurled Satan, the prince of it, from his long-possessed 
throne. They crucified him, whenas yet the Spirit had not spread the 
light abroad, discovered the reason of all the foregoing methods, had not 
yet shewed him to be the Lord of glory, nor animated some men to preach 
him in the world and bear witness to the truth of his mission against 
their worldly interest, and whatsoever was dear unto them there. Not a 
nation in the world had then submitted their sceptre to the Son of God ; the 
world as yet lay steeped in idolatry, and wallowed in the sink of hell. But 
our unbelief being after the clearest discovery of him, and his appearance in 
the power of his royalty, since he hath a long time reigned in the midst of 
his enemies, is rendered more vile, unreasonable, and inexcusable. The 
Spirit doth not speak of Christ to come in an obscure style, as the prophets 
did, but manifests things past, things accomplished, in unveiled and clear 
expressions, and with an undeniable light. He discovers not Christ on earth 
in a mean flesh and form of a servant, but in the glory of the Son of God, 
and as a mediator for man, invested with the government of the world, and 
hath sealed the truth of his mission with the conversion of many nations, 
and spread it over all parts of the world, contrary to human methods, whereby 
false religions and errors have been propagated in the earth. The promise 
of the Spirit's mission, made by our Saviour on earth, being performed, is 
an evidence of the acceptance Christ finds with the Father, and of the stabi- 
lity of all his declarations as a foundation of faith. It is against this appear- 
ance of his our present unbelief is, which makes it more criminal than that 
of the Jews in crucifying him when he was under a veil. We have seen the 
conquest he hath made by his Spirit for so many ages since his being upon 
the earth ; how prodigious, then, is our heart-refusal of him after so many 
records of his power, and troops of miracles wrought by the strength of his 
name ! 

(2.) They crucified him when he was in a state of humiliation ; our un- 
behef is against him, since he is exalted at the right hand of his Father. 
There is a great deal of difference between the contempt of one upon 
a dunghill and upon a throne. They sinned not against a Christ crucified 
for them ; he had not then died for them when they apprehended him and 
bought his death. Theirs was against God's act in sending Christ ; ours 

260 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

against God's act in sending him, and glorifying him also. Theirs was 
against Christ in his low estate ; ours against Christ in his exalted nature. 
Theirs against Christ as a man on earth ; ours against him as the Son of 
God in heaven, and in his approaches to the fulness of his kingly authority 
in judging the world. They crucified his humanity, and we, in a manner, 
his divinity. They believed not in him when he was clouded in the form of 
a servant ; we believe not in him when he hath reassumed the glory of the 
Deity. He was as a contemptible shrab among them, making no appear- 
ance of rising into a full-grown tree ; there was not that manifest grandeur 
wherein he seemed to be promised : he appeared not in such a garb as to 
seem desirable to them : Isa. liii. 2, ' He was as a root out of a dry ground.' 
But we have heard of him in his glory mounting above the violences of men, 
dropping ofi" the infirmities of the flesh, shaking off the fetters of death by a 
victorious resurrection, and triumphant ascending above the heavens to live 
for ever, and all this that he might be believed on, confided in as the Re- 
deemer of the world. Judge, then, which unbelief is more sinful. They 
crucified him whom they supposed to be a man and a malefactor ; we crucify 
him who was glorified after he was crucified for us. We crucify him since 
his divinity hath been manifested above his humanity ; they when his 
humanity had veiled his divinity. Which of the Jews, that should have seen 
Christ at the right hand of God, as Stephen did, would have dared to utter 
those words, ' Crucify him, ciTicify him ! ' * Every unbeliever, that dares 
not speak it, dares do it. They will be confounded, when they see him glo- 
rious whom they have pierced. Many of them bewailed their crime when 
they believed his resurrection ; we reproach him while we pretend to believe 
him glorious, and crucify him again by rejecting his promises and precepts, 
whom we confess to be risen from the grave. Had the Jews had the Mes- 
siah only promised them by the prophets, f and had not believed it, it had 
not been so great a sin as not to believe him after he came, and prefer Ceesar, 
an earthly king, before him, and the life of Barabbas, a murderer, before his. 
It was an higher sin to refuse him, not only since he was promised, but was 
come, and had preached and wrought miracles among them, and had lived 
hoKly ; yet it was a greater sin than of crucifying him, not to believe on him 
after he was dead, raised again, ascended into heaven, had sent the Holy 
Ghost and converted a world. Peter denied Christ, Judas betrayed him, 
Pilate condemned him, the Jews crucified him, but not one of them had then 
seen him dead, raised, and ascended into heaven, and sending the Holy 
Ghost, as we have full evidences of. As if the Jews did not believe Moses, when 
he pretended in Egypt to deliver them, by taking the Israelite's part, and 
killing the Egyptian, it was no such great thing. But after he had been, as 
it were, dead by his absence, and returned again, by a course of miracles, 
knocked ofi" their chains, brought them through the Red Sea, for them then 
to carry themselves so to him, as if he had not delivered them, was a great 
injm-y to God and him. So it is a greater injury, since Christ, by his death, 
hath freed us from evil, brought the kingdom of heaven, his gospel, among 
lis, and that for many years, that we should not heartily comply with his 
terms, but behave ourselves towards him as if he were a mere man, an un- 
worthy man, had done nothing for us, had not been taken notice of by God, 
but in a way of punishment. So to carry ourselves after his high exaltation, 
is unparalleled, even among devils, and by the sin of the Jews in crucifying 
him. And our notional owning him, or assenting to the articles of the creed 
concerning his death, resurrection, ascension, and sitting at the right hand 

* Nerimberg de Adorat. lib. i. cap. v. p, 48, &c. 

t Ochino Prjedic. part v. Praedic. xxviii. pp. 209, 210. 

John XVI. 9.1 unbelief the greatest sin. 261 

of God, and his coming to judge the quick and the dead, is so. far from alle- 
viating the crime, that it renders it more base and unworthy, not to cast 
ourselves upon him for salvation, resign up ourselves to be saved in his way, 
and guided by his precepts, after our acknowledgments of his death and exal- 
tation. I say, it renders it more unworthy than the Jews' murder, or the 
present unbelief of their posterity, because it is a contradiction to our own 
professed sentiments. 

(3.) Our unbelief is more palpably against the offices of Christ than theirs 
was : it was not of that black hue then. Christ had not a full investiture in 
his offices, he had not all royal power settled upon him, till after his sacri- 
ficing himself. For the full exercise of those offices belonged to his state of 
exaltation, and he was not perfected till he was offered up, Heb. v. 9 ; it is 
now against his priestly office settled upon him for ever, and against a special 
part of it, his intercession. They sinned against Christ ready to offer up 
himself a sacrifice ; we against Christ who hath offered himself a sacrifice of 
a sweet-smelling savour to God ; we sin against him as an advocate settled 
at the right hand of God. It is true, Christ did intercede before bis coming 
in the flesh, and evidences of it there are in Scripture, but that was not evi- 
dent to the Jews. It was then upon the account of what he was by compact 
to suffer, it is now upon the account of what, according to that compact, he 
hath suftered ; it is a sin, therefore, more pecuUarly against his priestly office, 
in his pleading for all the fruits of his oblation, and appearing in the presence 
of God for us, as well as appearing for God to us ; theirs was against the 
latter, and ours against both ; theirs was against Christ, when as yet the 
contract was to be performed ; ours against him, when, according to the 
contract, the price and ransom is paid ; theirs was when the debt due to God 
remained unsatisfied ; ours when God hath given Christ an acquittance for 
the payment of it, and made him king, priest, prophet, prince, and saviour, 
and for ever invested him in each particular office. It was not by any force, 
hut with the greatest willingness, that he offered up himself ' to destroy the 
works of the devil,' 1 John iii. 8, and to be, in all respects, an officer of 
mercy at the right hand of his Father. If we shall endeavour to preserve 
him, whom Christ came to cast out by his death ; if we preserve any of those 
works by unbeHef, Christ came to destroy ; if we continue tiie sceptre of 
Satan in his hands by our want of faith ; nay, if we preserve that unbelief, 
which was the first work that the devil framed in our first parents by his 
subtlety, we do that which hinders the glory of his offices, and that which is 
more contrary to his honour than the death the Jews inflicted on him.*' His 
death did not discontent him, he was highly willing to bow down his head 
under it, it was the way to the glory of all his offices ; he was to pass through 
the cross to the throne, and be first a sacrifice before he could be an advo- 
cate, and yield up the Ghost before he could send the Spirit. Unbelief, then, 
which would deprive him of the glory of all this, is more injurious than those 
Jews were which nailed him to the cross, and more grievous than the igno- 
minious death he suffered. 

(4.) Our unbehef is against Christ after he hath finished his work, their 
act was against him when he was moving towards the performance of it. He 
had not then manifested the grandeur of his affection ; he had, indeed, taken 
human nature, and humbled himself to the infirm condition of our flesh ; 
but his death, which was the commendation of his love, and the discovery 
of his affection in redemption, was not then suffered ; their sin could not be 
against this, because it was not yet manifested ; they made way by their sin 
for a discovery of that love we sin against. They sinned against Christ as 
* Jackson, vol. iii. fol. p. 343, changed. 

262 charnock's works. [John XVI. 9. 

he was preparing himself to be a sacrifice for them, and sanctifying himself 
to be an atoning oflfering ; we sin against him as already consecrated by his 
own blood, and consecrating for us ' by his own flesh a hving way,' Heb. 
X. 20. In the crucifying of him they sinned against Christ as the Son of 
God, but not against Christ as a sacrifice ; they rather contributed, though 
not intentionally, to this oblation of himself. But we sin against the only 
sacrifice for sin, which hath been ofi'ered for us, so that there is a greater 
ingratitude and contempt in our sin than theirs ; neither the priests nor 
people, Pilate nor Judas, had seen Christ dead for them, before their own 
act in crucifying him. Judas betrayed him, the people voted him, and Pilate 
condemned him to death ; but an unbeUever betrays, votes, condemns the 
death of Christ to death ; he betrays the ends of it, condemns that to a nul- 
lity which God accepted as a price, and votes against those offices which 
were founded upon his death, and which he could not have exercised if he 
had not died, and thereby virtually pulls him from his throne, unto which 
he was to pass by the cross : for ' ought not Christ first to suffer, and so to 
enter into his glory ?' Luke xxiv. 26. 

(5.) Our unbelief is against a more signal manifestation of God's attributes 
in their highest perfection. God hath not opened the treasures of his wisdom 
to man till the sufferings of Christ were over, nor was his love manifested in 
the highest manner till our Saviour bled, nor his justice discovered till the 
stroke was given, nor did his power triumph but in the resurrection of our 
Saviour. The glory of those attributes lay hid and wrapped up in him, till 
Christ came down from the cross, and rose from the grave. We sin against 
that goodness which pitied us more than it seemed to pity his own Son. We 
sin against that justice that sheathed a sword in his bowels to spare our 
souls. We sin against that blood that sealed our pardon, against that truth 
which had brought the promises upon record for so many ages to an happy 
accomphshment, and made them yea and amen, fully irreversible, by our 
Saviour's blood ; against a wisdom that astonished angels more than that in 
the whole creation, and against an almighty strength that never bared its 
arm so much as in raising our surety loaden with our guilt. Since nothing of 
those appeared so eminent but in and after the crucifixion of Christ, their sin 
could not so sully the honour of those which did not then appear. They 
were ignorant instruments in the hands of God to promote rather than 
violate the honour of those attributes. But doth not our unbelief endeavour 
to take off" the wheels of their triumphant chariot, and lay the honour of them 
in the dust ? The Jews, indeed, alter the death of Christ, sinned against 
all these in their brightness as well as any of us ; but not in the very act of 
crucifixion, because by the death of the Son of God these excellencies were 
brought in all their glories to our view, which had else lain invisible in the 
secret place of the Most High, and never should have shewn their faces to 
the sons of men. Without it, neither men nor angels could have had any 
prospect of them. And though we imitate not the Jews in the act of cruci- 
fixion, it is not for want of natural disposition, but for want of opportunity. 
Christ is not here in person to be crucified by us, but we tread in the steps 
of the Jewish unbelief, which was more gross after the passion of Christ 
than before ; and we crucify the glory of those attributes of God, which re- 
ceived their hfe from the blood of the Redeemer. 

(6.) Our unbelief is aggravated from the accomplishment of the promises 
and threatenings for unbeUef, which their sin was not against. We have 
greater assurances since Christ's ascension of the performance of promises 
than they had before. The gospel hath, according to the prediction of Christ, 
from a grain of mustard-seed, risen up to a mighty tree. It hath been by 

John XVI. 9.J unbelief the greatest sin. 263 

various providences carried into remote corners, spread further than the 
Koman eagles. It hath been made known in the then unknown parts of 
America. It hath visited all nations, Mat. xxiv. 14, and a great harvest hath 
sprung up in all ages since, from the seed of our Saviour's body cast into the 
ground, according to his prophecy, John xii. 24. We have known