Mr. Thomas Jacomb's Forenoon Farewell Sermon Preached August 17, 1662Farewell Sermons of the Ejected Puritans
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Jacomb’s Farewell Sermon Preached August 17, 1662
John 8:29, “And he that sent me, is with me: the Father hath, not left me alone: for I do always those things that please him.”
These are the words of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are spoken by himself, and they are spoken of himself; though yet in a sober and modest sense they are applicable to all his members. That which Christ here affirms, is, that the presence of God was always with him, and this is first propounded, “He that sent me is with me” and then it is amplified, “and the Father hath not left me alone,” and then thirdly, the reason of this is annexed, “for I always do those things that please him.”
I shall speak but very little of the words as they do refer to Christ: he tells us where his Father was with him, he did not leave him alone in all the troubles and difficulties that he met withal in the finishing the great work of man’s redemption; still God was with him. It is true, there was a time when Christ was without the sensible manifestation of his Father’s presence, when he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Why, but yet even then in truth and in reality his Father did not leave him; for though he had not the evidences of his Father’s presence, yet he had the influences of his Father’s presence. It would take up much time to shew you how in all particulars the Father was present with Christ. I will only speak this one word, and instance in this one thing, God’s assisting presence was always with him, both in his active, and also in his passive obedience; and indeed he had that work to do, and those miseries to suffer, that if God had left him if he had not been mightily assisted by the divine nature, Christ as mere man, could neither have done, nor have suffered what he did; but the Father was with him, and to support him, Isa. xlii. 1. “Behold my servant whom I uphold.” You shall find that Christ did act faith upon this, in Isa. 1. 7. “The Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded,” vers. 9. “The Lord will help me.” So to the same effect is Psal. xvi. 9. And you shall find this made good to him in scripture, in his greatest necessities.
Take a double instance.
In the first place, after he had been engaged in the combat with Satan, you read in Matt. iv. the strongest combat or duel that ever was fought; wherein you have the Prince of Peace and the Prince of Darkness; the lion of the tribe of Judah, and the roaring lion that seeks how to devour; both of them putting forth their utmost strength, and endeavouring to overcome each other.
Now I say in this combat, the Father did not leave Christ, but he helps him; for he sends an angel to minister unto him, Mat. iv. 11.
So in Christ’s bitter agony in the garden, just before his bitter passion and death upon the cross, the Father did not leave him alone, for he sent an angel unto him to strengthen him, Luke xxii. 43. and so in several other places, and in several other things I might instance; but 1 shall pass this by. Aye, but now why did the Father thus stand by Christ? He gives you the reason of it in the text, because he always did the things that pleased him. This I shall open in a double respect.
First, Christ’s undertaking of the work of our redemption; it was very well pleasing unto his Father, that poor lost undone sinners should be brought back again unto God, and restored unto his love and favour: I say the Father was infinitely well pleased with Christ in this undertaking. Isa. xxxv. 10. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. The pleasure of the Lord, that is the work of our redemption; wherein God the Father took great pleasure or delight; therefore when Christ was publicly in the eye of the world to enter upon this great work, the Father sends him out with this witness, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. He speaks not of this well-pleasing only to his person, but also of his well-pleasing as unto his undertaking.
Secondly, as the work itself was well pleasing unto God, so Christ managing of this work, was all along pleasing unto his Father; and that doth appear in this, that Christ in all things kept to his Father’s commission, and to his Father’s command. I say in all things he kept to his Father’s commission. He did nothing here upon earth, but what was within the compass of his commission; for, saith he in the verse before the text, “I do nothing of myself, but as my Father bids me so also he acted in conformity to his Father’s will; that was the rule and square by which Christ ordered all his actions; his eye was still upon his Father’s will whatever he willed him to do, that he did; whatever he willed him to suffer, that be suffered; and thus he always did the things that were pleasing to his Father. But I do not intend further upon the words in this reference; for my design is to bring down the words unto ourselves, to those that are the members of Christ; for there is the same disposition of heart in all believers to please God: in all things to please God. This was the frame and temper and carriage of Christ; so it is the frame and temper of every true believer: and this is, a part of our likeness unto Christ; as you know there is a blessed resemblance and similitude between Christ and his members; they have the same spirit that Christ bad, only in a different proportion; for he had it without measure: they have the same grace as Christ had for substance, though not for degree; of his fulness we all have received grace for grace that is, as many interpret it, grace answerable unto grace. As the print in the wax answers to the print in the seal, and as face answers to face; so grace in believers answers unto that grace that was in Christ; they are to shew forth the virtues of Christ
1 Pet ii. 11. “Now this was the grace and virtue and holiness of Christ, that he always did the things that pleased his Father.” Why this is in all believers, only with this difference; it was actual performance in the one, it is but endeavour in the other; it was perfect in the one, it is sincere, but imperfect in the other.
Christ always did things that pleased God, a believer endeavours always to do the things that please God, he doth not always do so; witness David in the case of his uncleanness, when he displeased the Lord, as it is in 2 Sam. xi.
The observation I intend to speak to, shall be this:
They that please God, and endeavour always to do the things that please God, such God will be with; such the Father will not leave alone; especially in times of suffering and trouble, for I will bring it to that case.
Indeed God will not leave such at any time; for that promise is exceeding full, Heb. xiii. 5. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” I do not know any one promise in all the Bible, that is expressed with such an emphasis as that promise is; such a multiplication of negatives in the original. But especially God will not leave such in an afflicted and suffering condition.
In the prosecution of this, I will speak to four things;
First, I will shew you when a man may be said to do the things that please God. 2. I will confirm the truth of the doctrine. 3. I will shew you in what respects God will be with them that desire to please him in a suffering condition. 4. I will give you the grounds and reasons of it; and then I shall come to an application.
For the first, we please God in what we do, when we act. 1. In a suitableness to God’s nature. And 2. in subjection to God’s law; for pleasing of God lies in these two things. As that pleases a man which is suitable to his disposition, and is correspondent with his command, we do the things that please God, when we do the things that God doth; and when we do that which God commands; when we hate sin, as God hates sin; when we are holy as God is holy. You shall find it in Col. i. 10. “That you may walk worthy of God, unto all well pleasing.” Observe, this walking worthy of God, is walking suitably, or walking answerably to God, Mat. iii. 8, “Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance,” or bring forth fruit answerable to repentance; so to walk worthy of God, is to walk suitable to God, to his nature: now then observe what follows, that you might walk worthy of God to all well-pleasing, then we please God when we walk suitably unto God: so also when we act in a blessed conformity to God, to his law; for. nothing can please the good God, but what is good. Now the law being the measure, and standard of all goodness, nothing can be good, but what bears conformity to this law, which is the will of God. God is well pleased when his will is observed; as you know you that are masters, your servants please you when they do your will. That inference of the apostle for this is very apposite, Rom. viii. 8. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” What is this same inference grounded upon, because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: so that they that are in the flesh, cannot please God. Why? because there is that principle in them, as carries out a real enmity to the law and will of God; it is as if the apostle had said, they will not be subject to God’s will, not obedient to God’s command; there is a principle of enmity in them against these things, and so cannot please God. God is pleased when his will is fulfilled, and his commands observed; to please God, is in all things so to act, that whatever we do, we may express a likeness to God’s nature, and a blessed subjection to God’s revealed will, and this is the first thing.
A second thing is the proof of the doctrine; they that thus please God, he will be with them, he will not leave £hem alone, especially in an hour of trial. For, my brethren, assure yourselves of this, that which the Father did for Christ, he will do for all his members. It is true, Christ’s sufferings being greater than ours possibly can be, and so his relation to God being higher than ours his; he a Son by eternal generation, we only by adoption: he had the presence of God in a more glorious manner than we can expect; but yet in our sphere ac-r cording to the measure of our trials, and according to our capacity, we shall as really have the presence of God with us, as Christ had with him; that as we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, so we also shall be partakers of Christ’s support. He that will be present with believers in heaven, as he is with Christ, he will be present with believers here on earth, as he is with Christ in all his sorrows and sufferings.
Now for the confirming of this comfortable truth, I need not speak much. Many promises you have in Scripture for it, and whatever God hath promised, he will certainly make good. Turn to that one promise instead of many, Isa. xliii. 2. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” And you shall find too, that the saints have experienced it in all ages, God hath made it good,
Jacob was a man that met with many sharp trials. God exercised him with many troubles. You shall find that when he was going to Padan-aram, and was in a very afflicted condition, Gen. xxviii. 15, God comes to him, and saith, “Behold, I am with thee,” Gen. xxxi. 5. His father frowned upon him, but the God of his father helped him, Joseph, Gen. xxii. 20. His master took him, put him into prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound; he was in the prison, but the Lord was with Joseph. The prophet Jeremy was thrown into a dungeon, but the scripture saith, “God was with him.” The three children were thrown into the furnace of fire, but there was a fourth with them, and that was the Son of God, Dan. iii. 25. Paul when he was brought to his trial, 11 men forsook him, but God stood by him, 2 Tim. iv. 16. So the Christians in all their sharp sufferings, 2 Cor. iv. 9. They were persecuted, but not forsaken; persecuted by men, but not forsaken by God. God hath abundantly made out this, and doth so still, that he will never leave those alone in a time of suffering, who desire unfeignedly in all things to please God.
Now the third thing is to shew you in what respect God is with such: why this presence of God is an active presence. God is not merely with his people, but he is with them in an active way: for this is a certain truths God is working when the saints are suffering. I will open this in several particulars.
First, God is with such in his teaching presence. God’s correction and God’s instruction, they usually go together; and where there is the chastenings of God’s hand, there is also the teaching of God’s spirit Psal. xc.12. “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and whom thou teachest.” Christ, though he were a son, yet learned obedience by the things that he suffered. God teacheth his upright ones many lessons in a time of adversity, which they never learned in a time of prosperity. For we are like idle boys, or bad scholars that learn best when the rod is over us. In a prosperous condition God speaks to us, and we mind him not, Jer. xxii. 21, “I spoke to thee in thy prosperity, but thou wouldest not hear ;”and this hath been thy manner from thy youth upwards. In prosperity God speaks once and twice, as Job speaks, but we will not hear; but in the time of adversity God opens the ears, Jud. viii. 16. As Gideon taught the men of Succoth with thorns and briers, so doth God teach his people by affliction; and oh the many blessed truths that they learn, when they are under the rod, when they want liberty! Oh what a mercy is it to have liberty then, when they have not ordinances as before! What a mercy is it to have ordinances then! Oh what an evil thing is it then for them, that they have departed from God! God teaches them these things then: sin is never so bitter, mercy is newer so sweet, as in a time of suffering. Oh how vain and empty is the creature then! Oh how sweet is communion with God then! I say such things as these God teaches then.
Secondly, God is with such in his guiding presence, Psal. lxxiii. 24. “Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me unto glory.” When Israel was in the wilderness, then they had the cloud to guide them. It is a blessed thing to live under the conduct and direction of the wise God; we never have so much of this as in an hour of trial. Indeed the people of God never fly so much to God for direction, as at such a time: as Saul, when he was in distress then he calls for the ephod; and thus it is with us under affliction, then we look to God.
Thirdly, God is with them in his preserving and hiding presence. God is the saint’s hiding place, their shield, their buckler, their rock, their defense; the scripture expressions are many to hold out God’s protection as to his people. God hath a constant care over them to preserve them and save them; oh but especially in a time of trouble: as the mariner is never so careful of the ship, as under a storm; and God is never so careful of his church and people, as under affliction. Jeremy is in the dungeon, now God saves him. Daniel is in the den, now God saves him. The three children in the fire now God saves them. Peter is in prison, now God saves him. The mother never tends the child so carefully as when the child is sick; and providence is never so tender to the people of God, as under a suffering condition.
Fourthly, God is with them in his comforting presence, 2 Cor. iv. 1. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,” and usually we have most of consolation from God, when we have most of tribulation from without; as our sufferings do abound, so our consolations do abound much more. The child that is beaten when it is well, is cherished when it is ill. When persons are sick, then you give them cordials. God gives the best of comforts in the worst of times. When the burden is heavy upon the back, then the peace of conscience is great within. The worse it is without, the better it is within. When men discover most of anger, God discovers most of love.
Fifthly, God is with such in his strengthening presence to enable them and to support them to undergo whatever he is pleased to call them unto. This is the way of our good and gracious God. He always gives out strength, as he lays on affliction, he never leaves his children alone in this respect, he will be with them to support them. Though it may be not to deliver, yet he will certainly be with them to support: the rod and the staff they go together, Psal. xxiii. 4. the afflicting rod and the supporting staff: when one is upon the saint to afflict, then the other hand is underneath the saint to support: Isa. xli. 10. “I will uphold thee, 1 will strengthen thee, fear not, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. This David found, “I cried unto the Lord in my distress, he answered me, and strengthened me in my inward man,” Psal. cxxxviii. 3. Oh! when men afflict, God supports: when men put the children of God into the deep waters, then God takes them by the chin, and holds them up, that they shall not sink and be drowned.
Sixthly, God is with them in his sympathizing presence, Oh he hath a tender sense of all the sorrows and calamities of his people! Oh it grieves him that they are grieved! They that touch Him touch the apple of his eye. In all their afflictions he is afflicted. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Every blow that is given to them, God bears a part of it himself. As they are sensible of God’s dishonour, so God is sensible of their suffering. It pains him to the very heart to see his children wronged and abused by a malicious world.
Seventhly, He is with them by his sanctifying presence. All their troubles are to do them good, and to make them good: and therefore the furnace it is but to refine them from their dross: the pruning-hook of affliction it is but to cut off their luxuriant branches. God takes the sharp knife into his hand and lances them, but it is only to fetch out their corruption. By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, to take away his sin.
Eighthly, God is with them by his quickening presence, to make their prayers more fervent, to make their requests to the throne of grace more importunate. The children of God cry most to him when they suffer most from men, and their prayers are best when their condition is worst. Prayer shortens affliction, and affliction heightens prayer. God is with them to hear their prayers. Oh the prayer of the afflicted that comes up to heaven! God hears the sighs and groans of his oppressed ones, their tears pierce the heavens, they call upon God in time of trouble, and pour out their sorrows before the Lord, and he doth hear them.
Ninthly, God is with them by his raising presence, to raise up their hearts higher, to elevate their souls, and bring them more near to himself. God’s people when they meet with troubles in the world think nothing so sweet unto them as the enjoyment of God; then no life so good unto them as the life of faith; then they relish a sweetness in the promise: then every smile of God, oh how welcome is it! Thus all the affections of their souls center in God, and run to God: as in winter-time all the sap of the tree runs to the root: in summer time it spreads itself in the body, but in the winter goes to the root When a man is sick, all the blood goes to the heart; so in a suffering condition, all the affection of the soul go to God.
But now what are the reasons why God will not leave his people that thus desire to please him? Why, God loves them, therefore he will not leave them. Persons we love, we cannot leave, especially when they are in a distressed condition; and as God hath set his love upon them, so they have set their love upon him. They love him, Psal. xci. 15. You have there an expression, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him: He shall call upon me, and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble.” God is a God of bowels, of great pity and compassion, and therefore he will not leave his people in a time of distress. You know bowels how they stand in you towards them that pre in misery; it goes to the heart of a merciful man to leave a person in misery. Oh how great are the bowels and compassions of God! “Is Ephraim my son, is he a pleasant child? Oh my bowels are turned with- in me, I will have mercy on him.”
2. Such as please God, shall have his presence under sufferings, because now they need God most. If God will not leave his people as to temporal supplies, because they need such and such things: they need meat, and they need clothing: surely much more God will not leave his children, as to spiritual supplies, under times of distress, because then they need God. Oh what can a believer do, or what can a believer suffer when God leaves him! His strength is in God; his support is in God; his comfort is in God, his all is in God: and therefore if God now leave him, what will become of him! He needs God at all times, but never so much as when his condition is dark and troubled. What was Samson, that man of so great strength, when his hair was gone? and what is a believer when his God is gone?
3. God loves to see his people cheerful in a time of suffering, and therefore he is with them; he loves not that they should walk dejectedly. When God is present Paul and Silas can sing in prison: the apostles can rejoice, that God honours them to be reproached for him. When God is present, the people of God are not only cheerful under tribulation, but can glory their cross is their crown; but if God be withdrawn, what can then be? drooping hearts and pensive sorrows.
4. God will not leave them, because they will not leave him; God will not leave them, because they suffer for his sake: were they not tender of God’s glory, and careful to please him, they might be free from suffering as well as others; but it is for God’s sake they suffer: “For thy sake we are killed like sheep, all the day long.”
Lastly, It is thus, because God will make it appear to all the world, that he puts a difference between them that desire to please him and other men. God hath a value for such. Do but see how Moses argues the case with God, Exod. xxxiii. 13. and so on, where he comes to God with a great request, that God will shew him his way, that he might know it; Why, saith God to him, My presence shall go with thee.” Moses said unto him, It is well thou art pleased to promise so great a mercy? “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not hence: for wherein shall it be known that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight. Is it not in this, that thou goest with us?” Observe, Moses pleads with God, how his favour and love and mercy should be with them, unless he were present with them! and so God walks with his people in trouble; for how should the world see God regarded them and did favour them, unless be manifested his presence unto them in a time of trouble and affliction!