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The king hath a choice guard to attend him, but if ye did see what attendance the children of God have, you would admire. The angels of God do pitch their tents about them.
In the Canticles, the state of Solomon's bed is described with three score valiant men about it for a guard. What is this but a type of the angels of God guarding his own people, the militia of heaven?
But I perceive the time is past, therefore will end
JOHN, CHAP. VIII. VER. 31, 32.
Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, if ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
In the words before our Saviour justifies the doctrine he had delivered to the Jews, declaring that what he had delivered unto them was not his own only, but also proceeding from and agreeing with his Father; because that he came from the Father, yea from the bosom of the Father. So that no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. Christ here proves the truth of his kingly and prophetical office; that he took not this honor to himself, but was sent doing those things which were pleasing unto him. Now many were ready to carp and snatch at his sermon, upon whom he saw admonitions prevailed not. Therefore he turns him to those believing Jews on whom his speech had effect, and tells them that they had made a fair beginning, to be contented patiently to hear him, not finding knots in rushes, and cavilling at every small matter, as those other Jews did. He entreats them therefore to continue in his word, and they should be his disciples indeed; not to be as those who come for a season, and then run away. Therefore he tells them, if you would be sure to have any good by my word, ye must continue in my word. He shows there be two sorts of hearers.
1. Such as commend the word only, and so let it pass without any more good by it.
2. Such who not only commend it, but also lay it up in practice, to live accordingly. Unto this first sort of hearers he shows, the word shall do them no good, unless they continue in his truth. And then, if they do continue in his word, and cleave to his truth, he shows them it shall not be labour lost, or time ill spent, for thereby they shall know the truth, and the truth shall make them free.
I will not stand on any curious division to touch many things. The text is plain. It contains matter of practice, upon which I will insist.
I. Observe in general-surely the knowledge of the truth is a most excellent and precious thing, and to be exceedingly desired of us.
This seems a common point, yet our freedom stands upon it; nothing can make us free from bondage, but this: most men think not so; but certainly we shall find the point true. That the knowledge of the truth is the most excellent thing that may be. There be many proofs of this point, but we need not stand upon many. The wise man saith, "Geta wisdom, get understanding, forget it not, neither decline from the words of my mouth; forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee; love her and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding." Some you see, to obtain some gettings think their adventuring to the East Indies, and such like places, nothing. How comes it then that we have not this wisdom, which is of all other things the most precious? The truth is, we prize it not, we are fools, not knowing, or not valuing the richest commodities as we should. This the wise man confirms, "My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, and in the midst of the paths of judgment." It is valued above all things, yea and all precious stones, with all the riches of the world, so that nothing is like this: you see with those who have understanding to value things, unto such this high treasure is esteemed above all.
b Prov. chap. 8. ver. 19.
a Prov. chap. 4. ver. 5. Job. chap. 28. ver. 15.