William Dell

Preached at Cambridge, about the year 1647 by William Dell
Some time caster of Gonvil and Caius College, in Cambridge.
"And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me."
Matt. 11:6
THESE words are the conclusion of CHRIST's answer to that question which John the Baptist propounded to him by two of his disciples, himself being in prison: The question was this, "Art you he that should come, or do we look for another?" Writers conclude, that John propounded this question to CHRIST, not that he himself did doubt whether CHRIST was the true Messiah, or not, seeing he had before given so clear a testimony to CHRIST, that he was "the Lamb of GOD that takes away the sins of the world," and had also baptized him with water, and had seen at that time " the heavens opening, and the Spirit of GOD as a dove de­scending and resting on CHRIST," and had heard the Father's own voice, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Wherefore, they say, that John himself could not possibly, after all this, doubt of CHRIST; and therefore that he did not propound this question by his disciples for his own sake, but for theirs, that they who before had envied CHRIST for their master's sake, and would rather have had John to have been the Messias, might now be assured and fully instructed touch­ing CHRIST by himself.
It is not impossible, however, but John might propound this question for his own sake. For though, when he lived in peace and freedom, he had a clear revelation from the Father, touching the Son by the Spirit, and had accordingly clearly spoken of CHRIST to others, yet now, being in prison, and near death, he might be brought by great tribulation and temptation, to doubt of all that truth which before he had been taught of GOD. For we know not what place the Gospel of GOD our Savior has in us till tribulation comes; and so much of the true knowledge of CHRIST, and of true faith in CHRIST we have indeed, as we have strength in such hours. That truth which we confess freely in prosperity, we are fain to begin to learn again in tribulation; and tribulation makes us learn the truth over again the second time; it makes us to learn that in experience, which before we had learned only in doctrine.
But to leave this matter, whether John proposed this question for his own or for his disciple's sake, CHRIST returns him this answer by his disciples: "Go, and show John again those things you see and hear. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them:" And now let John himself resolve his own question, "Whether I am the true CHRIST, or not. "Go show John the things you see and hear." CHRIST does not say in plain terms, he was the CHRIST; he would have his works and word declare what he was, that our faith might have a sure foundation.
1. CHRIST would be known by his works. "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." And so every where in the gospel, CHRIST would be known to be what he was by works; particularly in John 10: 24, when the Jews came about him, and said, "How long dost you make us doubt? If you be the CHRIST, tell us plainly:" JESUS answered them, ver. 25, "I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me."
Thus you see that CHRIST will be known by his works. For he cannot he hid where he is present and dwells; but when this "Word was made flesh," that is, "came into the flesh," it did manifest itself to be in that flesh, by doing the works of GOD; and without the works of GOD, the presence of the Eternal Word in the flesh of CHRIST had not been known. Wherefore CHRIST is called "GOD manifested in the flesh," and not hidden; and he was manifested to be GOD in the flesh, by doing the works of GOD.
And as CHRIST is known by his works in himself, the head, so also in the church, his body; for wherever CHRIST's presence is, there also are his works; and where his works are not, there neither is his presence. if CHRIST be present in our hearts by faith, his works will be manifest in our lives. But it is not necessary for every Christian to do the works of CHRIST here mentioned; to wit, to cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the like. I answer, There are other works of CHRIST besides these, which are inseparable from his presence; as, the work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope; together with the self-denial of CHRIST; the meekness, lowliness, goodness, long-suffering, heavenly-mindedness of CHRIST; as also his readiness and diligence to do the will'of GOD, and his cheerfulness to suffer it; these works every one ought to perform that is a Christian, that so CHRIST may be still known by his works; as the apostle says, "show me thy faith by thy works;" that is, Let me know the presence of CHRIST in thee by the works of CHRIST. And thus is CHRIST known by his works, both in himself and his members.
Thus much touching the work of CHRIST in general. Now for the kind of works which CHRIST did; as, to "give eyes to the blind, and strength to the lame." They are all such works as the prophets had foretold the Messias should perform; as lsai. xxxv. 5: "Behold GOD will come and save you: then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing:" And he that did those things, thus foretold by the Spirit, must needs be the true CHRIST. And thus CHRIST does here describe himself by his own works, as one whose business lies with the poor, lame, blind, and all sorts of diseased, afflicted, sorrowful, and distressed persons; these he comprehends in the greatest love, and pities with the tenderest bowels, and minds with the greatest care and diligence, and relieves, helps, and saves them perfectly. Whence we learn, that CHRIST's kingdom brings good to all, but it receives nothing from any body; for it carries in it all the unsearchable riches of GOD, and stands in need of nothing that man can do. Wherefore it entertains not the rich, and full, and noble, and honorable of the world, and such as abound already, and have enough in themselves and the creatures; but only the poor, and needy, and afflicted, and desolate; and it supplies these freely and richly.
Again: As CHRIST is known by his works, so also by his word; and therefore he says, "Go, show John the things you hear, as well as the things you see;" and that is, that "the poor have the gospel preached to them." For CHRIST's works and CHRIST's word do always go together. CHRIST's life is always accompanied with CHRIST's doctrine. CHRIST's works and CHRIST's word go always together, both in himself, the head, and in the true church, his body. Wherefore CHRIST says, "Go, show to John the things you see and hear:" the things you see; " the blind receive their sight:" the things you hear; " the poor have the gospel preached to them."
The Gospel is the free promise of GOD, in which nothing but mere love, mercy, and grace is offered in JESUS CHRIST to them that believe, though they be never so great and grievous sinners. Particularly, this gospel is preached to the poor; to the poor in spirit; such as do not love, nor desire, nor delight in present things, but are so afflicted with the sense of sin and wrath, that they regard not the world, nor the riches, pleasures, and honors of it; but all they mind, or care for, is JESUS CHRIST, the love of GOD, the remission of sins, and the gift of the Spirit. These are the poor to whom CHRIST preaches the gospel, and they only regard the gospel; whilst the lovers of this world, and the lovers of themselves and this present life, care not for it.
And as CHRIST is known by his word, in himself the head, so also in the church, his body. For wherever CHRIST is present, there is his word, as well as his works; and where CHRIST's true word is not, neither is his pre­sence there. Wherefore all the faithful, as they have received the Gospel themselves, so they hold it forth to others upon all opportunities. And thus you have seen how CHRIST gives forth himself to be known by his works and by his word.
Now, CHRIST having returned this full and satisfactory answer to John, he adds this in the conclusion, "And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." For, notwithstanding that the works and words of CHRIST are the works and words of GOD in the flesh, yet the wisdom and prudence, the religion and righteousness of the world find much matter of offence in JESUS CHRIST; wherefore CHRIST says, "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me."
In discoursing touching the offence which is taken against CHRIST by men; I shall show,
I. Who are they that are offended at CHRIST.
II. What those things are whereat they are offended, and why they are offended at them.
III. What a great evil it is to be so offended.
IV. What a great blessedness it is not to be so offended. And,
V. Make some use of all.
I. Who they are that are offended at CHRIST.
And here I affirm first, that the whole world in general is offended at CHRIST; for they living without the Spirit of faith, must needs offended at CHRIST, by all those scandals which are raised up against CHRIST by the devil and men; and they suck in as readily as a spring does water whatever aspersions and reproaches are raised against him: and therefore says CHRIST, Matt. 18: 17, "Wo be to the world, because of offences;" for offences must needs come, and the world will needs receive them, and therefore wo be to the world. So that the whole world, that is, who­soever are not true believers, are all offended at CHRIST and his Gospel; all the children of the first Adam are offended at the second Adam, who is wholly unlike them, yea, and in all things contrary to them.
Yea, secondly, not only the common people of the world, vulgar and contemptible men, but all the chief and choice men of the world, kings of the earth, and rulers, and judges, and magistrates, (as in Psalm 2:) and all the best, and most learned, wise, and great, and most honorable men, are offended at CHRIST, 1 Con 2: 8, whom none of the princes of this world knew; he means it of philosophers as well as of secular powers; and not knowing him, they crucified him.
And not only the world but also the worldly and carnal church, is very much offended at CHRIST. This we see in CHRIST's time, that the only visible church in the world, the church of the Jews, which had the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, and observed all the outward ordinances of GOD, were all offended at CHRIST, and made an order, that whosoever acknowledged him should be excommunicated, cast out of the synagogue.
And yet this is not all: for not only the carnal Christians, but the carnal clergy are offended at CHRIST; and not only the common people of the national church, but many of the chief rulers, of the most eminent, and in appearance most holy and orthodox of the clergy, are above all others grievously offended at CHRIST This also we see was the case in CHRIST's time, when the Scribes, and Pharisees, and rulers of the people, men of great reputation and renown for religion, were above the rest of the church offended at CHRIST. And this was foretold, Psalm cxviii. 22, " The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner;" this rejected stone is CHRIST himself, and these builders were the chief rulers and governors of the church; and accordingly both CHRIST and the apostles applied this Scripture to them. So that many of the builders that teach, and instruct, and govern the church, and are reputed the best, and most profitable and necessary men in it, yea, the very pillars of the church, so that it is thought all would come to ruin without them, these are the men that are most offended at CHRIST.
Now when the people see the rulers and governors of the church, who are thought to have more knowledge, learning, light, and religion than others, offended at CHRIST, this exceedingly increases their offence; when they see the builders rejecting this stone, this causes them to reject him with the greater indignation. And thus you see, that this offence at CHRIST is spread over all the world and worldly church, and very few there are who escape it. And this for the first thing.
II. I am to show, what are the things in CHRIST at which they are offended, and why they are offended at them.
The world and the worldly church are offended, 1. At CHRIST himself; 2. At his true word; 3. At his true worship; 4. At his true church; 5. At his true government. Of these things I shall speak in order, and shall desire to be so faithful to CHRIST, as not to depart one hair's breadth from his truth, though it may be that all, or the greatest part of you, should be grievously offended at it.
I begin with the first, and will show that the world and worldly church are offended:
1. At CHRIST himself. And at him they are offended in many regards, of which I shall mention the following:
1. They are offended at the meanness of his outward condition in the world. For indeed he was in a very low and contemptible condition in the days of his flesh, an ordinary tradesman in his town, and lived with Joseph in his trade of a carpenter. They thought the CHRIST, of whom such excellent things were spoken, should be some great prince, or learned priest; and that that mean condition in which he was could in no measure be suitable to the true CHRIST; and for this cause they were greatly offended at him, and thought. him not worthy to be in any place of reckoning.
2. They were offended that he being in so mean a condition, John the Baptist should yet speak such high things of him, and he of himself. John the Baptist testified of him, that he was the a only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father; the Lamb of GOD that takes away the sins of the world; and that he who did believe in him, had everlasting life; and that he who did not should not see life, but the wrath of GOD should abide on him." And these all were wonderful things, to be spoken of one whose condition in the world was so plain and con­temptible. And as John had spoken these things of CHRIST, so CHRIST every where gave forth himself as the Son of GOD, and said, he and his Father were one. And this exceedingly offended the Jews, who "sought to kill him, not only because he had broken the sabbath, but also because he had said GOD was his Father, making himself equal with GOD."
3. They were offended at CHRIST, because in him was no human or worldly thing which any natural man could possibly like or delight in. He exercised no worldly wit, wisdom, learning, nor any thing that might commend him to the world. There was nothing in him but the presence of GOD, the righteousness of GOD, the nature of GOD, the Spirit of GOD: and GOD was all in all in CHRIST; and GOD is wholly contrary to the world, and the world to GOD: and so the world and worldly church were wholly offended at CHRIST.
4. They were offended at the reports that went commonly abroad touching CHRIST, raised for the most part by the scribes, and pharisees, and rulers of the church, who gave out that he was a sabbath-breaker, a blasphemer, a glutton and wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, and that he had a devil, and was mad. These were the common reports that were divulged touching CHRIST, and that by the teachers of the best repute in the church; and the common people believed them, and thereupon were horribly offended both at CHRIST's doctrine and works.
5. They were offended at him because of his shameful cross and sufferings. And herein lay the heighth and depth of that offence; for the ecclesiastical power con­demned him as a deceiver and blasphemer, and they also prevailed with the secular power to condemn him as a seditious person; and so after all the works of GOD which he had done, and words of GOD which he had taught, they at last crucified him between two thieves, by the common consent of all the people. And in all this suffering nobody offered him the least pity, but the common people mocked him, and said, He saved others, but cannot save himself. And thus much for their offence at CHRIST himself.
2. The world is offended at CHRIST's true Word.
1. Because it is the word of faith; the word of faith, and not of sense; the word of faith, and not of works. For this word of faith is wholly a Spiritual word, and has nothing in it that is suitable to flesh and blood; nothing in it that pleases the fancy, or understanding of man; nothing wherein a natural or carnal heart can take pleasure.
2. They are offended at the Word, because it exalts CHRIST alone, and in him the power of GOD, and the wisdom of GOD, and the righteousness of GOD, and the things of GOD; and cries down all the things of the world in which men trust and delight, and all the common religion and righteousness of the world, and makes CHRIST all in all.
3. They are offended at this Word, because it cannot be learned as human arts and sciences can, by the teaching of man, together with their own pains and endeavors, but only by the teaching of' GOD and his Spirit; as it is written, they (that is the true children of the spiritual church) shall be taught of GOD. All my divinity, (said Luther), consists in this, that I believe that CHRIST only is the Lord, and neither my grammar nor Hebrew tongue taught me this, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Now when GOD teacheth us his Word himself, we have another understanding of it than other men who hear and read the same outward words, and yet want this inward teaching. And this offends the carnal Christians grievously, that the spiritual Christians have another knowledge of the Word than they. Whereupon they thus break out, "What! are you the only men who have the Word of GOD, and is all wisdom and knowledge comprehended in your breasts? And do you know more of the mystery of CHRIST than the grave and learned men who have studied the Scriptures all their life?" And thus they are greatly offended.
4. They are, offended at this Word, because it discovers the wickedness of the world. The world does not seem the thousandth part so wicked any where as it does where the Gospel comes. For where this clear light of GOD shines, and the Word comes in truth and power, there not only the wickedness of the world appears out of measure wicked, but also the religion and righteousness, works and duties of the carnal Christians, are manifested to be the deceivableness of unrighteousness, and wholly contrary to CHRIST, the righteousness of GOD, and so nothing else but a more plausible way to death and hell. Where the Word of CHRIST comes in power, there many who before seemed very religious people, and very quiet and peaceable men, become full of wrath, and rage, and enmity against it, and call it error, heresy, and blasphemy, and so spit in the very face of the truth and Gospel of CHRIST. And no man could ever have imagined they had been such children of the devil before the Word came, Thus by the coming of CHRIST, the thoughts of many hearts are revealed, and that unbelief and enmity against CHRIST, which before lay hid, is discovered and brought forth by the preaching of the Word, as we have seen heretofore, and still see by daily experience; and for this cause also many are offended.
5. They are offended at the true Word, because every where so few entertain and embrace it: as when CHRIST himself preached, there were very few in all Judea and Jerusalem that entertained his doctrine. Now this makes many offended at it, that when it comes to any town or people the far greater part should reject it, and speak evil of it; and they for the most part the greatest, wisest, and most learned men, and that only a few poor and contemptible people should receive it.
6. Lastly, they are offended because the true Word of CHRIST, where it comes with the demonstration of the Spirit, brings troubles, tumults, stirs, and uproars in the world, according to that of CHRIST, Matt. 10: 34, " I came not to send peace but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." For the true Word of CHRIST is such a sword as cuts in sunder all natural and civil relations, and takes away the peace of any place where it comes in power. The Lord says by the prophet, Is not my Word as fire? And this Word comes to burn up all the corrupt manners, fashions, customs, yea all the lusts and sins of the world, and all Antichristian doctrine. And when this fire begins to burn any where, presently all the people are in an uproar, and lay all their heads, and use all their hands together to quench it. So that wherever the true Word comes, the "Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against it, and say, Let us break these bonds in sunder, and cast away these cords from us," which no flesh and blood, especially the rich, wise, learned, honorable, would endure to be bound in. Now this exceedingly offends; for, say they, before this kind of Word came in, all things were quiet and in good order: but since this new doctrine came in, all things are full of trouble and mischief; and therefore they reckon this the cause of all these evils.
But yet the cause of all these tumults is not truly in the Word, but in the world, and in the devil. CHRIST will have his Christians to publish his Word, and thereby to gather together his elect unto him. Now the world, and the devil, the prince of it, will not suffer this to be done quietly; and hence arise all tumults. The devil, who has the first possession of the world, would have all things quiet, that he might keep his possession: CHRIST will not suffer it so to be, but will have all those whom his Father has given him out of the devil's possession, by the might and efficacy of his Word; but the devil will not endure that this should be done quietly, but stirs up all the world against the Word. And so wherever the Word comes in truth, there are always troubles and uproars; but where the Word is preached, and the world is quiet, that for certain is not the true Word of GOD. And thus much for their offence at the true Word of CHRIST.
3. They are offended at his true Worship.
For CHRIST under the New Testament has instituted a new worship, and this the world are also greatly offended at. Because this worship is spiritual, and has nothing carnal in it; according to that of CHRIST, John 4:23, "The hour cometh, and now is, that the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. GOD is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth;" and there is no worship in truth, but that which is in spirit.
Now spiritual worship stands in faith, hope, and love, whereby our old nature is mortified, and we bring forth spiritual fruit unto GOD and to our brother. And this worship at all times, and in all places, may be performed by true believers. And so accordingly all true believers, at all times, and in all places, believe in GOD, and trust in him, and fear him, and love him, and delight in him, and speak good of his name, and also do good to their brother, in instructing, teaching, exhorting, comforting him, and helping him as freely as CHRIST has helped them.
Now the world is greatly offended at this spiritual worship; and that first, because it makes no great show, nor presents any glorious outside to it, and so they despise it as a notional or melancholy thing. And secondly, because this is wholly out of the power of the natural man, and no man by his natural abilities can attain there-unto. Wherefore they are offended at this kind of worship, and would have none but that which stands in outward works and duties, ceremonies and observation of days, times, places, and persons.
4. They are offended at the true church of CHRIST.
1. Because CHRIST under the New Testament has set up a new church, which is not outward and visible, as the church of the Old Testament was; neither carries in it any worldly pomp, power, and glory, as the church of Antichrist doth, but is spiritual and invisible, and as utterly unknown to the world as CHRIST himself. The true church under the new law is the congregation of spiritual men, gathered together in one faith, hope, and love, in one Spirit, in one CHRIST, in one GOD. It is the company of the faithful and elect which have CHRIST for their head. This church is conceived and formed, brought forth, and brought up, fed and clothed, strengthened and adorned, protected and perfected by the word of faith alone: yea, the whole nature, life, and being of this church is in the word of faith.
2. They are offended at this church, because it is the habitation of GOD, wherein he himself is present, is manifested, speaks, works, reigns, is glorified, and is all in all in it; and so it will not receive unto itself any thing of the power, wisdom, and righteousness of man. They are much offended to hear that this church is the temple of the living GOD, and that the members of it are filled with all the fullness of GOD. This does so exceedingly offend them that it causes them to blaspheme, in crying out against this doctrine of the Spirit of GOD as blasphemy.
3. They are offended at this church, because usually GOD calls into it not the great and honorable, and wise, and learned, but mean, plain, and simple people, according to that of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 1: 26, "You see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and GOD has chosen the weak things of the world, and things which are despised has GOD chosen, to confound the mighty, and base things of the world, yea, and things that are not, to bring to nought things that are." So that this true church consists of a small company of poor, mean, simple, base, and despised men in the eyes of the world; yea, of such, who in their judgment, deserve to have no being in the world. And who, say they, would join themselves to such a congregation?
4. The great and worldly-wise are much offended at this church because of its outward afflicted condition, it having fellowship with CHRIST in all his sufferings; and so is always reproached, despised, slandered, torn, spit on, buffeted, crucified, and mocked; for all, most, or some of these sufferings, the spiritual church is never privileged in the world. And by reason of these things the visage of the true church seems foul, deformed, and offensive in the eyes of men. And thus much for their offence at the true church.
5. They are offended at the true government of this church.
1. In that CHRIST will have none brought to his church by outward violence and compulsion, but in the day of his power, (that is, of the Gospel): he only entertains the willing people, and compels nobody against their wills.
2. They are offended at his government, in that CHRIST does nothing in his church by the secular arm, but by his Word and Spirit; and these alone are infinitely sufficient to do all that CHRIST would have done in his kingdom.
3. In that he will have us " to love our enemies, and to do good to them that do evil to us, and to pray for them that persecute us and despitefully use us;" he will not have us to be enemies to any, or to do evil to any, or to persecute and use despite to any. He will have us to beware of false prophets, but not to destroy them; and to avoid heretics, but not to kill them; and will have neither of them burnt with any fire but the fire of love.
4. In that he will have all things in his kingdom ordered and done only by the law of love, and nothing by violence or compulsion. Now this kind of government of the true church does grievously offend the world, because they know no government of the church at all but that of the ecclesiastical and civil power intermingled. For they want faith to commit the government of CHRIST's own church to his own care, by his Word and Spirit. And thus they are offended at this true government also.
Thus have I declared how the world and worldly church are offended at CHRIST and his Word, and worship, and church, and government; and so consequently at all his things. And now I proceed to the third general pro-pounded; to wit, to show,
III. How great an evil it is to be thus offended at CHRIST. And this appears in many particulars.
1. One evil is, that to be offended at CHRIST is a certain evidence that men are wholly ignorant of CHRIST and of GOD, though they be called Christians, and have the name of GOD in their mouths. For if men knew CHRIST aright, and GOD in CHRIST, it were impossible they should be offended at him. And inasmuch as they are offended, it is certain they do not know him by any revelation from the Father. Wherefore CHRIST tells his disciples, John 16: 3, that the chief ground of that offence, which the world should take against them who are his true members, is, because they have not known the Father, nor him.
2. They that are offended at CHRIST lose all that spiritual and eternal advantage that comes by CHRIST to true believers; namely, the love of GOD, reconciliation with GOD, the righteousness, wisdom, and power, and all the fullness of GOD in CHRIST; and JESUS CHRIST is wholly in vain to them.
3. They that are offended at CHRIST are utterly ruined through such offence: wherefore CHRIST is called "a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence, to them that are disobedient and stumble at the Word:" and he is said to be set for the fall and ruin of many in Israel; and Matt. 21: 44, CHRIST says, "Whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall it shall grind him to powder." For whoever stumbles, or dashes against this stone, dashes against GOD himself in the nature of man. He dashes against the counsel of GOD, against the wisdom of GOD, against the love, mercy, righteousness, truth, and power of GOD; against the eternal Word and Spirit of GOD; and no man perishes like that man. For he incurs all that wrath, vengeance, destruction, damnation, which the Lord GOD himself in all his infinite wisdom, knowledge, righteousness, justice, and power, can inflict on him to all eternity, and so he is indeed ground to powder.
'Yea, farther, that man that stumbles against CHRIST is not only ruined by such offence, but ruined without all hope of recovery. They that are broken against him are broken "in pieces like a potter's vessel," which can never be made up again; they that fall against him never rise again; they that are ruined by him are never repaired again. If a man were dashed in pieces by Moses, he might be repaired again by CHRIST; but he that is destroyed by the Savior, by whom shall he be saved? He that was condemned by the justice of GOD for sin, might recover again by the love and mercy of GOD in CHRIST; but he that is destroyed by the love and mercy of GOD, is past all hope and remedy.
This now have I spoken in faithfulness to JESUS CHRIST, and in faithfulness to all that hear, that they may avoid that ruin which will otherwise inevitably befall them for their offence at CHRIST and his Gospel. And now let them that can receive it, receive it; and let them that cannot, deride and reject it. But whether you receive it, or whether you reject it, sure I am I have spoken the truth, which GOD himself in his due time will witness to.
IV. The fourth point is, the blessedness of them that are not offended at CHRIST, according to CHRIST's Word here, "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." Now those very few that are not offended at CHRIST when the whole world are offended, their blessedness appears in many particulars.
1. As first, in that it is evident they all are taught of GOD, and have heard and learned from the Father himself touching the Son. They see CHRIST by the revelation of the Father. Wherefore when the world had many opinions of CHRIST, and Peter notwithstanding acknowledged him to be the Son of the living GOD, CHRIST replied, " Blessed art thou, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father which is in heaven." And this is thy blessedness, that you knows me by the revelation of the Father, and so knows me aright, and art not offended. He then that is not offended at CHRIST when all other men are, has for certain the Father's teaching, and secs CHRIST far otherwise than the world do. He sees CHRIST in all his mystery, and in all his glory. And when we see him thus, we value him never the worse for the form of a servant, nor for all his reproaches and sufferings from the world, but we rather behold these things with the greater wonder and comfort; seeing for our sakes he humbled himself from the form of GOD to the form of a servant, and in that form to the death of the cross.
2. They are blessed, because through this revelation of the Father they have true faith in CHRIST wrought in them. For true faith in CHRIST does necessarily follow the Father's revelation; all when GOD teaches us CHRIST, we must needs believe in him; and through this faith we know him by experience. And he that knows CHRIST through the experience of faith, finds and feels CHRIST to be all that to him which the Scripture speaks of him. He through this faith feels CHRIST to be made unto him of GOD wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemp­tion; and CHRIST being through faith made all that to him which he is in himself, it is not possible he should be offended at him. Farther, through this experience of faith CHRIST becomes precious to him, as Peter says, I Pet. 2: 7, "To you who believe he is precious:" that very CHRIST, which to others is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, is precious to them that have faith; so precious, that they esteem all the greatest and most excellent things in the world but dross and dung in comparison of him. And such believers have chosen to part with their liberty, their estates, their relations, and their own lives, (all which are precious things in themselves) rather than they would part with this infinitely more precious CHRIST.
V. I now proceed to make some use of all.
The first use is, to warn all men of all sorts that they take special care that they be not offended at CHRIST, and the things of CHRIST. You have heard that the world, and the wisest and greatest of the world are offended at CHRIST; and you have beard also how great an evil it is to be offended, and how great a blessedness it is not to be offended; wherefore I advise you to take care that you be not found amongst them who are offended at CHRIST. But you will be ready to say, "We are not offended at CHRIST; we love, honor, and embrace both CHRIST and the things of CHRIST." To this I answer, Many say they are not offended at CHRIST, and think so too, who yet indeed are grievously offended at him. For, First, he that is offended at the true Word of CHRIST, is offended at CHRIST himself, who is present in that Word; wherefore says Peter, 1 Pet. 2: 8, " He is a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to them that stumble at the Word." Most people adore the outward name of CHRIST, but yet cannot endure the true Word of CHRIST. Now all that are offended at the true spiritual Word and right doctrine of the Gospel, are offended at CHRIST himself, and stumble at that stumbling-stone. And thus multitudes are offended at CHRIST, who think themselves very free from this sin.
Secondly, they that are offended at true believers are offended at CHRIST himself. For they are in the world as he was, and walk as he walked; and they are one flesh and Spirit with him; they are his members, they are himself: for CHRIST is the self-same both in himself the head, and in believers his members. And these are the children of GOD, together with him the First-born; these partake of the same divine nature, and have the same Spirit dwelling in them, in the same righteousness, wisdom, grace, and truth, and there is no difference between CHRIST and them but what is between the head and the members, the First-born and his brethren. And so they that are offended at these, would as certainly be offended at CHRIST himself if he had lived in their time, or if they had lived in his. Yea, they who are offended at CHRIST in believers, would much more have been offended at CHRIST in himself, because what is in a Christian only in part, was fully in CHRIST; what is in a Christian in a small measure, was in CHRIST without mea­sure; and there was in CHRIST a far more glorious presence and manifestation of GOD than in any Christian; and pro­portionably would they have been offended at him in himself, who are truly offended at him in his members.
Thirdly, they who are offended at the sufferings which come on Christians, are offended at CHRIST himself, because they suffer not on their own account, but on CHRIST's; and the cross they take up and bear is his, and not their own. If they would live as other men in the common religion of the nation, and make use of the form of Godliness without the power, then might they live as quietly and prosperously as other men; but because they cleave only to CHRIST, and take him for their only Master in the things of GOD, and do receive his Word in faith, therefore the world hates them; as CHRIST said, "I have given them thy Word, and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world."
2. Let all men take heed, as not to be offended them-selves at CHRIST, so also not to be offended with the offences of others. But when we see the whole world offended at CHRIST, let us take care that we be not there-fore offended also; but let us consider,
(1.) That it is no new thing that CHRIST and his Gospel should be stumbled at; for thus it has been ever since CHRIST was manifested in the flesh. In the days of his ministry many of his disciples said, "This is a hard saying, who can bear it?" Yea, "many of his disciples murmured at his doctrine, and went back and walked no more with him." And all along during CHRIST's ministry, many were snared and stumbled, and fell, and were broken thereby; and he that is offended at this, must get him another CHRIST, and another Gospel; for the true CHRIST is set for a sign to be spoken against, and the true Gospel is set for a word of contradiction to the carnal Christians, and to the whole world. Wherefore when we see the world offended at CHRIST and his Gospel, let us know that thus it has been from the beginning; and let us know that as CHRIST and his Gospel are the same now as they were then, so the world, and Antichrist, and the devil are the same also; and therefore it cannot be but CHRIST and his Gospel must suffer the same contradiction in our time as they have done in all former times.
(2.) That we may not be offended with the general offence of others, let us consider that CHRIST and his Gospel are never the worse for the offence which the world takes at them, but CHRIST is still the Son of the living GOD, and the Gospel is still the power of GOD to salvation to every one that believes; and CHRIST and his Word do still remain a sure foundation for the true church of GOD; that "CHRIST crucified, who is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness," is notwithstanding to them who "believe the power of GOD, and the wisdom of GOD," 1 Cor. 1: 23, 24.
(3.) Let us consider that notwithstanding all the offence of men, CHRIST and his Gospel cannot be prevailed against. Men may be offended at CHRIST and his Word, but they cannot destroy them, they do and will still prevail against all things that oppose them. Wherefore, to deliver us from the scandal of all men's being offended against CHRIST, we are to consider that as all the world have been, are, and will be against CHRIST, so CHRIST and his kingdom shall rise up and increase against all the world, at all their thoughts and endeavors; and all their counsels, contrivances, and actings shall not be able to hinder the kingdom of CHRIST; but it shall arise and stand up in all its glory, out of the midst of all the offences and contradictions in the world. Wherefore CHRIST and his kingdom are called a tried stone; for he has long ago endured whatever the world could do against him, and whatever the might and malice of men and devils could do, and yet has overcome all. All that have opposed him have been dashed in pieces by him in the several ages of the world; and he and his kingdom still remain, and shall remain for ever.
3. In the third place I shall show you how believers ought to carry themselves in the midst of those offences that are taken against CHRIST, and against themselves for CHRIST's sake; that is, for his life and doctrine's sake.
First then we ought to be careful to abide in CHRIST, and to walk in CHRIST; to speak all our words, and to do all our works, and to live our whole life in CHRIST and in his Spirit, that so the world may not be offended at us, who are nothing and do nothing of ourselves, but at CHRIST in us, who is and does all in us. Secondly, To carry ourselves aright in the midst of offences, let us be sure that the Word we believe and hold forth is CHRIST's Word, and then we may be very confident that this truth and cause shall and must remain, how many adversaries soever it may have; and though the world and devil may rage against it, yet they shall never be able to overthrow it.
A true Christian must be able to say, I know the Word which I believe and profess is the only Word of the Lord GOD, and his everlasting and unchangeable truth, and the last manifestation of his will by his own Son; and whatever Word agreeth not herewith is false, and of the devil; and therefore by this Word will I stay though all the world be against me. And when we are thus certain of the Word of GOD through faith and the Spirit, it comforts the heart and makes it glad, and settles it in inward peace and rest, in the midst of all outward oppositions and troubles.
4. Lastly, I shall speak a few words to those in this university and town who are offended at CHRIST and his Gospel; and also a few words to those who (through the grace of GOD) have escaped this offence.
(1.) And first, for you who are offended at CHRIST and his Word, which is come among you in truth and in plainness, and are angry at it, storm at it, reproach it, and contrive how to resist it, and to hinder the free course of it in this place, because it is not only contrary to the philosophical divinity of the schools, and the common carnal religion of the nation, but also does reprove and condemn them, and will have the haughtiness of men bowed down, and the pride of men laid low, and the Lord JESUS CHRIST only exalted; I say, you that are thus offended, for this, cause, are offended at CHRIST himself, and at GOD in CHRIST, and you do stumble at the stumbling-stone, and shall so fall thereby as to be broken in pieces. Yea, this stone itself shall fall upon you, and shall grind you to powder, and you shall be punished "with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" and this destruction shall be poured on you with the greatest severity and wrath that GOD himself can inflict in all his infiniteness and eternity. Assuredly it had been much better for you that you had lived among the Pagans, where the Gospel of GOD our Savior had never been heard, than to hear this joyful sound (which manifests the love of GOD, and brings along with it remission of sins and the gift of the Spirit through faith in CHRIST,) and to be offended at it, and so to be destroyed by the Word of salvation, and to be immediately punished with eternal death by him who is the true GOD, and eternal life. And this is the heavy burthen which the Word of the Lord has laid on your shoulders, and you cannot remove it.
(2.) And then for you true believers, you little flock, you few chosen out of the many called, who hear the Word of CHRIST and are not offended at it, though you hear it every where, and that with both ears in this university and town, contradicted, misreported, re­proached, scandalized, and called error, heresy, new light, faction, schism, sedition, and hear all manner of evil spoken against it falsely, not only by the rude and ignorant people, but also by the Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites of this place; and yet for all these offences you are not offended at it, but own it, love and embrace it, notwithstanding all the disadvantages it has from this place, which is counted by carnal people the very fountain of religion and the ministry; to all such I say, by the Word of the Lord, blessed are ye, blessed of the Lord, for ye are all taught of GOD touching CHRIST, and have heard and learned the Son from the Father, and through this teaching you have true faith in CHRIST, and so know him by experience, whereupon CHRIST is most precious to you; and through this faith you are established on CHRIST, so that nothing from earth or hell can remove you.
This is your blessedness from the Lord; and the world and the devil shall never be able to make it void; and therefore go and eat your bread with cheerfulness, and lie down and rise, and live in safety under the shadow of the Almighty, though in this world, and in this place, you dwell among bears and lions, and have your conversation in the midst of scorpions; for CHRIST himself has blessed you in himself, and you shall be blessed for ever; "Blessed is he whosoever shall not he offended in me." William Dell

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