And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?—Jeremiah 2.18.

 Show Menu 
Hide Banner

LECTURES,

VPON THE HISTORY

OF THE PASSION,

RESVRRECTION,

AND ASCENSION

OF OVR LORD

IESVS CHRIST.

Beginning at the eighteenth Chapter of

the Gospell, according to IOHN, and from the 16. verse of the 19. Chapter thereof, containing a perfect Harmo­nie of all the foure Euangelists, for the better vnderstan­ding of all the Circumstances of the LORDS death, and Reſurrection.

PREACHED BY THAT

reuerend and faithfull seruant of God,

Mr. ROBERT ROLLOCKE,

ſometime Minister of the Euangell of

IESVS CHRIST, and Rector of the

Colledge of EDINBVRGH.

EDINBVRGH,

Printed by ANDRO HART.

ANNO 1616.


THE LIV. LECTVRE,

OF THE RESVRRECTION OF CHRIST.


[ Concerning the Office of the Ministry; What Pastors are Commis­sioned to Preach; The Salvation which attends the Ministry of the Gospel; The Faith which Obtains that Salvation; The Promises Christ has Given for his Ministers’ Encour­agement and Comfort; The Assurance of their Continuance to the End of the World; And the Presence of our Saviour with his Ministers and People. ]

MATTH. CHAP. XXVIII.

  1. Teaching them to obſerue all things, whatſoeuer I haue commanded you: and loe, I am with you alway, untill the ende of the world, Amen.

MARKE, CHAP. XVI.

  1. He that ſhall beleeue, and bee baptized, ſhall be ſaued: but hee that will not beleeue, ſhall bee damned.
  2. And theſe tokens ſhall follow them that beleeue: In my Name they ſhall caſt out deuils, and ſhall ſpeake with new tongues,
  3. And ſhall take away ſerpentes: and if they ſhall drinke anie deadlie thing, it ſhall not hurt them: they ſhall lay their handes on the ſicke, and they ſhall recouer.

THe laſt daye (Welbeloued Brethren in Chriſt) we began to ſpeake of the nine appearings of the Lord to the Disciples as it is set down by Matthew and Mark.  He appeared to them in a Mountain of Galilee, vvhere He had appointed them to meet Him.  We heard what was the Disciples’ behaviour: The sight of that glorious Majesty made them to fall down and worship Him: yet in the mean time some of them doubted: and therefore the LORD, to confirm them, draws near unto them, and enters into communication with them: and in His communing, first He tells what power and authority was given Him, both in Heaven and earth: to the end He might move them the more willingly and cheerfully to undertake the office of the Apostleship.  Then {545} when He has laid down this power, as a ground of their office and Ministry, He sends them out in the world, charging them first to go to all Nations: Next, to preach to every creature: And thirdly, To baptize, in the Name and authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Now in these words, first He tells them what doctrine they should teach to the world, then he makes them a threefold promise: The first is of life and salvation to them that believe and are baptised: The second is a promise of the extraordinary and miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit: The third is a promise of His own glorious and powerful presence with them in discharging of their calling, & that not for a season, but to continue to the end of the world.  Then in the first words which we have read, He tells them what they should teach: not all things, not every thing that they pleased themselves: but He says, Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.  So He restrains the doctrine that they should teach unto the world, unto that doctrine which He himself first had taught them.  In the 14th chapter of John, verse 26, after He has first promised the Holy Spirit, to teach His Apostles all things, then He tells what He means by All these things, which His Spirit should teach: and He bounds them, and restrains them, to that doctrine, which He Himself had taught them before: For, says He, he shall bring all things to your remembrance, which I have told you.  Even so here He restrains the preaching of the Apostles, to these things which He Himself had taught them.  So mark this lesson: The doctrine of Jesus Christ, which He delivered the time that He lived in the world, and had His conversation among men, is the ground, the rule, and the measure of all true doctrine.  The Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whom He left behind Him, to be His vicegerent in the earth, kept precisely this rule: He taught not so much as one sentence in substance, but that which CHRIST had taught before.  The Apostles, whom He sent out into the world, declined not one jot from this rule: for they taught the world nothing but that which the Holy Spirit had furnished and suggested unto them before: and that Spirit taught them nothing, but that which IESVS had taught them before.  So that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, & the Apostles, come all wholly from Jesus, as the only doctor & teacher of His Kirk [Church], of whom the Father said in His baptism & transfiguration, Hear him.  So it should be with ministers {546} and Teachers of the Church to the end of the world: they should make Christ’s doctrine to be the rule of all their doctrine, they should teach nothing but that which Christ teached before them: the faithful Ministers of Christ in all ages have striven to do so: they confirmed all their doctrine, so far as they could, to the doctrine of Christ.  Indeed it is true, through process of time, corrupt men entered in the Church, who respected not God, nor His glory, nor the well[fare] and salvation of men, but their own honour, their own lusts, and their belly, who taught the world, not the doctrine of Christ, the way of life, but their own fantasies, dreams, and traditions.  We may see this lamentable experience this day in the kingdom of the Antichrist: What teaches the Pope and his Clergy to the world?  Not the word of God:  Not the doctrine of Christ:  Not that doctrine which the Holy Spirit furnished to the Apostles: not that which the Apostles have left in register this day: they make not that to be the rule of their preaching, but they teach their own vanities, devised by themselves: they teach men’s traditions: they teach unwritten verities, as they call them, which are for the most part altogether repugnant to the doctrine of Christ.  The Lord save us from their doctrine, wherewith they poison the world, and bring men to perdition.  Now, as the Pastors are obliged to teach nothing but the doctrine of Christ, so are the people bound to hear, and receive none other doctrine, but the doctrine of Christ: and for this cause, they should pray earnestly, for the Holy Spirit, who is promised to His own, to illuminate their minds, and to give them the gift of discretion, to discern spirits, as also, they should be diligently exercised in reading, and considering the Old and New Testament, the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, which contain exactly the doctrine of Christ necessary to salvation.

Now, let us consider in order the promises which the Lord joins with this commission that He gives to His Apostles: the first two are set down in Mark, the third in Matthew: the first promise is of everlasting life and salvation, to all that believe by their Ministry, and are baptized by them: He that shall believe, and be baptized, shall be saved.  This promise of life and salvation that He subjoins to the preaching and baptizing of the Apostles, was, no doubt, to move and allure men upon the consideration of so fair and great benefits, that they should receive {547} the more willingly, to believe in the Lord Jesus: With this promise to them that believe, He joins a denunciation of judgment against all those who would not believe by their Ministry: He denounces eternal death, and damnation against them: He that will not believe, says he, shall be condemned.  So that, as on the one part, He promises a fair reward, to move men to believe: so on the other part, He threatens a fearful judgment against them that believe not but despises the Apostles’ doctrine, to make men to abhor and detest that abominable sin of infidelity [unbelief].  Upon this promise of reward, and threatening of judgment: first, we learn this lesson: The Ministry of the Gospel is ever effectual and powerful in men, either one way or other: for seeing, this Ministry of the Gospel, which from the Apostles’s days continues, and shall continue to the end of the world, is grounded upon that incomprehensible power that fills both heaven and earth, how is it possible, but it must be mighty and powerful?  It must be powerful, either to life and salvation: or else, to death and damnation: to life to them that believe: to death to them that believe not.  Therefore Paul says, that always they triumphed, and were victorious in Christ, and that they were a savour to God, both in them that are saved, and in them who perish: In them who are saved, they were the savour of life unto life: but in them who perish, they were the savour of death unto death, 2 Cor. 2.14-16.  The Apostle in these words, lets us see, that the preaching of the Gospel is ever powerful and effectual in all sorts of men.  Alas, men count too lightly: yea, despise, contemn and scorn this preaching, as if it were a matter of none effect, and the word of man and not of God: but take heed, how thou hearest the Gospel: for thou shalt find it to be the most powerful thing that ever was, and if it be not powerful to work life and salvation, it shall work death and damnation in thee: 

Next, [Doctrine 2] we learn out of these words, that Faith, Righteousness, Salvation, and all spiritual graces, are so tied and bound to this Ministry of the Gospel, that whosoever submits himself to this Ministry, and conforms himself to the Gospel, he shall attain to Faith, Righteousness, Life, and Salvation: and by the contrary: whosoever contemns this Ministry, he shall never get any spiritual grace: no Faith, no Righteousness, no Life, no Salvation but by this Gospel.  But ye will say, We should not tie nor bind {548} the grace of God to those external things?  We should not restrain God’s working to the outward Ministry.  Indeed, I grant, the grace of GOD, is not so tied to these ordinary means, and outward helps, which are daily used in the Church, but that [H]e may work without them, and that [H]e may work immediately by His own Spirit, in whom, and when He pleases: but it is as true, that whosoever contemns those outward ordinary means, which the LORD hath ordained to be used: he shall be deprived of all spiritual grace, of Faith, of Righteousness, of Salvation: For Faith, says Paul, is by hearing, and hearing by the word of God preached, Rom. chapter 10, verse 17.  Many foolish men withdraw themselves from the outward Ministry, from the means of grace, and are exercised in pastime, in drinking, in harlotry, and yet they will say, they will come to Heaven as soon as the best of them, but they deceive themselves: for if thou contemnest these outward means, which the LORD hath ordained, thou shalt never get no grace, the gates of Heaven shall be closed on thee, thy portion shall be with the Devil and His Angels: 

Thirdly, [Doctrine 3] we may mark out of this promise, an excellent and worthy effect of Faith: to wit, Salvation and eternal life: for He says, He that believeth, shall be saved.  But we may not think that this effect proceeds from the force, power, worthiness, and merits of Faith: No, but this effect of life and Salvation proceeds only from the virtue, power, and merit of Christ, which the soul apprehends: for this Life and Salvation stays and abides so plenteously, and in such abundance in Christ, that as soon as we put out the hand of Faith, and take hold of Him, so soon will we find that life of CHRIST conveyed into our souls.  His life is made ours by Faith: In Christ there dwells such a marvellous and glorious light, that when we approach to Him by Faith, by the beams of His brightness, He shines in our hearts, that we may get the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus, 2 Cor. 4.6.  By Faith His light is made ours: in Christ there is such a wonderful and incomprehensible glory, that as soon as with open face with the eye of Faith we behold Him in the mirror of the Gospel, as soon are we transformed in the same Image from glory to glory, 2 Cor. 3.18, by Faith His glory is made ours, & when we shall see Him face to face, & when Faith shall be turned into sight, He shall perfect {549} our glory, He shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. Philippians 3.21.  Seeing then so excellent and worthy are the effects of faith, we ought both carefully to use the ordinary means whereby faith is wrought; and also pray earnestly, that the Lord would give a blessing to them, and by them work faith in our hearts: that so we may enjoy all these graces and benefits. 

Fourthly, [Doctrine 4] we see in this promise of life and salvation, that the Lord joins Baptism with faith in Christ: For, says He, he that shall believe, and be baptized, shall be saved.  We may not understand this so, as if Baptism were either simply a cause, or an half-cause of salvation: No, it hath no respect of a cause in the salvation of man: but it is joined to Faith, as a sign, and an outward mark, to testify and bear witness of the cause, to wit, Faith in Jesus Christ: and in such sort it must follow upon Faith, and be conjoined with it, that he who believes would wish to be baptized, it is not possible that he can contemn Baptism.  And, if a man contemn Baptism, let him boast of his faith as he pleases, that contempt is a sure token, that he had never faith, neither shall he get eternal life.  So Baptism in some respect is necessary to salvation: that is, it must not be contemned, or neglected: for if a man contemn or neglect it, he cannot get salvation: but it is not simply and absolutely necessary to salvation: that is, in case a man contemn it not, nor neglect it, he may be saved without it.  It is the contempt, and not the want of it, that hurts man, for a man may be ingraffed in Christ by Faith, and may be saved by Christ, without the seal of Baptism: for the grace of God is not so bound and tied to the ordinary means and outward helps, but that the Lord may work without them when and where He pleases.  And the Lord Jesus apparently imports no less in these words, than that Baptism is not absolutely necessary to salvation: for when after the promise He sets down the cause of damnation, He speaks not a word of Baptism, for He says only, He that believes not shall be damned: of set purpose He leaves out Baptism.  And if it had been absolutely necessary to salvation, no question He would not have misknown it, and passed it by. 

Now last, mark the meaning of these words, He that believes not.  This negation and want of faith comprehends first, all sin whatsoever against the {550} moral Law, whether it be original sin, wherein we are conceived and born, or actual sin, proceeding from original sin; for if we have not Faith in the Lord Jesus, all these sins whatsoever will be laid to our charge, & will bring us to damnation.  Next, this negation and want of Faith, comprehends that infidelity, rebellion, & stubbornness, whereby men disdainfully refuse & reject that grace which the Lord offers freely in Jesus Christ to sinners, & this sin of infidelity, of all sins is the greatest & most detestable: and therefore procures most speedy, fearful, & heavy judgment; and therefore Christ says, He that believes not, is condemned already, John 3.18.  These words import that there is no delay of judgment to him, who disdainfully rejects grace, but the judgment is present and already passed against him: and he gives a reason, taken from that rebellion and repining against the Majesty of the only begotten Son of God, he is condemned already, says he, Because he hath not believed in the Name of that only begotten Son of God.  The Lord save us from this cursed sin of infidelity: for where it is, all other sins are laid to men’s charge, & it draws out most speedily most fearful judgments.

Now, it follows, that we speak of the second promise to them that believe: These tokens shall follow them that believe in my Name, they shall cast out devils, and shall speak with new tongues, and shall take away serpents, and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover.  The former promise, was, of life eternal to them who believe, this promise is of the gift of working miracles, He promises that the Holy Spirit should give to them that believe, a power & gift to work miracles.  We may not think, that this power is common to all, & that every particular Christian who believes, should have this gift, neither must we think, that it should be extended to all times, and ages.  But this promise is to be restrained to a certain number of particular persons, on whom it shall please the Lord, to bestow this gift of working of miracles, and it is to be restrained & bounded within a certain time: it must be restrained to that first age and infancy of the Church, to the first time that the Gospel began to be preached, for then it was expedient and necessary that the Gospel which was unknown, and not heard of before to the world, should be confirmed by miracles: and therefore we ought not to look for new miracles in this age wherein we live, because {551} the Gospel is already sufficiently confirmed by the miracles wrought in that first age of the Church, by Christ and His Apostles, and them that immediately succeeded.[1]  The Papists, indeed, brag much of miracles that are daily wrought in their Church, but their miracles are such as Christ foretold that false Christs, and false Apostles should work, and that the Antichrist should work at his coming, Matthew 24.24.  And they are these, which Paul calls lying signs and wonders, which notwithstanding he says, are effectual in them who perish, because they received not the love of the truth.  Now, ye see here, there is a promise of sundry great and excellent things to be wrought by some of the faithful in the first age of the Church: as namely, casting out of Devils, of speaking with new tongues, taking away serpents, the drinking of deadly and poisonable things, without harm, the healing of sick folks, by laying on of their hands, wherein, I purpose not particularly to insist, but only to mark some things generally for our edification. 

Consider first, the order of these promises which the Lord makes to them which believe: First, He promises life & Salvation: thereafter, He promises working of miracles.  The promise of life, is a promise of the greatest miracle, that ever was wrought in all the world: as for other miracles, they are but works, signs, and tokens of that life & Salvation that was to be wrought, which far surpasses all other miracles.  The Lord Himself testifies unto us, that all the miracles which were wrought in the first age of the Church, were counted but like as many signs and tokens of life and Salvation to be wrought by Him.  When He says, Matth. 9.6, That ye may know, that the Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins, I will restore to health this man that is sick of the Palsy: then He says to the sick man, Arise, take up thy bed, and go to thine house, Where He lets us see, that the miracle of bodily health was a sign & token of a greater grace & miracle, even, of Remission of sins & life everlasting.  Whereupon we mark this lesson: That Faith is never without some miracle: it hath ever one miracle or other following upon it.  Indeed, it hath not always with it such miracles as were wrought in the first age of the Church: as casting out of devils, healing of diseases: yet it never wants that greatest miracle of all, the miracle of Regeneration, of life and Salvation, which Christ Himself lets us see, is more to be marvelled at, than all the miracles here promised: for when the seventy disciples, {552} who were sent out with power to work miracles, returned rejoicing that they had wrought such great things, that they had cast out devils, and healed diseases, He said unto them: Albeit I have given you power to cast out devils, to tread on serpents, and scorpions, and that nothing shall hurt you, Nevertheless, in this rejoice not, but rather rejoice that your names are written in Heaven, Luke 10.17.  There He wills them, to count life and Salvation to be a greater miracle than all others.  Peter testifies likewise, that when the Gentiles in that first age of the Church, saw them that were converted to the Lord Jesus, not walking after their old manner, in wantonness, lusts, drunkenness, &c. it seemed strange to them, they marvelled much, that they ran not with them unto the same excess of riot, as they were wont to do, 1 Peter 4.4.  Where he tells us, that the conversion of sinners was a wonder to the Gentiles: and indeed, it was no marvel, that they counted so of it: for a man truly renewed by the Spirit of grace, and converted unto Christ, is a wonder of the world: and thou who art renewed by the Spirit of Jesus, and have gotten an assurance of the Remission of thy sins, of life and salvation, thou wilt never seek any new outward miracles, to confirm to thee the truth of the Gospel: for thine own salvation will confirm thee more than all the miracles in the world can do.  Again, consider here, that this gift of working of miracles, follows not ever, nor absolutely that justifying Faith, but this gift of working of miracles requires further, another sort of Faith, which we call the Faith of miracles, which is nothing else, but a special and extraordinary gift of the Holy Ghost, whereby some of the faithful in that first age of the Church, were able to work miracles and wonders: and this Faith of miracles is grounded upon some particular promises and sensible persuasions in their hearts, who get that extraordinary gift, that God by them at such times, and upon such persons, and such occasions would work miracles.  This would be marked against the Papists, who confound this Faith of miracles with justifying Faith: for they say: to work miracles, none other Faith is required, but this true Faith, which we call justifying Faith, whereas, indeed, they are two different Faiths, of divers kinds & natures.

Thus shortly of the second promise.  Now it rests, that we speak of the third promise, which we have set down by Matthew in the last words of his Gospel: there he says, Lo, I am with you alway unto {553} the end of the world.  This promise the Lord makes unto His Apostles, to whom He had given commission to go into the world, to preach the Gospel, and to baptize, & with this sweet & comfortable promise He ends His communing, that at this time He had with them: as in the beginning of His communing, to the end He might encourage them the more cheerfully and courageously to undertake and discharge that high and painful calling of the Apostleship, He shewed and declared unto them His great and incomprehensible power which He had given Him, both in Heaven and in earth: so here He closes up His communing with them with a promise of the presence of that same incomprehensible power: for, says He, I am with you alway unto the end of the world: A promise most excellent, and full of heavenly consolation, as if He had said, I, even I, who have all power given me, both in Heaven & in earth, I shall be with you, not to remain with you for a season, but for ever, unto the end of the world, & not at certain diets, and with any intermission, but alway, every day, & at all times.

Mark well the degrees of this promise:  First, there is a promise of an infinite and incomprehensible power:  Next, there is a promise of the presence of this His power with them:  Thirdly, He promises that this power shall not be present with them for a certain time only, but even to the end of the world:  Fourthly, He promises it shall be present unto the end of the world, not by set diets and days, but without any intermission.

But is this promise made unto the Disciples absolutely, without any condition?  No, it is not absolute, but conditional: and what is the condition?  Even that same which He set down in the words immediately preceding: if the Apostles teached men to observe all things whatsoever He commanded them: that is, That they teached these things which He had taught them before, all these things, and no other thing.

This promise which here He makes to His Apostles, is extended unto the Ministry in all ages: yea, even to the Ministry, at this present time: for the LORD says, I shall be with you unto the end of the world:  But so it is, that the Apostles are now dead, they are no more in the world: therefore this promise is made unto the Ministers of the CHURCH, to the successors of the Apostles, who should remain in the Church until CHRIST’S coming to judgment.  Then all Ministers {554} who faithfully discharges their duty in their calling, and sincerely teaches all these things, and only these things which CHRIST taught, and commanded them to preach, have in this promise great matter of comfort and rejoicing.  The Lord requires faithfulness and painfulness in the Pastor, in discharging of his calling: and if he labour faithfully and painfully in his Ministry, let him commit the issue and success unto Him, who has promised, never to leave His own, but continually to bless their travails with His presence.

Now as it is required of the Pastor, that he should be painful and careful in his calling, to the end that he may enjoy this presence: So it is the duty of the people, to have a care, that the Pastor be not abstracted and withdrawn from his charge by worldly affairs: For, says PAUL, no man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, 2 Tim. 2.4.  And if so they do [abstain from worldly affairs], they shall be partakers of this same presence which the LORD promises here to His Disciples: for the presence which the Lord has promised and gives to the Pastor, is not for himself only, but it redounds to the weal and commodity of the people also: The Pastor’s blessing, is the people’s blessing: And by the contrary, the curse that the Lord lays upon the Pastor, is for a curse to the people, upon whom the Lord will be avenged for the contempt of the Ministry.

The Papists brag much of this promise, and they gather upon it, That the Kirk cannot err: for, say they, seeing the LORD hath promised to be with His own unto the end of the world, how can it be possible, that He can leave His Kirk, that it can err?  But if they weigh aright the condition whereupon the promise is grounded, they may see, that they have no matter of bragging: For, as we shewed you before, this promise, That the Lord will be with them, is not made absolutely, and in all cases, howsoever they behave themselves: but upon this condition, He promises His presence, That they teach men these things, which He hath taught them before, that they teach all these things, only these things, and none other things.  So that if they teach not these things, but their own dreams and fantasies, they have nothing ado with this promise: for if they keep not the condition, what warrant can they have to look for the promise?

Now how far the Papists are from keeping this condition, {555} from teaching the doctrine of Christ only, it is more than manifest, and they are blind that see it not: for instead of the doctrine of the Gospel, they teach their own traditions, dreams, and fantasies: They have banished the Spirit of Truth, and have bewitched the world with their lies and vanities.  Therefore, seeing the felicity and happiness both of Pastor and people stands in this, To find the Lord’s presence with them in this pilgrimage, the Lord grant, that both Pastor and people may strive carefully to hold fast the doctrine of the Gospel: and that they may conform their lives thereunto, that so with confidence they may claim to this promise of the presence of Christ: To whom with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all praise and honour, for evermore:  AMEN.


Footnotes:

1. The doctrine of the cessation of miracles is much controverted in our day, but among the faithful in the churches of the reformation, as well as among the early churches of the “fathers,” this doctrine was by no means a mystery.  Neither made allowance for the lying wonders of the Papistical Antichrist, or the pentecostal antichrists; nor did they embrace the extremes common today among those who deny entirely all miracles.  They affirmed plainly the reason for a general cessation of miracles in the function they served in apostolic times, and had no need for curious inquiries about when miracles had ceased, seeing the point was a matter of mere observation.  Augustine of Hippo, relates this general cessation to the nature of Christian miracles in the role they had served in establishing new doctrine, as well as in aiding the Church as she arose out of her infant state:

Another thing which must be considered is the dissension that has arisen among men concerning the worship of the one God.  We have heard that our predecessors, at a stage in faith on the way from temporal things up to eternal things, followed visible miracles.  They could do nothing else.  And they did so in such a way that it should not be necessary for those who came after them.  When the Catholic Church had been founded and diffused throughout the whole world, on the one hand miracles were not allowed to continue till our time, lest the mind should always seek visible things, and the human race should grow cold by becoming accustomed to things which when they were novelties kindled its faith.  On the other hand we must not doubt that those are to be believed who proclaimed miracles, which only a few had actually seen, and yet were able to persuade whole peoples to follow them.  At that time the problem was to get people to believe before anyone was fit to reason about divine and invisible things.  No human authority is set over the reason of a purified soul, for it is able to arrive at clear truth.  But pride does not lead to the perception of truth.  If there were no pride there would be no heretics, no schismatics, no circumcised, no worshippers of creatures or of images.  If there had not been such classes of opponents before the people was made perfect as promised, truth would be sought much less eagerly.

(Tr. John H. S. Burleigh. LCC VI. The Westminster Press.)