Fountain of Life (John Flavel) — Executive Summary

This is an executive summary of the 43 sermons on Christology taught by John Flavel (1628–1691) that are detailed, polemic, and practical.

Fountain of Life (John Flavel) — Executive Summary
Photo by Peter Herrmann / Unsplash

1. Opens the Excellency of the Subject

Doctrine: That there is no doctrine more excellent in itself, or more necessary to be preached and studied, than the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Cor 2:2)

  1. Paul's subject matter of his doctrine is Jesus Christ.
  2. Paul singled out from all the rest of the excellent truths of Christ, to spend the main strength of his ministry upon Christ as crucified.
  3. Paul not only preached Christ crucified, but he preached him assiduously and plainly.

Lovely Properties of the Doctrine of Christ

  1. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the very marrow and kernel of all the Scriptures.
  2. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is a fundamental knowledge.
    1. It is fundamental to all graces.
    2. It is fundamental to all duties.
    3. It is fundamental to all comforts.
    4. It is fundamental to the eternal happiness of souls.
  3. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is profound and large.
  4. The study of Jesus Christ is the noblest subject that a soul ever spent itself upon.
  5. The study of Jesus Christ is the most sweet and comfortable knowledge.

Comparing Knowledge of Christ with Other Knowledge

  1. All other knowledge is natural, but this is wholly supernatural.
  2. Other knowledge is unattainable by many.
  3. Other knowledge would never bring you to heaven.


  1. The sufficiency of the doctrine of Christ to make men wise unto salvation. Nothing else is of absolute necessity to be known.
  2. If there be such excellency in the knowledge of Christ, let it humble all.
  3. How sad is their condition that have a knowledge of Christ, and yet as to themselves it had been better they had never had it!
  4. This may inform us by what rule to judge both ministers and doctrine.
  5. Let all that mind the honour of religion, or the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly sequester and apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
  6. Caution to ministers:
    1. If this doctrine be the most excellent, necessary, fundamental, profound, noble, and comfortable doctrine, let us then take heed lest, while we study to be exact in other things, we be found ignorant in this.
    2. Let us see that our knowledge of Christ be not a powerless, barren,§ unpractical knowledge.
    3. Let us take heed that we withhold not our knowledge of Christ in unrighteousness from the people.
  7. Caution to the laity:
    1. Take heed you do not reject and despise this light.
      1. When you despise the means of knowledge by slight and low esteems of it.
      2. You despise the knowledge of Christ, when you despise the directions and loving constraints of that knowledge; when you refuse to be guided by your knowledge, your light and your lusts contest and struggle within you.
    2. Take heed that you rest not satisfied with that knowledge of Christ you have attained, but grow on towards perfection.

2. Set Forth Christ in His Essential and Primeval Glory

Doctrine: That the condition and state of Jesus Christ before His incarnation, was a state of the highest and most unspeakable delight and pleasure in the enjoyment of his Father

Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was a daily delight,
Rejoicing always before Him, (Prov 8:30)

  1. The glorious condition of the non-incarnated Son of God, described by the person with whom his fellowship was, “Then was I by him,” or with him.
  2. This fellowship is illustrated by a metaphor, wherein the Lord will stoop to our capacities.
  3. This delight is further amplified by the perpetuity and uninterruptedness thereof; “I was day by day his delights, rejoicing always before him.

Felicity of the State of Christ (negatively)

  1. He was not then abased to the condition of a creature, which was a low step indeed, and that which upon the matter undid him in point of reputation.
  2. Christ was not under the law in this state.
  3. In this state, He was not liable to any of those sorrowful consequents and attendants of that frail and feeble state of humanity, which he afterward assumed, with the nature.

Felicity of the State of Christ (positively)

  1. Conceive it to be a state of matchless happiness, if we consider the persons enjoying and delighting in each other.
  2. Consider the intimacy, dearness, yea, oneness of those great persons one with another: the nearer the union, the sweeter the communion.
  3. Consider the purity of that delight with which the blessed Father and Son embraced each other.
  4. Consider the constancy of this delight; it was from everlasting and from eternity.

Felicity of the State of Christ (comparatively)

Measure these immense delights in comparison to that of the Father and his Son, we shall find them infinitely short.

  1. Compared to creatures delighting in each other.
  2. Compared to God's delight in the creatures.
  3. Compared to the best of creatures and their delight in God.


  1. What an astonishing act of love was this then, for the Father to give the delight, the darling, of his soul, out of his very bosom, for poor sinners!
  2. From one wonder let our souls turn to another, for they are now in the midst of wonders: adore, and be for ever astonished at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that ever he should consent to leave such a bosom, and the ineffable delights that were there, for such poor worms as we are.
  3. Hence, we are informed that interest in Jesus Christ is the true way to all spiritual preferment in heaven.
  4. How worthy is Jesus Christ of all our love and delights?
  5. If Christ be the beloved darling of the Father’s soul, think what a grievous and insufferable thing it is to the heart of God, to see his dear Son despised, slighted, and rejected by sinners: verily, there is no such cut to the heart of God in the whole world.


  1. To saints:
    1. Be you ready to forsake and leave all the comforts you have on earth for Christ.
    2. Let this confirm your faith in prayer.
    3. Let this encourage your heart in a dying hour, and not only make you patient in death, but in a holy manner impatient till you be gone.
  2. To sinners: embrace Christ, who is freely offered to you, and you shall be as dear to God as the holiest and most eminent believer in the world.

3. Covenant of Redemption between Father and Redeemer

Doctrine: That the condition and state of Jesus Christ before His incarnation, was a state of the highest and most unspeakable delight and pleasure in the enjoyment of his Father

Therefore, I will divide for Him a portion with the many,
And He will divide the spoil with the strong;
Because He poured out His soul to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

In this verse we have (1) His work, (2) His reward, and (3) the relation of each to the other.

The substance of this covenant of redemption is, dialogue-wise, expressed to us in Isaiah 49. where Christ begins, at the first and second verses, and shows his commission, telling His Father, how He had both called and prepared Him for the work of redemption.

  1. The persons transacting and dealing with each other in this covenant; and indeed they are great persons, God the Father, and God the Son; the former as a Creditor, and the latter as a Surety.

  2. The business transacted between them; and that was the redemption and recovery of all God’s elect.

  3. For the manner, or quality of the transaction, it was federal or of the nature of a covenant.

  4. Consider the articles to which they do both agree; or, what it is that each person does for Himself promise to the other.

    1. God promised to invest Christ and anoint Him to a threefold office, answerable to the misery that lay upon the elect as so many bars to all communion with, and enjoyment of God.
    2. And forasmuch as He knew it was a hard and difficult work His Son was to undertake, a work that would have broken the backs of all the angels in heaven, and men on earth, had they engaged in it; therefore He promised to stand by Him, and assist and strengthen Him for it.
    3. He promised to crown His work with success and bring it to a happy issue.
    4. The Father promised to accept Him in His work, though millions should certainly perish.
    5. As He engaged to reward Him highly for His work, by exalting Him to singular and super-eminent glory and honour, when He should have dispatched and finished it.
  5. Consider how these articles, and agreements were on both parts, performed, and that precisely and punctually.

    1. The Son, having thus consented, accordingly applies Himself to the discharge of his work.
    2. The Father made good his engagements to Christ, all along, with no less faithfulness than Christ did His.
  6. When was this compact made between the Father and the Son? It bears a date from eternity.


  1. The abundant security that God has given the elect for their salvation, and that not only in respect of the covenant of grace made with them but also of this covenant of redemption made with Christ for them; which indeed is the foundation of the covenant of grace.
  2. God the Father and God the Son do mutually rely and trust one another in the business of our redemption.
  3. The validity and unquestionable success of Christ’s intercession in heaven for believers.
  4. The consistency of grace with full satisfaction to the justice of God.
  5. Judge of the antiquity of the love of God to believers.
  6. Judge how reasonable it is that believers should embrace the hardest terms of obedience unto Christ, who complied with such hard terms for their salvation.
  7. How greatly are we all concerned to make it sure to ourselves, that we are of this number which the Father and the Son agreed for before the world was; that we were comprehended in Christ’s engagement and compact with the Father?
    1. If you are believers indeed.
    2. If you savingly know God in Jesus Christ
    3. If you are men and women of another world.
    4. If you keep Christ's word.

4. The Admirable Love of God in Giving His Son

Doctrine: That the gift of Christ is the highest and fullest manifestation of the love of God to sinners, that ever was made from eternity to them

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

  1. Consider the original spring or fountain of our best mercies, the love of God.

    1. His benevolent love, is nothing else but His desire and purpose of saving, and doing us good.
    2. His beneficent love, is His actual doing good to the persons beloved, or His bestowing the effects of His love upon us, according to that purpose. (John 3:16 speaks of this)
    3. His complacential love, is nothing else but that delight and satisfaction He finds in beholding the fruits and workings of that grace in us, which He first intended for us, and then actually collated or bestowed on us.
  2. Consider the mercy flowing out of this fountain, and that is Christ.

  3. Consider the objects of this love, or the persons to whom the eternal Lord delivered Christ, and that is the World.

  4. Consider the manner in which this never-enough celebrated mercy flows to us from the fountain of divine love, and that is most freely and spontaneously.

How Jesus Christ Was Given by the Father

  1. His designation and appointment unto death for us.
  2. His giving Christ, implies a parting with Him or setting Him at some distance from Himself for a time.
  3. God’s giving of Christ implies His delivering Him into the hands of justice to be punished, even as condemned persons are, by sentence of law, given or delivered into the hands of executioners.
  4. God’s giving of Christ implies His application of Him, with all the purchase of His blood, and settling all this upon us, as an inheritance and portion.

How the Gift of Christ Was the Highest Manifestation of God's Love

  1. Consider how near and dear Jesus Christ was to the Father.
  2. Consider to what God gave him, even to death, and that of the cross.
  3. It is a special consideration to enhance the love of God in giving Christ, that in giving Him, He gave the richest jewel in His cabinet.
  4. Consider on whom the Lord bestowed His Son: upon angels? No, but upon men. Upon man His friend? No, but upon His enemies.
  5. Consider how freely this gift came from Him.


  1. Learn the exceeding preciousness of souls, and at what a high rate God values them, that He will give His Son, his only Son out of his bosom, as a ransom for them.

  2. Those for whom God gave his own Son, may warrantably expect any other temporal mercies from Him.

    1. He who indeed did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:32)
    2. No other mercy you need or desire, is, or can be so dear to God, as Jesus Christ is: He never laid any other thing in His bosom as He did His Son.
    3. As Jesus Christ was nearer the heart of God than all these; so Christ is, in Himself, much greater and more excellent than all of them.
    4. There is no other mercy you want, but you are entitled to it by the gift of Christ.
    5. If God has given you this nearer, greater, and all-comprehending mercy, when you were enemies to Him, and alienated from Him; it is not imaginable He should deny you any inferior mercy, when you have come into a state of reconciliation and amity with Him.
  3. That the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in despising, slighting, and rejecting Christ.

5. Of Christ's Wonderful Person

Doctrine: That Jesus Christ did really assume the true and perfect nature of man, into a personal union with His divine nature, and still remains true God, and true man, in one person for ever.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

He that undertakes to satisfy God, by obedience for man’s sin, must Himself be God; and He that performs such a perfect obedience, by doing, and suffering all that the law required, in our room, must be man.

Incarnation of God's Son Asserted

  1. The Person assuming, ο Λολος, the Word.
  2. The Nature assumed, σαρξ, Flesh.
  3. The assumption itself, ελενετο, He was made.

Assertion of the Incarnation Confirmed

This assertion [“and the Word became flesh,”] is strongly confirmed. He “dwelt among us,” and we saw his glory. This was no phantasm but a most real and indubitable thing.

The Nature of the Hypostatic Union

  1. Negatively
    1. Think not when Christ assumed our nature, that it was united consubstantially, so as the three persons in the Godhead are united among themselves.
    2. Nor that they are united Physically, as soul and body are united in one person; for death actually dissolves that.
    3. Nor yet is it such a mystical union, as is between, Christ and believers. Indeed that is a glorious union, but though believers are said to be in Christ, and Christ in them, they are not one person with Him.
  2. Positively: the second Person in the Godhead did take the human nature into a personal union with Himself, by virtue whereof the manhood subsists in the second person, yet without confusion, both making but one person, Θεανθρωπος or Immanuel, God with us.
    1. The human nature was united to the second person miraculously and extraordinarily, being supernaturally framed in the womb of the Virgin, by the over-shadowing power of the Highest.
    2. As it was produced miraculously, so it was assumed integrally; that is to say, Christ took a complete and perfect human soul and body, with all and every faculty and member pertaining to it.
    3. He assumed our nature, as with all its integral parts, so with all its sinless infirmities.
    4. The human nature is so united with the divine, as that each nature still retains its own essential properties distinct.
    5. The union of the two natures in Christ, as an inseparable union; so that from the first moment thereof, there never was, nor to eternity shall be, any separation of them.
    6. The natural union between his soul and body was dissolved by death for a time, but this hypostatical union remained even then as entire and firm as ever: for, though His soul and body were divided from each other, neither of them from the divine nature.

The Effects (Results) of the Hypostatic Union

  1. The two natures being thus united in the person of the Mediator, by virtue whereof the properties of each nature are attributed, and do truly agree in the whole person.
  2. Another fruit of this hypostatical union is the singular advancement of the human nature in Christ, far beyond and above what it is capable of in any other person, it being hereby replenished and filled with an unparalleled measure of divine graces and excellencies.
  3. The concourse and cooperation of each nature to his mediatory works; for in them, he acts according to both natures: the human nature doing what is human (suffering, sweating, bleeding, dying), and his divine nature stamping all these with infinite value.

The human nature was not assumed to any intrinsical perfection of the God head, not to make that human nature itself perfect.

  • The divine did not assume the human nature necessarily, but voluntarily; not out of indigence, but bounty; not because it was to be perfected by it, but to perfect it, by causing it to lie as a pipe, to the infinite all-filling fountain of grace and glory, of which it is the great receptacle.

Had Christ Jesus not this double nature in the unity of His person:

  • He could not have been our Prophet: For, as God, he knows the mind and will of God, and as man he is fitted to impart it suitably to us.
  • As Priest, had He not been man, He could have shed no blood; and if not God, it had been no adequate value for us.
  • As King, had He not been man, He had been an heterogeneous, and so no fit head for us. And if not God, He could neither rule nor defend His body the Church.


  1. Let all Christians rightly inform their minds in this truth of so great a concern in religion and hold it fast against all subtle adversaries that would wrest it from them. Know that He is (1) True and very God; (2) True and very man; (3) these two natures make but one person, being united inseparably; (4) that they are not confounded or swallowed up one in another, but remain still distinct in the person of Christ.

  2. Adore the love of the Father, and the Son, who bid so high for your souls, and at this rate were contented you should be recovered.

    1. The love of the Father is herein admirably conspicuous, who so vehemently willed our salvation that He was content to degrade the darling of His soul to so vile and contemptible a state, which was, upon the matter, an undoing to Him, in point of reputation.
    2. How astonishing is the love of Christ that would make such a stoop as this to exalt us! Oh, it is ravishing to think, He should pass by a more excellent and noble species of creatures, refusing the angelic nature to take flesh.
  3. Infinite wisdom has left a famous and everlasting mark of itself.

  4. We infer the incomparable sweetness of the Christian religion, that shows poor sinners such a fair foundation to rest their trembling consciences upon.

  5. How great a concern it is that Christ should have union with our particular persons, as well as with our common nature?

  6. If Jesus Christ has assumed our nature, then He is sensibly touched with the infirmities that attend it, and so hath pity and compassion for us, under all our burdens.

  7. Hence, we see to what a height God intends to build up the happiness of man, in that He had laid the foundation thereof so deep in the incarnation of his own Son.

  8. How wonderful a comfort is it, that he who dwells in our flesh is God?

6. Authority By Which Christ as Mediator Acted

Doctrine: That Jesus Christ did not of Himself undertake the work of our redemption, but was solemnly sealed unto that work by God the Father.

For on Him the Father, God, set His seal (John 6:27b)

  1. The Person sealing or investing Christ with authority and power; which is said to be God the Father.
  2. The subject in which God the Father lodges this authority, [Him] that is, the Son of Man.
  3. The way and manner of the Father’s delegating and committing this authority to Christ; and that is, by sealing him.

Work and Office to Which the Father Sealed Christ

  1. God sealed Him a commission to preach the glad tidings of salvation to sinners.
  2. He also sealed him to the priesthood, and that the most excellent, authorizing him to execute both the parts of it (oblatory and intercessory).
  3. He called Him to His regal office; He was set upon the highest throne of authority by his Father’s commission.

Implications of the Father's Sealing of Christ

  1. It implies the validity and efficacy of all his mediatory acts.
  2. It imports the great obligation lying upon Jesus Christ to be faithful in the work He was sealed to: for the Father, in this commission, devolves a great trust upon Him and relies upon Him for His most faithful discharge thereof.
  3. It imports Christ’s complete qualification, or instrumental fitness to serve the Father’s design and end of our recovery.
  4. It implies Christ’s sole authority in the church, to appoint and enjoin what He pleaseth; and this is His peculiar prerogative.

How the Father Sealed Christ to This Work

  1. By solemn designation to this work.
  2. By supereminent and unparalleled sanctification.
  3. Christ was sealed by the Father’s immediate testimony from heaven, whereby He was declared to be the person whom the Father had solemnly designed and appointed to this work.
  4. Christ was sealed by the Father, in all those extraordinary miraculous works wrought by Him, in which the Father gave yet more full and convincing testimonies to the world, that this was He whom He had appointed to be our Mediator

Necessity That the Father Seal Christ to This Work

  1. Else He had not corresponded with the types which prefigured Him, and in Him it was necessary that they should be all accomplished.
  2. Hereby, the hearts of believers are the more engaged to love the Father, inasmuch as it appears hereby that the Father’s love and goodwill to them was the original and spring of their redemption.
  3. And especially Christ would not come without a commission, because, else you had no ground for your faith in Him.


  1. We infer the unreasonableness of infidelity, and how little rejecters of Christ can have to pretend for their so doing.
  2. If Christ was sealed to his work by his Father, then how great is the sin of those who reject and despise such as are sent and sealed by Jesus Christ?
  3. We infer how great an evil it is to intrude into the office of the ministry without a due call.
  4. Hence be convinced of the great efficacy that is in all gospel ordinances duly administered: For Christ having received full commission from His Father, and by virtue thereof having instituted and appointed these ordinances in the church, all the power in heaven is engaged to make them good, to back and second them, to confirm and ratify them.
  5. Here is another call to admire the grace and love, both of the Father and Son to your souls: It is not lawful to compare them, but it is your duty to admire them.
  6. Has God sealed Christ for you? Then draw forth the comfort of His sealing for you, and be restless till ye also be sealed by Him.
    1. Draw out the comfort of Christ’s sealing for you.
    2. Get your interest in Christ sealed to you by the Spirit, else you cannot have the comfort of Christ’s being sealed for you.

7. The Solemn Consecration of the Mediator

Doctrine: That Jesus Christ did dedicate, and wholly set himself apart to the work of a Mediator, for the elect’s sake.

For their sake I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:19)

  • You have Christ’s sanctifying of himself.
  • The end of His so sanctifying Himself [for their sakes, and that they might be sanctified] where you have the Finis cujus, the end for whom, for their (i.e.) for the elect’s sake, for them whom thou gavest me; and the Finis cui, the end for which, that they might be sanctified.

Implications in the phrase, "I sanctify Myself."

  1. This phrase [“I sanctify myself”] implies the personal union of the two natures in Christ; for what is that which He here calls Himself, but the same that was consecrated to be a sacrifice, even His human nature?
  2. This sanctifying, or consecrating Himself to be a sacrifice for us, implies the greatness and dreadfulness of that breach which sin made between God and us.
  3. This His sanctifying Himself, implies His free and voluntary undertaking of the work.
  4. His sanctifying Himself implies His pure and perfect holiness; that He had no spot or blemish in Him.
  5. His sanctifying Himself for our sakes, speaks the strength of his love, and largeness of his heart to poor sinners, thus to set Himself wholly and entirely apart for us: so that what He did and suffered, must all of it have a respect and relation to us.
  6. His sanctifying himself for us plainly speaks the vicegerency of His death, that it was in our room or stead.
  7. His sanctifying Himself, imports the extraordinariness of His person: for it speaks Him to be both Priest, Sacrifice, and Altar, all in one: a thing unheard of in the world before.

Effects Christ's Consecration Has On Us

  1. Let it be considered, that He was not offered up to God for His own sins; for He was most holy.
  2. It is not to be forgotten here, that the Scriptures frequently call the death of Christ a price (1 Cor. 6:20) and a ransom (Matt 20:28) or counterprice.
  3. Either the death of Christ must relate to believers, or else He must die in vain.


  1. If Jesus Christ did wholly set Himself apart for believers, how reasonable is it that believers should consecrate and set themselves apart wholly for Christ?
  2. If Christ has sanctified or consecrated Himself for us, learn hence, what a horrid evil it is to use Christ or His blood as a common and unsanctified thing.
  3. What a choice pattern of love to saints have we here before us! Calling all that are in Christ to an imitation of him, even to give up ourselves to their service, as Christ did.
  4. If Christ sanctified Himself, that we might be sanctified by [or in] the truth; then it will follow, by sound consequence, That true sanctification is a good evidence that Christ set apart Himself to die for us.
    1. God is universally holy in all His ways.
    2. God is exemplarily holy; Jesus Christ is the great pattern of holiness.
    3. God delights in nothing but holiness and holy ones; He has set all His pleasure in the saints.
    4. God abhors and hates all unholiness; do so likewise that you may be like your Father which is in heaven.

8. The Nature of Christ's Mediation

Doctrine: That Jesus Christ is the true and only Mediator between God and men.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 2:5)

  1. He is described by the work or office he is employed as Μεσιτης, a Mediator, a middle person.
  2. He is described by the singularity of his mediation: one Mediator and but one.
  3. He is described by the nature and quality of his person, ανθρωπος, χρισος, the man Christ Jesus.
  4. He is described by his names, by his appellative name, Christ, and his proper name, Jesus.

Sense of This Word Μεσιτης, a Mediator

  1. As an umpire or arbitrator, one that lays his hands upon both parties.
  2. As a messenger or ambassador, He came to impart the mind of God to us, and so He presents our desires to God; in this sense, only Socinus would allow Christ to be Mediator.
  3. The third way of his mediation. The apostle speaks in Hebrews 7 that He is εγτυος, the surety, or pledge.

Implications of Christ's Mediation

  1. At first sight, it carries in it a most dreadful breach and jar between God and men; else, there is no need for a Mediator of reconciliation.
  2. It implies a necessity of satisfaction and reparation to the justice of God.
  3. Christ being a Mediator of reconciliation and intercession, implies the infinite value of His blood and sufferings as that which in itself was sufficient to stop the course of God’s justice and render Him not only placable but abundantly satisfied and well pleased, even with those that before were enemies.
  4. Christ’s being a Mediator of reconciliation implies the ardent love and large pity that filled his heart towards poor sinners.
  5. Christ being a Mediator between God and man implies as the fitness of his person, so his authoritative call to undertake it.

Jesus Christ is the True and Only Mediator

  1. Because He, and no other, is revealed to us by God.
  2. Because He, and no other, is fit for and capable of this office.
  3. Because He is alone sufficient to reconcile the world to God by His blood, without accessions from any other.

Jesus Christ performed His mediatory work as God-man, in both natures.


  1. That it is a dangerous thing to reject Jesus Christ the only Mediator between God and man.
  2. Hence also be informed how great an evil it is to join any other Mediators, either of reconciliation or meritorious intercession with Jesus Christ.
  3. If Jesus Christ be the only Mediator of reconciliation between God and men; then reconciled souls should thankfully ascribe all the peace, favours, and comforts they have from God, to their Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. If Jesus Christ be the true and only Mediator, both of reconciliation and meritorious intercession between God and men, how safe and secure then is the condition and state of believers?
  5. Did Jesus Christ interpose between us and the wrath of God, as a Mediator of reconciliation? Did He rather choose to receive the stroke upon Himself, than to see us ruined by it? How well then does it become the people of God, in a thankful sense of this grace, to interpose themselves between Jesus Christ and the evils they see like to fall upon His name and interest in the world?

9. Christ's Prophetical Office I: Revelation of God's Will

Doctrine: That Jesus Christ is called and appointed by God to be the great Prophet and teacher of the Church.

“Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers; to Him you shall listen to everything He says to you. (Acts 3:22)

His prophetical office consists of two pails

  1. External: consisting of a true and full revelation of the will of God to men.
  2. Internal: illuminating the mind and opening the heart to receive and embrace that doctrine.

Description of Christ's Prophetical Office

  1. By his title, Prophet, and that, princeps prophetarum, the prince of the prophets, or the great and chief shepherd.
  2. He is described by His type; a prophet like unto Moses, who therein typified and prefigured Him.
  3. He is described by his stock and original, from which, according to His flesh, He sprang; “I will raise him up from among thy brethren. Of Israel, as concerning the flesh, Christ came,” (Rom 9:5)

Injunction of Obedience to This Prophet

And this obedience is required to be yielded to this prophet only, and universally, and under great penalties. It is true, we are commanded to obey the voice of his ministers (Heb 13:17). But still it is Christ speaking them, by whom we pay our obedience.

When His will is understood and known, we have no liberty of choice but are concluded by it, be the duty commanded never so difficult, or the sin forbidden never so tempting.

Implications in Christ as Prophet to the Church

  1. The natural ignorance and blindness of men in the things of God.
  2. The divinity of Christ and proves Him to be true God; forasmuch as no other can reveal to the world, in all ages, the secrets that lay hidden in the heart of God, and that with such convincing evidence and authority.
  3. It implies Christ to be the original and fountain of all that light which is ministerially diffused up and down the world by men.

How Christ Enlightens Men the Will of God

  1. Our great Prophet has revealed to men the will of God variously, not holding one even and constant tenor in the manifestations of the Father’s will.
  2. He has dispensed His blessed light to the church gradually.
  3. Jesus Christ, our great Prophet, has manifested to us the will of God plainly and perspicuously.
  4. Jesus Christ discovered truth powerfully; speaking “as one having authority, and not as the Pharisees,” (Matt 7:29)
  5. This Prophet, Jesus Christ, taught the people the mind of God in a sweet, affectionate, and taking manner. His words made their hearts burn within them.
  6. He revealed the mind of God purely to men; His doctrine had not the least dash of error to debase it; His most enviously observant hearers could find nothing to charge Him with: He is “the faithful and true witness.” (Rev 1:5)
  7. He revealed the will of God perfectly and fully, keeping back nothing needful to salvation.


  1. If Jesus Christ, who is now passed into the heavens, be the great Prophet and Teacher of the church; hence we may justly infer the continual necessity of a standing ministry of the church: for by his ministers he now teaches us, and to that intent has fixed them in the church, by a firm constitution, there to remain to the end of the world.

  2. If Christ be the great Prophet of the church, and such a Prophet; then it follows, that the weakest Christians need not be discouraged at the dullness and incapacity they find in themselves: for Christ is not only a patient and condescending teacher, but he can also, as He has often done, reveal that to babes, which is hid from the wise and learned.

  3. If Christ be the great Prophet and teacher of the church, it follows, that prayer is a proper means for the increase of knowledge. Prayer is the golden key that unlocks that treasure.

  4. If Christ be the great Prophet and teacher of the church, we may discern and judge of doctrines, and it may serve us as a test to try them.

  5. And as it will serve us for a test of doctrines, so it serves for a test of ministers; and hence you may judge who are authorized and sent by Christ the great Prophet, to declare His will to men.

    1. Jesus Christ was a faithful Minister, the “faithful and true “witness,” (Rev 1:5).

    2. Jesus Christ was a tender-hearted Minister, full of compassion to souls.

    3. Jesus Christ was a laborious painful Minister, He put a necessity on Himself to finish His work in His day; a work infinitely great, in a very little time.

    4. Jesus Christ delighted in nothing more than the success of His ministry; to see the work of the Lord prosper in His hand. This was meat and drink to Him.

    5. Jesus Christ was a minister that lived up to His doctrine: His life and doctrine harmonised in all things.

    6. Jesus Christ was a minister that minded and maintained sweet, secret communion with God for all His constant public labors.

10. Christ's Prophetical Office II: Illumination of the Understanding

Doctrine: That the opening of the mind and heart, effectually to receive the truths of God, is the peculiar prerogative and office of Jesus Christ.

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

Knowledge of spiritual things is well distinguished into intellectual and practical: the first has its seat in the mind, the latter in the heart. Light in the mind is necessarily antecedent to the sweet and heavenly motions and elevations of the affections

  1. Christ’s act upon their understandings: He opened their minds.
  2. Here is further to be considered, the design and end of this act upon their understandings: That they might understand the Scriptures.

How Christ Opens Man's Understanding

  1. It implies the transcendent nature of spiritual things, far exceeding the highest flight and reach of natural reason: Jesus Christ must open man's understandings by His Spirit, or they can never comprehend such mysteries.
  2. Christ’s opening of the understanding implies the insufficiency of all external means, however excellent they are in themselves, to save men. Only Christ, by His power, can open man's soul and make the means effectual.
  3. It implies the utter impotency of man to open his own heart.
  4. Christ’s opening the understanding imports His divine power, whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself.

Methods Christ Employs to Open Man's Heart

Christ opens the understanding and hearts of men in two principal ways: by His Word and by His Spirit. When this is done, the heart is opened, and saving light now shines in it.

  1. A new light in which all things appear far otherwise than they did before.
  2. It is a very affecting light; a light that hath heat and powerful influences with it, which makes deep impressions on the heart.
  3. And it is a growing light, like the light of the morning which “shines brighter and brigher until the fullness of day.” (Prov. 4:18)


  1. Infer the miseries that lie upon those men, whose understandings, to this day, Jesus Christ has not yet opened.

    1. The judgment inflicted is spiritual blindness.
    2. The subject of this judgment is the mind, which is the eye of the soul.
    3. The indiscernableness of this judgment to the soul on whom it lies: they know it not, no more than a man knows that he is asleep.
    4. The tendency and effects of it. What doth this tend to but eternal ruin?
  2. Surely, Christ will take special care of both the church and the undershepherds appointed by Him to feed them.

  3. Hence you that are yet in darkness, may be directed to Christ to apply yourselves for saving knowledge.

    1. God the Father hath put Christ into this office, for the cure of such as you be.
    2. It is encouraging to think, that Jesus Christ has actually opened the eyes of them that were as dark and ignorant as you are.
    3. And is it not yet further encouraging to you that hitherto he hath mercifully continued you under the means of light?
    4. Although you cannot do anything that can make the gospel effectual, the Spirit of God can make those means you are capable of using effectual, if he pleases to concur with them.
    5. Diligently attend upon an able, faithful, and searching ministry.
    6. Satisfy not yourselves with hearing, but consider what you hear.
    7. Labor to see and ingenuously confess the insufficiency of all your other knowledge to do you good.
  4. Since there is a common light and a special saving light, which none but Christ can give, it is therefore your concern to try what your light is.

    1. In their very kind and natures.
    2. They differ most apparently in their effects and operations.
    3. They differ in their issues.
  5. How are they obliged to love, serve, and honor Jesus Christ, whom He has enlightened with the saving knowledge of Himself?

11. The Nature and Necessity of Christ's Priesthood

Doctrine: That the sacrifice of Christ, our High Priest, is most excellent in itself, and most necessary for us.

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Hebrews 9:23)

SALVATION (as to the actual dispensation of it) is revealed by Christ as a Prophet, procured by him as a Priest, applied by him as a King. Jesus, as our Priest, purchased our salvation.

Two things to be observed.

  1. The nature of Christ's death and sufferings.
  2. The necessity of His offering.

Sacrifices are of two sorts.

  1. Eucharistical, or thank-offerings, in testification of homage, duty, and service; and in token of gratitude for mercies freely received
  2. Ilastical, or expiatory, for satisfaction to justice, and thereby the atoning and reconciling of God.

Nature of Christ's Priesthood

  1. At first sight, it supposes man’s revolt and fall from God, and a dreadful breach made thereby between God, and him, else no need of an atoning sacrifice.
  2. His priesthood supposes the unalterable purpose of God to take vengeance for sin; he will not let it pass.
  3. The priesthood of Christ presupposes the utter impotency of men to appease God and recover His favor by anything he could do or suffer.
  4. Christ’s priesthood implies the necessity of Him being truly God and truly man.
  5. The priesthood of Christ implies the extremity of His sufferings.
  6. It implies the gracious design of God to reconcile us at a dear rate to Himself, in that He called and confirmed Christ in His priesthood by an oath and thereby laid out a sacrifice of infinite value for the world.

Necessity of Christ's Priesthood

  1. God stood upon full satisfaction, and would not remit one sin without it. This will be cleared from the nature of sin; and from the veracity and wisdom of God.
  2. Man can render to God no satisfaction of his own, for the wrong done by his sin.
    1. Not by man's doing.
    2. Not by man's suffering.


  1. This confirms the incomparable excellency of the reformed Christian religion above all other religions known to or professed in the world.

  2. Be informed of the necessity of faith in order to have a state and sense of peace with God.

  3. Freely acknowledge your utter impotency to reconcile yourselves to God by any thing you can do or suffer; let Christ have the whole glory of your recovery ascribed to Him.

  4. See your necessity of this priest and His most excellent sacrifice; and accordingly to make use of it.

12. Christ's Priestly Office I: Excellency of His Oblation

Doctrine: That the oblation[1] made unto God by Jesus Christ, is of unspeakable value, and everlasting efficacy, to perfect all them that are, or shall be sanctified, to the end of the world.

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:24)

My present business is to open and apply the oblation of Christ; the efficacy and excellency whereof is excellently illustrated, by comparison with all other oblations, in the precedent context and with a singular encomium commended to us in these words, from the singularity of it.

  1. The Priest that appears before God with an oblation for us, is Jesus Christ, God-man.
  2. The oblation or offering He made, was not the blood of beasts, but His own blood.
    1. Invaluably precious.
    2. Needs be a most complete and all-sufficient oblation, fully to expiate the sins of all for whom it was offered, in all ages of the world.
    3. Being so precious in itself and so efficacious to expiate sin, it must be a most grateful oblation to the Lord, highly pleasing and delightful in His eyes.
  3. This oblation He brings before God, and to Him He offers it up.
  4. The persons for whom, and in whose stead He offered Himself to God, was the whole number of God’s elect, which were given Him of the Father, neither more nor less.
  5. The design and end of this oblation were to atone, pacify, and reconcile God, by giving Him a full and adequate compensation or satisfaction for the sins of His elect.


  1. That actual believers are fully freed from the guilt of their sins, and shall never more come under condemnation.
  2. The inflexible severity of divine Justice, which could be no other way diverted from us, and appeased, but by the blood of Christ.
  3. Let us improve, in every condition, this sacrifice and labor to get hearts duly affected with such a sight as faith can give us of it.

  1. Oblation is the act of offering something, such as worship or thanks, to a deity. ↩︎