“I am swallowed up in God” by Thomas Goodwin

Thomas Goodwin died in London at age eighty. His son wrote this about his father’s final days:

“In February 1679, a fever seized my dear father, which in a few days put an end to his life.

In all the violence of it, he discoursed with that strength of faith and assurance of Christ’s love, with that holy admiration of free grace, with that joy in believing, and such thanksgivings and praises, as he extremely moved and affected all that heard him.

He rejoiced in the thoughts that he was dying, and going to have a full and uninterrupted communion with God.

‘I am going,’ said he, ‘to the three Persons, with whom I have had communion: they have taken me; I did not take them. I shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye; all my lusts and corruptions I shall be rid of, which I could not be here; those croaking toads will fall off in a moment.’

And mentioning those great examples of faith, Heb. 11,

‘All these,’ said he, ‘died in faith. I could not have imagined I should ever have had such a measure of faith in this hour; no, I could never have imagined it. My bow abides in strength.

Is Christ divided? No, I have the whole of His righteousness; I am found in Him, not in my own righteousness, which is of the law, but in the righteousness which is of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

Christ cannot love me better than He doth; I think I cannot love Christ better than I do; I am swallowed up in God.’

Directing his speech to his two sons, he exhorted them to value the privilege of the covenant. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘I shall be ever with the Lord.’

With this assurance of faith and fulness of joy, his soul left this world, and went to see and enjoy the reality of that blessed state of glory, which in a discourse on that subject he had so well demonstrated.

He died February 1679, and in the eightieth year of his age.”

–Thomas Goodwin, Memoir of Thomas Goodwin, D.D., Composed Out of His Own Papers and Memoirs, By His Son, The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1861/2006), 2: lxxiv–lxxv.

“The Spirit prays in you, because Christ prays for you” by Thomas Goodwin

“Let us consider what Christ did when He was come to heaven and exalted there: how abundantly did He there make good all that He had promised in His last sermon!

For, first, He instantly poured out His Spirit, and that ‘richly’ (as the apostle to Titus speaks), and He ‘being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this which you now see and hear,’ says the apostle in his first sermon after, Acts 2:33.

He then received it, and visibly poured Him out. So Eph. 4:8, it is said, ‘He ascended up on high, and gave gifts unto men … for the work of the ministry (4:15), and for the jointing in of the saints to the increase of the body of Christ’ (4:16), that is, for the converting of elect sinners, and making them saints.

And the gifts there mentioned (some of them) remain into this day, in ‘pastors and teachers,’ &c. And this Spirit is still in our preaching and in your hearts, in hearing, in praying, and He persuades you of Christ’s love to this very day; and is in all these the pledge of the continuance of Christ’s love still in heaven unto sinners.

All our sermons and your prayers are evidences to you, that Christ’s heart is still the same towards sinners that ever it was, for the Spirit that assists in all these comes in His name, and in His stead, and works all by commission from Him.

And do none of you feel your hearts moved in the preaching of these things, at this and other times? And who is it that moves you?

It is the Spirit who speaks in Christ’s name from heaven, even as Himself is said to ‘speak from heaven,’ Heb. 12:25.

And when you pray, it is the Spirit that indites your prayers, and that ‘makes intercession for you’ in your own hearts, Rom. 8:26, which intercession of His is but the evidence and echo of Christ’s intercession in heaven.

The Spirit prays in you, because Christ prays for you. He is an intercessor on earth, because Christ is an intercessor in heaven.

As He did take off Christ’s words, and used the same that He before had uttered, when He spake in and to the disciples the words of life, so He takes off Christ’s prayers also when He prays in us; He takes but the words as it were out of Christ’s mouth, or heart rather, and directs our hearts to offer them up to God.

He also follows us to the sacrament, and in that glass shews us Christ’s face smiling on us, and through His face His heart; and thus helping of us to a sight of Him, we go away rejoicing that we saw our Saviour that day.”

–Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ in Heaven, The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1861/2006), 4: 107-108.

“It is mercy that hath brought us there” by Thomas Goodwin

“We were dead in sins and trespasses, we were children of wrath by nature, hell was our place.

It is the exceeding riches of His grace that pulls men out of that miserable condition, and sets them upon that height and top of blessedness and happiness in the world to come.

It is thy mercy, say they in the Lamentations, that we are not consumed; Thy mercies fail not.

It is the mercy of God that we are not in hell.

And when we are in heaven, it is mercy that hath brought us there.

And it is mercy and grace that continues us there forever.”

–Thomas Goodwin, “Sermon 19: Ephesians 2:7,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1861/2006), 2: 303–304.

“What the assured soul knows” by Thomas Brooks

“Assurance will sweeten the thoughts of death, and all the aches, pains, weaknesses, sicknesses, and diseases, that are the forerunners of it; yea, it will make a man look and long for that day.

It will make a man sick of his absence from Christ. It makes a man smile upon the king of terrors; it makes a man laugh at the shaking of the spear, at the noise of the battle, at the garments of the warriors rolled in blood.

It made the martyrs to compliment with lions, to dare and tire their persecutors, to kiss the stake, to sing and clap their hands in the flames, to tread upon hot burning coals, as upon beds of roses.

The assured soul knows that death shall be the funeral of all his sins and sorrows, of all afflictions and temptations, of all desertions and oppositions.

He knows that death shall be the resurrection of his joys; he knows that death is both an outlet and an inlet; an outlet to sin, and an inlet to the soul’s clear, full, and constant enjoyment of God; and this makes the assured soul to sing it sweetly out, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ (1 Cor. 15:55–57) ‘I desire to be dissolved.’ (Phil. 1:23) ‘Make haste, my beloved.’ (Cant. 8:14) ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’ (Rev. 22:20)”

–Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 2: 409–410.

“All the glory and all the grace” by Thomas Goodwin

“Lastly, here is ‘in Christ Jesus‘ added, for all God’s kindness, and all His grace towards us, is in Christ (Ephesians 2:7).

It is an infinite magnifying of the Lord Jesus, that He alone, being in heaven, is able enough and worthy enough to take into His possession all the glory and all the grace that ever God means to bestow upon His children.

He hath done it, my brethren.

Had not He been a person answerably glorious, we could not have been said to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, or that the riches of His grace should be shown in His kindness toward us in Him.

But so great a person is Jesus Christ, God and man, that look as the sun, if there were ten hundred thousand stars more to be created, and the heavens to be filled with them all, there is light enough in the sun to enlighten them all; so there is in Christ.

And therefore, my brethren, never think to set up without this Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not think that He only serveth to bring you unto God, and there to leave you. No, He will never leave you to eternity.

All the kindness that God shows you to eternity is in Christ Jesus.”

–Thomas Goodwin, “Sermon 19: Ephesians 2:7,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1861/2006), 2: 293–294.

“The greatness of His love” by Thomas Brooks

“I shall now come to some helps and directions that may be useful to keep us humble and low in our own eyes. And the first is this:

[1.] Dwell much upon the greatness of God’s mercy and goodness to you.

Nothing humbles and breaks the heart of a sinner like mercy and love.

Souls that converse much with sin and wrath may be much terrified; but souls that converse much with grace and mercy will be much humbled. Luke 7, the Lord Jesus shews mercy to that notorious sinner, and then she falls down at his feet, and loves much and weeps much.

In the 1 Chron. 17, it was in the heart of David to build God a house. God would not have him to do it, yet the messenger must tell David that God would build him a house, and establish his Son upon the throne for ever.

Look into the verses (1 Chron. 17:15-17), and there you shall find that David lets fall such an humble speech, which he never did before that God had sent him that message of advancement.

‘And David the king came, and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come,’ (2 Sam. 7:18-19).

And this sweetly and kindly melts him, and humbles him, before the Lord.

Oh, if ever you would have your souls kept low, dwell upon the free grace and love of God to you in Christ.

Dwell upon the firstness of His love, dwell upon the freeness of His love, the greatness of His love, the fulness of His love, the unchangeableness of His love, the everlastingness of His love, and the activity of His love.

If this does not humble thee, there is nothing on earth will do it.

Dwell upon what God hath undertaken for you.

Dwell upon the choice and worthy gifts that He has bestowed on you.

And dwell upon that glory and happiness that He has prepared for you, and then be proud if you can.”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 36-37.

“The love of Christ contains within itself the whole of wisdom” by John Calvin

“By those dimensions Paul means nothing else than the love of Christ, of which he speaks afterwards. The meaning is, that he who knows it fully and perfectly is in every respect a wise man.

As if he had said, “In whatever direction men may look, they will find nothing in the doctrine of salvation that does not bear some relation to this subject.”

The love of Christ contains within itself the whole of wisdom.

Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge.

Therefore this admonition is very useful: what is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind.

The love of Christ is held out to us as the subject which ought to occupy our daily and nightly meditations, and that which we ought to be wholly immersed in. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

He who holds to this alone has enough.

Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful, nothing, in short, that is right or sound.

Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 168-169. Calvin is commenting on Ephesians 3:18-19.

“The infinite love of the Lord Jesus Christ towards sinners” by J.C. Ryle

We see, fifthly, in this parable, the penitent man received readily, pardoned freely, and completely accepted with God.

Our Lord shows us this, in this part of the younger son’s history, in the most touching manner. We read:

“When he was yet a long way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.”

More deeply affecting words than these, perhaps, were never written. To comment on them seems almost needless.

It is like gilding refined gold, and painting the lily. They show us in great broad letters the infinite love of the Lord Jesus Christ towards sinners.

They teach how infinitely willing He is to receive all who come to Him, and how complete, and full, and immediate is the pardon which He is ready to bestow.

“By Him all that believe are justified from all things.”—“He is plenteous in mercy.” (Acts 13:39; Psalm 86:5)

Let this boundless mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be graven deeply in our memories, and sink into our minds. Let us never forget that He is One “that receiveth sinners.”

With Him and His mercy sinners ought to begin, when they first begin to desire salvation. On Him and His mercy saints must live, when they have been taught to repent and believe.

‘The life which I live in the flesh,’ says St. Paul, ‘I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ (Gal. 2:20)”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1879/2012), 2: 138. Ryle is commenting on Luke 15:11-24.

“The chains of His loving promises” by Richard Sibbes

“It must be matter of instruction for us all, that when we come unto God we must promise ourselves to have good speed, since God is most true of his promises, and we must labour by all means to remember and apply them, and so to turn them into prayers.

Thus reasoning the matter, What! I am in this and this necessity, God he hath promised to help; since He is true, it must needs be that He will have a care to fulfill His truth.

O beloved, it is easy for us to speak, but in the evil day to put on our armour, to fly unto prayer, to hang upon God, to fight against temptations, to give unto God the praise of His attributes, that as He is true, loving, just, merciful, all-sufficiency, infinite, omnipotent, so to expect infinite love, infinite truth, infinite mercy from Him,—this is no small matter, yea, it is true Christian fortitude, in temptation and affliction thus to reason the matter, to rely upon God, and as it were to bind His help near unto us with the chains of His loving promises.

If a promise bind us, much more it bindeth God; for all our truth is but a small spark of that ocean of truth in Him.

And therefore to conclude all with this promise, worthy to be engraven in everlasting remembrance upon the palms of our hands, God hath promised that all the afflictions of His children they shall work for the best (Rom. 8:28).

This is as true as God’s truth, I shall one day see and confess so much if I wait in patience; why, therefore, I will wait.

God is infinite in wisdom and power, to bring light out of darkness; so also He is true, and He will do it.

Therefore because I believe ‘I will not make haste;’ I will walk in the perfect way until he show deliverance.

This must be our resolution, and then it shall be unto us according to our faith; which God, for His Christ’s sake, grant unto us all!”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Matchless Mercy,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 7 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 164.

“It is a marvellous matter of wonder” by Richard Sibbes

“Regard what wondrous fruit we have by the service of Christ: the work of our redemption, to be translated from the kingdom of Satan to the glorious liberty of the sons of God, to be brought out of darkness into marvellous light.

It is a marvellous matter of wonder, the good we have by this abasement of Christ.

‘Behold what love the Father hath shewed us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ (1 John 3:1)

Now, all this comes from Christ’s being a servant.

Our liberty comes from His service and slavery, our life from His death, our adoption and sonship and all comes from His abasement.

Therefore it is a matter of wonderment for the great things we have by it. O the depth, O the depth, saith St Paul. (Rom. 11:33)

Here are all dimensions in this excellent work that Christ hath wrought by His abasement, by His incarnation, and taking upon Him the form of a servant, and dying for us; here is the height and breadth, and length and depth of the love of God in Christ.

O the riches of God’s mercy!

The apostles stand in a wonder and admiration of this, and indeed, if anything is to be admired, it is Christ, that wondrous conjunction, the wondrous love that wrought it, and the wondrous fruit we have by it.”

–Richard Sibbes, “A Description of Christ,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 7.