The Fountain of Life
The Fountain of Life opened up: or, a display
of Christ in his essential and mediatorial glory
by John Flavel
The Session of Christ at God's right-hand explained and
applied, being the third Step of his glorious Exaltation
"When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on
the right hand of the Majesty on high." Hebrews 1:3
Christ being returned again to his Father, having
finished his whole work on earth, is there bid by the Father to sit down in
the seat of honor and rest. A seat prepared for him at Gods right hand, that
makes it honorable; and all his enemies as a footstool under his feet that
makes it easy. How much is the state and condition of Jesus Christ changed
in a few days! Here he groaned, wept, labored, suffered, sweat, yes, sweat
blood, and found no rest in this world, but when he comes to heaven, there
he enters into rest. Sits down forever in the highest and easiest throne,
prepared by the Father for him when he had done his work. "When he had by
himself purged our sins, he sat down," etc.
The scope of this epistle is to demonstrate Christ to be
the fullness of all legal types and ceremonies, and that whatever light
glimmered to the world through them, yet it was but as the light of the
day-star, to the light of the sun.
In this chapter, Christ the subject of the epistle, is
described; and particularly in this third verse, he is described three ways.
First, By his essential and primeval glory and dignity,
he is "ap-augasma", the brightness at his Father's glory, the very splendor
of glory, the very refulgency of that son of glory. "The primary reason of
that appellation is with respect to his eternal and ineffable generation,
light of light, as the Nicene creed expresses it. As a beam of light
proceeding from the sun. And the secondary reason of it, is with respect to
men," for look as the sun communicates its light and influence to us by its
beams, which it projects; so does God communicate his goodness, and manifest
himself to us, by Christ. "Yes, he is the express image, or character of his
person. Not as the impressed image of the seal upon the wax, but as the
engraving in the seal itself." Thus he is described by his essential glory.
Seconds, He is described by the work he wrought here on
earth, in his humbled state, and it was a glorious work, and that wrought
out by his own single hand, "When he had by himself purged our sins." A work
that all the angels in heaven could not do, but Christ did it.
Thirdly, and lastly, He is described by his glory, the
which (as a reward of that work) he now enjoys in heaven. "When he had by
himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on
high," that is the Lord clothed him with the greatest power, and highest
honor, that heaven itself could afford; for so much this phrase of "sitting
down on the right hand of the Majesty" imports, as will appear in the
explication of this point, which is the result of this clause, namely,
DOCTRINE. That when our Lord Jesus Christ has finished
his work on earth, he was placed in the seat of the highest honor, and
authority; at the right-hand of God in heaven.
This truth is transformingly glorious. Stephen had but a
glimpse of Christ at his Father's right hand, and it caused "his face to
shine, as it had been the face of an angel", Acts 7:56. This, his high
advancement, was foretold and promised before the work of redemption was
taken in hand, Psalm. 110:1. "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit you at my
right-hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." And this promise was
punctually performed to Christ, after his resurrection and ascension, in his
supreme exaltation, far above all created beings, in heaven and earth, Eph.
1:20, 21, 22. We shall here open two things in the doctrinal part, namely,
What is meant by God's right hand; and what is implied in Christ's sitting
there, with his enemies for a footstool.
First, What are we to understand here by God's right
hand? It is obvious enough, that the expression is not proper, but
figurative and borrowed. God has no hand, right or left; but it is a
condescending expression, wherein God stoops to the creature's
understanding, and by it he would have us understand honor, power, and
First, The right hand is the hand of honor, the upper
hand, where we place those whom we highly esteem and honor. So Solomon
placed his mother in a seat at his right hand, 1 Kings 2:19. So, in token of
honor, God sets Christ at his right hand; which, on that account, in the
text, is called the right hand of Majesty. God has therein expressed more
favor, delight, and honor to Jesus Christ, than ever he did to any creature.
"To which of the angels said he at any time, sit you on my right hand?" Heb.
Secondly, The right-hand is the hand of power: we call it
the weapon hand, and the working hand. And the setting of Christ there,
imports his exaltation to the highest authority, and most supreme dominion.
Not that God the Father has put himself out of his authority, and advanced
Christ above himself; no, "for in that he says he has put all things under
him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him,"
1 Cor. 15:27. But to sit as an enthroned king at God's right hand, imports
power, yes, the most sovereign and supreme power; and so Christ himself
calls the right-hand at which he sits, Matt. 26:64. "Hereafter you shall see
the Son of man sitting on the right-hand of power."
Thirdly, And as it signifies honor and power, so nearness
in place, as we use to say, at one's elbow, and so it is applied to Christ,
in Psalm. 110:5. "The Lord at your right hand, shall strike through kings in
the day of his wrath," that is the Lord, who is very near you, present with
you, he shall subdue your enemies. This then is what we are to understand by
God's right-hand, honor, power, and nearness.
Secondly, In the next place let us see what is implied in
Christ's sitting at God's right-hand, with his enemies for his footstool.
And, if we attentively consider, we shall find that it implies and imports
divers great and weighty things in it. As,
First, It implies the perfecting and completing of
Christ's work, that he came into the world about. After his work was ended,
then he sat down and rested from those labors, Heb. 10:11, 12. "Every priest
stands daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices: which
can never take away sins: but this man when he had once offered one
sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God." Here he
assigns a double difference between Christ and the Levitical priests; they
stand, which is the posture of servants; he sits, which is the posture of a
Lord. They stand daily, because their sacrifices cannot take away sin; he
did his work fully, by one offering; and after that, sits or rests forever
in heaven. And this (as the accurate and judicious Dr. Reynolds observes)
was excellently figured to us in the ark, which was a lively type of Jesus
Christ, and particularly in this, it had rings by which it was carried up
and down, until at last it rested in Solomon's temple, with glorious and
triumphal solemnity, Psalm. 132:8, 9. 2 Chron. 5:13. So Christ, while he was
here on earth, being anointed with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, went about
doing good, Acts 10:38. and having ceased from his works, did at last enter
into his rest, Heb. 5:10. which is the heavenly temple, Rev. 11:19.
Secondly, His sitting down at God's right hand, notes the
high content and satisfaction of God the Father in him, and in his work.
"The Lord said to my Lord, sit you on my right hand;" the words are brought
in as the words of the Father, welcoming Christ to heaven; and (as it were)
congratulating the happy accomplishment of his most difficult work. And it
is as if he had said," O my Son, what shall be done for you this day? You
have finished a great work, and in all the parts of it acquitted yourself as
an able and faithful servant to me; what honors shall I now bestow upon you?
The highest glory in heaven is not too high for you; come sit at my right
hand." O how well is he pleased with Christ, and what he has done! He
delighted greatly to behold him here in his work on earth, and by a voice
from the excellent glory he told him so, when he spoke from heaven to him,
saying, "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," 2 Pet. 1:17.
And himself tells us, John 10:17. "Therefore does my Father love me, because
I lay down my life," etc. for it was a work that the heart of God had been
set upon from eternity. He took infinite delight in it.
Thirdly, Christ's sitting down at God's right-hand in
heaven, notes the advancement of Christ's human nature to the highest honor;
even to be the object of adoration to angels and men. For it is properly his
human nature that is the subject of all this honor and advancement; and
being advanced to the right hand of Majesty, it is become an object of
worship and adoration. Not simply, as it is flesh and blood, but as it is
personally united to the second person, and enthroned in the supreme glory
O here is the mystery, that flesh and blood should ever
be advanced to the highest throne of majesty, and being there installed in
that glory, we may now direct our worship to him as God Man; and to this end
was his humanity so advanced, that it might be adored and worshiped by all.
"The Father has committed all judgement to the Son, that all men should
honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." And the Father will accept of
no honor divided from his honor. Therefore it is added in the clause, "He
that honors not the Son, honors not the Father which has sent him," John
5:22, 23. Hence the apostles, in the salutations of their epistles, beg for
grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ; and
in their valedictions, they desire the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to the
Fourthly, It imports the sovereignty and supremacy of
Christ over all. The investiture of Christ, with authority over the empire
of both worlds: for this belongs to him that sits down upon his throne. When
the Father said to him, Sit at my right-hand, he did therein deliver to him
the dispensation and economy of the kingdom. Put the awful scepter of
government into his hand, and so the apostle interprets and understands it,
1 Cor. 15:25. "He must reign until he have put all his enemies under his
feet." And to this purpose, the same apostle accommodates, (if not expounds)
the words of the Psalmist, "You madest him a little lower than the angels,"
that is in respect of his humbled state on earth, "you crownedst him with
glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands, you have put
all things in subjection under his feet," Heb. 2:7, 8. He is over the
spiritual kingdom, the Church, absolute Lord there, Mat. 28:18, 19, 20. He
is also Lord over the providential kingdom, the whole world, Psalm. 110:2.
And this providential kingdom, being subordinate to his spiritual kingdom;
he orders and rules this, for the advantage and benefit thereof, Eph. 1:22.
Fifthly, To sit at God's right-hand with his enemies for
a footstool, implies Christ to be a conqueror over all his enemies. To have
his enemies under his feet, notes perfect conquest and complete victory. As
when Joshua set his foot upon the necks of the kings: So Tamerlane made
proud Bajazet his footstool. They trampled his name, and his saints under
their feet, and Christ will tread them under his feet. It is true indeed
this victory is incomplete and in consummate; for now "we see not yet all
things put under him, (says the apostle) but we see Jesus crowned with glory
and honor," and that is enough. Enough to show the power of his enemies is
now broken; and though they make some opposition still, yet it is to no
purpose at all; for he is so infinitely above them, that they must fall
before him; it is not with Christ as it was with Abijah, against whom
Jeroboam prevailed, because he was young and tender hearted, and could not
withstand them. His incapacity and weakness gave the watchful enemy an
advantage over him. I say, it is not so with Christ, he is at God's right
hand. And all the power of God stands ready bent to strike through his
enemies, as it is, Psalm. 110:5.
Sixthly, Christ's sitting in heaven notes to us the great
and wonderful change that is made upon the state and condition of Christ,
since his ascension into heaven. Ah, it is far otherwise with him now, than
it was in the days of his humiliation here on earth. Quantum mutates ab illo!
Oh, what a wonderful change has heaven made upon him! It were good (as a
worthy of ours speaks), to compare in our thoughts the abasement of Christ,
and his exaltation together; as it were in columns, one over against the
other. He was born in a stable, but now he reigns in his royal palace. Then
he had a manger for his cradle, but now he sits on a chair of state. Then
oxen and asses were his companions, now thousands of saints, and ten
thousands of angels minister round about his throne. Then in contempt, they
called him the carpenter's son, now he obtains a more excellent name than
angels. Then he was led away into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil,
now it is proclaimed before him, "let all the angels of God worship him."
Then he had not a place to lay his head on, now he is exalted to be heir of
all things. In his state of humiliation, "he endured the contradiction of
sinners;" in his state of exaltation, "he is adored and admired by saints
and angels." Then "he had no form or loveliness; and when we saw him, there
was no beauty, why we should desire him:" Now the beauty of his countenance
shall send forth such glorious beams, as shall dazzle the eyes of all the
celestial inhabitants round about him, etc.
O what a change is this! Here he sweated, but there he
sits. Here he groaned, but there he triumphs. Here he lay upon the ground,
there he sits in the throne of glory. When he came to heaven, his Father did
as it were thus bespeak him.
My dear Son, what an hard travail have you had of it?
What a world of woe have you passed through, in the strength of they love to
me and mine elect? You have been hungry, thirsty, weary, scourged,
crucified, and reproached: Ah, what bad usage have you had in the ungrateful
world! Not a day's rest for comfort since you wentest out from me; by now
your suffering days are accomplished; now your rest is come, rest for
evermore. Henceforth sit at my right-hand. Henceforth you shall groan, weep,
or bleed no more. Sit you at my right hand.
Seventhly, Christ's sitting at God's right hand, implies
the advancement of believers to the highest honor: For this session of
Christ's respects them, and there he sits as our representative, in which
regard we are made to sit with him in heavenly places, as the apostle
speaks, Eph. 2:6. How secure may we be (says Tertullian) who do now already
possess the kingdom? meaning in our Head, Christ. This (says another) is all
my hope, and all my confidence, namely, that we have a proportion in that
flesh and blood at Christ, which is so exalted, and therefore where he
reigns, we shall reign; where our flesh is glorified, we shall be glorified.
Surely, it is matter of exceeding joy to believe that Christ our Head, our
flesh, and blood, is in all this glory at his Father's right-hand. Thus we
have opened the sense and importance of Christ's sitting at his Fathers
right hand. Hence we infer,
INFERENCE 1. Is this so great an honor to Christ, to sit
enthroned at God's right hand? What honor then is reserved in heaven for
those that are faithful to Christ, now on the earth? Christ prayed, and his
prayer was heard, John 17:24. "That we may be with him to behold the glory
that God has given him;" and what heart can conceive the felicity of such a
sight? It made Stephen's face shine as the face of an angel, when he had but
a glimpse of Christ at his Father's right hand. "Your eyes shall see the
king in his beauty," Isa. 33:17. which respected Hezekiah in the type,
Christ in the truth. But this is not all, though this be much, to be
spectators of Christ in his throne of glory; we shall not only see him in
his throne, but also sit with him enthroned in glory. To behold him is much,
but to sit with him is more. I remember it was the saying of a heavenly
Christian, now with Christ, I should far rather look but through the hole of
Christ's door, to see but one half of his fairest and most lovely face, [for
he looks like heaven] suppose I should never win to see his excellency and
glory to the full than to enjoy the flower, the bloom, and chief excellency
of the glory and riches of ten worlds. And you know how the Queen of the
South fainted at the sight of Solomon in his glory. But this sight you shall
have of Christ, will change you into his likeness. "We shall be like him
(says the apostle) for we shall see him as he is," 1 John 3:2. He will place
us as it were in his own throne with him. So runs the promise, Rev. 3:21.
"To him that overcomes, I will grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I
also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne:" and so 2 Tim.
2:12. "If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him." The Father set
Christ on his right hand, and Christ will set the saints on his right hand.
So you know the sheep are placed by the angels at the great day, Mat. 25:
and so the church, under the figure of the daughter of Egypt, whom Solomon
married, is placed "on the king's right hand, in gold of Ophir," Psalm. 45:
This honor have all the saints. O amazing love! What, we set on thrones,
while as good as us by nature howl in flames! O what manner of love is this!
These expressions indeed do not intend that the saints shall be set in
higher glory than Christ; or that they shall have a parity of glory with
Christ, for in all things he must have the pre-eminence: But they note the
great honor that Christ will put upon the saints; as also, that his glory
shall be their glory in heaven. "As the glory of the husband redounds to the
wife;" and again, their glory will be his glory, 2 Thess. 1:10. and so it
will be a social glory. O, it is admirable to think, where free grace has
already mounted up poor dust and ashes!
To think how nearly related now to this royal, princely
Jesus! But how much higher are the designs of grace, that are not yet come
to their parturient fullness, they look beyond all this that we now know!
"Now are we the sons of God, but it does not yet appear what we shall be," 1
John 3:2. Ah what reason have you to honor Christ on earth, who is preparing
such honors for you in heaven.
INFERENCE. 2. Christ Jesus thus enthroned in heaven then
how impossible is it, that ever his interest should miscarry or sink on
earth? The church has many subtle and potent enemies. True, but as Haman
could not prevail against the Jews, while Esther their friend spoke for them
to the king, no more can they while our Jesus sits at his, and our Father's
right hand. Will he suffer his enemies that are under his feet, to rise up
and pull out his eyes, think you? Surely they that touch his people touch
the very apple of his eye," Zech. 2:8. "He must reign until his enemies are
put under his feet," 1 Cor. 15:25. The enemy under his feet, shall not
destroy the children in his arms. He sits in heaven on purpose to manage all
to the advantage of his church, Eph. 1:22. Are our enemies powerful; lo our
King sits on the right hand of power: Are they subtle and deep in their
contrivance; He that sits on the throne, overlooks all they do. Heaven
overlooks hell. "He that sits in heaven beholds," and derides their
attempts, Psalm. 2:4. He may permit his enemies to straiten then in one
place, but it shall be for their enlargement in another: For it is with the
church, as it is with the sea: what it loses in one place, it gets it
another; and so really loses nothing. He may suffer them also to distress us
in outwards, but shall be recompensed with inward and better mercies; and so
we shall lose nothing by that. A footstool you know is useful to him that
treads on it, and serves to lift him up higher; so shall Christ's enemies be
to him and his, albeit they think not so. What singular benefits the
oppositions of his enemies, occasion to his people; I have elsewhere
discovered, to which I may refer my reader; and pass to
INFERENCE. 3. Is Christ set down on the right hand of the
Majesty in heaven? O with what awful reverence should we approach him in the
duties of his worship! Away with light and low thoughts of Christ. Away with
formal, irreverent, and careless frames in praying, hearing, receiving, yes,
in conferring and speaking of Christ. Away with all deadness, and drowsiness
in duties; for he is a great King with whom you have to do. A king, to whom
the kings of the earth are but as little bits of clay. Lo, the angels cover
their faces in his presence. He is an adorable Majesty.
When John had a vision of this enthroned King, about
sixty veers after his ascension; such was life over-powering glory of
Christ, as the sun when it shines in its strength, that when he saw him, he
fell at his fleet as dead, and died it is like he had, if Christ had not
laid his hand on him, and said, "Fear not, I am the first and the last; I am
he that lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore," Rev. 1:17,
18. When he appeared to Saul in the way to Damascus, it was in glory above
the glory of the sun, which overpowered him also, and laid him as one dead
upon the ground.
O that you did but know what a glorious Lord you worship
and serve. Who makes the very place of his feet glorious, wherever he comes.
Surely He is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints, and to be
had in reverence of all that are round about him. There is indeed a "parresia"
boldness or free liberty of speech allowed to the saints, Eph. 3:12. But no
rudeness or irreverence. We may indeed come, as the children of a king come
to the father, who is both their awful sovereign, and tender father; which
double relation causes a due mixture of love, and reverence in their hearts,
when they come before him. You may be free, but not crude, in his presence.
Though he be your Father, Brother, Friend; yet the distance between him and
you is infinite.
INFERENCE 4. If Christ be so gloriously advanced in the
highest throne, then none need to reckon themselves dishonored, by suffering
the vilest things for his sake. The very chains and sufferings of Christ
have glory in them. Hence Moses "esteemed the very reproaches of Christ
greater riches than the treasures of Egypt," Heb. 11:26. He saw an
excellency in the very worst things of Christ, his reproaches and
sufferings, as made him leap out of his honors and riches, into them. He did
not, (as one says) only endure the reproaches of Christ, but counted them
treasures. To be reckoned among his honors and things of value. So Thuanus
reports of Ludovicus Marsacus, a noble knight of France, when he was led
with other martyrs, that were bound with cords, to execution; and he for his
dignity was not bound, he cried, give me any chain too, let me be a knight
of the same orders. Disgrace itself is honorable, when it is endured for the
Lord of Glory. And surely there is (as one phrases it) a little paradise, a
young heaven, in sufferings for Christ. If there were nothing else in it,
but that they are endured on his account, it would richly reward all we can
endure for him; but if we consider how exceeding kind Christ is to them,
that count it their glory to be abased for him; that though he be always
kind to his people, (yet if we may so speak) he overcomes himself in
kindness, when they suffer for him; it would make men in love with his
INFERENCE. 5. If Christ sat not down to rest in heaven,
until he had finished his work on earth; then it is in vain for us to think
of rest, until we have finished our work, as Christ also did his.
How willing are we to find rest here! To dream of that,
which Christ never found in this world, nor any ever found before us. O
think not of resting, until you have done working and done sinning. Your
life and your labors must end together. "Write (says the Spirit) blessed are
the dead that die in the Lord, for they rest from their labors," Rev. 14:13.
Here you must have the sweat, and there the sweet. It is too much to have
two heavens. Here you must be content to dwell in the tents of Cedar,
hereafter you shall be within the curtains of Solomon. Heaven is the place
of which it may be truly said, that there the weary be at rest. O think not
of sitting down on this side heaven. There are four things will keep the
saints from sitting down on earth to rest, namely, grace, corruption, devils
and wicked men.
First, Grace will not suffer you to rest here. Its
tendencies are beyond this world. It will be looking and longing for the
blessed hope. A gracious person takes himself for a pilgrim, seeking a
better country, and is always suspicious of danger in every place and state.
It is still beating up the sluggish heart with such language as that, Mic.
2:10. "Arise, depart, this is not your rest, for it is polluted." Its
further tendencies and continual jealousies, will keep you from sitting long
still in this world.
Secondly, Your corruptions will keep you from rest here.
They will continually exercise your spirits, and keep you upon your watch.
Saints have their hands filled with work by their own hearts every day.
Sometimes to prevent sin; and sometimes to lament it. And always to watch
and fear, to mortify and kill it. Sin will not long suffer you to be quiet,
Rom. 7:21, 22, 23, 24. And if a bad heart will not break your rest here,
Thirdly, There is a busy devil will do it. He will find
you work enough with his temptations and suggestions, and except you can
sleep quietly in his arms as the wicked do, there is no rest to be expected.
"Your adversary, the devil, goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he
may devour; whom resist," 1 Pet. 5:8.
Fourthly, Nor will his servants and instruments let you
be quiet on this side heaven. *Their very name speaks their turbulent
disposition. "My soul, (says the holy man) is among lions, and I lie even
among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are
spears and arrows," Psalm. 57:4. Well then, be content to enter into your
rest, as Christ did into his. He sweat, then sat, and so must you!