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1. He is nearly related to the house of heaven, and so has the highest possible relation. The monarchs of the earth are the creatures of God, the angels are the servants of the house of heaven; but Christ is the Son of that house, the Son of God, Heb. i. 5; and has the management of it all in his hand, John v. 22.
2. He is nearly related to the house of Adam. He is a Son of that house too, the top-branch of it; Luke iii. 3, 8. He has a common relation to them all. He is their Saviour by office; 1 Tim. iv. 10; the Saviour of the world; 1 John iv. 14. He has a nearer relation to the elect. He is their surety and representative, who undertook for them in the covenant; Heb. vii. 22, John x. 15; and a yet nearer relation to believers. He is their brother; Heb. ii. 11; their father, Isa. ix. 6; their husband, 2 Cor. xi. 2; and their head, Col i. 18. And thus by his relation to both,
3. He is the centre of union to the two. In him they meet; John xvii. 2, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." There was war declared between the two houses; and the house of Adam could never have made their part good against Heaven; but the Son of God married our nature to himself, and so brings together the two houses, making peace through the body of his flesh. So, as he is the foundation-stone, on which all believers are laid; he is the corner-stone, joining and knitting heaven and earth.
6th Lastly, He is wonderful in his love; Eph. iii. 18, 19, "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," viz. his love to the children of men. His love will appear wonderful, if ye consider,
1. The subject of it, the party loving us. He is the eternal Son of God, the Prince of the kings of the earth. That ever there should have been an eye of love cast from heaven on us, not from among the courtiers, but from the throne, the King himself, is wonderful. That the Father's delight should have made the sons of men his delight, Prov. viii. 30, 31, may cause us to cry out, Psalm cxliv. 3, Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him? or the son of man, that thou makest account of him ?"
2. The objects of it, the parties beloved; men, sinful men. Consider them as to their rank of being, and they are the lowest of the rational creatures; but a superior rank, viz., angels, were passed over, and they were made the objects of it; Tit. iii. 4, "The kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared." Consider them as to their quality, and they were enemies to him; Rom. 5. 10, "For when they were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son."
3. The effect, force and energy of this love. It is absolutely matchless; never did any love work so powerfully as his. It began (if I may so say) before the world was; Prov. viii. 31; and engaged him in suretyship for the debt of an elect world. In time he died for them, he so loved them, Rom. v. 8. It rests not till he have them with himself in the highest heavens, John xvii. 24, for ever.
4, Lastly, The qualities of it. These are wonderful.
(1.) It is free love; Hos. xiv. 4, "I will love them freely." There was nothing in the object lovely, to engage it. But as the sun shines without hire on the dunghill, as well as on the bed of roses; so Christ's love was unhired. See the freeness of it, Ezek. xvi. 8, "When I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love, and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness, yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine." (2.) It is sovereign love. There were objects equally miserable with fallen man; yet there was no love to them. Christ looked on the fallen part of the creation, and the angelic tribe, and the human tribe, were both before him; and sovereignty passes the former, but fixes the love on the latter.
(3.) It is preventing love; John xv. 16, " Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." Love begets love, as one coal kindles another. But Christ's love to us had nothing from us of that kind, nor of any other, to kindle it. We never love him, till he love us
first; 1 John iv. 19.
(4.) It is tender love; Isa. xl. 11, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." It is tender as of a father to his children; Psalm ciii. 13, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;" as of a mother to her sucking child; Isa. xlix. 15, 16, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me." It is tender, as one is to the apple of his eye; Zech. ii. 8, "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye."
(5.) It is unchangeable love; John xiii. 1, "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 Tim. ii. 19, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." Whatever falls out in the course of the believer's lot and life, though the manifestations of that love may be very variable, yet the love itself never alters. See Hos. ii. 19, "I will betroth thee unto me for ever."
(6.) Lastly, It is everlasting love. It never had a beginning, and will never have an end; Jer. xxxi. 3, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love."
And thus Christ appears to be all over wonderful.
USE 1. For Information. See here,
1. The greatness of the Father's love in giving to us such a wonderful one for our Prince; John iii. 16, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," &c. The love of God appears here to a wonder. O what honour is put upon man, by making such a gift to him, than which Heaven could not give a greater! 0 what happiness appears to be designed for man by this gift! We may say, as Hiram King of Tyre said to Solomon, 2 Chron. ii. 11, "Because the Lord hath loved his people; he hath made thee king over them."
2. The reasonableness of the believer's superlative love to Christ. Every believing soul loves Christ above all persons and all things. They will love him more than all the world, and all that is therein, and more than their own life; Luke xiv. 26. And good reason there is for it; for there is no object so lovely. If we look to confessors parting with their goods, their liberty, and their worldly comforts, for Christ, to the martyrs parting with their lives, embracing fires, gibbets, &c., the most crnel deaths for Christ, we will cease to wonder at their so doing, when we consider what a wonderful One he is for whom they undergo the loss of all. Gaining Christ, they are the greatest gainers, whatever they lose; Phil. iii. 7, 8.
3. The reasonableness of the gospel-demand of all to receive and submit to Christ as their Prince and Governor. His transcendent excellency entitles him to the principality and government over the sons of men. His merit requires our absolute resignation to him. He is the Father's choice; and in making that choice, he has acted like himself, having chosen for us this most wonderful personage.
4. Lastly, The dreadful sin and danger of the slighting of Christ. The more wonderful and excellent he is, the deeper will the guilt be of refusing him; the deeper the guilt, the more fearful will be the vengeance for rejecting him; Heb. ii. 3, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
USE 2. Of Exhortation. Be exhorted then to give this wonderful one your heart; Prov. xxiii. 26, "My son, give me thine heart." And,
1. Make him the choice of your soul, saying, Psalm. lxxiii. 25, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." Take him for your portion, as one who is the best of portions. Let your souls solemnly consent to the gospel-offer.
2. Part with all for him, as the wise merchant, who sold all that he had, and bought the one pearl of great price, Matth. xiii. 44, 45. Give up with your lusts and idols; renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, resting on Christ for all, for time and eternity.
3. Dwell in the contemplation of his matchless excellencies. Let it be the substance of your religion to love him, to admire him, to be swallowed up in his love. And let love to him set your souls a-moving in all holy obedience.
MOTIVE 1. Ye can never bestow your hearts so well. What is all the world in comparison of Christ, but loss and dung? Alas! that shadows should have our hearts, while the most substantial good courts it.
MOTIVE 2. Consider that it is for this end Christ is commended to you. We preach Christ, that ye may fall in love with him.
MOTIVE 3. Lastly, Consider how ye will answer it to him before the tribunal, that ye have preferred other lovers to the lovely one.
CHRIST THE COUNSELLOR.
ISAIAH ix. 6,
His Name shall be called-Counsellor.
THE Scope of this part of the verse being to commend the Prince presented and given to us for our Prince and Governor, this syllable of his name refers to his singular capacity for management of matters, in respect of his vast reach in point of wisdom. Other princes must have their counsellors, by whose advice they may act: but he himself is, and shows himself to be Counsellor, an oracle of government, a Prince in whose own breast is the oracle for right management of all things relating to his dominion.
DOCTRINE. Jesus Christ, who is presented and given to us of the Father for our Prince, is and shews himself to be the great Counsellor, an oracle of government.
In prosecuting this doctrine, I shall shew,
I. In what respects Christ is the Counsellor.
II. What is the import of this part of his name.
III. Lastly, Improve the subject.
I. In what respects is Christ the Counsellor.
1st, He is of the secret council of Heaven; Zech. vi. 13, "The counsel of peace shall be between them both." He is a member of
the cabinet-council of Heaven, to which the most favourite angel is not admitted. He has access to the sealed book of the divine decrees; Rev. v. 5; and there is nothing transacted there, nor has been from eternity, but what he is acquainted with; John v. 20, "For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doth." With his Father and the Spirit he is of the council. 2dly, He is the oracle of counsel for the earth; John i. 18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Matth. xi. 27, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Many counsellors are to be found in the earth; and wicked counsellors for men's destruction, as the house of Ahab were counsellors to Ahaziah, King of Judah, to his destruction, 2 Chron. xxii. 4. But he is the Counsellor for salvation, outshining all other good counsellors, as the sun doth the twinkling stars. And,
1. He is the Counsellor of the world of men; John viii. 12, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." They have all lost their way, their affairs are all in confusion, they know not how to right them. But he is,
(1.) Their Counsellor in respect of office. As the sun is set in the firmament to give light on the earth, so is Christ given for a light to the world, that whosoever will, may have his counsel, and by his counsel get the affairs of their souls retrieved; John xii. 46, "I am, come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." Whoever will consult him, are welcome; none shall be refused his wise counsel; John vi. 37, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."
(2.) Their Counsellor in respect of capacity, Col. ii. 3, " In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The multitude and variety of their cases cannot confuse him; for his understanding is infinite. Nothing can perplex him, who with one glance of his piercing eye, sees at once through all cases of all men, and can prescribe suitable remedies.
2. He is the Counsellor of the visible church more especially, Micah iv 9, and that in two respects.
(1.) He consults her interest, for her protection and preservation in the world; Micah iv. 9, "Why dost thou cry out aloud; is there no king in the; is thy counsellor perished." There are constant conspiracies of devils and wicked men to ruin her; and ofttimes their plots are laid so subtilly, and so powerfully managed, as that