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the church is brought to the brink of ruin; but he, as her Counsellor, discovers the snare, and powerfully counteracts her enemies; so that she is still preserved. A remarkable instance of which we have in the conspiracy of Haman to destroy the whole nation of the Jews, the history of which you may read in the book of Esther.
(2.) He is still actually counselling her by his word. And her members have the advantage of Heaven's counsels, inculcated on them for their spiritual welfare. The counsel of God in providing a Saviour, is proclaimed there; the salvation is offered, and they are counselled again and again to embrace it; their way to happiness is cleared; Rev. iii. 18, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayst be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayst see."
3. He is the Counsellor of the invisible church, of believers, and of every particular believer in it, Eph. i. 22, and that most especially. And,
(1.) The care and management of all and every one of them lies on him; 1 Peter. v. 7, "Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you." He is the great Shepherd who brings in the sheep from their straying, feeds and protects them, and at length completes the well-being. To him the Father has committed the charge of all the elect; and on him it lies to bring them into himself in conversion, to manage them during their stay in the world, and to bring them all safe to glory in the end.
(2.) He counsels them effectually, by his word and Spirit, Psalm xxv. 14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." He has established a communication between him and them, whereby they have his direction and instruction in their particular cases, what way to steer their course. Prov. iii. 6, " In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." He is their oracle, whom they are to consult in all things; and his word bears his counsel to them; Psalm cxix. 24, "Thy testimonies also are my counsellors;" his providence points out their way; Psalm xxxii. 8, "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye;" and his Spirit makes all effectual; John xvi. 13, "When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth."
II. What is the import of this part of Christ's name? We may take it up in these seven particulars following.
First, He is of singular wisdom for conduct and management of affairs, Isa. xi. 2, 3, "The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and VOL. X.
might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord, and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears." Great is the truth committed to him, in bringing an elect world to glory; but he has a head sufficient for the difficult task, which would be too hard for the skill of angels to manage. Nothing can be so intricate for him, but his wisdom can unfold it. For,
1. The fulness of the Spirit of wisdom is lodged in him, to fit him for the great trust of bringing many sons to glory, Isa. xi. 2, forecited; and that not by measure, as saints have the same; but without measure, to fit him for every emergency in the case of his trust; so that he can never be at a loss to know what to do; John iii. 34, "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him;" being furnished with wisdom, as the spring with waters continually.
2. He is wisdom itself, the Eternal Wisdom of the Father; under which name Solomon speaks of him, Prov. viii. And Christ's children are wisdom's children, Matth. xi. 19.
USE. 1. How fit and suitable is Christ for us then, to conduct us through an evil world, to the place of perfect safety? We live in a deceitful world, where we are environed with snares; how will we ever make our way through it? Let us betake ourselves then to the great Counsellor for conduct, the deceit of the world prompting us to go to him.
2. Put your case in his hand, and trust him with it, how intricate and perplexed soever it is. Though you cannot give a name to it, he can; though you can find no remedy for it in the whole creation; but all says, "It is not in me;" the wisdom of the Counsellor will reach it.
3. See how weak and foolish things fall on and keep the way to happiness, while worldly wise men are bemisted and bewildered, that they never reach it, Isa. xxv. 8, "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools shall not err therein." The Counsellor is on their head, ver. 4; while those slighting him lean to their own understanding, and so wander; Eccles. x. 15, "The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city."
Secondly, He is a prince of great and noble designs and projects, requiring counsel and wisdom. All the designs and projects of the princes of the earth are but trifles, and childish in comparison of his; they are quite too high for creatures of the deepest reach, 1 Cor. ii. 9. We may take them up in these three.
1. He entertained, and has accomplished a design of ransoming an elect world, and so became their Redeemer; 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6, "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." This was such a high design, that no man whatsoever was able to have fallen on a method of ransoming one of them; Psalm xlix. 7, 8, "None of them can by any means redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever." Silver and gold could not effect it; it behoved to be by blood; that blood behoved to be of infinite value. So the great Counsellor falls on a method to effect it, his own incarnation; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, "Yo were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without blemish and without spot."
2. He has been, and is on a project of rescuing one and all of them from the power of the devil; John x. 16, " Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." This is a difficult task; all the wit and power of hell is engaged against it; and what is favourable on Satan's side, is, that he is in possession; they are his captives, prisoners and slaves; and they themselves side with him against Christ, being unwilling to be rescued. Yet the Counsellor will not give over the project; but as he has hitherto, so he will to the end carry it on, till there is not one of them all left unrescued; John vi. 37, "All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."
3. He is on a design to have them all together at home with himself in his Father's house, in a state of complete happiness, John xvii. 24, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me." There are mountains of difficulties lying in the way of this project; but the wisdom of the Counsellor will find a way to roll them all away. This is the building of the temple of the Lord which he has in view, Zech. vi. 12; and will perfect over the belly of all difficulties; Zech. iv. 7, "Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." For effecting this, there are to be rolled away mountains of difficulties casting up in their case.
(1.) Before death. Their passage through the wilderness is difficult, through their manifold wants, weaknesses, snares and tempta
tions there, that if they were not under the wise conduct of the great Counsellor, it would be impossible they could miss their carcases falling there; but he will have all safe through; Psalm lxxiii. 24, "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory."
(2.) In death. It is hard to get safe through the dark valley; but he will have them safe there, where many split, and are broken in pieces. Be the voyage never so dangerous, he will be their pilot; Psalm xxiii. 4, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Be the way never so much haunted by instruments of destruction, he will carry them safely through; Isa. xxxv. 9, "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there."
(3.) In the grave. There their bodies lie, when they leave this world, under the power of death. The bands of death wherewith they are held there, are mighty; the bars of the grave cannot be broken in sunder by created power; but he designs to loose the one, and break the other; Hos. xiii. 14, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes."
USE 1. Let us then, each for himself, fall in with the noble and great designs of this prince. Satan, the prince of this world, is carrying on designs of destruction; and men fall in with his designs, pursuing their worldly interest as their chief interest, and going on impenitent in their sins. Christ's designs are designs of salvation ; fall in with these, seeking chiefly the advancing of your eternal interest, Matth. vi. 33, repenting, and turning every one from his evil
2. Let us be concerned for the prospering of his counsels; Psalm Ixxii. 15, "Prayer shall be made for him continually, and daily shall he be praised." Compare Matth. vi. 10, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Satan and his agents are engaged against them, and counteract them all they can; stand not unconcerned spectators; for neutrals in this case are enemies to Christ; Matth. xii. 30, "He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." Rejoice in the prospering of his kingdom, and mourn for the dishonours done to him.
3. They that reject and oppose his counsels, are fools, and do it to their own loss and hurt; Luke vii. 30. For all his counsels are
great and noble; and whoso set themselves against them, work for their own ruin; Prov. viii. 36, "He that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me, love death." They must perish without remedy, rejecting the counsels of salvation.
Thirdly, He can manage all by himself, and needs no counsel of men, the name of the wisest on earth, may be Consultor; the wisest of men says so; Prov. xi. 14, "Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." But his name is counsellor. He is so far a Counseller, that he is a Consultor of none; Rom. xi. 34, " For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?" His servants are about his throne, but not to pretend to give him counsel. Consider,
1. His understanding is infinite. He sees all things at once, and he sees through every thing; whereas the creature's capacity is but finite, seeing but some things, and but some parts of them too. There can then be no lack of counsel in him; and if there were, we would be utterly unfit to make it up. Can the light of a small candle increase the light of the shining sun, or a drop from one's finger the waters of the ocean? Far less can finite add to what is infinite.
2. His counsels were all concerted before we had a being. The plan and method of his government, in every part, was laid down immutably, before there was a man or angel. He hath not councils of yesterday, wherein we might give advice; but "known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world," Acts xv. 18. The elect were chosen to the kingdom from eternity, Eph. i. 4; and the kingdom prepared for them, Matth. xxv. 34; and all the dispensations of his providence immutably laid down, Zech. vi. 1.
3. The execution of them was begun entirely without us. What a sweet surprise was the conduct of the great Counsellor to our guilty first parents in paradise? Did he consult with the guilty pair, how to remedy their case? No; but he surprised them with his counsel. He made us without us at first; and he re-makes us, not only without us, but over the belly of opposition from us, therefore he can manage us without us, both in nature and grace.
4. How often have we seen, that our counsels, had they been mixed with those of the great Counsellor, would have marred all? David would have the child to live, but the great Counsellor would have him to die; for had he lived, he had lived to the reproach of David. Jacob says, "All these things were against him;" yet were they for him; so that if they had not taken place, his family had been in ill case.