Imatges de pÓgina
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abasing consideration of our present state and condition. And I shall say no more unto this case but this alone: when faith can no longer hold open the eyes of our understandings unto the beholding the sun of righteousness shining in his beauty, nor exercise orderly thoughts about this incomprehensible object, it will betake itself unto that holy admiration which we have spoken unto; and therein it will put itself forth in pure acts of love and complacency.

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CHAP. IV.

The glory of Christ in his susception of the office of a mediator, First in his condescension.

THE things whereof we have thus far discoursed, relating immediately unto the person of Christ in itself, may seem to have somewhat of difficulty in them, unto such whose minds are not duly exercised in the contemplation of heavenly things. Unto others they are evident in their own experience, and instructive unto them that are willing to learn. That which remains will be yet more plain unto the understanding and capacity of the meanest believer. And this is the glory of Christ in his office of mediator, and the discharge thereof.

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In our beholding of the glory of Christ herein, doth the exercise of faith in this life principally consist; so the apostle declares it, Phil. iii. 8-12. Yea, doubtless and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.-To know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be made conformable unto his death.' This, therefore, we must treat of somewhat more at large.

There is one God,' saith the apostle, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus ;' 1 Tim. ii. 5. In that great difference between God and man occasioned by our sin and apostacy from him, which of itself could issue in nothing but the utter ruin of the whole race of mankind, there was none in heaven or earth in their original nature

and operations, who was meet or able to make up a righteous peace between them. Yet must this be done by a mediator, or cease for ever.

This mediator could not be God himself absolutely considered; for a mediator is not of one, but God is one;" Gal. iii. 20. Whatever God might do herein in a way of sovereign grace, yet he could not do it in the way of mediation, which yet was necessary unto his own glory, as we have at large discoursed elsewhere.

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And as for creatures, there was none in heaven or earth that was meet to undertake this office. For if one man sin against another, the judge shall judge herein; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him?' 1 Sam. ii. 25. There is not any daysman betwixt us to lay his hand upon us both;' Job ix. 33.

In this state of things the Lord Christ, as the Son of God, said, 'Lo, I come to do thy will, O God; sacrifice and burntofferings thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me; and lo, I come to do thy will;' Heb. x. 5-9. By the assumption of our nature into union with himself, in his own divine person he became every way meet for the discharge of this office, and undertakes it accordingly.

That which we inquire after at present, is, the glory of Christ herein, and how we may behold that glory. And there are three things wherein we may take a prospect of it. 1. In his susception of this office.

2. In his discharge of it.

3. In the event and consequence thereof, or what ensued thereon.

In the susception of this office we may behold the glory of Christ, 1. In his condescension. 2. In his love.

1. We may behold this glory in his infinite condescension to take this office on him, and our nature to be his own unto that end. It did not befall him by lot or chance; it was not imposed on him against his will; it belonged not unto him by any necessity of nature or condition, he stood not in need of it; it was no addition unto him; but of his own mind and accord he graciously condescended unto the susception and discharge of it.

So the apostle expresseth it, Phil. ii. 5-8. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in

the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took on himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.'

It was the mind that was in Jesus Christ, which is proposed unto our consideration and imitation. What he was inclined and disposed unto from himself and his own mind alone. And that in general which is ascribed unto him is Kévwoç, exinanition or self-emptying; he emptied himself. This the ancient church called his σvykaráßaris, as we do his condescension, an act of which kind in God is called the 'humbling of himself;' Psal. cxiii. 6.

Wherefore, the susception of our nature for the discharge of the office of mediation therein, was an infinite condescension in the Son of God, wherein he is exceedingly glorious in the eyes of believers.

And I shall do these three things: 1. Shew in general the greatness of his condescension. 2. Declare the especial nature of it. And, 3. Take what view we are able of the glory of Christ therein.

1. Such is the transcendent excellency of the divine nature, that it is said of God, that he dwelleth on high, and humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth;' Psal. cxiii. 5, 6. He condescends from the prerogative of his excellency to behold, to look upon, to take notice of, the most glorious things in heaven above, and the greatest things in the earth below. All his respect unto the creatures, the most glorious of them, is an act of infinite condescension. And it is so on two accounts.

1. Because of the infinite distance that is between his essence, nature, or being, and that of the creatures. Hence 'all nations before him, are as the drop of a bucket, and are .counted as the small dust of the balance; yea, that they are as nothing, that they are accounted unto him less than nothing and vanity.' All being is essentially in him, and in comparison thereunto, all other things are as nothing. And there are no measures, there is no proportion between infinite being and nothing; nothing that should induce a regard from the one unto the other. Wherefore the infinite, essen

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tial greatness of the nature of God, with his infinite distance from the nature of all creatures thereby, causeth all his dealings with them to be in the way of condescension or humbling himself. So it is expressed, Isa. lvii. 15. Thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, I dwell in 'the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' He is so the high and lofty one, and so inhabiteth eternity, or existeth in his own eternal being, that it is an act of mere grace in him, to take notice of things below; and therefore, he doth it in an especial manner of those whom the world doth most despise.

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2. It ariseth from his infinite self-sufficiency unto all the acts and ends of his own eternal blessedness. What we have a regard unto, what we respect and desire, it is that it may add unto our satisfaction. So it is, so it must be, with every creature; no creature is self-sufficient unto its own blessedness. The human nature of Christ himself in heaven is not so; it lives in God, and God in it, in a full dependance on God, and in receiving blessed and glorious communications from him. No rational creature, angel or man, can do, think, act any thing, but it is all to add to their perfection and satisfaction, they are not self-sufficient. God alone wants nothing, stands in need of nothing, nothing can be added unto him, seeing he giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things; Acts xvii. 25. The whole creation in all its exceldency cannot contribute one mite unto the satisfaction or blessedness of God. He hath it all in infinite perfection from himself and in his own nature; our goodness extends not unto him; A man cannot profit God, as he may profit his neighbour. If thou sinnest, what dost thou against him? and if thy transgressions are multiplied, what dost thou unto him?' (God loseth nothing of his own self-sufficiency and blessedness therein, by all this) and if thou be righteous, what givest thou unto him, or what receiveth he at thy hand?' Job xxxv. 6-8. And from hence also it follows that all God's concernment in the creation, is by an act of condescension.

How glorious, then, is the condescension of the Son of God in his susception of the office of mediation! For if such be the perfection of the divine nature, and its dis

tance so absolutely infinite from the whole creation, and if such be his self-sufficiency unto his own eternal blessedness, as that nothing can be taken from him, nothing added unto him, so that every regard in him unto any of the creatures, is an act of self-humiliation and condescension from the prerogative of his being and state; what heart can conceive, what tongue can express the glory of that condescension in the Son of God, whereby he took our nature upon him, took it to be his own, in order unto a discharge of the office of mediation on our behalf?

But that we may the better behold the glory of Christ herein, we may briefly consider the especial nature of this condescension, and wherein it doth consist.

But whereas not only the denial, but misapprehensions hereof, have pestered the church of God in all ages, we must in the first place reject them, and then declare the truth.

1. This condescension of the Son of God did not consist in a laying aside or parting with, or separation from, the divine nature, so as that he should cease to be God, by being man. The foundation of it lay in this, that he was in the form of God, and counted it not robbery to be equal with God;' Phil. ii. 6. That is, being really and essentially God in his divine nature, he professed himself therein to be equal with God or the person of the Father. He was in the form of God, that is, he was God, participant of the divine nature, for God hath no form but that of his essence and being; and hence he was equal with God, in authority, dignity, and power. Because he was in the form of God, he must be equal with God; for there is order in the divine persons, but no inequality in the divine Being. So the Jews understood him, that when he said, 'God was his Father, he made himself equal with God.' For in his so saying, he ascribed unto himself equal power with the Father, as unto all divine operations; 'My father,' saith he, 'worketh hitherto, and I work ;' John v. 17, 18. And they by whom his divine nature is denied, do cast this condescension of Christ quite out of our religion, as that which hath no reality or substance in it. But we shall speak of them afterward.

Being in this state, it is said that he took on him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man ;' ver. 7. This is his condescension. It is not said, that he ceased to

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