Imatges de pàgina
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same divine nature with God the Father; 'God overall blessed for ever;' who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth; he takes on him the nature of man, takes it to be his own; whereby he was no less truly a man in time, than he was truly God from eternity. And to increase the wonder of this mystery, because it was necessary unto the end he designed, he so humbled himself in this assumption of our nature, as to make himself of no reputation in this world; yea, unto that degree, that he said of himself, that he was a worm and no man, in comparison of them who were of any esteem.

We speak of these things in a poor, low, broken manner; we teach them as they are revealed in the Scripture; we labour by faith to adhere unto them as revealed: but when we come into a steady, direct view and consideration of the thing itself, our minds fail, our hearts tremble, and we can find no rest, but in a holy admiration of what we cannot comprehend. Here we are at a loss, and know that we shall be so whilst we are in this world: but all the ineffable fruits and benefits of this truth are communicated unto them that do believe.

It is with reference hereunto, that that great promise concerning him is given unto the church, Isa. viii. 14. ' He shall be for a sanctuary;' (namely, unto all that believe, as it is expounded, 1 Pet. ii. 8.) but for a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed.'

He is herein a sanctuary, an assured refuge unto all that betake themselves unto him. What is it that any man in distress, who flies thereunto, may look for in a sanctuary? A supply of all his wants, a deliverance from all his fears, a defence against all his dangers, is proposed unto him therein. Such is the Lord Christ herein unto sin-distressed souls; he is a refuge unto us in all spiritual distresses and disconsolations, Heb. vi. 18. See the exposition of the place. Are we, or any of us, burdened with a sense of sin? Are we perplexed with temptations? Are we bowed down under the oppression of any spiritual adversary? Do we on any of these accounts' walk in darkness and have no light?' One view of the glory of Christ herein is able to support us and relieve us.

Unto whom we betake ourselves for relief in any case, we have regard to nothing but their will and their power. If they have both, we are sure of relief. And what shall we fear in the will of Christ as unto this end? What will he not do for us? He who thus emptied and humbled himself, who so infinitely condescended from the prerogative of his glory in his being and self-sufficiency, in the susception of our nature for the discharge of the office of a mediator on our behalf; will he not relieve us in all our distresses? Will he not do all for us we stand in need of, that we may be eternally saved? Will he not be a sanctuary unto us?

Nor have we hereon any ground to fear his power; for by this infinite condescension to be a suffering man, he lost nothing of his power as God omnipotent; nothing of his infinite wisdom or glorious grace. He could still do, all that he could do as God from eternity. If there be any thing therefore in a coalescency of infinite power, with infinite condescension, to constitute a sanctuary for distressed sinners, it is all in Christ Jesus. And if we see him not glorious herein, it is because there is no light of faith in us.

This then is the rest wherewith we may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshment. Herein is he a hidingplace from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.' Hereon he says, I have satiated the weary soul, and have refreshed every sorrowful soul.' Under this consideration it is, that in all evangelical promises and invitations for coming to him, he is proposed unto distressed sinners, as their only sanctuary.

Herein is he a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence unto the unbelieving and disobedient, who stumble at the word.' They cannot, they will not, see the glory of this condescension; they neither desire nor labour so to do; yea, they hate it and despise it. Christ in it is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence' unto them. Wherefore they choose rather utterly to deny his divine person, than allow that he did thus abase himself for our sakes. Rather than they will own this glory, they will allow him no glory. A man they say he was, and no more, and this was his glory. This is that principle of darkness and unbelief, which works effectually at this day in the minds of many. They think

it an absurd thing, as the Jews did of old, that he being a man, should be God also; or, on the other hand, that the Son of God should thus condescend to take our nature on him. This they can see no glory in, no relief, no refuge, no refreshment unto their souls in any of their distresses: therefore do they deny his divine person. Here faith triumphs against them; it finds that to be a glorious sanctuary, which they cannot at all discern.

But it is not so much the declaration or vindication of this glory of Christ which I am at present engaged in, as an exhortation unto the practical contemplation of it in a way of believing. And I know that among many this is too much neglected; yea, of all the evils which I have seen in the days of my pilgrimage now drawing to their close, there is none so grievous as the public contempt of the principal mysteries of the gospel among them that are called Christians. Religion in the profession of some men is withered in its vital principles, weakened in its nerves and sinews, but thought to be put off with outward gaiety and bravery.

But my exhortation is unto diligence in the contemplation of this glory of Christ, and the exercise of our thoughts about it. Unless we are diligent herein, it is impossible we should be steady in the principal acts of faith, or ready unto the principal duties of obedience. The principal act of faith respects the divine person of Christ, as all Christians must acknowledge. This we can never secure (as hath been declared) if we see not his glory in this condescension: and whoever reduceth his notions unto experience, will find that herein his faith stands or falls. And the principal duty of our obedience is self-denial, with readiness for the cross. Hereunto the consideration of this condescension of Christ is the principal evangelical motive, and that whereinto our obedience in it is to be resolved, as the apostle declares, Phil. ii. 5-7. And no man doth deny himself in a due manner, who doth it not on the consideration of the selfdenial of the Son of God. But a prevalent motive this is thereunto. For what are the things wherein we are to deny ourselves, or forego what we pretend to have a right unto? It is in our goods, our liberties, our relations, our lives. And what are they, any, or all of them, in themselves, or unto us, considering our condition, and the end for which

we were made? Perishing things, which, whether we will or no, within a few days death will give us an everlasting separation from. Things under the power of a fever or an asthma, &c. as unto our interest in them. But how incomparable with respect hereunto is that condescension of Christ, whereof we have given an account? If therefore we find an unwillingness in us, a tergiversation in our minds about these things when called unto them in a way of duty, one view by faith of the glory of Christ in this condescension, and what he parted from therein, when he 'made himself of no reputation,' will be an effectual cure of that sinful distemper.

Herein then, I say, we may by faith behold the glory of Christ, as we shall do it by sight hereafter. If we see no glory in it, if we discern not that which is matter of eternal admiration, we walk in darkness. It is the most ineffable effect of divine wisdom and grace. Where are our hearts and minds, if we can see no glory in it? I know in the contemplation of it, it will quickly overwhelm our reason, and bring our understanding into a loss: but unto this loss do I desire to be brought every day; for when faith can no more act itself in comprehension, when it finds the object it is fixed on, too great and glorious to be brought into our minds and capacities, it will issue (as we said before) in holy admiration, humble adoration, and joyful thanksgiving. In and by its actings in them, doth it fill the soul with ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory.'

CHAP. V.

The glory of Christ in his love.

IN the susception and discharge of the mediatory office by the Son of God, the Scripture doth most eminently represent his love, as the sole impelling and leading cause thereof, Gal. ii. 20. 1 John iii. 16. Rev. i. 5.

Herein is he glorious, in a way and manner incomprehensible; for in the glory of divine love, the chief brightness of glory doth consist. There is nothing of dread or terror ac

companying it, nothing but what is amiable and infinitely refreshing. Now that we may take a view of the glory of Christ herein by faith, the nature of it must be inquired

into.

1. The eternal disposing cause of the whole work wherein the Lord Christ was engaged by the susception of this office, for the redemption and salvation of the church, is the love of the Father. Hereunto it is constantly ascribed in the Scripture. And this love of the Father acted itself in his eternal decrees,' before the foundation of the world,' Eph. i. 4. and afterward in the sending of his Son to render it effectual; John iii. 16. Originally, it is his eternal election of a portion of mankind to be brought unto the enjoyment of himself, through the mystery of the blood of Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit; 2 Thess. ii. 13. 16. Eph. i. 4—9. 1 Pet. i. 2.

This eternal act of the will of God the Father, doth not contain in it an actual approbation of, and complacency in, the state and condition of those that are elected; but only designeth that for them on the account whereof they shall be accepted and approved. And it is called his love on sundry accounts.

1. Because it is an act suited unto that glorious excellency of his nature, wherein he is love; for God is love;' 1 John iv. 8, 9. And the first egress of the divine properties must therefore be in an act of communicative love. And whereas this election being an eternal act of the will of God, can have no moving cause but what is in himself; if we could look into all the treasures of the divine excellencies, we should find none whereunto it could be so properly ascribed, as unto love. Wherefore,

it was free and undeserved, For whatever good is done

2. It is styled love, because as unto any thing on our part. unto any altogether undeserved, if it be with a design of their profit and advantage, it is an act of love, and can have no other cause. So is it with us in respect of eternal election. There was nothing in us, nothing foreseen, as that which from ourselves would be in us, that should any way move the will of God unto this election: for whatever is good in the best of men is an effect of it; Eph. i. 4. Whereas

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