« AnteriorContinua »
3. It was so represented and made known under the Old Testament in his personal appearances on various occasions unto several eminent persons, leaders of the church in their generations. This he did as a' præludium' to his incarnation. He was as yet God only; but appeared in the assumed shape of a man, to signify what he would be. He did not create a human nature, and unite it unto himself for such a season; only by his divine power he acted the shape of a man composed of what etherial substance he pleased, immediately to be dissolved. So he appeared to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to Joshua, and others, as I have at large elsewhere proved and confirmed. And hereon also, because he was the divine person who dwelt in, and dwelt with the church, under the Old Testament from first to last, in so doing he constantly assumes unto himself human affections, to intimate that a season would come when he would immediately act in that nature. And, indeed, after the fall there is nothing spoken of God in the Old Testament, nothing of his institutions, nothing of the way and manner of dealing with the church, but what hath respect unto the future incarnation of Christ. And it had been absurd to bring in God under perpetual anthropopathies, as grieving, repenting, being angry, well pleased, and the like, were it not but that the divine person intended, was to take on him the nature wherein such affections do dwell.
4. It was represented in prophetical visions. So the apostle affirms that the vision which Isaiah had of him, was when he saw his glory; John xii. 41. And it was a blessed representation thereof. For his divine person being exalted on a throne of glory, ‘his train filled the temple. The whole train of his glorious grace filled the temple of his body. This is the true tabernacle which God pitched, and not man. The temple which was destroyed, and which he raised again in three days, wherein dwelt the fulness of the Godhead; Col. i. 9. This glory was now presented unto the view of Isaiah, chap. vi. 1-3. which filled him with dread and astonishment. But from thence he was relieved, by an act of the ministry of that glorious one, taking away his iniquity by a coal from the altar, which typified the purifying efficacy of his sacrifice. This was food for the souls of believers : in these and on the like occasions, did the whole church lift up their voice in that holy cry, 'Make haste our beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart, on the mountain of spices.'
Of the same nature was his glorious appearance on mount Sinai at the giving of the law, Exod. xix. For the description thereof by the psalmist, Psal. Ixviii. 17, 18. is applied by the apostle unto the ascension of Christ after his resurrection; Eph. iv. 8—11. Only as it was then full of outward terror, because of the giving of the fiery law, it was referred unto by the psalmist, as full of mercy, with respect unto his accomplishment of the same law. His giving of it was as death unto them concerned, because of its holiness, and the severity of the curse wherewith it was attended; his fulfilling of it was life, by the pardon and righteousness which issued from thence.
5. The doctrine of his incarnation, whereby he became the subject of all that glory which we inquire after, was revealed, although not so clearly as by the gospel, after the actual accomplishment of the thing itself. In how many places this is done in the Old Testament, I have elsewhere declared ; at least I have explained and vindicated many of them (for no man can presume to know them all), Vindic. Evangel. One instance, therefore, shall here suffice; and this is that of the same prophet Isaiah, chap. ix. 6, 7. ·Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth and for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. This one testimony is sufficient to confound all Jews, Socinians, and other enemies of the glory of Christ. I do acknowledge, that notwithstanding this declaration of the glory of Christ in his future incarnation and rule, there remained much darkness in the minds of them unto whom it was then made. For although they might and did acquiesce in the truth of the revelation, yet they could frame to themselves no notions of the way or manner of its accomplishment. But now, when every word of it is explained, declared, and its mystical
sense visibly laid open unto us in the gospel, and by the accomplishment exactly answering every expression in it, it is judicial blindness not to receive it. Nothing but the satanical pride of the hearts of men, which will admit of no effects of infinite wisdom, but what they suppose they can comprehend, can shut their eyes against the light of this truth.
6. Promises, prophecies, predictions, concerning his person, his coming, his office, his kingdom, and his glory in them all, with the wisdom, grace, and love of God to the church in him, are the line of life, as was said, which runs through all the writings of the Old Testament, and takes up a great portion of them. Those were the things which he expounded unto his disciples out of Moses and all the prophets. Concerning these things he appealed to the Scriptures against all his adversaries; ' Search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of me.' And if we find them not, if we discern them not therein, it is because a veil of blindness is over our minds. Nor can we read, study, or meditate on the writings of the Old Testament unto any
advantage, unless we design to find out and behold the glory of Christ declared and represented in them. For want hereof they are a sealed book to many unto this day.
7. It is usual in the Old Testament to set out the glory of Christ under metaphorical expressions; yea, it aboundeth therein. For such allusions are exceedingly suited to let in a sense into our minds of those things which we cannot distinctly comprehend. And there is an infinite condescension of divine wisdom in their way of instruction, representing unto us the power of things spiritual, in what we naturally discern. Instances of this kind in calling the Lord Christ by the names of those creatures, which unto our senses rerepresent that excellency which is spiritually in him, are innumerable. So he is called the rose, for the sweet savour of his love, grace, and obedience; the lily, for his gracious beauty and amiableness; the pearl of price, for his worth, for to them that believe he is precious; the vine, for his fruitfulness; the lion, for his power; the lamb, for his meekness and fitness for sacrifice; with other things of the like kind almost innumerable.
These things have I mentioned, not with any design to search into the depth of this treasury of those divine truths concerning the glory of Christ; but only to give a little light unto the words of the evangelist, that he opened unto his disciples out of Moses and all the prophets the things which concerned himself;' and to stir up our own souls unto a contemplation of them as contained therein.
The glory of Christ in his intimate conjunction with the church. What concerns the glory of Christ in the mission of the Holy Ghost unto the church, with all the divine truths that are branched from it, I have at large declared in my discourse concerning the whole dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Here therefore it must have no place amongst those many other things which offer themselves unto our contemplation, as part of this glory, or intimately belonging thereunto. I shall insist briefly on three only, which cannot be reduced directly unto the former heads.
And the first of these is, That intimate conjunction that is between Christ and the church; whence it is just and equal in the sight of God, according unto the rules of his eternal righteousness, that what he did and suffered in the discharge of his office, should be esteemed, reckoned, and imputed unto us, as unto all the fruits and benefits of it, as if we had done and suffered the same things ourselves. For this conjunction of his with us, was an act of his own mind and will, wherein he is ineffably glorious.
The enemies of the glory of Christ and of his cross, do take this for granted, that there ought to be such a conjunction between the guilty person and him that suffers for him, as that in him the guilty person may be said in some sense to undergo the punishment himself. But then they affirm, on the other hand, that there was no such conjunction between Christ and sinners; none at all; but that he was a man, as they were men; and otherwise, that he was at the greatest distance from them all, as it is possible for one man to be from another; Socin. de Servat. lib. iii. cap. 3. The falseness of this latter assertion, and the gross ignorance of the Scripture, under a pretence of subtilty in them that make it, will evidently appear in our ensuing discourse.
The apostle tells us, 1 Pet. ii. 24. that in his own self he bare our sins in his own body on the tree ;' and chap. ii. 18. that he suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God.' But this seems somewhat strange unto reason. Where is the justice, where is the equity, that the just should suffer for the unjust? Where is divine righteousness herein ? For it was an act of God, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all ;' Isa. liii. 6. The equity hereof, with the grounds of it, must be here a little inquired into
First of all, it is certain, that all the elect, the whole church of God, fell in Adam, under the curse due to the transgression of the law. It is so also, that in this curse, death both temporal and eternal was contained. This curse none could undergo and be saved. Nor was it consistent with the righteousness, or holiness, or truth of God, that sin should go unpunished. Wherefore there was a necessity, upon a supposition of God's decree to save his church, of a translation of punishment; namely, from them who had deserved it, and could not bear it, unto one who had not deserved it, but could bear it.
A supposition of this translation of punishment by divine dispensation, is the foundation of Christian religion, yea, of all supernatural revelation contained in the Scripture. This was first intimated in the first promise ; and afterward explained and confirmed in all the institutions of the Old Testament. For although in the sacrifices of the law, there was a revival of the greatest and most fundamental principle of the law of nature, namely, that God is to be worshipped with our best; yet the principal end and use of them, was to represent this translation of punishment from the offender unto another, who was to be a sacrifice in his stead.
The reasons of the equity hereof, and the unspeakable glory of Christ herein, is what we now inquire into. And I shall reduce what ought to be spoken hereunto, to the ensuing heads.
1. It is not contrary unto the nature of divine justice;