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cording to the capacity of our nature, is to be eternally blessed. To live by faith in the contemplation of the glory of God in Christ, is that initiation into both, whereof we are capable in this world. The endeavours of some to contemplate and report the glory of God in nature, in the works of creation and providence, in the things of the greater and the lesser world, do deserve their just commendation; and it is that which the Scripture in sundry places calls us unto. But for any there to abide, there to bound their designs, when they have a much more noble and glorious object for their meditations, namely, the glory of God in Christ, is both to despise the wisdom of God in that revelation of himself, and to come short of that transforming efficacy of faith in the contemplation hereof, whereby we are made like unto God. For hereunto alone doth it belong, and not unto any natural knowledge, nor to any knowledge of the most secret recesses of nature.
I shall only say, that those who are inconversant with these objects of faith, whose minds are not delighted in the admiration of, and acquiescency in, things incomprehensible, such as is this constitution of the person of Christ, who would reduce all things to the measure of their own understandings, or else wilfully live in the neglect of what they cannot comprehend, do not much prepare themselves for that vision of these things in glory wherein our blessedness doth consist.
Moreover, this constitution of the person of Christ being the most admirable and ineffable effect of divine wisdom, grace, and power, it is that alone which can bear the weight of the whole superstructure of the mystery of godliness; that whereinto the whole sanctification and salvation of the church is resolved, wherein alone faith can find rest and peace. Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ;' 1 Cor. iii. 11. Rest and peace with God, is that which we seek after; 'What shall we do to be saved?' In this inquiry, the acts of the mediatory office of Christ are in the gospel first presented unto us, especially his oblation and intercession. Through them is he able to save unto the utmost those that come to God by him. But there were oblations for sin, and intercessions for sinners, under the old testament; yet of them all doth the apostle
affirm that they could not make them perfect that came unto God by them, nor take away conscience condemning for sin; Heb. x. 1-4. Wherefore, it is not these things in themselves that can give us rest and peace, but their relation unto the person of Christ. The oblation and intercession of any other would not have saved us. Hence for the security of our faith, we are minded that God redeemed the church with his own blood;' Acts xx. 28. He did so who was God, as he was manifested in the flesh. His blood alone could purge our consciences from dead works, who did offer himself unto God, through the eternal Spirit; Heb. ix. 14. And when the apostle, for our relief against the guilt of sin, calleth us unto the consideration of intercession and propitiation, he mindeth us peculiarly of his person by whom they are performed, 1 John ii. 1, 2. 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.' And we may briefly consider the order of these things.
1. We suppose in this case conscience to be awakened unto a sense of sin, and of apostacy from God thereby. These things are now generally looked on as of no great concernment unto us, by some made a mock of, and by the most thought easy to be dealt withal at time convenient. But when God fixeth an apprehension of his displeasure for them on the soul, if it be not before it be too late, it will cause men to look out for relief.
2. This relief is proposed in the gospel. And it is the death and mediation of Christ alone. By them peace with God must be obtained, or it will cease for ever. But,
3. When any person comes practically to know how great a thing it is for an apostate sinner to obtain the remission of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, endless objections through the power of unbelief will arise unto his disquietment. Wherefore,
4. That which is principally suited to give him rest, peace, and satisfaction, and without which nothing else can so do, is the due consideration of, and the acting of faith upon, this infinite effect of divine wisdom and goodness, in the constitution of the person of Christ. This at first view will reduce the mind unto that conclusion, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible.' For what end cannot be ef
fected hereby? What end cannot be accomplished that was designed in it? Is any thing too hard for God? Did God ever do any thing like this, or make use of any such means for any other end whatever? Against this no objection can arise. On this consideration of him, faith apprehends Christ to be, as he is indeed, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, unto the salvation of them that do believe, and therein doth it find rest with peace.
The person of Christ the foundation of all the counsels of God.
SECONDLY, The person of Christ is the foundation of all the counsels of God, as unto his own eternal glory in the vòcation, sanctification, and salvation of the church. That which I intend is what the apostle expresseth, Eph. i. 9, 10. ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth; even in him.' The mysteries of the will of God, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself are his counsels concerning his own eternal glory, in the sanctification and salvation of the church here below, to be united unto that above. The absolute original hereof was in his own good pleasure, or the sovereign acting of his wisdom and will. But it was all to be effected in Christ, which the apostle twice repeats; he would gather 'all things into a head in Christ, even in him;' that is, in him alone.
Thus it is said of him with respect unto his future incarnation and work of mediation,' that the Lord possessed him in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old; that he was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was;' Prov. viii. 22, 23. The eternal personal existence of the Son of God is supposed in these expressions, as I have elsewhere proved. Without it none of these things
could be affirmed of him. But there is a regard in them, both unto his future incarnation, and the accomplishment of the counsels of God thereby. With respect thereunto, God' possessed him in the beginning of his ways, and set him up from everlasting.' God possessed him eternally as his essential wisdom, as he was always and is always in the bosom of the Father, in the mutual, ineffable love of the Father and Son, in the eternal bond of the Spirit. But he signally possessed him 'in the beginning of his ways,' as his wisdom acting in the production of all the ways and works that are outwardly of him. The beginning of God's ways before his works, are his counsels concerning them, even as our counsels are the beginning of our ways, with respect unto future works. And he set him up from everlasting,' as the foundation of all the counsels of his will, in and by whom they were to be executed and accomplished.
So it is expressed, ver. 30, 31. 'I was by him, as one brought up with him: I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.' And it is added, that thus it was before the foundation of the world was laid, or the chiefest part of the dust of the earth was made;' that is, man was created. Not only was the delight of the Father in him, but his delight was in the habitable parts of the earth, and among the sons of men, before the creation of the world. Wherefore the eternal prospect of the work he had to do for the children of men is intended herein. In and with him God laid the foundation of all his counsels concerning his love towards the children of men; and two things may be observed herein.
1. That the person of the Son,' was set up,' or exalted herein. 'I was set up,' saith he, 'from everlasting.' This cannot be spoken absolutely of the person of the Son himself; the divine nature being not capable of being so set up. But there was a peculiar glory and honour belonging unto the person of the Son, as designed by the Father, unto the execution of all the counsels of his will. Hence was that prayer of his the upon accomplishment of them, John xvii. 5. And now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' that the Lord Christ prayeth in these words, for such a real
communication of the properties of the divine nature unto the human, as should render it immense, omniscient, and unconfined unto any space, is to think that he prayed for the destruction, and not the exaltation of it. For on that supposition, it must necessarily lose all its own essential properties, and consequently its being. Nor doth he seem to pray only for the manifestation of his divine nature, which was eclipsed in his exinanition or appearance in the form of a servant. There was no need to express this, by the 'glory which he had with the Father before the world was.' For he had it not in any especial manner before the world was; but equally from eternity, and in every moment of time. Wherefore he had a peculiar glory of his own with the Father before the world was. And this was no other, but that especial exaltation which he had when he was 'set up from everlasting,' as the foundation of the counsels of God, for the salvation of the church. In those eternal transactions that were between the Father and the Son, with respect unto his incarnation and mediation, or his undertaking to execute and fulfil the eternal counsels of the wisdom and grace of the Father, there was an especial glory which the Son had with him. The 'glory which he had with the Father before the world was.' For the manifestation hereof he now prays; and that the glory of his goodness, grace, and love in his peculiar undertaking of the execution of the counsels of God, might be made to appear. And this is the principal design of the gospel. It is the declaration as of the grace of God the Father, so of the love, grace, goodness, and compassion of the Son, in undertaking from everlasting the accomplishment of God's counsels in the salvation of the church. And hereby doth he hold up the pillars of the earth, or support this inferior creation, which otherwise, with the inhabitants of it, would by sin have been dissolved. And those by whom the eternal, divine pre-existence in the form of God, antecedent unto his incarnation is denied, do what lies in them expressly to despoil him of all that glory which he had with the Father before the world was. So we have herein the whole of our design. In the beginning of God's ways before his works of old;' that is, in his eternal counsels with respect unto the children of men, or the sanctification and salvation of the church, the Lord possessed, enjoyed