« AnteriorContinua »
joined unto the Lord so as to become one spirit, they know not. But this principle and spring of the spiritual life of the church, and of all vital spiritual motions towards God, and things heavenly, wherein, and whereby, our life is hid with Christ in God,' is the glory, the exaltation, the honour, the security of the church, unto the praise of the grace of God. The understanding of it in its causes, effects, operations, and privileges, wherewith it is accompanied, is to be preferred above all the wisdom in and of the world.
He thus communicates himself unto us, by the formation of a new nature, his own nature in us; so as that the very same spiritual nature is in him, and in the church. Only it is so with this difference, that in him it is in the absolute perfection of all those glorious graces wherein it doth consist; in the church it is in various measures and degrees, according as he is pleased to communicate it. But the same divine nature it is, that is in him and us; for through the precious promises of the gospel, we are made partakers of his divine nature. It is not enough for us, that he hath taken our nature to be his, unless he gives us also his nature to be ours; that is, implants in our souls all those gracious qualifications, as unto the essence and substance of them, wherewith he himself in his human nature is endued. This is that new man, that new creature, that divine nature, that spirit, which is born of the Spirit, that transformation into the image of Christ, that putting of him on, that workmanship of God, whereunto in him we are created, that the Scripture so fully testifieth unto, John iii. 6. Rom. vi. 3-8. 2 Cor. iii. 18. v. 17. Eph. iv. 20. 24. 2 Pet. i. 4.
And that new heavenly nature which is thus formed in believers, as the first vital act of that union which is between Christ and them by the inhabitation of the same Spirit, is peculiarly his nature. For both is it so as it is in him the idea and the exemplar of it in us, inasmuch as we are predestinated to be conformed unto his image; and as it is wrought or produced in our souls by an emanation of power, virtue, and efficiency from him.
This is a most heavenly way of the communication of himself unto us, wherein of God he is made unto us wisdom and sanctification.' Hereon he says of his church, 'This now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh;' I see myself, my
own nature in them, whence they are comely and desirable. Hereby he makes way to 'present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy and without blemish.' On this communication of Christ unto us by the forming of his own nature in us, depends all the purity, the beauty, the holiness, the inward glory of the church. Hereby is it really, substantially, internally separated from the world, and distinguished from all others, who, in the outward forms of things, in the profession and duties of religion, seem to be the same with them. Hereby it becomes the first-fruits of the creation unto God, bearing forth the renovation of his image in the world; herein the Lord Christ is, and will be glorious unto all eternity. I only mention these things, which deserve to be far more largely insisted on.
He doth the same by that actual insition or implantation into himself, which he gives us by faith, which is of his own operation. For hereon two things do ensue; one by the grace or power, the other by the law or constitution of the gospel, which have a great influence into this mystical communication of Christ unto the church.
And the first of these is, that hereby there is communicated unto us, and we do derive supplies of spiritual life, sustenation, motion, strength in grace, and perseverance, from him continually. This is that which himself so divinely teacheth in the parable of the vine and its branches, John xv. 1-5. Hereby is there a continual communication from his all-fulness of grace unto the whole church and all the members of it, unto all the ends and duties of spiritual life. They live, nevertheless not they, but Christ liveth in them; and the life which they lead in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God.' And the other, by virtue of the law and constitution of the gospel, is, that hereon his righteousness and all the fruits of his mediation, are imputed unto us; the glory of which mystery the apostle unfolds, Rom. iii—v.
I might add hereunto the mutual inbeing that is between him and believers by love; for the way of the communication of his love unto them, being by the shedding of it abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and their returns of love unto them, being wrought in them by an almighty efficiency of the same Spirit, there is that which is
deeply mysterious and glorious in it. I might mention also the continuation of his discharge of all his offices towards us, whereon all our receptions from him, or all the benefits of his mediation, whereof we are made partakers, do depend. But the few instances that have been given of the glory of Christ in this mysterious communication of himself unto his church, may suffice to give us such a view of it, as to fill our hearts with holy admiration and thanksgiving.
The glory of Christ in the recapitulation of all things in him.
IN the last place, the Lord Christ is peculiarly and eminently glorious in the recapitulation of all things in him, after they had been scattered and disordered by sin. This the apostle proposeth as the most signal effect of divine wisdom, and the sovereign pleasure of God.
'He hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will according unto his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself. That in the dispensation of the fulness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in the heavens, and which are on earth, even in him;' Eph. i. 8—10.
For the discovery of the mind of the Holy Ghost in these words, so far as I am at present concerned, namely, as unto the representation of the glory of Christ in them, sundry brief observations must be premised; and in them it will be necessary that we briefly declare the original of all these things in heaven and earth, their primitive order, the confusion that ensued thereon, with their restitution in Christ, and his glory thereby.
God alone hath all being in him. self that name, 'I AM,' Exod. iii. 14.
Hence he gives himHe was eternally all;
when all things else that ever were, or now are, or shall be, were nothing. And when they are, they are no otherwise, but as they are of him, and from him, and to him;' Rom. xi. 36.
Moreover his being and goodness are the same. The goodness of God is the meetness of the Divine Being to be communicative of itself in its effects. Hence this is the first notion of the divine nature, infinite being and goodness, in a nature intelligent and self-subsistent. So the apostle declares it, 'He that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder ;' Heb. xi. 6.
2. In this state of infinite, eternal being and goodness antecedent unto any act of wisdom or power without himself, to give existence unto other things, God was, and is, eternally in himself all that he will be, all that he can be, unto eternity. For where there is infinite being and infinite goodness, there is infinite blessedness and happiness, whereunto nothing can be added. God is always the same. That is his name Пns Psal. cii. 27. 'Thou art he,' always the same. All things that are, make no addition unto God, no change in his state. His blessedness, happiness, self-satisfaction, as well as all other his infinite perfections, were absolutely the same before the creation of any thing, whilst there was nothing but himself, as they are since he hath made all things: for the blessedness of God consists in the ineffable mutual inbeing of the three holy persons in the same nature, with the immanent reciprocal actings of the Father and the Son in the eternal love and complacency of the Spirit. Hereunto nothing can be added, herein no change can be made by any external work or effect of power. Herein doth God act in the perfect knowledge, and perfect love of his own perfections, unto an infinite acquiescency therein, which is the divine blessedness. This gives us the true notion of the divine nature antecedent unto the manifestation of it made by any outward effects. Infinite being and goodness eternally blessed in the knowledge and enjoyment of itself by inconceivable, ineffable, internal actings, answering the manner of its subsistence, which is in three distinct persons.
3. This being and goodness of God by his own will and pleasure acting themselves in infinite wisdom and power, produced the creation of all things. Herein he communicated a finite, limited, dependent being and goodness unto other things without himself. For all being and goodness being, as was said, in him alone, it was necessary that the
first outward work and effect of the divine nature must be the communication of being and goodness into other things. Wherefore as when he had given unto every thing its being out of nothing by the word of his power, saying, Let them be, and they were; so it is said, that he looked on all that he had made, and behold they were exceeding good;' Gen. i. 31. Being and goodness must be the first outward effects of the divine nature, which being wrought by infinite power and wisdom, do represent unto us the glory of God in the creation of all things. Infinite being in self-subsistence, which is necessary in the first cause and spring of all things; infinite goodness to communicate the effect of this being unto that which was not, and infinite wisdom and power in that communication, are gloriously manifested therein.
4. In this state, all things that were made, depended immediately on God himself, without the interposition of any other head of influence or rule. They had the continuance of their being and its preservation, from the immediate actings of these properties of the divine nature whereby they were made; and their dependance on God was by virtue of that law, which was implanted on the principles and powers of their several natures by God himself.
5. Thus In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' He provided himself of two distinct, rational families, that should depend on him according to a law of moral obedience, and thereby give glory to him; with two distinct habitations for them cognate unto their nature and use; heaven above, and the earth beneath. The earth he appointed for the habitation of man, which was every way suited unto the constitution of his nature, the preservation of his being, and the end of his creation in giving glory to God. Heaven he prepared for the habitation of the angels, which was suited unto the constitution of their nature, the preservation of their being, and the end of their creation in giving glory to God. Wherefore, as man had power and dominion over all things here below, and was to use them all unto the glory of God, by which means God received glory from them also, though in themselves brute and inanimate; so the angels had the like dominion over the celestial and etherial bodies, wherewith God had fitted the place of their habitation, that through the contemplation and use of them,