Page images

endeavour was exceeding contrary to their own intentions ; and in the close they did nothing, but what the hand and counsel of God had before determined should be done;'Acts iv. 28. and in respect of Christ, they were no way able to accomplish what they aimed at, for he himself laid down his life, and none was able to take it from him ;' John x. 17, 18. so that they are to be excluded from this consideration. In several persons of the Holy Trinity, the joint author of the whole work, the Scripture proposeth distinct and sundry acts or operations peculiarly assigned unto them, which, according to our weak manner of apprehension, we are to consider severally and apart : which also we shall do, beginning with them that are ascribed to the Father.

Two peculiar acts there are in this work of our redemption by the blood of Jesus, which may be and are properly assigned to the person of the Father. First, The sending of his Son into the world for this employment. Secondly, A laying the punishment due to our sin upon him. The Father loves the world and sends his Son to die. He sent his Son into the world that the world through him might be saved ;' John iii. 16, 17, 'He sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us;' Rom. viii. 3. He set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood;' Rom. iii. 25. 'For when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons;' Gal. iv. 4,5. So more than twenty times in the gospel of John, there is mention of this sending; and our Saviour describes himself by this periphrasis,'him whom the Father hath sent;' John vi. 39. and the Father by this,' he who sent me;' John viii. 16. So that this action of sending is appropriate to the Father, according to his promise that he would send us a Saviour, a great one to deliver us;' Isa. xix. 20. and to the profession of our Saviour, • I have not spoken in secret from the beginning, from the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me;' Isa. xlviii. 16. hence the Father himself is sometimes called our Saviour; 1 Tim. i. 1. according to the commandment DeoŨ owtñpos ñuñv of God our Saviour:' some copies indeed read it, Okou kai owrñpoç ñuñv of God and our Saviour;' but the interposition of that particle kai, arose doubtless from a misprision, that Christ alone is called Saviour. But directly this is the same with that parallel place of Titus i. 3. κατ' επιταγήν του σωτήρος ημών Jeon, 'according to the commandment of God our Saviour;' where no interposition of that conjunctive particle can have place, the same title being also in other places ascribed to him, as Luke i. 47. “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.' As also 1 Tim. iv. 10. We have hoped in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe ;' though in this last place, it be not ascribed unto him, with reference to his redeeming us by Christ, but his saving and preserving all by his providence. So also Tit. ii. 11. iii. 4. Deut. xxxii. 15. 1 Sam. x. 19. Psal. xxiv. 5. xxv. 5. Isa. xii. 2. xi. 10. xlv. 15. Jer. xvi. 8. Micah vii. 7. Heb. iii. 17. most of which places have reference to his sending of Christ, which is also distinguished into three several acts, which in order we must lay down.

First, An authoritative imposition of the office of Mediator, which Christ closed withal, by his voluntary susception of it, willingly undergoing the office wherein by dispensation the Father had and exercised a kind of superiority, which the Son, though in the form of God humbled himself unto; Phil. ii. 6, 7. and of this there may be conceived two parts.

First, The purposed imposition of his counsel; or his eternal counsel for the setting apart of his Son, incarnate to this office; saying unto him, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession;' Psal. ii. 7,8. He said unto him, 'Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool; for the Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek;' Psal. cx. 1. 4. : He appointed him to be heir of all things ;' Heb. i. 2. 'having ordained him to be Judge of quick and dead;' Acts x. 42. for unto • this he was ordained before the foundation of the world;' 1 Pet. i. 20. and determined oplo Deis, 'to be the Son of God with power; Rom. i. 4. ‘that he might be the first-born of many brethren ;' Rom. viii. 29. I know that this is an act eternally established in the mind and will of God, and so not to be ranged in order with the other, which are all temporary,

and had their beginning in the fulness of time, of all which this first is the spring and fountain, according to that of James, Acts xv. 18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world;' but yet, it being no unusual form of speaking that the purpose should also be comprehended in that which holds out the accomplishment of it, aiming at truth and not exactness, we pass it thus.

Secondly, The actual inauguration, or solemn admission of Christ unto his office, committing all judgment unto the Son;' John v. 22. ‘making him to be both Lord and Christ;' Acts ii. 36. ‘appointing him over his whole house;' Heb.iii. 1–3. which is that anointing of the most holy; Dan. ix. 24. Godanointing him with the oil of gladness above his fellows;' Psal. xlv. 7. For the actual setting apart of Christ to his office, is said to be by unction, because all those holy things which were types of him, as the ark, the altar, &c. were set apart and consecrated by anointing; Exod. xxx. 25—27, &c. To this also belongs that public testification by innumerable angels from heaven of his nativity, declared by one of them to the shepherds; 'Behold,' saith he, ‘I bring you good tidings of joy, which shall be unto all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord;' Luke ii. 10, 11, which message was attended by, and closed with, that triumphant exultation of the host of heaven, Glory be to God on high, on earth peace, towards men good will;' ver. 14. with that redoubled voice which afterward came from the excellent glory, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;' Matt. iii. 17. xvii. 5. 2 Pet. i. 17. If these things ought to be distinguished, and placed in their own order, they may be considered in these three several acts. First, The glorious proclamation which he made of his nativity; when he ‘prepared him a body ;' Heb. x. 5. bringing his first-begotten into the world, and saying, 'Let all the angels of God worship him;" Heb. i. 6. sending them to proclaim the message which we before recounted. Secondly, Sending the Spirit visibly in the form of a dove to light upon him, at the time of his baptism; Matt. iii. 16. when he was endued with a fulness thereof, for the accomplishment of the work, and discharge of the office whereunto he was designed; attended with that noise, whereby he owned him from heaven as his only beloved. Thirdly, The crowning of him with glory and honour, in his resurrection, ascension, and sitting down on the right hand of Majesty on high ;' Heb. i. 3. setting him as his King upon his holy hill of Sion;' Psal. ii. 7, 8. when all power was given unto him in heaven and in earth;' Matt. xxviii. 18. all things being put under his feet;' Heb. ii. 7,8. himself highly exalted, and a name given him above every name that at,' &c. Phil. ii. 9. of which it pleased him to appoint witnesses of all sorts, angels from heaven, Luke xxiv. 4. Acts i, 10. the dead out of the graves, Matt. xxvii. 52. the apostles among and unto the living, Acts ii. 32. with those more than five hundred brethren, to whom he appeared at once; 1 Cor. xv. 6. Thus gloriously was he inaugurated into his office, in the several acts and degrees thereof; God saying unto him, 'It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth;' Isa. xlix. 6.

Between these two acts I confess there intercedes a twofold promise of God; one, of giving a Saviour to his people, a Mediator according to his former purpose, as Gen. iii. 15. • The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head;' and

the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be;' Gen. xlix. 10. Which he also foresignified by many sacrifices, and other types, with prophetical predictions;' for of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which thing the angels desire to look into;' 1 Pet. i. 10–12. The other is a promise of applying the benefits purchased by this Saviour so designed to them that should believe on him, to be given in fulness of time, according to the former promises; telling Abraham,' that in his seed the nations of the earth should be blessed;' and


justifying himself by the same faith; Gen. xv. 6. But these things belong rather to the application wholly, which was equal both before and after his actual mission.

The second act of the Father's sending the Son, is the furnishing of him in his sending with a fulness of all gifts and graces, that might any way be requisite for the office he was to undertake, the work he was to undergo, and the charge he had over the house of God. There was indeed in Christ a twofold fulness and perfection of all spiritual excellencies. First, the natural all-sufficient perfection of his Deity, as one with his father, in respect of his divine nature: for his glory was the glory of the only-begotten of the Father;' John i. 14. He was in the form of God, and counted it no robbery to be equal with God;' Phil. ii. 6. 'being the fellow of the Lord of Hosts;'Zech. xiii. 7. Whence that glorious appearance, Isa. vi. 3, 4. when the cherubims cried one to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the noise of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke; and the prophet cried, Mine have seen the King, the Lord of hosts;' ver. 5. even concerning this vision, the apostle saith, 'Isaiah saw him and spake of his glory;' John xii. 41. of which glory łkévwok, he as it were emptied himself for a season, when he was found in the form or condition of a servant humbling himself unto death;' Phil. ii. 7, 8. laying aside that glory which attended his Deity, outwardly appearing to have neither form, nor beauty, nor comeliness, that he should be desired ; Isa. liii. 2. But this fulness we do not treat of, it being not communicated to him, but essentially belonging to his person, which is eternally begotten of the person of his Father.

The second fulness that was in Christ, was a communicated fulness, which was in him by dispensation from his Father; bestowed upon him to fit him for his work and office, as he was and is the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;' 1 Tim. ii. 5. not as he is the Lord of hosts, but as he is ‘Immanuel, God with us, as he was a Son given to us, called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, upon whose shoulders the government was to be;' Isa. ix. 6. It is a fulness of grace, not that essential, which is of the

« PreviousContinue »