Page images

concernment of the holiness or righteousness of God in this sin of our nature, which we are inquiring after. Unless some reparation be made for the indignity cast upon it in the rejection of the image and representation of it, unless there be some way whereby it may be more eminently exalted in the nature of man, than it was debased and despised in the same nature; it was just, equal, righteous with God, that which becomes the rectitude and purity of his nature, that mankind should perish eternally in that condition whereinto it was cast by sin.

It was not, therefore, consistent with the glory of God, that mankind should be restored, that this nature of ours should be brought unto the enjoyment of him, unless his holiness be more exalted, be more conspicuously represented in the same nature, than ever it was depressed or despised thereby. The demonstration of its glory in any other na. ture, as in that of angels, would not serve unto this end, as we shall see afterward.

We must now a little return unto what we before laid down. Wisdom being the directive power of all divine operations, and the end of all those operations being the glory of God himself, or the demonstration of the excellencies of the holy properties of his nature, it was incumbent thereon to provide for the honour and glory of divine holiness in an exaltation answerable unto the attempt for its debasement. Without the consideration hereof, we can have no due prospect of the actings of infinite wisdom in this great work of our redemption and recovery by the incarnation of the Son of God.

(3.) Sin brought disorder and disturbance into the whole rule and government of God. It was necessary from the infinite wisdom of God, that all things should be made in perfect order and harmony, all in a direct subordination unto his glory. There could have been no original defect in the natural or moral order of things, but it must have proceeded from a defect in wisdom. For the disposal of all things into their proper order belonged unto the contrivance thereof. And the harmony of all things among themselves, with all their mutual relations and aspects, in a regular tendency unto their proper and utmost end, whereby though every individual subsistence or being hath a pecuour recovery, that God might be glorified in them all. Without a previous consideration of these things, we can have no due conceptions of the wisdom of God in this glorious work, which we inquire after. Wherefore I shall so far speak of them, that if it be the will of God, the minds of those who read and consider them, may be opened and prepared to give admittance unto some rays of that divine wisdom in this glorious work, the lustre of whose full light we are not able in this world to behold.

When there was a visible pledge of the presence of God in the bush that burned' and was not consumed, Moses said, he would turn aside to see that great sight;' Exod. iii. 3. And this great representation of the glory of God being made and proposed unto us, it is certainly our duty to divert from all other occasions unto the contemplation of it. But as Moses was then commanded to put off his shoes, the place whereon he stood being holy ground ;' so it will be the wisdom of him that writes, and of them that read, to divest themselves of all carnal affections and imaginations, that they may draw nigh unto this great object of faith, with due reverence and fear.

The first thing we are to consider in order unto the end proposed is, the nature of our sin and apostacy from God. For from thence we must learn the concernment of the divine excellencies of God in this work. And there are three things that were eminent therein.

(1.) A reflection on the honour of the holiness and wisdom of God, in the rejection of his image. He had newly 'made man in his own image.' And this work he so expresseth as to intimate a peculiar effect of divine wisdom in it, whereby it was distinguished from all other external works of creation whatever. Gen. i. 26, 27. •And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.' No where is there such an emphasis of expression concerning any work of God. And sundry things are represented as peculiar therein.

[lst.] That the word of consultation and that of execution are distinct. In all other works of creation, the word of determination and execution, was the same. When he created light which seems to be the beauty and glory of the whole creation, he only said, 'Let there be light, and there was light;' Gen. i. 3. So was it with all other things. But when he comes unto the creation of man, another process is proposed unto our faith. These several words are distinct, not in time, but in nature. God said, Let us make man in our image and likeness;' and thereon it is added distinctly, as the execution of that antecedent counsel; 'so God made man in his own image. This puts a signal eminency on this work of God.

[2dly.] A distinct peculiar concernment of all the persons of the holy Trinity, in their consultation and operation, is in like manner proposed unto us. “And God said, Let us make man.' The truth hereof I have sufficiently evinced elsewhere, and discovered the vanity of all other glosses and expositions. The properties of the divine nature principally and originally considerable in all external operations (as we have newly observed) are goodness, wisdom, and power. In this great work divine goodness exerted itself eminently and effectually in the person of the Father; the eternal fountain and spring, as of the divine nature, so of all divine operations. Divine wisdom acted itself peculiarly in the person of the Son, this being the principle notion thereof, the eternal wisdom of the Father. Divine power wrought effectually in the person of the Holy Spirit; who is the immediate actor of all divine operations.

[3dly.) The proposition of the effecting this work being by way of consultation, represents it a signal effect of infinite wisdom. These expressions are used to lead us unto the contemplation of that wisdom.

Thus God made man in his own image,' that is, in such a rectitude of nature as represented his righteousness and holiness, in such a state and condition as had a reflection on it of his power and rule. The former was the substance of it, the latter a necessary consequent thereof. This representation, I say, of God, in power and rule, was not that image of God wherein man was created, but a consequent of it. So the words and their order declare. Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,' &c. Because he was made in the image of God, this dominion and rule were granted unto him. So fond is their imagination who would


have the image of God to consist solely in these things. Wherefore the loss of the image of God was not originally the loss of power and dominion, or a right thereunto. But man was deprived of that right, on the loss of that image which it was granted unto. Wherein it did consist, see Eccles. vii. 29. Eph. iv. 24.

Three things God designed in this communication of his image unto our nature, which were his principal ends in the creation of all things here below. And therefore was divine wisdom more eminently exerted therein, than in all the other works of this inferior creation.

1. The first was, that he might therein make a representation of his holiness and righteousness among his creatures. This was not done in any other of them. Characters they had on them of his goodness, wisdom, and


In these things the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. His eternal power and Godhead are manifest in the things that are made. But none of them, not the whole fabric of heaven and earth, with all their glorious ornaments and endowments, were either fit or able to receive any impressions of his holiness and righteousness, of any of the moral perfections, or universal rectitude of his nature. Yet in the demonstration and representation of these things doth the glory of God principally consist. Without them he could not be known . and glorified as God. Wherefore he would have an image and representation of them in the creation here below. And this he will always have so long as he will be worshipped by any of his creatures. And therefore, when it was lost in Adam it was renewed in Christ, as hath been declared.

2. The second was, that it might be a means of rendering actual glory unto him, from all other parts of the creation. Without this, which is as the animating life and form of the whole, the other creatures are but as a dead thing. They could not any way declare the glory of God, but passively and objectively. They were as an harmonious well-tuned instrument, which gives no sound unless there be a skilful hand to move and act it. What is light if there be no eye to see it? or what is music if there be no ear to hear it? How glorious and beautiful soever any of the works of creation appear to be, from impressions of divine power,

wisdom, and goodness on them, yet, without this image of God in man, there was nothing here below to understand God in them, to glorify God by them. This alone is that whereby in a way of admiration, obedience, and praise, we were enabled to render unto God all the glory which he designed from those works of his power,

3. The third was, that it might be a means to bring man unto that eternal enjoyment of himself, which he was fitted for and designed unto. For this was to be done in a way of obedience; 'do this and live,' was that rule of it which the nature of God and man, with their mutual relation unto one another, did require. But we were made meet for this obedience, and enabled unto it, only by virtue of this image of God implanted in our natures. It was morally a power to live unto God in obedience, that we might come to the enjoyment of him in glory.

Evident it is, that these were the principal ends of God in the creation of all things. Wherefore this constitution of our nature, and the furnishment of it with the image of God, was the most eminent effect of infinite wisdom in all the outward works of the divine nature.

(2.) In the entrance of sin, and by apostacy from God, man voluntarily rejected and defaced this blessed representation of the righteousness and holiness of God, this great effect of his goodness and wisdom, in its tendency unto his eternal glory, and our enjoyment of him. No greater dishonour could be done unto him, no endeavour could have been more pernicious in casting contempt on his counsel. For as his holiness, which was represented in that image, was despoiled, so we did what lay in us to defeat the contrivance of his wisdom. This will be evident by reflecting on the ends of it now mentioned. For,

[1.] Hereon there remained nothing in all the creation here below, whereby any representation might be made of God's holiness and righteousness, or any of the moral perfections of his nature. How could it be done this image being lost out of the world? The brute inanimate part of the creation, however stupendously great in its matter, and glorious in its outward form, was no way capable of it. The nature of man under the loss of this image, fallen, depraved, polluted, and corrupted, gives rather a representation

« PreviousContinue »