« PreviousContinue »
obedience unto him by whom he was redeemed, restored, and recovered, as the author of the state wherein he is. For when we are · bought with a price, we are not our own,' as the apostle affirms; 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. We are therefore his who hath bought us, and him are we bound to serve in our souls and bodies which are his. Accordingly in the purchase of us, the Lord Christ became our absolute Lord, unto whom we owe all religious subjection of soul and conscience; Rom. xiv. 7–9. It would follow therefore that if we were redeemed and recovered by the interposition of a mere creature, if such a one were our Redeemer, Saviour, and Deliverer, into the service of a mere creature, that is, religious service and obedience, we should be recovered. And so they believe who affirm the Lord Christ to be a man and no more. But on this supposition we are so far from an advancement in state and dignity by our restoration, that we do not recover what we were first instated in. For it belonged thereunto, that we should owe religious service and obedience unto him alone who was God by nature over all blessed for ever. And they bring all confusion into Christian religion, who make a mere creature the object of our faith, love, adoration, invocation, and all sacred worship. But in our present restoration we are made subject anew asunto religious service only unto God alone. Therefore the holy angels, the head of the creation, do openly disclaim any such service and veneration from us, because they are only the fellow-servants of them that have the testimony of Jesus ; Rev. xix. 10. Nor hath God put the world to come,' the gospel state of the church into subjection unto angels or any other creature, but only unto the Son, wbo is Lord over his own house, even he that made all things, who is God; Heb. iii. 4–6. Wherefore we are restored into our primitive condition to be in spiritual subjection unto God alone. He therefore by whom we are restored, unto whom we owe all obedience and religious service, is, and ought to be God also. And as they utterly overthrow the gospel who affirm that all the obedience of it is due unto him who is a man and no more, as do all by whom the divine nature of Christ is denied; so they debase themselves beneath the dignity of the state of redemption, and cast dishonour on the mediation of Christ, who subject
themselves in any religious service to saints or angels, or any other creatures whatever.
On these suppositions, which are full of light and evidence, infinite wisdom did interpose itself, to glorify all the other concerned excellencies of the glory of God, in such a way as might solve all difficulties, and satisfy all the ends of God's glory, in the recovery and redemption of mankind. The case before it was as followeth.
Man by sin had cast the most inconceivable dishonour on the righteousness, holiness, goodness, and rule of God, and himself into the guilt of eternal ruin. In this state it became the wisdom and goodness of God, neither to suffer the whole race of mankind to come short eternally of that enjoyment of himself for which it was created, nor yet to deliver any one of them, without a retrieval of the eternal honour of his righteousness, holiness, and rule, from the diminution and waste that was made of it by,sin. As this could no way be done, but by a full satisfaction unto justice and an obedience unto the law, bringing and yielding more honour unto the holiness and righteousness of God, than they could any way lose by the sin and disobedience of man; so this satisfaction must be made, and this obedience be yielded in and by the same nature that sinned or disobeyed, whereby alone the residue of mankind
be interested in the benefits and effects of that obedience, and satisfaction. Yet was it necessary hereunto, that the nature wherein all this was to be performed, though derived from the same common stock with that whereof in all, our persons we are partakers, should be absolutely free from the contagion and guilt, which with it, and by it are communicated unto our persons, from that common stock. Unless it were so, there could be no undertaking in it for others, it would not be able to answer for itself. But yet on all these suppositions, no undertaking, no performance of duty, in human nature could possibly yield that obedience unto God, or make that satisfaction for sin, whereon the deliverance of others might ensue, unto the glory of the holiness, righteousness, and rule of God.
In this state of things did infinite wisdom interpose itself, in that glorious ineffable contrivance of the person of Christ, or of the divine nature in the eternal Son of God,
and of ours in the same individual person. Otherwise this work could not be accomplished ; at least all other ways are hidden from the eyes of all living, no created understanding being able to apprehend any other way whereby it might so have been unto the eternal glory of God. This therefore is such an effect of divine wisdom, as will be the object of holy adoration and admiration unto eternity; as unto this life, how little a portion is it we know of its excellency?
Other evidences of divine wisdom in the contrivance of the work of re
demption, in and by the person of Christ, in effects evidencing a condecency thereunto.
That which remains of our present inquiry, is concerning those evidences of divine condecency or suitableness unto infinite wisdom and goodness, which we may gather from the nature of this work, and its effects, as expressed in divine revelation. Some few instances hereof I shall choose out from amongst many that might be insisted on.
1. Man was made to serve God in all things. In his person, in his soul and body, in all his faculties, powers, and senses, in all that was given unto him or intrusted with him, he was not his own, but every way a servant, in all that he was, in all that he had, in all that he did or was to do. This he was made for, this state and condition was necessary unto him as a creature. It could be no otherwise with
any that was so, it was so with the angels who were greater in dignity and power than man. The very name of creature includes the condition of universal subjection and service unto the Creator. This condition in and by his sin, Adam designed to desert, and to free himself from. He would exalt himself out of the state of service and obedience, absolute and universal, into a condition of self-sufficiency of domination and rule. He would be as God, like unto God, that is, subject no more to him, be in no more dependence on him, but advance his own will above the
will of God. And there is somewhat of this in every ; the sinner would advance his own will in opposition unto, and above the will of God. But what was the event hereof? Man by endeavouring to free himself from absolute subjection and universal service, to invade absolute dominion, fell into absolute and eternal ruin.
For our recovery out of this state and condition, considering how we cast ourselves into it, the way insisted on, was found out by divine wisdom, namely, the incarnation of the Son of God. For he was Lord of all, had absolute dominion over all, owed no service, no obedience for himself, being in the form of God, and equal unto him. From this state of absolute dominion, he descended into a condition of absolute service. As Adam sinned and fell by leaving that state of absolute service which was due unto him, proper unto his nature, inseparable from it, to attempt a state of absolute dominion, which was not his own, not due unto him, not consistent with his nature; so the Son of God, being made the second Adam, relieved us by descending from a state of absolute dominion, which was his own, due to his nature, to take on him a state of absolute service, which was not his own, nor due unto him. And this being inconsistent with his own divine nature, he performed it, by taking our nature on him, making it his own. He descended as much beneath himself in his self-humiliation, as Adam designed to ascend above himself in his pride and self-exaltation.
The consideration of the divine grace and wisdom herein, the apostle proposeth unto us, Phil. ii. 6—8. •Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' Adam being in the form, that is, the state and condition of a servant, did by robbery attempt to take upon him the form of God,' or to make himself equal unto him. The Lord Christ being in the form of God,' that is, his essential form of the same nature with him, accounted it no robbery to be in the state and condition of God, to be equal to him.' But being made in the fashion of a man,' taking on him our nature, he also submitted unto the form or the state and condition of a servant therein. He had dominion over all, owed service and obedience unto none, being in the form of God,' and equal unto him, the condition which Adam aspired unto. But he condescended unto a state of absolute subjection and service for our recovery. This did no more belong unto him on his own account, than it belonged unto Adam to be like unto God, or equal to him. Wherefore it is said that he humbled himself unto it, as Adam would have exalted himself-unto a state of dignity which was not his due.
This submission of the Son of God unto an estate of absolute and universal service, is declared by the apostle, Heb. x. 5. For those words of the psalmist, Mine ears hast thou digged' or bored, Psal. xl. 6. he renders, ' a body hast thou prepared me. There is an allusion in the words of the prophecy unto him under the law, who gave up himself in absolute and perpetual service; in sign whereof his ears were bored with an awl. So the body of Christ was prepared for him, that therein he might be in a state of absolute service unto God. So he became to have nothing of his own, the original state that Adam would have forsaken, no not his life, he was obedient unto the death.
This way did divine wisdom find out and contrive, whereby more glory did arise unto the holiness and righteousness of God from his condescension unto universal service and obedience, who was over all God blessed for ever; than dishonour was cast upon them by the self-exaltation of him, who being in all things a servant, designed to be like unto God.
2. Adam was poor in himself as a creature must be. What riches he had in his hand or power, they were none of his own, they were only trusted with him for especial service. In this state of poverty he commits the robbery of attempting to be like unto God. Being poor he would make himself rich by the rapine of an equality with God. This brought on him and us all, as it was meet it should, the loss of all that we were intrusted with. Hereby we lost the image of God, lost our right unto the creatures here below, lost ourselves and our souls. This was the issue of his attempt, to be rich when he was poor.