Page images
PDF
EPUB

In this state infinite wisdom hath provided for our relief unto the glory of God. 'For the Lord Jesus Christ being rich in himself, for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich ;' 2 Cor. 8,9. He was rich in that riches which Adam designed by robbery. For • he was in the form of God, and accounted it no robbery to be equal with God.' But he made himself poor for our sakes, with poverty which Adam would have relinquished; yea to that degree that he had not where to lay his head,' he had nothing. Hereby he made a compensation for what he never made spoil of, or paid what he never took. In this condescension of his, out of grace and love to mankind, was God more glorified, than he was dishonoured in the sinful exaltation of Adam out of pride and self-love.

3. The sin of man consisted formally in disobedience; and it was the disobedience of him who was every way and in all things obliged unto obedience. For man by all that he was, by all that he had received, by all that he expected or was farther capable of, by the constitution of his own nature, by the nature and authority of God with his relation thereunto, was indispensably obliged unto universal obedi

His sin therefore was the disobedience of him who was absolutely obliged unto obedience by the very constitution of his being and necessary relation unto God. This was that which rendered it so exceeding sinful, and the consequents of it eternally miserable. And from this obligation his sin, in any one instance, was a total renunciation of all obedience unto God.

The recompense with respect unto the glory of God, for disobedience, must be by obedience, as hath been before declared. And if there be not a full obedience yielded unto the law of God in that nature that sinned, man cannot be saved without an eternal violation of the glory of God therein. But the disobedience of him who was every way obliged unto obedience, could not be compensated but by his obedience, who was no way obliged thereunto. And this could be only the obedience of him that is God (for all creatures are obliged to obedience for themselves), and it could be performed only by him who was man. Wherefore, for the accomplishment of this obedience, he who in his own person, as God, was above the law, was in his human nature,

ence.

in his own person, a man, made under the law. Had he not been made under the law, what he did could not have been obedience; and had he not been in himself above the law, his obedience could not have been beneficial unto us. The sin of Adam (and the same is in the nature of every sin) consisted in this, that he who was naturally every way under the law, and subject unto it, would be every way above the law, and no way obliged by it. Wherefore it was taken away unto the glory of God, by his obedience, who being in himself above the law, no way subject unto it, yet submitted, humbled himself, to be made under the law,' to be every way obliged by it. See Gal. iii. 13. iv. 4. This is the subject of the discourse of the apostle, Rom. v. from ver. 12. to the end of the chapter.

Unto the glory of God, in all these ends the person of Christ, as an effect of infinite wisdom, was meet and able to be a mediator and undertaker between God and man. In the union of both our natures in the same person, he was so meet by his relation unto both; unto God by filiation, or sonship; unto us by brotherhood, or nearness of kindred; Heb. ii. 14. And he was able from the dignity of his person : for the temporary sufferings of him who was eternal, was a full compensation for the eternal sufferings of them who were temporary

4. God made man the lord of all things here below. He was, as it were, the heir of God, as unto the inheritance of this world in present, and as unto a blessed state in eternal glory. But he lost all right and title hereunto by sin. He made forfeiture of the whole, by the law of the tenure whereby he held it, and God took the forfeiture. Wherefore he designs a new heir of all, and vests the whole inheritance of heaven and earth in him, even in bis Son. He appointed him the heir of all things ;' Heb. i. 3. This translation of God's inheritance the apostle declares, Heb. ii. 6—9. for the words which he cites from Psal. viii. 4–6. What is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things under his feet ;' do declare the original condition of mankind in general. But man forfeited the

[ocr errors]

dominion and inheritance that he was intrusted withal, and God settleth it anew, solely in the man Christ Jesus. So the apostle adds, · We see not all things put under him,' but we see it all accomplished in Jesus; ver. 9. But as all other inheritances do descend with theirs, so did this unto him, with its burden. There was a great debt upon it, the debt of sin. This he was to undergo, to make payment of, or satisfaction for, or he could not rightly enter upon the inheritance. This could no otherwise be done but by his suffering in our nature, as hath been declared. He who was the heir of all, was in himself to purge our sins. Herein did the infinite wisdom of God manifest itself, in that he conveyed the inheritance of all things unto him who was meet and able so to enter upon it, so to enjoy and possess it, as that no detriment or damage might arise unto the riches, the revenue, the glory of God, from the waste made by the former possessor.

5. Mankind was to be recovered unto faith and trust in God, as also unto the love of him above all. All these things had utterly forsaken our nature ; and the reduction of them into it, is a work of the greatest difficulty. We had so provoked God, he had given such evidences of his wrath and displeasure against us, and our minds thereon were so alienated from him, as we stood in need of the strongest motives, and highest encouragements, once to attempt to return unto him, so as to place all our faith and trust in him, and all our love upon him.

Sinners generally live in a neglect and contempt of God, in an enmity against him; but whenever they are convinced of a necessity to endeavour a return unto him, the first thing they have to conflict withal, is fear. Beginning to understand who and what he is, as also how things stand between him and them, they are afraid to have any thing to do with him, and judge it impossible that they should find acceptance with him. This was the sense that Adam himself had upon his sin, when he was afraid, and hid himself. And the sense of other sinners is frequently expressed unto the same purpose in Scripture. See Isa. xxxiii. 14. Micah vi. 6, 7.

All these discouragements are absolutely provided against in that way of our recovery which infinite wisdom hath found out. It were a thing delightful to dwell on the securities

given us therein, as unto our acceptance in all those principles, acts, and duties wherein the renovation of the image of God doth consist. I must contract my meditations, and shall therefore instance in some few things only unto that purpose.

(1.) Faith is not capable of greater encouragement or confirmation than lieth in this one consideration, that what we are to believe unto this end, is delivered unto us by God himself in our nature. What could confirm our faith and hope in God, what could encourage us to expect acceptance with God, like this ineffable testimony of his good-will unto us? The nature of things is not capable of greater assurance, seeing the divine nature is capable of no greater condescension.

This the Scripture proposeth as that which gives a just expectation that against all fears and oppositions we should close with divine calls and invitations to return unto God. • Last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son,' Matt. xxi. 37. they will believe the message which I send by him. He hath spoken unto us by his Son, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person ;' Heb. i. 1-3. The consideration hereof is sufficient to dispel all that darkness and confusion which fear, dread, and guilt do bring on the minds of men, when they are invited to return unto God. That that God against whom we have sinned, should speak unto us, and treat with us, in our own nature, about a return unto himself, is the utmost that divine excellencies could condescend unto. And as this was needful for us (though proud men and senseless of sin understand it not), so, if it be refused, it will be attended with the sorest destruction; Heb. xii. 25.

(2.) This treaty principally consists in a divine declaration, that all the causes of fear and dread

upon the account of sin, are removed and taken away. This is the substance of the gospel, as it is declared by the apostle, 2 Cor. v. 18-21. Wherefore, if hereon we refuse to return unto God, to make him the object of our faith, trust, love, and delight, it is not by reason of any old or former sin, not of that of our original apostacy from God, nor of the effects of it against the law, by the means of a new sin, outdoing them all in guilt and contempt of God. Such is final unbelief against the proposal of the gospel. It hath more malignity in it than all other sins whatever. But by this way of our recovery, all cause of fear and dread is taken away, all pretences of a distrust of the love and good-will of God are defeated; so that if men will not hereon be recovered unto him, it is from their hatred of him, and enmity unto him, the fruits whereof they must feed on to eternity.

(3.) Whereas, if we will return unto God by faith, we are also to return unto him in love, what greater motive can there be unto it, than that infinite love of the Father and the Son unto us, which is gloriously displayed in this way of our recovery? See 1 John iv. 9, 10. “Si amare pigebat, saltem redamare ne pigeat.'

(4.) The whole race of mankind falling into sin against God, and apostacy from him, there was no example left unto them to manifest how excellent, how glorious, and comely a thing it is to live unto God, to believe and trust in him, to cleave unto him unchangeably by love. For they were utter strangers unto what is done by angels above, nor could be affected with their example. But without a pattern of these things, manifesting their excellency and reward, they could not earnestly endeavour to attain unto them. This is given us most conspicuously in the human nature of Christ. See Heb. xii. 13. Hereby, therefore, every thing needful for our encouragement to return unto God, is in infinite wisdom provided for, and proposed unto us.

6. Divine wisdom in the way of our recovery by Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, designed to glorify a state of obedience unto God, and to cast the reproach of the most inexpressible folly on the relinquishment of that state by sin. For as God would recover and restore us, so he would do it in a way of obedience on our part, of that obedience which we had forsaken. The design of man which was imposed on him by the craft of Satan, was to become wise like unto God, knowing good and evil. The folly of this endeavour was quickly discovered in its effects. Sense of nakedness, with shame, misery, and death, immediately ensued thereon.

But divine wisdom thought meet to aggravate the reproach of this folly. He would let us see wherein the true

« PreviousContinue »