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knowledge of good and evil did consist, and how foolishly we had aspired unto it by a relinquishment of that state of obedience wherein we were created.
Job xxviii. from ver. 12. unto the end of the chapter, there is an inquiry after wisdom, and the place of its habia tation. All creatures give an account that it is not in them, that it is hid from them, only they have heard the fame thereof. All the context is to evince that it is essentially and originally only in God himself. But if we cannot comprehend it in itself, yet may we not know what is wisdom unto us, and what is required thereunto? Yes, saith he, • For unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding;' ver. 28. Man, on the other hand, by the suggestion of Satan, thought, and now of himself continues to think, otherwise ; namely, that the way to be wise is to relinquish these things. The world will not be persuaded that 'the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. Yea, there is nothing that the most of men do more despise and scorn, ihan thoughts that true wisdom doth consist in faith, love, fear, and obedience unto God. See Psal. xiv. 6. Whatever else may be pleaded to be in it, yet sure enough they are, that those who count it wiss dom, are but fools.
To cast an everlasting reproach of folly on this contrivance of the devil and man, and uncontrollably to evince wherein alone true wisdom doth consist, God would glorify a state of obedience. He would render it incomparably more amiable, desirable, and excellent, than ever it could have appeared to have been in the obedience of all the angels in heaven, and men on earth, had they continued therein. This he did in this way of our recovery, in that his own eternal Son entered into a state of obedience, and took upon him the form,' or condition, of a servant' unto God.
What more evident conviction could there be of the folly of mankind in hearkening unto the suggestion of Satan, to seek after wisdom in another condition? How could that great maxim, which is laid down in opposition unto all vain thoughts of man, be more eminently exemplified ; that the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding ? What greater evidence could be
given, that the nature of man is not capable of a better condition, than that of service and universal obedience unto God? How could any state be represented more amiable, desirable, and blessed? In the obedience of Christ, of the Son of God in our nature, apostate sinners are upbraided with their folly, in relinquishing that state, which by his susception of it, is rendered so glorious. What have we attained, by leaving that condition, which the eternal Son of God delighted in? I delight,' saith he,' to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is in the midst of my bowels;' Psal. xl. 8. It is the highest demonstration, that our nature is not capable of more order, more beauty, more glory, than consists in obedience unto God. And that state which we fell into upon our forsaking of it, we now know to be all darkness, confusion, and misery.
Wherefore, seeing God in infinite grace and mercy would recover us unto himself; and in his righteousness and holiness would do this in a way of obedience, of that obedience which we had forsaken; it hath an eminent impression of divine wisdom upon it, that in this mystery of God manifest in the flesh, the only means of our recovery, he would cast the reproach of the most inexpressible folly on our apostacy from a state of it, and render it amiable and desirable unto all who are to return unto him.
To bear the shame of this folly, to be deeply sensible of it, and to live in a constant prospect and view of the glory of obedience in the person of Christ, with a sedulous endeavour for conformity thereunto, is the highest attainment of our wisdom in this world; and whosoever is otherwise minded, is so at his own utmost peril.
7. God in infinite wisdom hath by this means secured the whole inheritance of this life, and that which is to come from a second forfeiture. Whatever God will bestow on the children of men, he grants it unto them in the way of an inheritance. So the land of Canaan, chosen out for a representative of spiritual and eternal things, was granted unto Abraham and his seed for an inheritance. And his interest in the promise is expressed by being ‘heir of the world. All the things of this life that are really good and useful unto us, do belong unto this inheritance. So they did when it was vested in Adam. All things of grace and
glory do so also. And the whole of the privilege of believers is, that they are heirs of salvation. Hence ‘godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come;' 1 Tim. iv. 5. And the promise is only of the inheritance. This inheritance, as was before intimated, was lost in Adam, and forfeited into the hand of the great Lord, the great possessor of heaven and earth. In his sovereign grace and goodness he was pleased again to restore it, as unto all the benefits of it unto the former tenants, and that with an addition of grace, and a more exceeding weight of glory. But withal, infinite wisdom provides that a second forfeiture shall not be made of it. Wherefore, the grant of it is not made immediately unto any of those for whose use and benefit it is prepared and granted. They had been once tried and failed in their trust unto their own eternal beggary and ruin, had not infinite grace interposed for their relief. And it did not become the wisdom and glory of God to make a second grant of it which might be frustrate in like manner. Wherefore he would not commit it again unto any mere creature whatever; nor could it safely have been so done with security unto his glory. For,
(1.) It was too great a trust, even the whole inheritance of heaven and earth, all the riches of grace and glory, to be committed unto any one of them. God would not give this glory unto any one creature. If it be said, it was first committed unto Adam, and therefore to have it again, is not an honour above the capacity of a creature ; I say, that the nature of the inheritance is greatly changed. The whole of what was intrusted with Adam, comes exceedingly short of what God hath now prepared as the inheritance of the church. There is grace in it, and glory added unto it, which Adam neither had, nor could have right unto. It is now of that nature, as could neither be intrusted with, nor communicated by, any mere creature. Besides, he that hath it is the object of the faith and trust of the church, nor can any be interested in any part of this inheritance, without the exercise of those and all other graces on him, whose the inheritance is. And so to be the object of our faith, is the prerogative of the divine nature alone.
(2.) No mere creature could secure this inheritance that it should be lost no more ; and yet if it were so, it would be highly derogatory unto the glory of God. For two things were required hereunto. [1.] That he in whom this trust is vested, should be in himself incapable of any such failure, as through which, by the immutable eternal law of obedience unto God, a forfeiture of it should be made. [2.] That he undertake for them all who shall be heirs of salvation, who shall enjoy this inheritance, that none of them should lose or forfeit their own personal interest in-it, or the terms whereon it is conveyed and communicated unto them. But no mere creature was sufficient unto these ends. For no one of them in and by himself, in the constitution of his nature, is absolutely free from falling from God, himself. They may receive, the angels in heaven, and the glorified saints have received, such a confirmation in and by grace, as that they shall never actually apostatize or fall from God. But this they have not from themselves, por the principles of their own nature, which is necessary unto him that shall receive this trust. For so when it was first vested in Adam, he was left to preserve it by the innate concreated abilities of his own nature. And as unto the latter, all the angels in heaven cannot undertake to secure the obedience of any one man, so as that the conveyance of the inheritance may be sure unto him. Wherefore with respect hereunto, those angels themselves, though the most holy and glorious of all the creatures of God, have no greater trust or interest, than to be ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation;' Heb. i. 14. So unmeet are they to have the whole inheritance vested in any of them.
But all this infinite wisdom hath provided for in the great' mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. God herein makes his only Son the heir of all things, and vests the whole inheritance absolutely in him. For the promise, which is the court-roll of heaven, the only external mean and record of its conveyance, was originally made unto Christ only. God said not, And unto thy seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which seed is Christ ;' Gal. iii. 16. And we become again heirs of God, only as we are joint heirs with Christ; Rom. viii. 17. that is, by being taken into a participation of that inheritance which is vested in him alone. For many may be partakers of the benefit of
that, whose right and title is in one alone, when it is conveyed unto him for their use. And hereby the ends beforementioned are fully provided for. For,
(1.) He who is thus made the heir of all is meet to be intrusted with the glory of it. For where this grant is solemnly expressed, it is declared that he is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person ;' Heb. i, 2, 3. and that by him the worlds were made. He alone was meet to be this heir, who is partaker of the divine nature, and by whom all things were created. For such things belong unto it, as cannot appertain unto any other. The reader may consult, if he please, our exposition of that place of the apostle.
(2.) Any failure in his own person was absolutely impossible. The subsistence of the human nature in the person of the Son of God, rendered the least sin utterly impossible unto him. For all the moral operations of that nature are the acts of the person of the Son of God. And hereby not only is the inheritance secured, but also an assurance that it is so, is given unto all them that do believe. This is the life and soul of all gospel comforts, that the whole inheritance of grace and glory is vested in Christ, where it can never suffer loss or damage. When we are sensible of the want of grace, should we go unto God, and say, 'Father, give us the portion of goods that falls unto us,' as the prodigal did, we should quickly consume it, and bring ourselves unto the utmost misery as he did also. But in Christ the whole inheritance is secured for evermore.
(3.) He is able to preserve all those who shall be heirs of this inheritance, that they forfeit not their own personal interest therein, according unto the terms of the covenant, whereby it is made over to them. He can and will, by the power of his grace, preserve them all unto the full enjoyment of the purchased inheritance. We hold our title by the rod, at the will of the Lord. And many failures we are liable unto whereon we are in misericordia domini,' and are subject unto amercements. But yet the whole inheritance being granted unto Christ, is eternally secured for us, and we are by his grace preserved from such offences against the supreme Lord, or committing any such wastes, as should cast us out of our possession. See Psal. lxxxix. 27-32.