Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thus in all things infinite wisdom hath provided, that no second forfeiture should be made of the inheritance of grace and glory, which as it would have been eternally ruinous unto mankind, so it was inconsistent with the glory and honour of God.

8. The wisdom of God was gloriously exalted in the righteous destruction of Satan and his interest, by the incarnation and mediation of the Son of God. He had prevailed against the first way of the manifestation of divine glory; and therein both pleased and prided himself. Nothing could ever give such satisfaction unto the malicious murderer, as the breach he had occasioned between God and man, with his hopes and apprehensions that it would be eternal. He had no other thoughts, but that the whole race of mankind which God had designed unto the enjoyment of himself, should be everlastingly ruined. So he had satisfied his envy against man in his eternal destruction with himself, and his malice against God in depriving him of his glory. Hereon, upon the distance that he had made between God and man, he interposed himself, and boasted himself for a long season, as “the God of this world,' who had all power over it and in it. It belonged unto the honour of the wisdom of God, that he should be defeated in this triumph. Neither was it meet that this should be done by a mere act of sovereign omnipotent power. For he would yet glory in his craft and the success of it, that there was no way to disappoint him, but by crushing him with power, without respect unto righteousness, or demonstration of wisdom. Wherefore it must be done in such a way, as wherein he might see unto his eternal shame and confusion, all his arts and subtleties defeated by infinite wisdom, and his enterprise overthrown in a way of right and equity. The remark that the Holy Ghost puts on the serpent which was his instrument in drawing man unto apostacy from God, namely, that he was ' subtle above all the beasts of the field,' is only to intimate wherein Satan designed his attempt, and from whence he hoped for his success. It was not an act of power or rage, but of craft, counsel, subtlety and deceit. Herein he gloried and prided himself; wherefore the way to disappoint him with shame, must be a contrivance of infinite wisdom, turning all his artifices into mere folly.

[ocr errors]

This work of God, with respect unto him, is expressed in the Scripture two ways; first, it is called the spoiling of him, as unto his power, and the prey that he had taken. The strong man armed was to be bound, and his goods spoiled. The Lord Christ, by his death, destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' He led captivity captive,' spoiling principalities and powers, triumphing over them in his cross. So Abraham, when he smote the kings, not only delivered Lot who was their

captive, but also took all their spoils. Again, it is expressed by the destruction of his works. For this cause was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.' The spoils which he had in his own power were taken from him, and the works which he had erected in the minds of men were demolished. The web which he had wove to clothe himself withal, as the God of this world, was unravelled to the last thread. And although all this seems to represent a work of power, yet was it indeed an effect of wisdom and righteousness principally.

For the power which Satan had over mankind was in itself unjust. For (1.) he obtained it by fraud and deceit. • The serpent beguiled Eve.' (2.) He possessed it with injustice, with respect unto God, being an invader of his right and possession. (3.) He used and exercised it with malice, tyranny, and rage; so as that it was every way unjust both in its foundation and execution. With respect hereunto he was justly destroyed by omnipotent power, which puts forth itself in his eternal punishment. But on the other side, mankind did suffer justly under his power, being given up unto it in the righteous judgment of God. For one may suffer justly what another doth unjustly inflict. As when one causelessly strikes an innocent man, if he strikes him again, he who did the first injury suffereth justly, but the other doth unjustly in revenging himself. Wherefore, as man was given up unto him in a way of punishment, he was a lawful captive, and was not to be delivered but in a way of justice. And this was done in a way that Satan never thought of. For by the obedience and sufferings of the Son of God incarnate, there was full satisfaction made unto the justice of God for the sins of man, a reparation of his glory, and an exaltation of the honour of his holiness, with all the other properties of his nature, as also of his law, outbalancing all the diminution of it by the first apostacy of mankind, as hath been declared. Immediately hereon all the charms of Satan were dissolved, all his chains loosed, his darkness that he had brought on the creation dispelled, his whole plot and design defeated; whereon he saw himself, and was exposed unto all the holy angels of heaven, in all the counsels, craft, and power he had boasted of, to be nothing but a congeries, a mass of darkness, malice, folly, impotency, and rage.

Hereon did Satan make an entrance into one of the principal parts of his eternal torments, in that furious self-maceration which he is given up unto on the consideration of his defeat and disappointment. Absolute power he always feared, and what it would produce; for he believes that, and trembles. But against any other way he thought he bad secured himself. It lieth plain to every understanding, what shame, confusion, and self-revenge, the proud apostate was cast into upon his holy, righteous disappointment of his design; whereas he had always promised himself to carry his cause, or at least to put God to act in the destruction of his dominion, by mere omnipotent power, without regard unto any other properties of his nature. To find that which he contrived for the destruction of the glory of God, the disappointment of his ends in the creation of all things, and the eternal ruin of mankind, to issue in a more glorious exaltation of the holy properties of the divine nature, and an unspeakable augmentation of blessedness unto mankind itself, is the highest aggravation of his eternal torments. This was a work every way becoming the infinite wisdom of God.

9. Whereas there are three distinct persons in the holy Trinity, it became the wisdom of God, that the Son, the second person, should undertake this work, and be incar

I shall but sparingly touch on this glorious mystery; for as unto the reason of it, it is absolutely resolved into the infinite wisdom and sovereign counsel of the divine will. And all such things are the objects of a holy admiration,

sly to be inquired into. To intrude ourselves into the things which we have not seen, that is, which are not revealed in those concernments of them which are not re

not cur

vealed, is not unto the advantage of faith in our edification. But as unto what is declared of them, either immediately and directly, or by their relation unto other known truths, we may meditate on them unto the improvement of faith and love towards God. And some things are thus evident unto us in this mystery.

(1.) We had by sin lost the image of God, and thereby all gracious acceptance with him, all interest in his love and favour. In our recovery, as we have declared, this image is again to be restored unto us, or we are to be renewed into the likeness of God. And there was a condecency unto divine wisdom, that this work should in a peculiar manner be effected by him who is the essential image of God, that is, the Father. This, as we have formerly shewed, was the person of the Son. Receiving his personal subsistence, and therewithal the divine nature, with all its essential properties from the Father by eternal generation, he was thereon the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory. Whatever is in the person of the Father, is in the person of the Son, and being all received from the Father, he is his essential image. And one end of his incarnation was that he might be the representative image of God unto us. Whereas therefore in the work of our recovery, the image of God should be restored in us, there was a condecency that it should be done by him who was the essential image of God. For it consists in the communication of the effects and likeness of the same image unto us, which was essentially in himself.

(2.) We were by nature the sons of God. We stood in relation of sons unto him by virtue of our creation, the

communication of his image and likeness, with the preparation of an inheritance for us. On the same accounts the angels are frequently called the sons of God. This title, this relation unto God, we utterly lost by sin, becoming aliens from him, and enemies unto him. Without a recovery into this estate we cannot be restored, nor brought unto the enjoyment of God. And this cannot be done but by adoption. Now it seems convenient unto divine wisdom, that he should recover our sonship by adoption, who was himself the essential and eternal Son of God.

(3.) The sum of what we can comprehend in this great

[blocks in formation]

mystery ariseth from the consideration of the order of the holy persons of the blessed Trinity in their operations. For their order herein doth follow that of their subsistence. Unto this great work there are peculiarly required, authority, love, and power, all directed by infinite wisdom. These originally reside in the person of the Father, and the acting of them in this matter is constantly ascribed unto him. He sent the Son, as he gives the Spirit, by an act of sovereign authority. And he sent the Son from his eternal love; he loved the world, and sent his Son to die. This is constantly assigned to be the effect of the love and grace of the Father. And he wrought in Christ, and he works in us, with respect unto the end of this mystery, with the exceeding greatness of his power ;' Eph, i. 18. The Son, who is the second person in the order of subsistence, in the order of operation puts the whole authority, love, and power of the Father in execution. This order of subsistence and operation thereon, is expressly declared by the apostle, 1 Cor. viii, 6. Unto us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him ; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we by him.' The Father is the original fountain and spring, é oŭ, from whom, whose original authority, love, goodness and power, are all these things. That expression of' from him,' peculiarly denotes the eternal original of all things. But how are this authority, goodness, love, and power in the Father, whence all these things spring and arise, made effectual, how are their effects wrought out and accomplished ? “There is one Lord, even Jesus Christ,'a distinct person from the Father, di oŭ,' by whom are all things.' He works in the order of his subsistence, to execute, work, and accomplish all that originally proceedeth from the Father. By the Holy Spirit, who is the third person in order of subsistence, there is made a perfecting application of the whole unto all its proper ends.

Wherefore this work of our redemption and recovery, being the especial effect of the authority, love, and power of the Father, it was to be executed in and by the person of the Son; as the application of it unto us is made by the Holy Ghost. Hence it became not the person of the Fa. ther to assume our nature; it belonged not thereunto in the order of subsistence and operation in the blessed Trinity.

« PreviousContinue »