« PreviousContinue »
blessedness and glory. Neither will God bring us unto heaven whether we will or no. If through the ignorance and darkness of our minds, if through the earthliness and sensuality of our affections, if through a fulness of the world, and the occasions of it, if by the love of life, and our present enjoyments, we are strangers unto these things, we are not conversant about them, we long not after them; we are not in the way towards their enjoyment. The present satisfaction we receive in them by faith, is the best evidence we have of an indefeasible interest in them. How foolish is it to lose the first fruits of these things in our own souls, those entrances into blessedness, which the contemplation of them through faith would open unto us, and hazard our everlasting enjoyment of them, by an eager pursuit of an interest in perishing things here below. This, this is that which ruins the souls of most, and keeps the faith of many at so low an ebb, that it is hard to discover any genuine working of it.
(2.) The glory of the human nature of Christ differs from that of the saints after the resurrection, in things which concern the degrees of it. For,
[1.] The glory of his body is the example and pattern of what they shall be conformed unto. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself;' Phil. iii. 21. Our bodies were made vile by the entrance of sin. Thence they became brothers to the worms, and sisters unto corruption. To death and the grave, with rottenness and corruption therein, they are designed. At the resurrection they shall be new-framed, fashioned and moulded. Not only all the detriment and disadvantage they received by the entrance of sin shall be removed, but many additions of glorious qualifications which they had not in their primitive natural constitution shall be added unto them. And this shall be done by the almighty power of Christ; that working or exercise of it, whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. But of this state whereinto we shall be changed by the power of Christ, his own body is the pattern and example. A similitude of it is all that we shall attain unto. And that which is the idea and exemplar in any state, is the rule and standard unto all others. Such is the glory of Christ; ours consists in conformity thereunto ; which gives him the preeminence.
[2.] As the state of his body is more glorious than ours shall be, so will that of his soul in itself be made appear to be more excellent than what we are capable of. For that fulness of the Spirit without measure, and of all grace which his nature was capacitated for by virtue of the hypostatical union, doth now shine forth in all excellency and glory. The grace that was in Christ in this world, is the same with that which is in him now in heaven. The nature of it was not changed, when he ceased to be viator, but is only brought into a more glorious exercise now he is comprehensor. And all his graces are now made manifest, the veil being taken from them, and light communicated to discern them. As in this world, he had unto the most neither form nor comeliness for which he should be desired, partly from the vail which was cast on his inward beauty, from his outward condition, but principally from the darkness which was on their minds, whereby they were disenabled to discern the glory of spiritual things; notwithstanding which, some then in the light of faith 'saw his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth :' so now the veil is removed, and the darkness wholly taken away from the minds of the saints; he is in the glory of his graces altogether lovely and desirable. And although the grace which is in believers, be of the same nature with that which is Christ Jesus, and shall be changed into glory, after the likeness of his, yet is it, and always shall be, incomprehensibly short of what dwells in him. And herein also doth his glory gradually excel that of all other creatures whatever.
But we must here draw a vail over what yet remains. For it doth not yet appear what we ourselves shall be. Much less is it evident what are, and what will be, the glories of the head above all the members ; even then when we shall 'be made like unto him.' But it must be remembered, that whereas, at the entrance of this discourse, we so proposed the consideration of the present state of the Lord Christ in heaven, as that which should have an end at the consummation of all things :' what hath been spoken concerning
the glory of his human nature in itself, is not of that kind, but what abideth unto eternity. All the things mentioned abide in him, and unto him, for evermore.
2. The second thing to be considered in the present state and condition of Christ, is his mediatory exaltation. And two things with respect thereunto may be inquired into. (1.) The way of his entrance into that state above. (2.) The state itself, with the glory of it.
(1.) The way of entrance into the exercise of his mediatory office in heaven, is expressed, 1 Tim. iii. 16. He was received into glory,' or rather gloriously. And he' entered into glory;' Luke xxiv. 26. This assumption and entrance into glory was upon his ascension described, Acts i. 9. 11. • He was taken up into heaven,' åvelupin v dóły, by an act of divine power; and he went into heaven,' ciond.fev eic dóEnv, in his own choice and will, as that which he was exalted unto. And this ascension of Christ, in his human nature into heaven, is a fundamental article of the faith of the church. And it falls under a double consideration.
[1.] As it was triumphant, as he was a king.
[2.] As it was gracious, as he was a priest. His ascension as unto change of place, from earth to heaven, and as unto the outward manner of it, was one and the same, and at once accomplished. But as unto the end of it, which is the exercise of all his offices, it had various respects, various prefigurations, and is distinctly proposed unto us, with reference unto them.
[1.] In his ascension, as it was triumphant, three things may be considered.
1st. The manner of it, with its representation of old. 2dly. The place whereinto he ascended.
3dly. The end of it, or what was the work which he had to do thereon.
1st. As unto the manner of it, it was openly triumphant and glorious. So is it described, Ephes. iv. 8. He “ascended up on high; he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.' And respect is had unto the prefiguration of it, at the giving of the law, Psal. lxviii. 17, 18. where the glory of it is more fully expressed, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels ; the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast as
cended on high, thou hast led captivity captive,' &c. The most glorious appearance of God upon the earth, under the Old Testament, was that on Mount Sinai, in the giving of the law. And as his presence was there attended with all his glorious angels; so, when upon the finishing of that work, he returned or ascended into heaven, it was in the way of a triumph with all that royal attendance. And this prefigured the ascent of Christ into heaven, upon his fulfilling of the law, all that was required in it, or signified by it. He ascended triumphantly after he had given the law, as a figure of his triumphant ascent after he had fulfilled it. Having then spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them;' Col. ii. 15. So he led captivity captive; or all the adverse powers of the salvation of the church, in triumph at his chariot wheels. I deny not but that his leading 'captivity captive, principally respects his spiritual conquest over Satan, and the destruction of his power. Yet whereas he is also said to “ spoil principalities and powers, making shew of them openly,' and triumphing over them, I no way doubt but Satan, the head of the apostacy, and the chief princes of darkness, were led openly in sight of all the holy angels, as conquered captives. The 'seed of the woman' having now broken the head of the serpent.' This is that which is so emphatically expressed, Psalm xlvii. throughout. The ground and cause of all the triumphant rejoicing of the church therein declared, is, that God was 'gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet,' ver. 5. which is nothing but the glorious ascent of Christ into heaven, said to be accompanied with shouts, and the sound of a trumpet, the expressions of triumphant rejoicing, because of the glorious acclamations that were made thereon, by all the attendants of the throne of God.
2dly. The place whither he thus ascended, is on high. • He ascended up on high ;' Ephes, iv. 8. That is, heaven. He went into heaven; Acts i. 11. And the heavens must receive him ;' ver. 3. 21. Not these aspectable heavens which we behold. For in his ascension ‘he passed through them,' Heb. iv. 14. and is made higher than they ;' chap.vii. 27. But into the place of the residence of God in glory and majesty ; Heb. i. 3. viii, 1. xii. 2. There on the throne of God,' Rev. iii. 21. “On the right hand of the majesty on high,' he sits down in the full possession and exercise of all power and authority. This is the palace of this king of saints and nations. There is his royal eternal throne ; Heb. i. 8. 'And many crowns are on his head, Rev. xix. 12. or all dignity and honour. And he who, in a pretended imitation of him, wears a triple crown, hath upon
his own head thereby,' the name of blasphemy;' Rev. xiii. 1. There are before him his sceptre of righteousness,' his rod of iron,'all the regalia of his glorious kingdom. For by these emblems of power doth the Scripture represent unto us his sovereign divine authority in the execution of his kingly office. Thus he ascended triumphantly, having conquered his enemies; thus he reigneth gloriously over all.
3dly. The end for which he thus triumphantly ascended into heaven, is twofold.
(1st.) The overturning and destruction of all his enemies in all their remaining powers. He rules them ‘with a rod of iron,' and in his due time will ‘dash them in pieces as a potter's vessel ;' Psal. ii. 9. For he must reign until all his enemies are made his footstool ;' 1 Cor. xv. 25, 26. Psal. cx. 1. Although at present, for the most part, they despise his authority, yet they are all absolutely in his power, and shall fall under his eternal displeasure.
(2dly.) The preservation, continuation, and rule of his church, both as unto the internal state of the souls of them that believe, and the external order of the church in its worship and obedience, and its preservation under, and from all, oppositions and persecutions in this world. There is in each of these such a continual exercise of divine wisdom, power,
and care, the effects of them are so great and marvellous, and the fruits of them so abundant unto the glory of God, that the world would not contain the books that might be written' of them; but to handle them distinctly is not our present design.
[2.] His ascension may be considered as gracious; as the ascent of a high priest. And herein the things beforementioned are of a distinct consideration.
1st. As to the manner of it, and the design of it, he gives an account of them himself; John xx. 17. His design herein was not the taking on him the exercise of his power, kingdom,