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the religious worship of men. For the things which the Gentiles sacrificed, they sacrificed unto devils, and not to God;' 1 Cor. x. 21. Levit. xvii. 7. xxxii. 17. Psal. cviii. 27. Gal. iii. 8. This is the territory of Satan; yea, the power and sceptre of his kingdom in the minds of the children of disobedience.' Hereby he maintains his dominion unto this day in many and great nations, and with individual persons innumerable.
2. This is the spring of all wickedness and confusion among men themselves. Hence arose that flood of abominations in the old world, which God took away with a flood of desolation : hence were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, which he revenged with 'fire from heaven. In brief; all the rage, blood, confusion, desolations, cruelties, oppressions, villanies, which the world hath been, and is filled withal, whereby the souls of men have been, and are flooded into eternal destruction, have all arisen from this corrupt fountain of the ignorance of God.
3. Of such as those described, we are the posterity and offspring. Our forefathers in this nation, were given up unto as brutish a service of the devil, as any nation under the sun. It is therefore an effect of infinite mercy, that the day hath dawned on us, poor Gentiles, and that the dayspring from on high hath visited us.' See the glory of this grace expressed, Eph. iii. 5—10. God might have left us to perish in the blindness and ignorance of our forefathers; but of his own accord, and by his own powerful grace alone, he hath translated us out of darkness into his marvellous light. But alas! the horrible ingratitude of men, for the glorious light of the gospel, and the abuse of it, will issue in a sore revenge.
God was known under the Old Testament, by the revelation of his word, and the institution of his worship. This was the glory and privilege of Israel, as the psalmist declares, Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; he hath not dealt so with any nation. The church then knew him; yet so as that they had an apprehension that he dwelt in - thick darkness,' where they could not have any clear views of him; Exod. xx. 21. Deut. v. 22. 1 Kings viii. 12. 2 Chron. vi. 1. And the reason why God so represented himself in darkness unto them, was to instruct them in their imperfect state, wherein they could not comprehend that glory which should afterward be revealed. For as he is now made known in Christ, we see that he is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.'
4. Hitherto darkness in general covered the earth, and gross darkness the people, as unto the knowledge of God; only there was a twilight in the church. The day did not yet dawn, the shadows did not flee away,' nor the day-star shine' in the hearts of men. But when the ‘Sun of Righteousness' did arise in his strength and beauty, when the Son of God appeared in the flesh,' and in the discharge of his office; God himself, as unto his being, and manner of existence in three distinct persons, with all the glorious properties of the divine nature, were illustriously manifested unto them that did believe, and the iight of the knowledge of them dispelled all the shadows that were in the church, and shone into the darkness which was in the world, so as that none continued ignorant of God, but those who would not see. See John i. 5. 14. 17, 18. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.
Herein is the Lord Christ glorious. And this is that which I shall now speak unto; namely, how we may behold the glory of Christ in the representation and revelation that is made of God and his glory, in his person and office, unto all that do believe. For it is not so much the declaration of the nature of the things themselves, wherein the glory of Christ doth consist, as our way and duty, in the beholding of them, which at present is designed.
He calls unto us, saying, 'Behold me, look unto me, and be saved ;' Isa. xlv. 2. What is it that we see in Christ? What do we behold in him? He asketh that question concerning his church, 'What will ye see in the Shulamite ?' Whereto he answers, ' As it were the company of two armies;' Cant vi. 13. or the two churches of the Old and New Testament, in order and beauty. We may inquire, What shall we, what do we see in him? Do we see him as the 'image of the invisible God,' representing him, his nature, properties, and will unto us? Do we see him as the character, the 'express image of the person of the Father,' so that we have no need of Philip's request, ' Lord, shew us the Father?' because having seen him, ' we have seen the Father also;' John xiv. 9.
This is our first saving view of Christ, the first instance of our beholding his glory by faith. So to see him, as to see God in him, is to behold his glory; for herein he is eternally glorious. And this is that glory whose view we ought to long for, and labour after. And if we see it not, we are yet in darkness; yea, though we say we see, we are blind like others. So David longed and prayed for it, when yet he could behold it only in types and shadows; Psal. lxiii. 1, 2. 'O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen them in the sanctuary.' For there was in the sanctuary an obscure representation of the glory of God in Christ. How much more should we prize that view of it, which we may have with open face, though yet'as in a glass ? 2 Cor. ii. 18.
Moses, when he had seen the works of God, which were great and marvellous, yet found not himself satisfied therewith ; wherefore after all, he prays that God 'would shew him his glory;' Exod. xxxiii. 18. He knew that the ultimate rest, blessedness, and satisfaction of the soul, is not in seeing the works of God, but the glory of God himself. Therefore did he desire some immediate dawnings of it upon him in this world. • I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.' And if we have right apprehensions of the future state of blessedness, we cannot but have the same desire of seeing more of his glory in this life. But the question is, how we may attain it? If we are left unto ourselves in this inquiry, if we have no other way for it, but the immediate fixing of our thoughts on the immensity of the divine nature, we must come every one to the conclusion that Agur makes on the like consideration; 'Surely I am more brutish than any man; and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fist? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell ? Prov. xxx. 2-4.
It is in Christ alone, that we may have a clear distinct view of the glory of God and his excellencies." For him, and him alone, hath he appointed the representative of himself unto us; and we shall take an account hereof in one or two especial instances.
1. Infinite wisdom is one of the most glorious properties of the divine nature : it is that which is directive of all the external works of God, wherein the glory of all the other excellencies of God is manifested; wherefore the manifestation of the whole glory of God proceeds originally from infinite wisdom. But as Job speaks, Where shall this wisdom be found, and what is the place of understanding? chap. xxviii. 12. 'Can we by searching, find out God? Can we find out the Almighty to perfection ?' chap. xi. 7. As it is in itself an essential, eternal property of the divine nature, we can have no comprehension of it: we can but adore it in that infinite distance wherein we stand from God; but in its operations and effects it may be discerned; for they are designed of God for its manifestation. Among these the most excellent is the contrivance of the great work of the salvation of the church; so it is celebrated by the apostle, Eph. iii. 9-11. To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world, hath been in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God.'
If we have any interest in God, if we have any hopes of blessedness in beholding of his glory unto eternity, we cannot but desire a view (such as is attainable) of this infinite manifold wisdom of God in this life. But it is in Christ alone that we can discern any thing of it; for him hath the Father chosen and sealed to represent it unto us. All the treasures of this wisdom are hid, laid up, and laid out in him : herein lies the essence and form of faith. Believers by it do see the wisdom of God in Christ, in his person and office: Christ the wisdom of God. Unbelievers see it not, as the apostle argues, 1 Cor. i. 22—24.
In beholding the glory of this infinite wisdom of God in Christ, we behold his own glory also; the glory given him
a See John. i. 18. xiv. 7.-10.2 Cor. iv. 6. Col. i. 16. Eph. iii. 4-10. Heb. i. 2.
of his Father; for this is his glory, that in and by him, and him alone, the wisdom of God is manifested and represented unto us. When God appointed him as the great and only means of this end, he gave him honour and glory above the whole creation; for it is but little of divine wisdom which the works of it declare, in comparison of what is manifested in Christ Jesus. We no way deny or extenuate the manifestation that is made of the wisdom of God in the works of creation and providence. It is sufficient to detect the folly of atheism and idolatry, and was designed of God unto that end. But its comparitive insufficiency, with respect unto the representation of it in Christ, as unto the ends of knowing God aright, and living unto him, the Scripture doth abundantly attest. And the abuse of it was catholic, as the apostle declares, Rom. i. 20, &c. To see this wisdom clearly, is our wisdom; and a due apprehension of it, fills the souls of believers 'with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.'
2. We may also instance in the love of God. The apostle tells us, that God is love;' 1 John iv. 8. Divine love is not to be considered only in its effects, but in its nature and essence; and so it is God himself; for. God is love.' And a blessed revelation this is of the divine nature ; it casts out envy, hatred, malice, revenge, with all their fruits, in rage, fierceness, implacability, persecution, murder, into the territories of Satan. They belong not unto God in his nature or actings; for 'God is love.' So the same apostle tells us, that he who slew his brother, was of the wicked one;' 1 John iii. 12. He was of the devil his father, and his works did he do.
But the inquiry is as before; how shall we have a view of this love, of God as love? By what way or means shall we behold the glory of it? It is hidden from all living, in God himself. The wise philosophers, who discoursed so much of the love of God, knew nothing of this, that God is love.' The most of the natural notions of men about it are corrupt, and the best of them weak and imperfect. Generally the thoughts of men about it, are, that he is of a facile and easy nature, one that they may make bold withal in all their occasions, as the psalmist declares, Psal. 1. 21. And whereas it must be learned in its effects, operations,