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The glory of Christ in his exaltation, after the accomplishment of the work of mediation in this world.
WE may in the next place behold the glory of Christ with respect unto his office in the actings of God towards him, which ensued on his discharge of it in this world, in his own exaltation.
These are the two heads, whereunto all the prophecies and predictions concerning Jesus Christ under the Old Testament are referred, namely, his sufferings, and the glory that ensued thereon; 1 Pet. i. 11. All the prophets testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.' So when he himself opened the Scriptures unto his disciples, he gave them this as the sum of the doctrine contained in them; 'Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?' Luke xxiv. 26. The same is frequently expressed elsewhere; Rom. xiv. 9. Phil. ii. 5-8.
So much as we know of Christ, his sufferings, and his glory; so much do we understand of the Scripture, and no
These are the two heads of the mediation of Christ and his kingdom; and this is their order which they communicate unto the church; first sufferings, and then glory. 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with him;' 2 Tim. ii. 12. They do but deceive themselves who design any other method of these things. Some would reign here in this world; and we may say with the apostle, 'would you did reign, that we might reign with you.' But the members of the mystical body must be conformed unto the head. In him, sufferings went before glory; and so they must in them. The order in the kingdom of Satan and the world, is contrary hereunto. First the good things of this life, and then eternal misery, is the method of that kingdom; Luke xvi. 25.
These are the two springs of the salvation of the church; the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth; from which all the golden oil, whereby the
church is dedicated unto God and sanctified, doth flow. This glory of Christ in his exaltation which followed on his sufferings, is that which we now inquire into. And we shall state our apprehensions of it in the ensuing observations.
1. This is peculiarly that glory which the Lord Christ prays that his disciples may be where he is, to behold it. It is not solely so, as it is considered absolutely; but it is that, wherein all the other parts of his glory are made manifest. It is the evidence, the pledge, the means of the manifestation of them all. As unto all the instances of his glory before insisted on, there was a veil drawn over them whilst he was in this world. Hence the most saw nothing of it, and the best saw it but obscurely. But in this glory that veil is taken off, whereby the whole glory of his person in itself, and in the work of mediation is most illustriously manifested. When we shall immediately behold this glory, we shall see him as he is. This is that glory whereof the Father made grant unto him before the foundation of the world, and wherewith he was actually invested upon his
2. By this glory of Christ, I do not understand the essential glory of his divine nature; or his being absolutely in his own person' over all, God blessed for ever;' but the manifestation of this glory in particular, after it had been veiled in this world under the form of a servant,' belongs hereunto. The divine glory of Christ in his person belongs not unto his exaltation; but the manifestation of it doth so. It was not given him by free donation; but the declaration of it unto the church of angels and men after his humiliation was so. He left it not whilst he was in this world; but the direct evidence and declaration of it he laid aside, until he was declared to be the Son of God with power,' by the resurrection from the dead.
When the sun is under a total eclipse, he loseth nothing of his native beauty, light, and glory. He is still the same that he was from the beginning; a 'great light to rule the day.' To us he appears as a dark, useless meteor; but when he comes by his course to free himself from the lunar interposition unto his proper aspect towards us, he manifests again his native light and glory. So was it with the
1. Whose love it is; namely, of the divine person of the Son of God. He is expressly called God, with respect unto the exercise of this love, that we may always consider whose it is, 1 John iii. 16. Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.'
2. By what ways and means this wonderful love of the Son of God doth act itself; namely, in the divine nature, by eternal acts of wisdom, goodness, and grace proper there. unto; and in the human, by temporary acts of pity or compassion, with all the fruits of them in doing and suffering for us. See Eph, iii. 19. Heb. ii. 14, 15. Rev. i. 5.
3. What is the freedom of it as unto any defect on our part; 1 John iv. 10. It was hatred, not love, that we in ourselves deserved, which is a consideration suited to fill the soul with self-abasement, the best of frames in the contemplation of the glory of Christ.
4. What is the efficacy of it in its fruits and effects, with sundry other considerations of the like nature. By a distinct prospect and admiration of these things, the soul may walk in this paradise of God, and gather here and there a heavenly flower, conveying unto it a sweet savour of this love of Christ. See Cant. xi. 2-4.
Moreover, be not contented to have right notions of the love of Christ in your minds, unless you can attain a gracious taste of it in your hearts; no more than you would be to see a feast or banquet richly prepared and partake of nothing of it unto your refreshment. It is of that nature that we may have a spiritual sensation of it in our minds, whence it is compared by the spouse to apples and flagons of wine. We may taste that the Lord is gracious. And if we find not a relish of it in our hearts, we shall not long retain the notion of it in our minds. Christ is the meat, the bread, the food of our souls. Nothing is in him of a higher spiritual nourishment than his love, which we should always desire.
In this love is he glorious; for it is such as no creatures, angels, or men could have the least conceptions of, before its manifestation by its effects: and after its manifestation, it is in this world absolutely incomprehensible.
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The glory of Christ in the discharge of his mediatory office.
As the Lord Christ was glorious in the susception of his office, so was he also in its discharge. An unseen glory accompanied him in all that he did, in all that he suffered. Unseen it was unto the eyes of the world, but not in his who alone can judge of it. Had men seen it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Yet to some of them it was made manifest. Hence they testified that in the discharge of his office, they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;' John i. 14. And that when others could see neither form nor comeliness in him that he should be desired;' Psal. liii. 2. And so it is at this day. I shall only make some few observations; first, on what he did in a way of obedience, and then on what he suffered in the discharge of his office so undertaken by him.
1. What he did, what obedience he yielded unto the law of God, in the discharge of his office (with respect whereunto he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God; yea, thy law is in my heart'), it was all on his own free choice or election, and was resolved thereinto alone. It is our duty to endeavour after freedom, willingness, and cheerfulness in all our obedience. Obedience hath its formal nature from our wills. So much as there is of our wills, in what we do towards God, so much there is of obedience, and no more. Howbeit we are antecedently unto all acts of our own wills, obliged unto all that is called obedience. From the very constitution of our natures, we are necessarily subject unto the law of God. All that is left unto us, is a voluntary compliance with unavoidable commands; with him it was not so. An act of his own will and choice preceded all obligation as unto obedience. He obeyed because he would, before because he ought. He said, 'Lo I come to do thy will, O God,' before he was obliged to do that will. By his own choice, and that in an act of infinite condescension and love, as we have shewed, he was 'made of a woman,' and thereby made under the law.' In his divine person he
divine nature of Christ, as we have before declared. He veiled the glory of it by the interposition of the flesh, or the assumption of our nature to be his own, with this addition, that therein he took on him the form of a servant,' of a person of mean and low degree. But this temporary eclipse being past and over, it now shines forth in its infinite lustre and beauty, which belongs unto the present exaltation of his person. And when those who beheld him here as a poor, sorrowful, persecuted man, dying on the cross, came to see him in all the infinite uncreated glories of the divine nature, manifesting themselves in his person, it could not but fill their souls with transcendent joy and admiration. And this is one reason of his prayer for them whilst he was on the earth, that they might be where he is to behold his glory. For he knew what ineffable satisfaction it would be unto them for evermore.
3. I do not understand absolutely the glorification of the human nature of Christ; that very soul and body wherein he lived and died, suffered and rose again, though that also be included herein. This also were a subject meet for our contemplation, especially as it is the exemplar of that glory which he will bring all those unto, who believe in him. But because at present we look somewhat farther, I shall observe only one or two things concerning it.
1. That very nature itself which he took on him in this world, is exalted into glory. Some, under a pretence of great subtilty and accuracy, do deny that he hath either flesh or blood in heaven; that is, as to the substance of them: however, you may suppose that they are changed, purified, glorified. The great foundation of the church, and all gospel faith is, that he was made flesh, that he did partake of flesh and blood, even as did the children. That he hath forsaken that flesh and blood which he was made in the womb of the blessed Virgin; wherein he lived and died, which he offered unto God in sacrifice, and wherein he rose from the dead, is a Socinian fiction. What is the true na-ture of the glorification of the humanity of Christ, neither those who thus surmise, nor we can perfectly comprehend. It doth not yet appear what we ourselves shall be, much less is it evident unto us what he is, whom we shall be like. But that he is still in the same human nature, wherein he