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could be affirmed of him. But there is a regard in them, both unto his future incarnation, and the accomplishment of the counsels of God thereby. With respect thereunto, God' possessed him in the beginning of his ways, and set him up from everlasting.' God possessed him eternally as his essential wisdom, as he was always and is always in the bosom of the Father, in the mutual, ineffable love of the Father and Son, in the eternal bond of the Spirit. But he signally possessed him 'in the beginning of his ways,' as his wisdom acting in the production of all the ways and works that are outwardly of him. The beginning of God's ways before his works, are his counsels concerning them, even as our counsels are the beginning of our ways, with respect unto future works. And he' set him up from everlasting,' as the foundation of all the counsels of his will, in and by whom they were to be executed and accomplished.
So it is expressed, ver. 30, 31. 'I was by him, as one brought up with him I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.' And it is added, that thus it was before the foundation of the world was laid, or the chiefest part of the dust of the earth was made;' that is, man was created. Not only was the delight of the Father in him, but his delight was in the habitable parts of the earth, and among the sons of men, before the creation of the world. Wherefore the eternal prospect of the work he had to do for the children of men is intended herein. In and with him God laid the foundation of all his counsels concerning his love towards the children of men; and two things may be observed herein.
1. That the person of the Son,' was set up,' or exalted herein. 'I was set up,' saith he, 'from everlasting.' This cannot be spoken absolutely of the person of the Son himself; the divine nature being not capable of being so set up. But there was a peculiar glory and honour belonging unto the person of the Son, as designed by the Father, unto the execution of all the counsels of his will. Hence was that prayer of his upon the accomplishment of them, John xvii. 5. And now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' To suppose that the Lord Christ prayeth in these words, for such a real
light of God, as he in whom all his counsels for his own glory in the redemption and salvation of the church, were laid and founded. Isa. xlix. 3. My servant in whom I will be glorified; that is, by raising the tribes of Jacob, restoring the preserved of Israel, in being a light unto the Gentiles, and the salvation of God unto the ends of the earth;' ver. 6.
We conceive not aright of the counsels of God, when we think of nothing but the effect of them, and the glory that ariseth from their accomplishment. It is certainly true that they shall all issue in his glory, and the demonstration of it shall fill up eternity. The manifestative glory of God unto eternity, consists in the effects and accomplishment of his holy counsels. Heaven is the state of the actual accomplishment of all the counsels of God in the sanctification and salvation of the church. But it is not with God as it is with men. Let men's counsels be never so wise, it must needs abate of their satisfaction in them, because their conjectures (and more they have not) of their effects and events are altogether uncertain. But all the counsels of God having their entire accomplishment through revolutions perplexing and surpassing all created understandings, enclosed in them infallibly and immutably, the great satisfaction, complacency, and delight of the Divine Being is in these counsels themselves.
God doth delight in the actual accomplishment of his works. He made not this world, nor any thing in it for its own sake. Much less did he make this earth to be a theatre for men to act their lusts upon, the use which it is now put to and groans under. But he made all things for himself;' Prov. xvi. 4. he made them for his pleasure;' Rev. iv. 11. that is, not only by an act of sovereignty, but to his own delight and satisfaction. And a double testimony did he give hereunto with respect unto the works of creation. (1.) In the approbation which he gave of the whole upon its survey. And 'God saw all that he had made, and behold it was good;' Gen. i. 31. There was that impression of his divine wisdom, power, and goodness upon the whole, as manifested his glory, wherein he was well pleased. For immediately thereon, all creatures capable of the conception and apprehension of his glory sang forth his praise;' Job
xxxviii. 6, 7. (2.) In that he rested from his works, or in them when they were finished; Gen. ii. 2. It was not a rest of weariness from the labour of his work, but a rest of complacency and delight in what he had wrought, that God entered into.
But the principal delight and complacency of God is in his eternal counsels. For all his delight in his works, is but in the effects of those divine properties, whose primitive and principal exercise is in the counsels themselves, from whence they proceed. Especially is it so as unto these counsels of the Father and the Son, as to the redemption and salvation of the church, wherein they delight, and mutually rejoice in each other on their account. They are all eternal acts of God's infinite wisdom, goodness, and love; a delight and complacency wherein is no small part of the divine blessedness. These things are absolutely inconceivable unto us, and ineffable by us; we cannot find the Almighty out unto perfection. However certain it is from the notions we have of the Divine Being and excellencies, and from the revelation he hath made of himself, that there is an infinite delight in God, in the eternal actings of his wisdom, goodness, and love, wherein, according to our weak and dark apprehensions of things, we may safely place no small portion of divine blessedness. Self-existence in its own immense being, thence self-sufficiency unto itself in all things, and thereon self-satisfaction, is the principal notion we have of divine blessedness.
1. God delighteth in these his eternal counsels in Christ, as they are acts of infinite wisdom, as they are the highest instance wherein it will exert itself. Hence in the accomplishment of them Christ is emphatically said to be the Wisdom of God;' 1 Cor. i. 24. He in whom the counsels of his wisdom were to be fulfilled. And in him is the manifold wisdom of God made known; Eph. iii. 10. Infinite wisdom being that property of the divine nature, whereby all the actings of it are disposed and regulated suitably unto his own glory in all his divine excellencies, he cannot but delight in all the acts of it. Even amongst men, whose wisdom compared with that of God is folly itself, yet is there nothing wherein they have a real rational complacency, suitable unto the principles of their nature, but in such
actings of that wisdom which they have, and such as it is, towards the proper ends of their being and duty. How much more doth God delight himself in the infinite perfection of his own wisdom, and its eternal acting, for the representation of all the glorious excellencies of his nature. Such are his counsels concerning the salvation of the church by Jesus Christ, and because they were all laid in him and with him, therefore is he said to be his 'delight continually before the world was.' This is that which is proposed as the object of our admiration; Rom. xi. 33-36.
2. They are acts of infinite goodness, whereon the divine nature cannot but be infinitely delighted in them. As wisdom is the directive principle of all divine operations, so goodness is the communicative principle that is effectual in them. He is good and he doth good; yea he doth good because he is good, and for no other reason; not by the necessity of nature, but by the intervention of a free act of his will. His goodness is absolutely infinite, essentially perfect in itself; which it cannot be if it belonged unto it naturally and necessarily to act and communicate itself unto any thing without God himself. The divine nature is eternally satisfied in and with its own goodness; but it is that principle which is the immediate fountain of all the communications of good unto others, by a free act of the will of God. So when Moses desired to see his glory, he tells him, that 'he will cause all his goodness to pass before him, and would be gracious unto whom he would be gracious;' Exod. xxxiii. 19. All divine operations in the gracious communication of God himself, are from his goodness, by the intervention of a free act of his will. And the greatest exercise and emanation of divine goodness, was, in these holy counsels of God, for the salvation of the church by Jesus Christ. For whereas in all other effects of his goodness he gives of his own, herein he gave himself in taking our nature upon him. And thence, as be expresseth the design of man in his fall as upbraiding him with folly and ingratitude, Behold the man is become as one of us;' Gen. iii. 22. We may with all humble thankfulness express the means of our recovery, Behold God is become like one of us, as the apostle declares it at large, Phil. ii. 6-8. It is the nature of sincere goodness, even in its lowest degree, above all other habits or principles of nature,
to give a delight and complacency unto the mind in the exercise of itself, and communication of its effects. A good man doth both delight in doing good, and hath an abundant reward for the doing it, in the doing of it. And what shall we conceive concerning eternal, absolute, infinite, perfect, immixed goodness, acting itself in the highest instance (in an effect cognate and like unto it), that it can extend unto. So was it in the counsels of God concerning the incarnation of his Son, and the salvation of the church thereby. No heart can conceive, no tongue can express, the least portion of that ineffable delight of the holy, blessed God, in these counsels, wherein he acted and expressed unto the utmost his own essential goodness. Shall a liberal man devise liberal things, because they are suited unto his inclination? Shall a good man find a secret refreshment and satisfaction in the exercise of that low, weak, imperfect, mixed goodness, that his nature is inlaid withal; and shall not he whose goodness is essential unto him, whose being it is, and in whom it is the immediate principle of communicating himself unto others, be infinitely delighted in the highest exercise of it which divine wisdom did direct?
The effect of these eternal counsels of God in future glory, is reserved for them that do believe; and therein will there be the nearest manifestation, of the glory of God himself unto them, when he shall be glorified in his saints, and eternally admired in all that believe. But the blessed delight and satisfaction of God, was, and is, in those counsels themselves, as they were acts of his infinite wisdom and goodness. Herein was the Lord Christ his delight continually before the foundation of the world;' in that in him were all these counsels laid, and through him were they all to be accomplished. The constitution of his person was the only way whereby divine wisdom and goodness would act and communicate of themselves unto mankind, in which actings are the eternal delight and complacency of the Divine Being.
3. Love and grace have the same influence into the counsels of God, as wisdom and goodness have. And in the Scripture notion of these things they superadd unto goodness this consideration, that their object is sinners, and those that are unworthy. God doth universally communicate of