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God nearer unto them, they became contemptibly foolish, abased their nature, and all the noble faculties of their minds unto hell, and departed unto the utmost distance from God, whom they sought to bring near unto them.
(2.) Because nothing that can fall into the invention or imagination of men, could make any other but false representations of him, and so substitute an idol in his place. His own immediate works have great characters of his divine excellencies upon them, though unto us obscure and not clearly legible without the light of revelation. Somewhat he did of old represent of his glorious presence, though not of his being, in the visible institutions of his worship. But all men's inventions to this end, which are neither divine works of nature, nor divine institutions of worship, are all but false representations of God, and therefore accursed by him.
Wherefore it is granted that God hath placed many characters of his divine excellencies upon his works of creation and providence; many of his glorious presence upon the tabernacle and temple of old; but none of these things ever did or could give such a representation of him, as wherein the souls of men might fully acquiesce, or obtain such conceptions of him as might enable them to worship and honour him in a due manner. They cannot, I say, by all that may be seen in them, and learned from them, represent God as the complete object of all our affections, of all the actings of our souls in faith, trust, love, fear, obedience, in that way whereby he may be glorified, and we may be brought unto the everlasting fruition of him. This therefore is yet to be inquired after. Wherefore,
5. A mere external doctrinal revelation of the divine nature and properties, without any exemplification, or real representation of them, was not sufficient unto the end of God in the manifestation of himself. This is done in the Scripture. But the whole Scripture is built on this foundation, or proceeds on this supposition, that there is a real representation of the divine nature unto us, which it declares and describes. And as there was such a notion on the minds of all men, that some representation of God, wherein he might be near unto them, was necessary, which arose from the consideration of the infinite distance between the divine nature
and their own, which allowed of no measures between them; so as unto the event God himself hath declared that in his own way such a representation was needful unto that end of the manifestation of himself which he designed. For,
6. All this is done in the person of Christ. He is the complete image and perfect representation of the Divine Being and excellencies. I do not speak of it absolutely, but as God proposeth himself as the object of our faith, trust, and obedience. Hence it is God as the Father, who is so peculiarly represented in him, and by him; as he says, 'he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father also ;' John xiv. 9.
Unto such a representation two things are required. (1.) That all the properties of the divine nature, the knowledge whereof is necessary unto our present obedience and future blessedness, be expressed in it, and manifested unto us. (2.) That there be therein the nearest approach of the divine nature made unto us whereof it is capable, and which we can receive. And both these are found in the person of Christ, and therein alone.
In the person of Christ we consider both the constitution of it in the union of his natures, and the respect of it unto his work of mediation, which was the end of that constitution. And,
(1.) Therein as so considered, is there a blessed representation made unto us of all the holy properties of the nature of God; of his wisdom, his power, his goodness, grace and love, his righteousness, truth and holiness, his mercy and patience. As this is affirmed concerning them all in general, or the glory of God in them, which is seen and known only in the face of Christ; so it were easy to manifest the same concerning every one of them in particular, by express testimonies of Scripture. But I shall at present confine myself unto the proofs of the whole assertion which do ensue.
(2.) There is therein the most incomprehensible approach of the divine nature made unto ours; such as all the imaginations of men did ever infinitely fall short of; as hath been before declared. In the assumption of our nature into personal union with himself, and our cognation unto God. thereby, with the union which believers obtain with him thereon, being one in the Father and the Son, as the Father
is in the Son, and the Son in the Father;' John xvii. 20. 21. there is the nearest approach of the Divine Being unto us, that the nature of things is capable of. Both these ends were designed in those representations of God, which were of human invention; but in both of them they utterly failed. For instead of representing any of the glorious properties of the nature of God, they debased it, dishonoured it, and filled the minds of men with vile conceptions of it. And instead of bringing God nearer unto them, they put themselves at an infinite moral distance from him. But my design is the confirmation of our assertions from the Scripture.
Col. i. 15. He is the image of the invisible God.' This title or property of 'invisible,' the apostle here gives unto God, to shew what need there was of an image or representation of him unto us, as well as of one in whom he would declare the counsels of his will. For he intends not only the absolute invisibility of his essence, but his being unknown unto us in himself. Wherefore, as was before observed, mankind was generally prone to make visible representations of this invisible God, that in them they might contemplate on him, and have him present with them as they foolishly imagined. Unto the craft of Satan abusing this inclination of mankind, idolatry owes its original and progress in the world; howbeit necessary it was that this invisible God should be so represented unto us by some image of him, as that we might know him, and that therein he might be worshipped according unto his own mind and will. But this must be of his own contrivance, an effect of his own infinite wisdom. Hence as he absolutely rejecteth all images and representations of him of men's devisings for the reasons before-mentioned, and declares that the honour that any should think would thereby redound unto him, was not given unto him, but unto the devil; so that which he hath provided himself, unto his own holy ends and purposes, is every way approved of him. For he will have all men honour the Son even as they honour the Father; and so as that he who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father;' John v. 23. 25.
This image, therefore, is the person of Christ; he is the image of the invisible God.' This in the first place respects
the divine person absolutely, as he is the essential image of the Father; which must briefly be declared.
1. The Son is sometimes said to be iv márpi, in the Father,' and the Father in the Son. John xiv. 10. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" This is from the unity or sameness of their nature; for he and the Father are one;' John x. 30. Thence all things that the Father hath are his ;' chap. xvi. 15. because their nature is one and the same. With respect unto the divine essence absolutely considered, wherein the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, the one cannot be said to be the image of the other. For he and the Father are one; and one and the same thing, cannot be the image of itself in that wherein it is one.
2. The Son is said not only to be iv Tárρi, in the Father,' in the unity of the same essence; but also ́pòs Tòv warépa or Osov,' with the Father,' or 'with God' in the distinction of his person. John i. 1. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.' 'The Word was God,' in the unity of the divine essence; and the Word was with God,' in its distinct personal subsistence. The Word,' that is, the person of the Son, as distinct from the Father,' was with God,' or the Father. And in this respect he is the essential image of the Father, as he is called in this place, and Heb. i. 2. and that because he partakes of all the same divine properties with the Father.
But although the Father on the other side be partaker of all the essential divine properties of the Son, yet is not he said to be the image of the Son. For this property of an image respects not the things themselves, but the manner of the participation of them. Now the Son receives all from the Father, and the Father nothing from the Son. Whatever belongs unto the person of the Son, as the person of the Son, he receives it all from the Father by eternal generation; For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son, to have life in himself;' John v. 26. He is therefore the essential image of the Father, because all the properties of the divine nature are communicated unto him, together with personality from the Father.
3. In his incarnation the Son was made the represen
tative image of God unto us, as he was in his person the essential image of the Father by eternal generation. The invisible God, whose nature and divine excellencies our understandings can make no approach unto, doth in him represent, exhibit, or make present unto our faith and spiritual sense, both himself and all the glorious excellencies of his nature.
Wherefore our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God may be considered three ways.
1. Merely with respect unto his divine nature. This is one and the same with that of the Father. In this respect the one is not the image of the other, for both are the same.
2. With respect unto his divine person as the Son of the Father; the only-begotten, the eternal Son of God. Thus he receives as his personality, so all divine excellencies from the Father; so he is the essential image of the Father's person.
3. As he took our nature upon him, or in the assumption of our nature into personal union with himself, in order unto the work of his mediation. So is he the only representative image of God unto us; in whom alone we see, know, and learn all the divine excellencies, so as to live unto God, and be directed unto the enjoyment of him. All this himself instructs us in.
He reflects it on the Pharisees as an effect of their blindness and ignorance, that they had neither heard the voice of God at any time, nor seen his shape;' John v. 37. And in opposition hereunto he tells his disciples, that they had known the Father and seen him;' chap. xiv. 7. And the reason he gives thereof is, because they that knew him, knew the Father also.' And when one of his disciples, not yet sufficiently instructed in this mystery, replied, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us;' ver. 8. his answer is, 'Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not know me? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;' ver. 9.
Three things are required unto the justification of this
1. That the Father and he be of the same nature, have the same essence and being. For otherwise it would not follow, that he who had seen him had seen the Father also.' This ground of it he declares in the next verse, the Father