Page images
PDF
EPUB

IV. That there was something of this blissful and

paradisaical state shadowed out to Israel in the land of promise.

V. That the incarnation of Christ, his sufferings

and death, the proclamation of the gospel, and the mission of the Holy Ghost, are to restore the lost image of God the Saviour to God's elect among the sons of men.

VI. and last, That the grand appearance the saints

will make in heaven, and their eternal felicity there, will be the truth and the substance of what was typified and shadowed out to Adam in paradise. I begin with the first,

Which is to prove, That the grand work determined on in the secret council of the Holy Trinity from everlasting was, to bring a certain and determinate number of the human race, in the likeness of the Son of God, to heaven and endless glory by him. Upon this point the Holy Ghost, by the great apostle, is plain: “ For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,” Rom. viii. 29. Whom the omniscient God foreknew with a knowledge of love, with a knowledge of choice, with a knowledge of approbation and delight, these he also did predestinate: he did predetermine, immutably fix, and by an irrevocable decree, ordain, that these persons, thus foreknown, should be con

formed to the image of his Son. In pursuance of this appointment was that identical seed of the virgin Mary pitched upon, chosen, and appointed of God to be joined or united to the divine person of the Son of God. Hence the Father's declaration of this choice, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” Here Christ appears, thus considered, the first in choice, the first elect; and it is on account of his birth of a virgin being first determined, as well as on the account of his inconceivable and eternal sonship, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, that he is the firstborn among the chosen family; and so says Paul, “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." In this decree of election he is considered first and head; for all the rest were chosen in him. As head and representative, as future man and king mediator, he was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was, Prov. viii. 23. As God, and as such abstractedly considered, he could not be set up; for how can the most high God, who is higher than the heavens, be set up any higher than he is? In this decree of election Christ was appointed the everlasting father also of all the chosen family; and this was figured out at the creation of Adam, whom Paul calls the figure of him that was to come. Hence he is called the last Adam; he is the

last Adam in order of time, but the first in the purpose and appointment of God.

This decree of election must be resolved wholly into the divine sovereignty, good-will, and pleasure of God; but, with respect to Christ, he, being first in the choice, and in whom the choice of all the rest was made, he is the basis or foundation in whom the decree stands fast. Hence the declaration of it by God himself, “ Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded,” i Peter ii. 6. All that God foreknew he made choice of, and gave them to Christ; he made them his charge, and ordained them to life by him; who is sure to be faithful to him that appointed him to this grand trust and charge. “ The foundation of God standeth sure; having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.”

I shall now proceed to consider what it is that we are predestinated and appointed to. Paul says we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. We may likewise consider what those divine ingredients, of which this image consists, flow from, and what those heavenly partakers are.

1. They all flow from the free, sovereign love of God, which was set upon Christ as future man, and upon us in him, before ever the world was made: “I have loved thee,” saith God, “ with an everlasting love, and therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” But it may be objected by some, that although the love of God in that text is called an everlasting love, or a love which will ever last or continue, yet it is not said to be from everlasting. Answer: The Saviour says, speaking to his father in this short prayer, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world,” John xvii. 23, 24. God's love to Christ and his church was before the world was made. Sovereign love precedes our adoption; for our sonship is the blessed result of it: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” And this love was fixed upon Christ, and upon us in him, before the world was made. I am not speaking of the love that God had to his own dear Son, as such, who is called the son of the Father in truth and love; because his love to us cannot be in the superlative degree, as it is to him; I am speaking of the love which God fixed upon Christ as future man and mediator, of which Christ speaks, John x. 17; “ Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” It was the life of the man that was laid down, and this love was set on him as such. Between this, and his love to us, there is a very great resemblance: “ Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” This love set upon Christ, as head of the family, is likewise upon all the children in him, as will soon appear; and, though sometimes the enjoyment of it is withdrawn from the children for the trial of their faith, or for their misdemeanors, and their sins are visited with a rod and their iniquities with stripes, yet it is still the same, eternally secured to them in the Covenant Head; and so it follows, “ Nevertheless, my love ingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me," Psalm lxxxix. 35, &c. In view of this our holy apostle triumphs, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No: “ neither height, nor depth, nor life, nor death, nor angel, nor principality, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, shall ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Hence it is plain that the love of God is eternally secured to us in Christ the head. I now proceed,

2. To treat of our sonship, to which we were predestinated. The highest character of our Lord Jesus Christ is that of the Son of God; he being God's only begotten son, the son of the Father in truth and love, of the same divine nature with him, distinct in personality from him, and one in essential divinity with him. Now, as God has predestinated

« PreviousContinue »