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under them, and faith for deliverance from them. This he could have no experience of, but by suffering the things he was to undergo, and the exercise of the graces mentioned therein. Thus learned he obedience, or experienced in himself what dif ficulty it is attended withal, especially in cases like his own. And this way of his learning obedience it is, that is so useful unto us, and so full of consolation. For if he had only known obedience, though never so perfectly in the notion of it, what relief could have accrued unto us thereby? How could it have been a spring of pity or compassion towards us? But now whereas he himself took in his own person, a full experience of the nature of that especial obedience which is yielded to God in a suffering condition, what difficulty it is attended withal, what opposition is made unto it, how great an exercise of grace is required in it, he is constantly ready to give us relief, as the matter doth require.
The way or means of his learning obedience is lastly expressed, ap' av exade, from the things that he suffered.' It is an usual saying, dηuara, pædпuara, Sufferings or corrections are instructions.' And we cannot exclude from hence any thing that Christ suffered, from first to last, in the days of his flesh. He suffered in his whole course, and that in great variety, as hath been shewed elsewhere. And he had experience of obedience from them all in the sense declared. But seeing the apostle treats concerning him as an high Priest, and with especial respect to the offering of himself to God; the suffering of death, and those things which immediately lead thereunto, is principally intended," he was obedient to death, the death of the cross," Phil. ii. 7, 8. Now we may be said to learn from suffering, objectively and occasionally. In their own nature and formally, they are not instructive. All things that outwardly come on us, are in twy pow, and may be abused, or may be improved to a good end. But in them that believe, they give a necessity and especial occasion to the exercise of those graces, wherein our obedience in that season doth consist. So from them, or by them, did the Lord Christ himself learn obedience; for by reason of them he had occasion to exercise those graces of humility, self-denial, meekness, patience, faith, which were habitually resident in his holy nature, but were not capable of the peculiar exercise intended, but by reason of his sufferings. But moreover there was still somewhat peculiar, in that obedience which the Son of God is said to learn from bis own sufferings, namely, what it is for a sinless person to suffer for sinners, the just for the unjust. The obedience herein was peculiar to him, nor do we know, nor can we have an experience of the ways and paths of it.
The Lord Christ undertaking the work of our redemption,
was not on the account of the dignity of his person, to be
Obs. I. Infinite love prevailed with the Son of God, to lay aside the privilege of his infinite dignity, that he might suffer for us and our redemption.-" Although he was a Son, yet he learned," &c. 1. The name of " Son," carrieth with it infinite dignity, as our apostle proves at large, chap. i. 3, 4., &c. The Son, that is, "the Son of the living God," Mat. xvi. 16. "The only begotten of the Father," John i. 14. He who "in the beginning was with God, and was God," John i. 1, 2. For as "he was God's own Son," Rom. viii. 3. he " was in the form of God," equal to him, Phil. ii. 5, 6.; one with him, John xiv. So that infinite glory and dignity were inseparable from him. And so long as he would make use of this privilege, it was impossible he should be exposed to the least suffering, nor could the whole creation divest him of the least appurtenance of it. But, 2. He voluntarily laid aside the consideration, advantage and exercise of it, that he might suffer for us. This our apostle fully expresseth, Phil. ii. 5-8. " Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, the death of the cross." Concerning which we must observe, 1. That the Son of God could not absolutely and really part with his eternal glory. Whatever he did, he was the Son of God, and God still. Neither by any thing he did, nor any thing he suffered, nor any condition he underwent, did he really forego, nor was it possible he should so do, any thing of his divine glory. He was no less God when he died, than when he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. But he is said to empty himself of his divine glory; First, With respect to the infinite condescension of his person. Secondly, With respect to the manifestations of it in this world.
First, Of his condescension, when he forewent the privilege of his eternal glory, the apostle observes sundry degrees. 1. In his taking of our nature on him. "He took on him the form of a servant," and therein made himself of no reputation; that is, comparatively to the glory which he had in the form of God, wherein he was equal with God, that is, the Father,
Hence the "Word was made flesh," John i. 14. or "God was manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. iii. 16. This was an infinite, unspeakable, unconceivable condescension of the Son of God; namely, to take our nature into union with himself, whereby he who was God, like to the Father in all things, the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, became a man like to us in all things, sin only excepted. 2. In his so becoming a man, as to take on him the form of a servant. He did not immediately take the nature he had assumed into glory, but he first became a servant in it; a servant to God, to do his will, and that in the most difficult service that ever God had to do in this world. 3. In that in this service he made himself of no reputation. The work indeed he undertook, was great and honourable, as we have before declared. But the way and manner whereby he did accomplish it was such, as exposed him to scorn, reproach and contempt in the world, Isa. liii. 1, 2. Psal. xxii. 6, 7. 4. In that in this work he became obedient to death. Had he staid at the former degrees, his condescension had been for ever to be admired and adored; this only remains to be added, that he should die, and that penally and painfully. And this also he submitted to. The prince, the author, the God of life, became obedient to death. Which also, 5. Hath an aggravation added to it, it" was the death of the cross," a shameful ignominious cursed death. In all these things did he lay aside the privilege of his infinite dignity; all this he did "although he were a Son."
Secondly, As to manifestation, he did, as it were, hide and eclipse to the world, all the glory of his divine person, under the vail of flesh which he had taken on him. Hence at the close of this dispensation, when he was finishing the work committed to him, he prays, John xvii. 5. " Glorify me with that glory which I had with thee before the world was." Let that glory which was necessarily hid and eclipsed in my debasement, wherein I have been made low for the suffering of death, now shine forth again conspicuously. Now the reason why the Son of God did thus forego the privilege and dignity of his glory, was his infinite love. Because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, Heb. ii. 14. The reason why he condescended to this condition, was, that he might redeem and save the children which God gave to him. And this out of his unspeakable love towards them, Gal. ii. 20. Rev. i. 5. Phil. ii. 5. This was that which engaged him into, and carried him through his great undertakings.
And here we may, as it were, 1. Lose ourselves in holy admiration of this infinite love of Christ. Our apostle prays for the Ephesians, that they might be able to comprehend with
all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," Eph. iii. 18, 19. This, it seems, is the work, the design, the endeavour of all saints, namely, to come to an acquaintance with, or to live in the contemplation of the love of Christ. The dimensions here assigned to it, are only to let us know, that which way soever we exercise our thoughts about it, there is still a suitable object for them. It wants nothing that may be a proper object for that prospect which a soul may take of it in a way of believing. And he so prays for the knowledge of it, as that he lets us know that absolutely it is incomprehensible, it passeth knowledge. Then do we in our measure know the love of Christ, when we know that it passeth knowledge; when we comprehend so much of it, as to find we cannot comprehend it; and thereby we have the benefit and consolation of what we do not conceive, as well as of what we do. For as contemplation is an act of faith with respect to our measure of comprehension, so is admiration with respect to what exceeds it. And what way soever faith acts itself in Christ, it will bring in advantage and refreshment to the soul. And we are never nearer Christ, than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at his unspeakable love. And indeed his love herein, that" although he was a Son," the eternal Son of God, yet he would condescend to the condition before described, for our deliverance and salvation, is that which fills the souls of believers with admiration, not only in this world, but to eternity. And, 2. Here we may, as it were, find ourselves. The due consideration of this love of Christ, is that alone which will satisfy our souls and consciences, with the grounds of the acceptance of such poor unworthy sinners as we are, in the presence of the holy God. For what will not this love, and the effects of it prevail for? What can stand in the way of it? or what can hinder it from accomplishing whatever it is designed to?
Obs. II. In his sufferings, and notwithstanding them all, the Lord Christ was the Son still, the Son of God.-He was so both as to real relation, and as to suitable affection. He had in them all the state of a Son, and the love of a Son. It is true, during the time of his suffering, a common eye, an eye of sense and reason, could see no appearance of this Sonship of Christ. His outward circumstances were all of them such as rather eclipsed, than manifested, his glory, Isa. liii. 2, 3. This was that which the world being offended at, stumbled and fell, for he was to them a "stone of stumbling and rock of offence," Rom. ix. 33. The meanness of his condition, the poverty of his life, and shame of his death, proved an offence both to Jews and Gentiles. How could such a one be thought to be the Son of God? Besides God himself so dealt with him, as flesh and
blood would not conceive him to deal with his only Son. For he laid his curse on him, as it is written, " Cursed is he that is hanged on a tree." And in all this state of things, he speaks of himself as one made so much beneath the condition of glory which was due to the Son of God, as that he was lower than any sort of men; whence he complains, "I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people," Psal. xxii. 6. Yet during all this he was still the Son of God, and suffered as the Son of God. Hence it is said, that "God spared not his own Son," but delivered him up for us all, that is, to suffering and death, Rom. viii. 32. He sent his "own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and condemned sin in the flesh," ver. 3. It is true, he suffered only in his human nature, which alone was capable thereof. But he suffered who was the Son of God, and as he was the Son of God; or God could not have "redeemed the church with his own blood," Acts xx. 28. In all that he underwent, neither was the union of his natures dissolved, nor the love of the Father to him as his own Son, in the least impeached.
Obs. III. A practical experience of obedience to God in some cases will cost us dear;-we cannot learn it but through the suffering of those things which will assuredly befal us on the account thereof. So was it with the Lord Christ. I intend not here the difficulties we meet withal in mortifying the internal lusts and corruptions of nature, for these had no place in the example here proposed to us. Those only are respected which do, or will, or may, come on us from without. And it is an especial kind of obedience also, namely, that which holds some conformity to the obedience of Christ, that is intended. Wherefore, 1. It must be singular; it must have somewhat in it, that may in an especial manner turn the eyes of others towards it. A common course of obedience, cloathed with a common passing profession, may escape at an easy rate in the world. There seems to be somewhat singular denoted in that expression, "He that will live godly in Christ Jesus," 2 Tim. iii. 12. To live in Christ Jesus, is to live and walk in the profession of the gospel, to be a professing branch in Christ, John xv. 2. But of these there are two sorts, some that live godly in him, some branches that bring forth fruit, that is, in an eminent and singular manner. Every branch in the true vine, hath that whereby he is distinguished from brambles and thorns. And every one that lives in the profession of the gospel, hath somewhat that differenceth him from the world and the ways of it. But there is a peculiar, a singular fruit-bearing in Christ; an especial living godly in him, which will turn an observation on itself. So our apostle says, that they were made "a spectacle to the world, to angels and men, by the especial ministry