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III. Third thing. Wherein the agency of the Father in this affair does appear. 'God was in Christ reconciling the world.'
1. As choosing and appointing Christ. In which respect he is called, Isa. xiii. 1, 'the Elect of God,' the servant whom he has chosen, Isa. xliii. 10, said to be appointed by him, Heb. iii. 2. He was foreordained in the decree, designed in the promise, prefigured in the types, predicted by the prophets. Our Redeemer came forth of the womb of a decree from eternity, before he came out of the womb of the virgin in time; he was hid in the will of God before he was made manifest in the flesh of a Redeemer; he was a lamb slain in decree before he was slain upon the cross; he was possessed by God in the beginning, or the beginning of his way, Prov. viii. 22, 23, 31, the head of his works, and set up from everlasting to have his delights among the sons of men. The Father's appointment of Christ is not to be understood of an appointment to his Sonship, for so he was from eternity begotten; but to his mediatorship. As he was from eternity the Son of God by generation, so he was from eternity the Mediator between God and man by constitution. The one is natural, the other arbitrary. As he was the Son, he was only God; as Mediator, God and man. His being a Son is in order of nature before his being a Mediator; his being a Son is from God's nature, his being a Mediator is from God's will. Believers are said to be begotten sons according to his will, but Christ is a begotten Son according to his nature, and Mediator according to his will. Christ is a name of charge and office, not of nature. He had been a Son had be never been a Mediator, or stepped in for the rescue of the world. All therefore that Christ did is comprehended in one word, doing the will of God: Heb. x. 7, 'I come to do thy will, O God.' There was an antecedent act of will in God before there was a subsequent act of will in Christ in order of nature. It is called therefore the wisdom of God in regard of contrivance, Eph. iii. 10; his purpose in regard of the immutability and peremptoriness of his will, :Eph. i. 9; the pleasure of the Lord, Isa. liii. 10, in regard of the delight he took both in the contrivance and resolution, both in the act of his head and heart.
(1.) He was appointed by the Father to this end, viz. of redemption. God set him up as a screen between the injured Deity and the offending creature. It is the scope of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews to manifest that Christ was designed to be an high priest, to offer sacrifice for men. He was designed to be a sacrifice, because all other revere insufficient, Ps. xl. 6, 7 and he submits to be a sacrifice, for to that purpose he had a body to do the will of God in. This was God's aim in his first choice; he was to be the foundation of the covenant for his people, to bring the prisoners from prison, and those that sit in darkness out of the prison-house, Isa. xiii. 1, 6, 7; he intended him as a propitiation for sin: Rom. iii. 25, 'Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation,' "proetheto", purposed (the same word is translated, Eph. i. 9, purposed), ver. 25, 26; 'to declare, I say, his righteousness at this time that he may be just, and the justifier of them that believe in Jesus.' "Hilasterion", alluding to the propitiatory under the law, a type of Christ. He purposed him in his eternal decree to this end, he shadowed him in the mercy-seat under the law, and afterwards exposed him to public view, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sin. And because it seems incredible, which a wounded conscience especially will hardly believe, the apostle repeats it again. One would think that justice should lay aside its demands against the sinner rather than feed on so rich a sacrifice. But God did, notwithstanding his near relation to him, single him out in his eternal council from angels and men, intended him in the "hilasterion", and all the types of the law, and brought him upon the stage in time to declare his justice to be as ready to be appeased and save upon that account, as before it was to damn. He is therefore called the Lamb of God, John i. 29 (in allusion to the lambs separated for the daily sacrifice), to be offered up to God for the taking away the sins of the world. It was with respect to the will of God in this first appointment that he delivered up himself, Gal. i. 4. :He 'gave himself for our sins according to the will of God,' whereby is meant the Father in the Deity. In the very ordaining him, the Father respected our glory: 1 Cor. ii. 7, 'Hidden wisdom which was ordained for our glory.' This hidden wisdom is Christ crucified, as appears in the next verse. Christ as reconciling by his suffering is the wisdom of God, hidden with him, not known to the world for many ages. Had God had a mind to remain an enemy, he had dealt with mankind after that covenant of works which they had transgressed, and never had deputed a mediator to stand between himself and them, to administer things according to the tenor of another covenant. It was highly represented, Exod. xxiv. 8, when Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice upon the people, calling it the blood of the covenant. At the end of this action Moses and Aaron, with his sons and the seventy elders, saw the God of Israel in a human shape: ver. 10, 'There was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire, and as it were the body of heaven in its clearness.' The sapphire, some tell us, was an emblem of the kingly and priestly office. Such a representation there was when he appeared as a man to Ezekiel, chap. i. 26. Immediately after this typical representation of him in the sprinkling the blood of the covenant, he appeared to them in a human form, as the great intended antitype of that type they had been immediately before celebrating. As the Spirit is appointed to a peculiar office to sanctify, and therefore is called a 'Spirit of holiness,' and the end of his mission is to sanctify, Rom. i. 4, so the appointment of Christ was to an office of high priest and reconciler, and therefore whatsoever he did and suffered belonged to that office by peculiar designation. He was appointed to be a 'witness to the people, Isa. lv. 4, 5, a witness of the transcendent love of God, to bring men to God, that the nations which knew him not might run unto him.
(2.) God appointed him to every office in order to this redemption, to every degree and circumstance: as a priest, to appease his wrath; a prophet, to declare his mercy; a king, to bring men to the terms of reconciliation. He was appointed a priest for ever, that we might draw nigh to God, Heb. vii. 17, 19; God designed him as a prophet, from whom we might receive his lively oracles, Acts vii. 37, 38; God set him up as a king, that those might be blessed that put their trust in him, Ps. ii. 6, 12. The very circumstances were appointed by God: that be should be born of a virgin; the place where, Bethlehem; of the Jewish race; of the royal line of David, and that when it was decayed and sunk to poverty and misery, 'a rod out of the stem of Jesse,' Isa. xi. 1, a 'root out of a dry ground,' Isa. liii. 2; and the Jews never questioned the royalty of Christ's extraction. The time of his coming was fixed in Jacob's prophecy about the time of the fall of the Jewish government, Gen. xlix. 10, before the ruin of the second temple, Mall iii. 1, after seventy weeks of years from the time of Daniel's prophecy. What was figured in God's opening Adam's side to form a spouse; in the death of righteous Abel by the hands of his brother Cain; in Isaac, under the edge of the knife upon mount Moriah, and raised to be a blessing to the world; in Joseph in the pit and prison, and afterwards on the throne, to deliver the church from famine; in the paschal lamb, killed to save the sprinkled houses with its blood from the destroying angel, were really fulfilled in him; all the circumstances were appointed with a particular designation of the end of them. The manner of his death was foretold by David: Ps. xxii. 16, 'They have pierced my hands and my feet.' The manner of his crucifixion, his burial, resurrection, and prosperity afterwards, the blessing of men by him, justification by the knowledge of him, were deciphered by Isaiah, chap. liii., above seven hundred years before his coming, so exactly, as it that prophecy had rather been a Gospel written after his death, since the events answered so punctually to each prediction. He was promised as a 'Prince of peace,' Isa. ix. 6, one that should make no noise, appear with no pomp and grandeur, Zech. ix. 10, send forth the prisoners out of the pit, ver. 11; be 'the peace' himself, Micah. v. 5; as a king destroy the empire of the devil, pour the waters of grace upon the world, Ezek. xxxvi., take away iniquity, make reconciliation for sin, bring in everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24.
(3.) It was a settled, firm, and irreversible constitution. It was not only a counsel, wherein wisdom pitched upon it as absolutely the best means for the creation's standing; but determinate, wherein it was unalterable: Acts ii. 23, 'Delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.' Counsel and foreknowledge are joined, to show that there was the highest reason and most resolute will; not a casual thing or contingency, but an immutable decree for his reconciling death, fixed after the wisest counsel. And therefore, in this appointment to this office, God took an oath, and thereby constituted Christ an irrevocable priest, 'after the order of Melchisedec,' Heb. vii. 21, to bless his people with peace, which oath must refer to the first appointment of Christ to this office, in order to the making him a surety of a better testament, ver. 22; better, for the preservation of the honour of God and happiness of man. It was such a constitution that admitted not of the least alteration or repentance in God; an oath which was not taken for the creation of the world, or the settling of the Aaronical priesthood. By this oath he declares this constitution to be irreversible. In this regard he is said to be sealed by God, to skew the perpetuity of this constitution, as the seal to the book, Rev. v. 1, skews the irreversible certainty of God's decrees. And therefore his appearance before his incarnation in his glory, as well as after his ascension, was with a rainbow encircling him, Ezek. i. 28, Rev. iv. 8; a sign of an everlasting covenant that God would no more bring a destroying deluge upon the world, Gen. ix. 16. The apostle seems to intimate as though this decree and constitution was the standard of all God's other actions; the point in which they should all centre, or the rule which they should be squared by; for as all our sins met on Christ, Isa. liii. 6, so all God's counsels met in him, Eph. i. 9. The rule must be perpetual, since all God's works were to be regulated by this counsel. Speaking af this mystery of his will, which he had purposed in himself, to gather in one all things in Christ, he repeats again, ver. 11, this purpose of him 'who works all things according to the counsel of his own will.' All things took birth from this counsel, and were for the perfecting this will.
(4.) God chose him to this work with an high delight, as one fully fit for the work, in whom he could confide. He 'put no trust in his saints,' Job xv. 15, for they were in their own nature defectible. Where a man cannot trust his concerns, he can have no pleasure. The Son of God's undertaking to be the head of the elect, and satisfy for them, was that the Father could only place his confidence in. This was that which could only be acceptable to him. He calls him his elect: Isa. xlii. 1, "bechiri", 'Behold my servant whom I uphold, my Elect in whom my soul delights.' My tried elect; the word signifies, one chosen after serious consideration and trial. God found none so fit among all the legions of angels, none that could so completely answer his design for reconciliation; but upon a full examination of the whole affair he found him exactly fit for it, and therefore brings him in with a Behold, a note of admiration, as one he could rest in; for so the word "etmach" signifies, as well as to uphold. Upon this trial, and upon this confidence, his soul, as it follows, delighted in him. He knew he would be faithful, and able to perfect it; some therefore refer Heb. i. 9, 'Thou hast loved righteousness, &c., therefore God has anointed thee,' &c., to the first constitution of Christ. God rested upon the holiness of his nature; and that Isa. xlix. 1, 'From the bowels of my mother has he made mention of my name,' expresses (in the judgment of some) the great joy of God in this mediator. He had my name, as I was constituted mediator, continually in his mouth. It was his pleasure to be always thinking and speaking of it; or it may note the familiar converse between the Father and the Son, concerning this work of redemption. We speak and think much of that wherein we have the greatest pleasure; and those words, Prov. viii. 30, 31, 'I was daily his delight, rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth,' intimate that the Son was the daily delight of the Father, as he had placed his mediatory delights among the sons of men, as the Father saw all things exactly settled and governed by the Son, according to his mind and counsel. And therefore, when this suretyship of Christ is mentioned, God is pleased to express himself with a pleasing admiration: Jer. xxx. 21, 'Their governor shall proceed out of the midst of them, and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engages his heart to approach unto me? says the Lord;' showing the delight of his soul in his own choice, and his Son's acceptance, in the greatness of his person, and the heartiness of his undertaking. The word "arav" signifies to pawn, or be a surety. We many times express our joy in a mode of admiration; so is God pleased to descend to our capacities in expressing his. What is the ground of it? Ver. 22, the everlastingness of the covenant: 'And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.' How may we approach to God with the pleas of Christ in our mouths, since the Father had so mighty a delight in him?
(5.) The Father had a particular love to Christ in this appointment, and highly loved him for his acceptance of it. If he loved his Son's consent to it, he loved his own proposal of it: John xvii. 24, 'Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world;' which, according to the best interpreters, respects Christ's person as mediator, rather than his naked deity. The Father loved Christ as mediator in the first designment, that in him he might love his elect. Our Saviour prays as mediator; the love therefore which he uses as an argument, was the love of the Father to him as mediator. The Father's love to him as the second person in the Trinity, had not been an argument congruous for that petition of his people's seeing his glory; for the love of the Father to him in that regard, did not necessarily infer a love to any creature; but his love to him as mediator and head does infer his love to all his members, and was a suitable argument wherewith to press him for a glorifying his whole body. Certainly if God loved Christ because he did 'lay down his life for his sheep,' John x. 17, there must be an high degree of love to him, because he answered the Father's appointment of him from eternity, by a voluntary consent. As the act of suffering, so the first undertaking, draws out the Father's love. The Father loved him before as his natural Son, he now loves him as the universal head. The Father's loving him for complying with this appointment, manifests the height of his love to all his members, for whose sake, next to his own glory, he constituted him in his mediatory office. Some think that the well-pleasedness of the Father with Christ for this work was one part of the glory of Christ; no doubt it was, after his performance of it, and is his glory now in heaven. If so, I would thus understand John xvii. 5, 'Glorify me with thy own self, with that glory which I had with thee before the world was;' i. e. testify thyself well-pleased with my mediation, which was the glory I had with thee as mediator before the world was. The glory of his deity was not impaired; that was not therefore the glory he prays for. It is a glorifying him with his own self. What is it, then, but the high affection the Father bore to him; for what glory can we conceive to come from the Father to the Son, as mediator, before the world was, but this? The argument he uses evidences it. Ver. 6, 'I have manifested thy name,' i. e., I have actually done that, in the undertaking whereof, O Father, thou were so highly pleased. And ver. 4, 'I have glorified thee on the earth, and finished the work thou gave me to do.' I have glorified thee by witnessing that thou art a God placable, full of love, reconciling the world, therefore glorify me. As the glory Christ brought to God relates to the business of redemption, so the glory he requests of God, which he had before, more likely relates, not to the glory of his deity, but his glory as mediator, which is God's mighty pleasure with it, acceptation of his willingness to perform it, and great affection he bore to him thereupon. The glory of his deity was not a subject to be prayed for; the glory which he was by covenant to have after his death and resurrection in his human nature, was a glory in decree, and by compact, but not actually possessed before his ascension. But the acceptation of him, and high pleasure in him, as undertaking to be our surety, was a glory he really had with the Father before the world was. Nor does this sense weaken the proof from hence of the deity of Christ; for if he were in being before the world was, he was no creature. How comfortably may we take up the same argument in our mouths as Christ did here, since the love he bore to Christ, as mediator, before the world was, did redound to every member of his sons which was to be in time!
(6.) God does glory in this contrivance and appointment. With what daring expressions to all creatures does God challenge the honour of founding this covenant of love and peace wholly to himself! No creature did so much as put in his opinion in this counsel, or contribute anything to it, but he would go away with the whole glory himself: Isa. xiv. 21, 'Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who has declared this from ancient time? who has told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God besides me; a just God, and a Saviour.' There is no contriver, no declarer of this but myself. It is not meant of the deliverance from Babylon, as some interpret it, which is evinced by the following verses, to the end of the chapter; as also verse 17, where it is called an 'everlasting salvation,' which shall admit of no shame and confusion, world without end; a salvation that shall last as long as eternity endures. Well might all the attributes of God glory. How surprising is his love, that the Holy of holies should so love sinners, the sovereign Monarch justly jealous of his glory, furious rebels, and unprofitable slaves, as to appoint his Son for the reconciler and saviour. What motives could there be but misery to draw out the bowels of his love! What attractives in ungrateful creatures lying in their blood! What arguments could be in our thoughts to plead with God for so admirable a design! Justice and mercy are comprehended as the great things he glories in; 'just God, and a Saviour.' Wisdom might glory in the contrivance, and goodness in the appointment of one so strong to be a sacrifice for propitiation; to be himself a just Judge, and yet a tender Saviour (for the Father is called Saviour as well as the Son, Titus iii. 4; 'the kindness of God our Saviour,' distinguished from Christ our Saviour, ver. 6). He finds a way to have a valuable satisfaction of his justice, wherein should be bound up an eternal security to the sinner: a great priest for our guilt, and a beautiful pattern for our imitation; justice should triumph in the punishment, mercy in the redemption, the creature in the fruits redounding from both. How much was his sovereignty glorified in it, which he seems also to aim at: 'I am a God, and there is none besides me.' His sovereignty was manifest over all the creation, men and angels were his absolute vassals, there was nothing wanting to declare the highest pitch of it, when his own Son became a servant; the Lord of all things became lower than angels, and as low as the meanest man. Who shall stand out against his pleasure, since the Son, equal with him, stood not out against his Father's will? God does this of himself, of his own grace; by himself, his own wisdom; for himself, his own glory,
2. God the Father solemnly called him: John x. 86, 'Say you of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemes? because I said, I am the Son of God?' Our Saviour mentions a double act of the Father towards him, separation and mission, a dedication of Christ to his mediatorship, and then his actual mission. This call is expressed, Isa. xlix. 1, 'The Cord has called me from the womb,' which does not imply, says Calvin, that he was but then called, when he came out of the womb of the virgin, or that the prophet does define the beginning of time; but it is as much as if he had said, Before I came out of the womb, God called me, and separated me to this office. As Paul speaks of his separation from the womb, Gal. i. 5, yet he was chosen before the foundation of the world; and Jeremiah was known before he was formed in the belly, and sanctified and ordained a prophet before he came out of the womb, Jer. i. 6; so that in this place the prophet introduces Christ speaking of his call to this office after it was formed in the eternal counsel of God. In regard of this call by God, and his acceptance of it, he is the same yesterday that he was today, and will be for ever. His call to the mediatorship was of a higher date than the types of the law, for before Abraham was, he was, in the call to and actual exercise of his mediatory function, it was an argument to prove his former assertion, that Abraham saw his day, and rejoiced in the sight of it, which would be of no strength if he were not then known as mediator, by whom God was to be reconciled to man. It is I am, to show the constant relation he had to this office: 'Before Abraham was, I am,' mediator, affirming himself here to be the Messiah, according to the Jews' usual speech, that the law and the Messiah were before the creation of the world. The words used to express the call of Christ are of a greater signification than the word used for the call of Aaron, Heb. v. 4, kaloumenos", as if you should in an ordinary way call a man to you, or call him by his name; but ver. 10, speaking of the call of Christ, it is a word of more weighty signification, "prosagoreutheis", solemnly called and pronounced a high priest.
(1.) God called him to it as an honour: Heb. v. 4, 'No man takes this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.' Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but he, i. e. the Father, glorified him, and bestowed an honour upon him when he called him. The Father thought it an honour at the time of the call, not that there could be any addition of honour to the person of Christ as God, or as though he had been defective in honour in being the Son of God and not the mediator, but as the mediatory or priestly office is an excellent office and honourable employment. Supposing the incarnation of Christ designed, the mediatory office was the highest honour could be conferred upon him. What greater glory can there be than to be placed in such a sphere, wherein he may honour the Creator more than all besides! Can there be a greater honour, next to being the Son of God, than to compensate the injuries God had suffered, and repair the ruins under which the creature had fallen; to restore God's honour to him without blemish, yea, with a greater brightness; like a bloody sun in the evening, rising fairer and fresher the next day; and happiness to man without a flaw; to give God ground to look upon his works with pleasure, and man a foundation to look upon God with delight? The honour appears to consist in being the 'author of eternal salvation,' as it follows, ver. 9. Though this honour was to cost him dear, yet he was recompensed in the ends of it, the high satisfaction of God and reparation of the creatures. In which sense 'his reward' is said to be 'with him,' as well as 'his work before him,' Isa. xl. 10, 11. How is his work his reward? 'He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, and gather the lambs with his arm;' he shall restore God's chosen ones into his fold. What greater glory than to be a reconciling mediator, through whose hands all the communications between God and man were to pass! Nay, the very calling him to death, and proposing it to him for such high ends, seems to be a greater honour than his innocence barely considered, or his exaltation afterwards: Heb. ii. 9, 'But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God might taste death for every man.' It would be worth consideration whether this glory and honour be not meant of the honour of his office, as his being lower than the angels is meant of his state of humiliation in the world; and understanding it so, the words lie very fair before us. If it were understood of his glory after his sufferings, why should it be added immediately after, 'that he should taste death for every man'? That was not the end of his exaltation after his death, but his exaltation was the reward of that. But the sense runs cleverly thus: But we see Jesus, who in his state in the world was lower than the angels, yet in regard of his office and design had a crown of honour and glory above them all, in that by the grace of God he was set apart to taste death for every man; and by the pursuit of the apostle's discourse, speaking of his perfection by suffering for the destruction of the devil, who had brought death upon mankind, and the making reconciliation for the sins of the people, the office itself in which he was placed for those great ends may be well said to be a crown of honour and glory. It was an honourable office in a state of humiliation, as David's line was an honourable line in a state of poverty. It was in his death he discovered his virtues, victories, and triumph. In his death he blazoned out all the perfections of his Father; he illustrated his mercy, and showed how dear the souls of men were to him. He displayed his holiness, and manifested how odious the sins of men were to him. What would Christ have been (supposing the union of the second person to the humanity) if he had not died? He had not been made perfect, as the apostle intimates (ver. 10, 'to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering') without suffering. He was called by God to suffering, that he might be perfect as mediator, that the justice of God might as it were quench its thirst in his blood, and the mercy of God rise out of that sea of blood, like a rich morning sun; and perfect also as a pattern, for in that his humility, charity, patience appeared in the highest manner to the sons of men for their imitation. God called him to it as an honour, and placed the very honour of it in the very suffering that death, as well as in acting afterwards upon that foundation as high priest for reconciling man. It is inconsistent with the immense goodness of God, to bind his creature to anything but what is highly conducing to the honour and happiness of his creature. Much less does it consist with the goodness of God, and that infinite affection he bore to his Son, to call him to that which was not an honour in itself. But this honour of high priest God calls him to, is an honour next to that of his sonship, which those words intimate, Heb. v. 5, but 'thou hast said to him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee,' as if it were a new begetting him. If it be then an honour in the account of God for Christ to die for such worthy ends, it is not less an honour to him to exercise that office, which is so honourable in itself, which is an high ground of faith and confidence in him, in all our approaches to him, wherein we do engage him in glorious acts and worthy of him.
2. God counselled him upon this call to undertake it with large proffers: Ps. xvi. 7, 'I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel.' It was the same person that blesses God for this counsel, who says, ver. 8, that he had 'set the Lord always before him;' which words are expressly said by Peter to be spoken by David concerning him, i.e. Christ: Acts ii. 25, 'I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand;' and so cites it to the end of the psalm. Christ does bless God for this counsel, and set this counsel of God always before him, which I have spoken of in reference to Christ blessing God for it, before upon another occasion. I now cite it to evidence that there was a counsel of God to Christ about this affair. What was that he was counselled unto? To his sufferings, which are intimated in the following verse; upon the assurance, that his flesh should rest in hope, and that his soul should not be left in hell or the grave, the state of the dead, and the assurance of the fullness of joy and pleasure which he should have upon the account of this mediation for evermore. If the Father were the first mover, that motion was not without an advice to Christ to concern himself as mediator, and declaring how agreeable it would be to him; upon which account, what Christ did and suffered was not only out of a bare obedience, but an affectionate obedience: John xiv. 81, 'That the world may know that I love the Father.' Therefore, Ps. xl. 8, it is said, 'God's law was within his heart,' or within his bowels. It proceeded out of a tenderness of affection to satisfy his Father, who was desirous of reconciling man to him. For in Christ's undertaking, it could not be love to the Father, unless the effect of it, which was reconciliation of man, had been declared by his Father to be a thing highly pleasing to him, which declaration was as a counselling Christ to this work. The Father counsels the creation of man: Gen. i. 26, 'Let us make man;' no less was the counsel about redemption the Father's counsel, Let us so make man. The Father counselled him to be the head and knot of the whole creation, whereby he might rest in it with a full complacency; the Son clasped about the Father with love and joy, the Father enfolds Christ in the glorious bosom of his counsel; the Son embraces the Father with the arms of an affectionate compliance: a mighty harmony! The one in proposing, the other in complying, that the glory of God, and the felicity of the creature, might be completed in an eternal marriage. The truth is, the manner of the eternal decrees and counsels of God, are to us finite creatures incomprehensible; but the Scripture lowers itself in expressions suitable to our conceptions. As God is, in his word, represented to us with eyes and ears and human members, in a way of condescension to our capacities, upon the same account are the transactions of God, by such ways of expression, brought down to our apprehensions. Add to this, Zech. vi. 12, 13, 'The counsel of peace shall be between them both.' Some make this counsel of peace to be between the two offices, the royal and priestly, both in conjunction and not interfering one with another, as sometimes they did in the Jewish state. Others, between the two persons, the Lord, and the man that is called the Branch. The will of the Father and the Son, as they are one essence, is one; as they are two persons, there is the counsel of both. Counsels seem to belong rather to persons than offices.
3. God gives Christ a particular command concerning our reconciliation and redemption. God purposing the redemption of man, the uniting his elect under one head, designing the person, proposing to him the affair, to be managed in a body; our mediator, accepting of this constitution, receives a command to die: John x. 18, 'This commandment have I received of my Father,' i.e. to lay down his life. Sometimes it is called the will of his Father. The will of God is called a law, Ps. xl., and the sufferings of Christ are called obedience: Philip. ii. 8, 'He became obedient unto the death of the cross.' He was obedient in all things, things antecedent to the cross, and to the last point. It could not be obedience to the law as a creature, because he never transgressed it; and being innocent, and under the covenant of works, he had not disobeyed, if he had not suffered, because, according to that covenant of works, he was not bound to suffer; for being without sin he might have pleaded his right; besides, God would never command any thing against his own covenant. It must, therefore, be obedience to some other precept, concerning his mediatory sufferings. And Rom. v. 19, 'As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.' The obedience of Christ is opposed to the disobedience of Adam; therefore, as the disobedience of Adam was a proper disobedience, opposite to a plain precept, so the obedience of Christ was a proper obedience, conformable to some precept. A congruous reason may be rendered for this command, because, as men were destroyed by disobedience, so they should be repaired by obedience; and because a work done in obedience is more perfect in itself and acceptable to God, for his authority and sovereignty, the righteousness, holiness, and equity of his law is solemnly owned thereby. Some question whether the command laid upon Christ, as mediator, was a particular precept, or only a revealing of his incarnation and death as a necessary means for the redemption of man, because he had decreed to accept no other satisfaction. Some think this latter, and that, upon God's revealing his mind, there presently did arise in Christ an obligation to undertake this. It is more likely that this affair is expressed to us under the notion of a call, counsel, command, to show the ardency of the Father's affection for man's recovery, in an honourable way, to himself; because the Scripture places redemption in the Father's love and grace, as the fountain, and in Christ's love to his Father as well as to us, as has been before noted. There was the declaration of the will of the Father, which was the rule of Christ's acting, as the will of God is the rule of the Spirit's intercession in us: Rom. viii. 27, 'According to God;' or as our translators have it, 'according to the will of God.' A rule seems to be set for the Spirit's acting when he was sent, and a rule set for Christ's acting when he was called. The Spirit had a rule set, for he was to glorify Christ, John xvi. 14, and act upon that foundation. This does not weaken the voluntariness of Christ in his undertaking, who was ready to comply with the call, 'and made himself of no reputation, when he became obedient to the death of the cross.' When this command was given, is not so clear; but as the promise was made before the world began, Titus i. 2, so might the precept be given, before the world began, to Christ, considered as mediator; for precepts many times accompany promises. The divine nature, which undertook the mediatory office, was not in itself capable of a command or a promise.
Use of these two heads.
1. First, How adorable then is the depth of God's wisdom, and the vehemence of his kindness, to have a remedy ready to apply for the cure of fallen nature! God had a salve lying by him for the sore, and provided himself with a remedy for defeating the designs of Satan. When he came to make a process against Adam for his disobedience, and pronounce that death which he had merited, he like a merciful Father declared this appointment of one that should suffer indignities from Satan, and delivered man from the death he had deserved. When he came to expel Adam out of his forfeited paradise, he assures him of one that should open the gates of the heavenly paradise to him. He appoints his recovery, as well as charges him with his crime; and though he barred the garden against him by a flaming sword, he promises to re-admit him by the 'seed of the woman,' Gen. iii. 15, in whose blood that sword should lose both its edge and flame, its cutting and scorching quality. Oh the miracles of divine love! The law saw us guilty, insolently taking up arms against him, plunging ourselves into those crimes he had prohibited, loathing those virtues he had commanded, guilty of millions of sins, meriting millions of deaths, and the wrath of God, the quintessence of hell. Yet how did his bowels work within him, and never ceased till he had found a way infinitely satisfactory to himself, and infallibly safe for his creature, whereby his injured attributes are righted, and our offending souls rendered capable of the happiness they had made themselves unworthy of! He did this, and did it himself, by a decree incapable of any alteration, standing like a firm pillar to support man's happiness; the everlasting fountain of his love and joy were opened at the very thoughts of this admirable design. He clasped about the mediator with the dearest affections never to be withdrawn, counselled, commanded, would not grow cool, and faint in the concern. He drew out of the depths of his infinite wisdom such a model which makes angels gaze, and believing sinners fall down to the dust in an humble admiration. He has appointed the heir of all things to be a servant for rebels, the Lord of glory to be a man of sorrows, to pay his life, more worth than the lives of all the angels, as a ransom for us; appointed him to shed his blood, to preserve ours, and singled him out to feel the sword of his wrath in his own heart, that we might feel the effusions of his healing balm in ours. Oh wonderful goodness, to appoint and call out purity to suffer for impurity, and the innocent for the criminal!
2. Raise pleas in prayer from these considerations. You address yourselves to the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; represent to him his eternal design, the mark of his love, the centre of his delight. Desire of him that Jesus, with all his glories, with all his graces. Argue with him, whether he has not as much joy to see the fruits of his Son's death, to confer them upon his lost and sensible creatures, as to call him out for so great a purpose. Spread before him his eternal counsels, open the book of his resolves about Christ, read every syllable before him; let your soaring admirations, and your ardent petitions, keep pace together. How infinitely will the Father be pleased with such arguments, drawn from his own eternal thoughts of redemption. If he appointed a mediator for you when you were rebellions, he will not deny that mediator to you, when you are earnest and humble suppliants. His delight will be as much to bestow him upon them that seek him, as it was to consecrate him for men, when he knew they would spurn against him. He has the same thoughts of reconciling mercy, and nothing that he has done in order to this does he yet repent of; he has sworn when he called his Son, and will not repent: 'Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.' Make use therefore of him as supports of faith, and arguments in prayer.
3. The Father enters into terms of agreement with the Son about the work and methods of redemption, which is expressed by divines by the term of a covenant.
A covenant is an agreement of two or more persons, in some common end pleasing to them both, upon certain articles and conditions voluntarily consented to by both, and to be performed by each party with solemn obligations. So that in it there are two persons, mutual proposals and conditions, mutual consent, terminating in one and the same end. Now this covenant between the Father and the Son was a transaction between them concerning man's recovery, consisting of articles to be performed by both parties; something to be performed by Christ to the Father, something to be performed by the Father to Christ; something the Father required of him, something the Father promised to him. Some make this covenant to be rather God's purpose and decree concerning Christ's incarnation and, passion, and success of his suffering, and the issue thereupon, and therefore improperly called a covenant. I do not stand upon the term, though it seems to be best represented to our conceptions under the notion of a covenant. And the Scripture delivers it to us under the form of a treaty and debate, Isa. xlix. Though the Father, Son, and Spirit have but one will essentially, yet in this affair they are distinctly considered as two Persons treating and agreeing in one point upon certain conditions; or, as there was a new habitude of will in the Father and the Son towards each other, that is not in them essentially, and it is called new, as being in God freely, not naturally. Such a covenant is acknowledged by most. Arminius confesses it to be pretty clear from Isa. liii. 10, 'When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,' in his oration de sacerdotio Christi. And some of the greatest Jesuits, as Suarez, Tirinus on Isa. liii. 10, which is much. For, asserting this covenant, the doctrines of election, efficacious grace, and perseverance of that seed, are established.
That there is such a covenant, I shall offer some considerations.
1. As there was a covenant made with the first Adam for himself and his posterity, so it is very likely there was a covenant made with the second Adam, for himself and those which were chosen in him. Though this covenant of redemption be not the same with the covenant of grace, yet something in this covenant of redemption did concern the seed of Christ. Upon the account of this covenant, God is the God of Christ, Ps. lxxxix. 26, xl. 8, and Rev. iii. 12; you have Christ calling God his God, no less than four times in that verse. He is a surety of the covenant of grace; there was then some other previous treaty whereby Christ entered into terms of suretyship.
2. Christ is said to be faithful, Heb. iii. 2. As obedience implies a precept, so faithfulness implies a trust, and a promise whereby a man has obliged himself to perform that trust, according to the direction given him; and Christ is said to trust God, Heb. ii. 13. As a precept is a formal object of obedience, so a promise is a formal object of trust; as he had a command, so he had a promise, both which imply a covenant.
3. Christ's prayer does in various parts manifest this; he does not only entreat and petition, but he challenges something as due to him, upon the account of what he had done; in John xvii., he seems to run altogether upon a covenant strain, which must suppose some agreement and promise on the Father's part. God had not else been obliged to accept what he had done, nor could our Saviour have challenged it at the hands of God. A claim implies a promise preceding, annexed to a condition to be done by the party to whom the promise is made, which being performed, gives a right to demand the reward. And hence, perhaps, it is that he calls God 'righteous Father,' appealing therein to the faithfulness of God in this business. And, indeed, the mediatory covenant seems to me, by that John xvii., to be the ground upon which Christ builds his whole intercession; that being a transcript of it, and the pleas there being drawn by a strong compact.
4. This treaty is distinctly evidenced, Isa. xlix. 3-6, from which chapter to the end of that prophecy, there seems to be a continued discourse concerning Christ. Christ directs his discourse to the Gentiles, acquainting them with the manner of this treaty: ver. 1, 'Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far.'
(1.) God calls out Christ by the name of Israel: ver. 3, 'and said unto me,' i. e. the Lord, 'Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified;' the name of the body being given to the head, as the name of the head is given to the body. The church in union with Christ the head is called Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 12, which some think also to be the meaning of Gal. iii. 16. The promises were made to Abraham and his seed; 'not to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and thy seed which is Christ,' Christ mystical. I will be glorified in thee, as the head of the Jews, to prepare them a spiritual people for me.
(2.) Christ thinks this too low: ver. 4, 'Then I said,' i.e. he whose mouth God had made a sharp sword, 'I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work is with my God.' A small income for so great pains and cost. What, shall I glorify thee only in Israel? It is but a little glory thou wilt get from so small a handful that will believe in me among them, however, I refer myself to thee, O Father, and will stand to thy judgment. It is a glorious thing to be the Redeemer of Israel, yet it seems to be too narrow a field for me to run my race in. Judge of the greatness of my pains; and though I shall be in thy eye, though Israel be not gathered, yet consider whether so great an undertaking will not require a greater reward than a few Israelites. Thou shalt, O Father, be glorified in me, but I foresee that few of the Jews will embrace my doctrine; I shall spend my strength, prayers, and blood for nought, "hevel tohu", the word used to express the chaos before it was formed into a world. It will be as a thing without form, a very little part of a new creation. Christ was at first God's angel to Israel, and before his coming in the flesh had no other nations, but as some sprinklings of them were proselyted to the Jews; and therefore the Gentiles are said, Isa. lv. 5, to be a people that he knew not, i.e. that he did not actually possess as his peculiar, in that manner as he ruled in Israel, though the providential government of all nations was committed to him. But after his exaltation in his human nature, he had the possession of them. Therefore
(3.) Christ then declares God's enlarging his terms: ver. 5, 'My God shall be my strength;' which words some take by themselves, as the beginnings of God's further grant. My God was my strength, he added courage to me by enlarging his gift, which is expressed, ver. 6, 'And he said, It is a light thing that thou should be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou may be my salvation unto the end of the earth.' The word also represents as it were a former sticking in the Jews. It is too low a thing to take flesh, sweat, labour, and die for one nation; thou shalt spread thy tents to the end of the earth, and have the Gentiles for thy possession. When God saw me ready for so high a work, he did in his treaty extend the bounds of my power and advantage further. He said the limits of Israel were too narrow, the gain of Israel too light a recompense for so great a labour. God is brought in here proposing; Christ grieving at the narrowness of it, yet complying with it. God making a second proposal, wherein Christ does acquiesce; and no further debate is mentioned, after the Gentiles were cast into his lap. Whereupon some make a double decree, or at least two parts of the decree of salvation: 1, for the conversion of the Jews; 2, a decree for the conversion of the Gentiles.
5. The notion of a treaty and covenant is suitable to our conceptions, and gives us a distinct account of the methods of redemption; and also of the ground of the salvation of the fathers, who died before the coming of the Redeemer in the flesh. In order of conception, the first resolution was this, that man should be redeemed; the second, by what ways and means this redemption should be wrought; and how to make it sure, that there may be no revolt again. The second person is pitched upon for this undertaking. We must then conceive his voluntary consent to this, and also some terms upon which he undertakes it, which is necessary to every action according to the rules of wisdom. Had not this way of redemption been settled and stated, the fathers before and under the lay could not have been saved; for they were saved by faith. Faith could not be without a promise; a promise could not be without a previous ascertaining the method of redemption. Had Christ only consented to it at the time of his coming into the world, there had been no ground of any promise before, because the consent of the Redeemer had till that time been uncertain; but the promise supposes his consent positively given, before the promise was made. Again, the covenant of grace is as ancient as the first promise of the seed of the woman. And since the grace the patriarchs had was communicated by virtue of a covenant of grace, it implies that there was an agreement between the Father and the Sour for it is by this agreement the covenant of grace is established. Faith in a mediator, the condition of that covenant, supposes the settlement of the mediator. We cannot suppose how anything could be bestowed upon men by virtue of a covenant of grace, before the Redeemer had actually merited, without this agreement; for whatsoever was bestowed, was given upon the account of that merit to be wrought in time, therefore at least a promise of so meriting must precede; as articles of agreement are made among men, before the sealing of writings and payment of the money, by virtue of which articles there is some kind of right converted. Upon the account of this agreement, the Spirit was given to some particular men, but to very few, and in a less measure, for it was not congruous that there should be as great an effusion of the Spirit before the actual payment required for it, as after. How this could be without a designation of the person of Christ to this work of redemption, and a voluntary undertaking on his part, and how there could be this designing and appointing him to it, and his accepting of it, without some terms in the nature of a covenant between the Father and the Son, cannot so distinctly and easily be conceived by us. But such a notion as this makes the whole work more obvious to our weak understandings.
For a close of this part, I shall direct you to Ps. lxxxix. throughout, where this covenant is very plainly mentioned; and the whole contexture of the psalm discovers the design of it to be, to set forth some higher person than David; and seems to be too magnificent and lofty for an earthly prince. As ver 2, 'Mercy shall be built up for ever, thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.' But how was it established in the heavens? Ver. 8, in making a covenant with his chosen, and swearing to David his servant: 'Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.' Here indeed was faithfulness established in heaven. This will be more remarkable if the notion of a learned man of our own be true, that this psalm was penned in the time of the Israelites' bondage in Egypt, by Ethan, the son of Zerah, and grandchild of Judah, the son of Jacob, who is mentioned 1 Chron. ii. 6; therefore called Ethan the Ezraite, or of Zerah, who was the son of Judah. Though there is mention made of Ethan in the time of David, 1 Chron. xv. 17, 19, and though David be often mentioned in the psalm, yet, says he, that was done prophetically. Howsoever it is, the psalm is understood of Christ by most of our interpreters. And Christ is several times called David in the prophets, who lived after the time of David. Why might not David be prophetically mentioned many years before his birth, as well as Cyrus was by the prophet Isaiah, some years before his? Some make this covenant of redemption the same with the covenant of grace. But they seem to be two distinct covenants
1. The parties are distinct. In the one, the Father and the Son are the parties covenanting. In the covenant of grace, God and man. In the mediatory covenant, there were two persons equal. In the covenant of grace there is a superior, God; and an inferior, man.
2. The conditions are different. Death, and satisfaction for sin thereby, was the condition of the covenant of redemption. Faith is the condition in the covenant of grace; death required on Christ's part, faith required on man's part. The giving Christ a seed, and eternal life to that seed, is the condition on God's part to Christ, the giving eternal life only to the party believing, is the condition on God's part in the other. So that the reward in that covenant is larger than the reward promised to us in the covenant of grace. In the covenant of grace, the condition runs thus, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' In the covenant of redemption the condition runs thus, 'Make thy soul an offering for sin, and thou shalt see a seed.' The promises of God to Christ, or rather God absolutely considered in that covenant, was the object of Christ's faith; God in Christ is the object of our faith in the covenant of grace. Believing in Christ could be no condition in the covenant of redemption, as it is in the covenant of grace. Christ must be then the object of his own faith, not his Father's.
3. The time of making these covenants is different. The covenant of grace was made in time, after man had broke the covenant of works; the covenant of redemption was made from eternity. 'I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; when there were no depths, I was brought forth, while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world; (set up as mediator) rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth,' Prov. viii. 24, 25, 31. He rejoiced in angels, the chief parts of his creation, as God; in the habitable parts of the earth, as mediator. The revelation of the covenant of redemption was in time, but the stipulation was from eternity; the Father and Son being actually in being, and so stipulators. The decree of making a covenant of grace was from eternity, but not the actual covenant, because there was no soul to covenant with; as the decree of creating the world was in time, but the actual creation at the beginning of time. The covenant of redemption is expressed, Isa. liii., whence we can no more conclude, that it was but then made, than we may say, that Christ suffered then, because his sufferings are spoken of there as already undergone. It was made when some were given to Christ, and therefore must be as ancient as election, which was before the foundation of the world.
4. Christ is the mediator of the covenant of grace, Heb. xii. 24, but not the mediator of the covenant of redemption, but a party. He was the surety of the covenant of grace, Heb. vii. 22. The covenant of redemption had no surety; the Father and the Son trusted one another upon the agreement. The covenant of grace is confirmed by the blood of Christ; but we cannot say that the covenant of redemption was confirmed properly by that blood, any more than as the shedding of his blood was a necessary article in that covenant.
5. Christ performed his part in the covenant of redemption; and by virtue of this mediatory covenant, performed the covenant of works; but he did confirm, not perform, the covenant of grace.
6. By the covenant of redemption, Christ could challenge his reward upon his own account; but by the covenant of grace, believers have a right to the reward only upon the account of Christ. There is an intrinsic worth in the obedience of Christ whereby he merited, for there was a proportion between it, in regard of the dignity of his person and the infiniteness of God; but there is no intrinsic worth in that grace which is the condition of the covenant of grace, to merit anything. There was a condition of a valuable consideration required of Christ, but the condition required of us has no valuable proportion to the greatness of the reward. The reward was of debt to him, because what he performed was by his own strength; of grace to us, because what we perform is by the strength of another. And though the exaltation of Christ is called a free gift, 'He has given him a name above every name,' "echarisato", Philip. ii. 9, that is in respect of the whole economy of the mission of Christ, and the manifestation of him, which is an act of God's free grace to us. And in his exaltation he is considered as appearing for us, and receiving from the Father all for our good; and because it was an act of free grace to us, to unite the second person in the Trinity to our flesh.
7. The mediatory covenant respects others in Christ, as well as Christ himself, viz. his seed, and the giving them a glory. In the covenant of grace, the promise respects only the particular person that believes; it regards none else but the particular person answering the terms of that covenant. No person can challenge any right upon another's believing, but must believe himself, if he will be within the compass of the covenant. But Christ, upon the performance of the condition of the mediatory covenant, could challenge not only for himself, but for others, and all that were to be his seed, and were to believe on him to the end of the world, John xvii. 20, 24, because that covenant respected not only himself, but others, upon those conditions he was to perform; for the redemption, justification, and happiness of believers are promised to Christ upon the condition of dying, Isa. liii. 11. All the seed of Christ are in the covenant of redemption before they are regenerate, but not actually in the covenant of grace, and under the influence of the special benefits of it, till they are regenerate; as all mankind were in the loins of Adam, but not guilty of his pollution till their natural generation.
8. If the covenant of grace and that of redemption were the same, then Christ should be both the testator and a party. Christ is the testator of the covenant of grace, Heb. ix. 16, 17. A testator makes not a will to bequeath legacies to himself.
So that these two covenants are distinct; they agree in the common nature of a covenant, that there are conditions to be performed, and privileges thereupon to be enjoyed. But the conditions and privileges are distinct. They agree in this, that the salvation of the seed is promised in both covenants: it is promised to the believer upon his faith; it is promised to Christ in behalf of the seed upon his suffering; and, further, the covenant of redemption is the foundation of the covenant of grace. In the covenant of grace, Christ, or God in Christ, is the object of faith. Christ had not been the object of faith, had not such an agreement between the Father and the Son preceded. How is Christ the object of faith, but as dying? What force had his death had, without some compact between the Father as the principal party wronged, and the Redeemer as the person satisfying? The everlastingness of the covenant of grace depends upon the perpetuity of the covenant of redemption: Ps. lxxxix. 28, 29, 'My covenant shall stand fast with him; his seed will I make to endure for ever.' This covenant between the Father and the Son must be broken, before the covenant of God can fail to a believer. Upon this account Christ is said to be 'given for a covenant to the people,' Isa. xlii. 6; a covenant to the people, i. e. to bring the people into covenant with me; as being the foundation of the covenant of grace, upon which account he is called the peace, Eph. ii. 17; as being the foundation and cause of peace between God and man. And all the promises as established by his death are yea and amen in him: they receive their validity from his death, and his death receives its validity from the covenant of redemption. He thereby performing what was required on his part, settled the covenant of grace between God and us for ever unrepealable, and it had not its full settlement but in the establishment of this. Upon the account of this covenant, the right of Christ as a testator bequeathing the inheritance is grounded, for he could not as a testator bequeath what he had no right unto. His testament was made by him, not as God, but as mediator by means of his death, Heb. ix. 15, 16. Therefore, as mediator, he had a right, which cannot well be supposed without some precedent agreement between the Father and the Son, because the right originally resided in the Father. And this covenant of redemption is the ground of our hope and faith: Titus i. 2, 'In hope of eternal life, which was promised before the world began.' The hope believers have of eternal life springs up originally from that promise made by the Father to the Son before the foundation of the world; for the promises of the covenant of grace were included in this covenant of redemption; and to be made good when Christ made the conditions on his part in that covenant good. In this agreement, then, God was in Christ reconciling the world.
(1. ) The Father covenants with Christ, that he should undertake for man as a common head; to free men from that dreadful condition, wherein God foresaw from eternity they would fall upon their creation. Hence he is called the second Adam, as being a public person; and as Adam had fallen off from righteousness to the love of iniquity, and violated the law of God, so the second Adam, as a head of many fellows, was to 'love righteousness, and hate iniquity,' Heb. i. 9, i. e. vindicate the honour of God, laid prostrate by sin, and restore the righteousness of the law. This being rendered there the ground of his advancement by God as his God, a God in covenant with him, implies that it was the main article insisted on, and a condition in the covenant which Christ was to perform. Man was a criminal debtor, the debt must be paid; Christ by agreement puts himself in the sinner's stead, to pay this debt, submit to the revenging arm of justice, and thereby release the prisoner: Gal. iv. 4, 5, 'He was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law;' as we were under the law, so was Christ to bear the curse of the law for us, that whatsoever power the law had over us in regard of its precepts, Christ was to obey, in regard of its curses he was to undergo, and thus undertaking for us, he was to endure the shock of his Father's wrath, which we sinners are liable to: and, therefore, he is brought in, offering himself as a surety in our stead Ps. xl. 7, 'Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God;' thy covenant-will, as thou art my God; which will was our sanctification by the 'offering of his body,' Heb. x. 10. Referring to ver. 7, and as being instead of us the principal debtors, he calls our sins his own (ver. 13, 'mine iniquities have taken hold of me'); as he was our surety, the debt which a surety engages to pay being legally his own debt, though he did not personally incur it by any crime of his own, or receipt of that for which he stands indebted.
(2.) In order to this, another condition necessarily consequent upon the other was, that he was to take a body. This debt could not be paid, nor the articles of the covenant be performed, but in the human nature, the divine being impassible. He was therefore to have a passible nature, a nature capable of, and prepared for suffering, Heb. x. 5; a body to suffer that which was represented by these legal sacrifices wherein God took no pleasure, ver. 6. He was to have a body of flesh, surrounded with the infirmities of our fallen nature, sin only excepted; whereupon Christ does freely comply, 'I come to do thy will, O my God;' I am come to take such a body, which by thy will is allotted to me.
(3.) In this body he was to pay a service and obedience to his Father. After this agreement, whatsoever Christ did in the body falls under the term of obedience to the mediatory law prescribed him. Hence he is called God's servant, Isa. xiii. 1, and 'took upon him the form of a servant,' Philip. ii. 7; not as servants were formerly bought with a price, and passed wholly into the right and dominion of another, but a servant who, by covenant and agreement, undertakes an employment by the order of another; for he was such a servant, that he was also Lord, Heb. iii. 6, Heb. i. 2. This is expressed, Isa. 1. 5, 'The Lord God has opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious.' God constituted him his servant by the opening his ear, according to the Jewish custom of boring the ear, and he was not in any thing rebellious, he was to do whatsoever was commanded him to do; and, therefore, all the time of his life before his death, he acted an obedience to his Father, and did nothing but by his Father's command and order: John xiv. 31, 'As the Father has given me commandment, so I do.' He stipulated to take upon him the 'form of a servant,' Philip. ii. 6, 7, which seems to refer to this agreement; and after that, 'was made in the likeness of men,' referring to his incarnation; as a man is said to take upon him such a task, when he has covenanted to do it.
(4.) In this body he was to die at last; and, therefore, his dying is said to be obedience: Philip. ii. 8, 'He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross;' his dying, and dying so ignominiously upon the cross, was obedience; which implies a command and order to die, and to die such a death, otherwise it had not been obedience, though it might be termed affection. This was the chief article of the covenant: Isa. liii. 10, 'When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed.' "Tasim" is then the third person, and being feminine, agrees well with "nefesh", a feminine noun. Other translations read it, If he shall make his soul an offering for sin; or, rather, according to others, and according to grammar, If his soul shall make an offering for sin. In this death he was to respect the satisfaction of God's justice; for it was not a bare offering, but an offering for sin. God, in imposing this article, respected this chiefly, as this was the main end of sending him to be an "hilasmios": 1 John iv. 10, 'God has sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' So it was the main end of this article of dying, which Christ was to respect in his dying; for the regarding the end of any service or command is a principal ingredient in obedience; by virtue of which covenant and command thereupon, there was an ought upon Christ: Luke xxiv. 26, 'Ought not Christ to have suffered those things?' And a command, John x. 18, 'I have power to lay down my life; I have,' "ksousian", 'authority, for I have received a command from my Father.' Hence his death is said to be determined: Luke xxii. 22, 'The Son of man goes as it was determined.' In the first giving himself to God, he gave himself as a ransom, to be testified and brought forth upon the stage in time, wherein his mediatory office chiefly consisted, 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6. And methinks Christ does intimate this laying down his life for his sheep to be the effect of this mutual agreement between the Father and himself: John x. 15, 'As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.' It was the effect of their knowledge of one another, not a bare knowledge, for that might have been without Christ's dying; but an intimate conjunction of mind, an approbation on both parts. This mind, to take upon him the form of a servant, was in Christ, Philip. ii. 5, and therefore this mind was in his Father, for their minds could not be different; there was a mutual knowledge and agreement in the whole affair, and from this knowledge one of another, did arise the laying down of his life. God required this sacrifice of Christ, exclusively of all others, in the first treaty, as to any satisfaction: Heb. x. 5-7, 'Sacrifice and burnt-offering thou wouldst not; in them thou had no pleasure; then said I, Lo, I come.' He pronounced them utterly useless for the satisfaction of justice, though fit to prefigure the grand sacrifice he intended. And that voice of Christ upon the cross, 'It is finished,' John xix. 30, seems to refer to this agreement. I am come to a period on my part, the article on my part is completed, there remain no more deaths for me to suffer. This seems to be a necessary article, very congruous to the wisdom of God, as he is creator, governor, and the end of all things: Heb. ii. 10, 'It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.' It became him as a wise Creator, as a wise Governor, as he is the end of all things, to insist upon the sufferings of Christ as the fittest means for the attaining the end he aimed at; for hereby his justice and mercy are glorified. In the performance, Christ was very exact in every punctilio: 'As they were skewed by the mouths of the prophets, he so fulfilled them,' Acts iii. 18; and God showed them by the mouth of the prophets as they were determined and agreed upon. The ancient Jews had some prospect of this covenant. One of their writers. says, God treated with the Messiah: Righteous Messiah, those who are hid with thee, are such whose sins in time shall bring thee into grief; thy ears shall hear reproaches, thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, thou shalt be wearied with sorrow. The Messiah answered, Lord of the world, I joyfully take them upon me, and charge myself with their torments, but upon this condition, that thou shalt quicken the dead in their days. God, says the rabbi, granted him this, and from that time the Messiah charged himself with all kind of torments; as it is written, Isa. liii., 'He was afflicted.' So that the death of Christ was not by a fortuitous reencounter of things, nor merely by the violence of the Jewish rage, nor from any inability in his Father or himself to hinder so strange an event, but it was the issue of a previous agreement, flowing from infinite love, managed by incomparable wisdom, disposing things to so great an end.
(5.) In regard of what Christ was to do and suffer, the Father makes excellent promises to him.
[1.] Promises of assistance. [2.] Of a seed. [3.] Of glory.
[1.] Promises of assistance.
First, Promises of a fitness for it. He had the promise of the Spirit to this purpose: Isa. xi. 1-3, 'The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord;' to distribute all his gifts to him, in a fullness of measure, in a fullness of duration. All the gifts of the Spirit should reside in him, as in a proper habitation, perpetually; as the Deity dwelt in the humanity, and was never to forsake it. The human nature being a creature, could not beautify and enrich itself with needful gifts; this promise of the Spirit was therefore necessary, his humanity could not else have performed the work it was designed for. So that the habitual holiness residing in the humanity of Christ, was a fruit of this eternal covenant. Though the divine nature of Christ by virtue of its union, might sanctify the human nature, yet the Spirit is promised him, because it is the proper office of the Holy Ghost to confer those gifts which are necessary for any undertaking in the world; and the personal operations of the Trinity do not interfere. It also might be, because every person in the Trinity might evidently have a distinct hand in our redemption.
Secondly, Promises of protection in it. Upon this one stone there were to be seven eyes, Zech. iii. 10. Seven eyes upon one stone, a special care of him, and counsel about him. Seven notes multitude; eyes note intention. Providence is signified by eyes in Scripture; a special providence shall be exercised towards Christ in the whole management of his office, and defence of his kingdom; hence, he does acknowledge that he was under the choice care of God: Luke ii. 49, 'Wist you not that I am about my Father's business?' "en tois tou patros", among those things my leather takes care of; 'why sought you me?' Do you not know that I am the choicest jewel of my Father, and that he has his eye upon me; as one of the cabinet rarities of my Father? God promised to hide him in the shadow of his hand, preserve him as a shaft in his quiver, in the midst of the rage and fury of his enemies. He does solemnly promise his omnipotence, all his creating and governing power, to hold his hand in his being for a covenant of the people, and a light of the Gentiles, till he had brought 'the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house,' Isa. xiii. 5-7. He promises here, in the loftiest expressions, to strengthen him so, that he should not be discouraged, but see the blessed effects of his undertaking. He would uphold him tenderly, as a father does his son in his arms, that no hurt may happen to him, and that because he had called him in righteousness; or, as some, our righteousness, to settle an evangelical righteousness in the earth. He is said, therefore, to be made strong by God for himself: Ps. lxxx. 16, 'The Son of man, whom thou hast made strong for thyself,' the King, Messiah, whom thou hast strengthened for thyself; so the Targum. The title of Son of man was by way of eminency given to the Messiah in Daniel, and the title he commonly gave himself in the New Testament. This assistance of Christ was represented by the ark, which had three coverings, together with the table of shewbread representing the Church, Num. iv. 8, as a type of a special protection to both, whereas other consecrated things had but two coverings.
Thirdly, This assistance was to run through the whole course of his mediation. He was to be assisted in his conflict, and in his success, while his soul was travailing, and while it was triumphing. He should not be discouraged, till he had 'set judgment in the earth,' Isa. xiii. 4. It is a meiosis; he shall be mightily encouraged, till he have wrought a perfect deliverance for his people; and there shall be a supporting hand under him till he has completed the work of redemption. He should stand, and be established, and 'feed in the strength of the Lord,' Mic. v. 4, 'in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.' He should gather, rule, and save his sheep in the choicest of God's strength, as he was his God, i. e. a God in covenant with him, and had appointed him to be 'the Judge of Israel,' ver. 1, and this, till he should be 'the peace,' ver. 5, not only laying the cornerstone by his death, but the top-stone by his exaltation.
Fourthly, Christ was to plead these promises, and encourage himself in them. He was to plead them: Ps. lxxxix. 26, 'He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.' After the repetition of the promises of strength and assistance, ver. 19-21, &c., he was enjoined to put those covenant promises in suit, and then he should be made the firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth, and his covenant should stand fast with him; as though God promised him the Gentiles for his possession, yet he was to ask it, Ps. ii. 8. In this covenant there was an injunction upon Christ to intercede and plead for himself, and for his people; so that the intercession Christ does manage in heaven for the completing of those promises, which were formerly in that covenant, or depended upon it (as all the promises in the covenant of grace do), is an article in that covenant, and therefore will be kept up till all enemies are made his footstool, and death, which is the last, swallowed up in victory. Christ encouraged himself in those promises; by these God made him hope when he was 'upon his mother's breasts,' Ps. xxii. 9, and he prophetically pleads them, ver. 10, 11, 'I was cast upon thee from the womb: be not far from me, for trouble is near.' It was an high satisfaction to him, that he should not be moved, therefore he set God always before him, Acts ii. 25. In regard of confidence, and supply of strength, his eye was not upon him in one strait or two, but in the whole affair, Ps. xvi. 8, 9; he had a confidence that God would be at his right hand, which signifies to be an helper and fellow-champion in fight for the weakening of his enemies; it being a metaphor taken from conflicts, where he that is at the right hand of his companion does first expose himself to danger, and receiving the enemies' force defends his associate from the blows. The same expression is used of standing by Christ: Ps. cx. 5, 'The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings.' How loftily does he express his confidence in it: Isa. l. 8-10, 'The Lord God will help me; therefore have I set my face as a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. The Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?' and challenges all the power of earth and hell to contend with him, since he had the promise of God to justify him. 'My God shall be my strength,' Isa. xlix. 5, my God in covenant with me. And the apostle brings him in declaring his trust in God: Heb. ii. 13, and 'I will put my trust in him.' And he acknowledges that the preservation of his disciples, and consequently all his people enjoy by him, is through the 'name of his Father,' John xvii. 12. He acknowledges his powerful assistance in every particle of his work. 'I have kept them in thy name.'
[2.] Promises of a seed, as the success of his undertaking. He was first in order to die, and then to see his seed: Isa. liii. 10, 11, 'When his soul shall make an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall see the travail of his soul;' his grief and pain shall not be fruitless. He was to have a flock to guide as a shepherd, members to animate as an head, a spouse to cherish as a husband, children to breed up as a father, subjects to reign over as a king. There was a designation of some to him for those relations at this first agree meet, which he does acknowledge as a donative from his Father: John vi. 6, 'Thine they were, and thou gave them me.' Thine by election and creation, mine by donation and merit; they belonged to Christ as God before, though originally to the Father as the fountain of the Deity; but now to Christ by another tie, as mediator, as jewels to be made up by him; upon the account of which gift by compact, he calls them his sheep before their actual enfolding, John x. 15, 16. The promise made to Abraham of the blessing of the nations in his seed is said to be made to Christ, Gal. iii. 19; 'till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made, which seed is Christ,' ver. 16. And some interpret ver. 17, 'the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ,' "eis Christon" for to Christ, as Eph. i. 5, "eis auton" for "heautoi", and Col. i. 20, reconcile all things "eis auton", to himself; but howsoever, the promise to Abraham is certainly grounded upon a promise to Christ, that in him who was Abraham's seed all nations should be blessed; whether that Hos. xiv. 5, 6, be a promise to Christ, who is called Israel, or rather a promise or prophecy concerning the church, of the beauty of Christ's seed as a lily, the firmness as a cedar, and the fruitfulness as an olive.
God promised, 1. A numerous seed. 2. A succession of seed. 3. A duration of seed.
God promised him a numerous seed, like the dew that falls at the dawn of the morning in abundance upon the flowers and plants of the earth, Ps. cx. 3: 'The dew of thy youth, from the womb of the morning.' Micah v. 7, As the dew upon the grass. As the poets call the dew the tears of the morning, so was this the fruit of Christ's tears and blood; they were upon his ascension to flock to him from all quarters of the world. He promised to 'bring his seed from the east, and gather them from the west; he would say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth,' Isa. xliii. 5, 6. And Isa. liv. 1, 'More shall be the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says the Lord.' The Rachel of our mystical Jacob, that had remained so long barren, should be suddenly mother of a numerous train. Then was our Saviour Israel indeed, one that prevailed with God (as the word signifies) to enlarge the lines of his inheritance to the Gentiles. He was to 'speak peace to the heathens,' Zech. ix. 10. And, according to this article, God enlarged the tents of the church, so that twenty-three years after the publication of the gospel, not only Syria and Arabia, and the bordering provinces on Judea, were full of Christians, but Asia, Italy, Spain, and the chiefest of the western part. And Tacitus says, that in the eleventh year of Nero, which was thirty-one years after Christ's ascension, Rome, the capital city of the world, swarmed with men professing the name of Christ. The death of Christ was to be more fruitful than his life, and being lifted up upon the cross, he was to draw all men after him, and gather a plentiful harvest of all kindreds, tongues, and nations; a mighty generation to be new born to serve him. He was to be cast into the ground, that seed should spring up from him, John xii. 24. He was to be dead in reality, as Isaac in figure, that he might be the everlasting father of many nations. Thus, when he was on his part to be laid low as a root in the earth, by making his soul an offering for sin, God, the husbandman of this vine, promises to bring forth a new set, an abundance of branches sprouting up from him. They should come 'from afar off and build in the temple of the Lord,' Zech. vi. 15. Gentiles as well as Jews should be knit together as lively stones to rise up for a temple to the Lord.
God promises a succession of seed. 'His name shall be continued as long as the sun,' Ps. lxxii. 17, "yinon", filiabitur, his name shall be childed in him, as the name of a man is continued successively in his posterity. It is not only one morning that the rich and plentiful dew shall fall from heaven upon the hearts of men, but successively to the end of the world, as long as this Sun of righteousness shall rise in any horizon, and the day dawn before him. Grace shall be dropped upon the hearts of men for a succession of seed, till in the last generation a period be put to the world. Seed shall be springing up till the last fire seize upon the world, at which time there shall be some caught up into the air to meet him, and a generation among the nations shall be successively blessed in him.
A perpetual seed is promised him. God's covenant shall stand fast with him, and the issue of that is, that his seed will God make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven, Ps. lxxxix. 28, 29. His seed and throne are coupled together, as if his throne could not stand if his seed did fail. If his subjects should perish, what would he be king of? If his members should consume, what would he be head of? The promise of a perpetual kingdom secures the duration of his seed. This was so considerable an article, that in his plea he insists on it more resolutely, and challenges it with a more vigorous earnestness: John xvii. 24, 'Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me,' &c., as he had at the first treaty insisted upon the enlarging his inheritance among the Gentiles. He had hitherto been praying only for his own glory, and their preservation and sanctification in the world. He now brings in an also; there was an article for the glory of his seed, as well as for the glory of his person, and the word also signifies that he would be as earnest for them, and insist as much upon the performance of this article which concerned them, as upon that which concerned himself. And the reason rendered signifies thus, 'For thou loved me from the foundation of the world.' Thou did manifest the love to me as mediator before the foundation of the world, in this promise of a seed, and that they should be perpetually with me to behold my glory; this was the main article which encouraged Christ to this work, wherein the Father manifested his love to him as mediator before the world, and therefore in that rich promise wherein God engages the majesty of his name for the strengthening of him, the perpetuity of his seed is ensured: Micah v. 4, 'He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and they shall abide.' Who? Ver. 3, the remnant of his brethren that shall return to the children of Israel, the brethren of that ruler in Israel whose goings forth have been from everlasting, they shall abide. And some thus interpret Isa. liii. 10, 'He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,' i. e. the days of his seed. They shall be perpetually with him. For it was the pleasure of the Lord in this compact to give them a kingdom (as Christ tells his disciples); and this pleasure of the Lord should prosper in the hands of the mediator. That which God in his wisdom aimed at in his Son's sufferings, he aimed at certainly in the calling him and engaging him by covenant to suffer, and that was the bringing many sons to glory: Heb. ii. 10, 'It became him, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.' The end and the means were becoming propositions for the wisdom of God to make, and as becoming for the wisdom of God to perform. Since the means have been fully wrought, the end will be perfectly attained. Christ had those promises of eternal life made to him as a common head, and a feoffee in trust for them: Titus i. 2, 'Eternal life was promised before the world began.' Not for himself, who was the eternal Son of God. Could the promise of eternal life to his humanity make him take flesh barely for that? It was promised to him for his seed, for whose redemption he was to lay down his life as a ransom. As God made a covenant with Adam, not as an individual person, but as a nature, he being the representative of mankind, so that if he had stood, his posterity had stood and enjoyed life; so he made a covenant with Christ to give eternal life to those that should believe in him, who are as really in him by regeneration as men are in Adam by natural descent.
To which may be added,
God promised his grace to draw men to him. That this seed should be sure to him, God promises to prepare men for him: to remove the stony heart, mollify their hearts, give them hearts of flesh, conquer their carnal principles and resolutions, and put his Spirit into them, that they might be a fit progeny for Christ. Christ intimates this in that speech 'None can come unto me except the Father, which has sent me, draw him,' John vi. 44. As the Father's sending him was the issue of a compact between them, so the drawing any is a fruit of that compact; for Christ removes this from himself, as an article to be performed on his part, as that which lay solely upon his Father's hands, as belonging to him as much as his own mission, and the particular circumstances of it. And this promise he had, Ps. cx 2, 'That the people should be willing in the day of his power.' God ordered him indeed to call the nations: Isa. lv. 5, 'Thou shalt call a nation which thou know not; and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy God; for he has glorified thee.' But the vigour which should spirit them to so quick a race to Christ he reserves to himself; they shall run because of the Lord thy God; by his power, as he was the Lord, by his faithfulness, as he was his God in covenant; and the reason rendered is the glorifying him; which is both an engagement to Christ to call those his Father would have him call, and an engagement on the Father to bring the nations to him. The coming in of nations would redound to his honour; and it is likely this is part of the glory Christ prays for, John xvii. 5. He does not particularise what that glory was, but some guess may be made by his falling off from that petition to the praying for his people. The preservation of them and keeping those that had been given to him (which includes the bringing them all in) is part of the glory which was promised to him. And this glorifying of him in his people he begs for at his Father's hand, as being by this covenant to be his act. The coming in of nations to him was a great part of the glory of Christ promised him in this covenant. The conversion of every man by the efficacy of grace, is the fruit of the covenant between the Father and the Son, as God is the Lord God of Christ. And therefore the calling of us by God is said to be according to his own purpose, and that grace, which was given us in Christ before the world was, 2 Tim. i. 9, a promise of grace for us, and of our calling in time, made then. For what is here called the purpose of God is, Titus i. 2, called the promise of God, and intimated as a promise in those words, 'given us in Jesus Christ,' by an agreement with him as our head, as the promise of life upon the covenant of works was given us in Adam as our common head. And so the promise of taking away the heart of stone, and giving an heart of flesh, may be said to be promises made to Christ on the behalf of his seed, not of his person; because, without this taking away the heart of stone, and giving an heart of flesh, it was impossible the nations, or any man, could be blessed in him. Notwithstanding that this efficacious grace is from the Father, and by his Spirit, by the covenant, yet all thus regenerated may well be called the seed of Christ, because the end of the sufferings of Christ was to merit a spirit of grace for those that were given to him; and the Spirit does nothing in forming a seed, but what rises up from the merit of Christ's sufferings. It is the travail of his soul, though the formation of the Spirit. Christ endured the pangs upon the cross for every new creature, though the Spirit brings it forth into the world. So that they are his seed, as springing up from the merit of his death, and being animated by the power of his life; they are Christ's seed by right of purchase, the Spirit's seed in regard of operation; yet as they are the Spirit's seed, they may be called Christ's seed, because the coming of the Spirit in its plentiful effusion for such an end was a fruit of his death and his ascension, John xvi. 7. He was sent by him as the greatest gift of his royalty.
There was something concerned Christ to do in this article of a seed; he was to take a special care of them. There was not only a may, but a must bring: John x. 16, 'Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.' He was to call them, and the Father would draw them, and he was to bring them into one fold with the Israelites; and this does arise from this compact, or the mutual knowledge the Father and he had of one another; the mutual agreement, which was the cause of laying down his life, Ver. 15. Knowing, in God, sometimes signifies election, 2 Tim. ii. 19. God had chosen Christ to this end, and Christ had accepted of it to this end. These he was to teach, Isa. viii. 16. Those which he calls children, which the Lord had given, are, ver. 18, called his disciples, among whom he was to seal the law; whom he was to instruct in that knowledge of God which was eternal life, and manifest his name to them, John xvii. 2, 3, 6. And particularly, he was to instruct them in this great doctrine we are now treating of: ver. 7, 'Now they have known, that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee'; which was indeed the manifestation of the name of his Father, which he had spoken of, ver. 5, that all things which I do are by thy appointment, order, and assistance. I have ascribed nothing to myself, but magnified thy love, as the sole fountain of all that I have done; which was necessary, for I doubt many men think the Father to be cruel, and full of hatred to his creatures, and that he was over-persuaded to redemption by the importunities of his Son, as a severe prince might be mollified by the supplications of his heir. It was not so, and Christ was to acquaint men with the true notion of God, and what his thoughts and affections were concerning them, and to show him to be a proper object of faith in this business. He was to use a great tenderness towards them, he was not only to gather the lambs with his arm and power, but to carry them in his bosom, not only to lead them, but gently to lead them; to have a special care of them, Isa. xl. 11. When they were given to him, they were given with some rules and orders how he should manage them, and he was to have his eye not only upon the flock in general, but upon every one in particular, that as any of them were weak, he should use them with more gentleness; take such an one in his bosom, he should have seven eyes upon the weakest, as his Father had upon him the corner-stone. He is therefore said to know his sheep, John x. 14 (every one in particular, as he knows the stars by name); otherwise the foundation of the Lord, this covenant of redemption, which is the foundation of all his proceedings, could not stand sure. The Father knew them in particular when he gave them to Christ, and Christ knew them in particular when he received them from him. It seems also that by this covenant he was to bring every conquering soul to a triumph, and he had power given him to this purpose, John xvii. 2. In the perfection he promises to them that overcome, he seems to refer it all to the covenant with the Father: Rev. iii. 12, he would make them pillars in the temple of his God, write upon them the name of his God, and the name of the city of his God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from his God; where he mentions God as his God in every reward he promises the victorious souls in the church of Philadelphia, four times in that verse, as I have observed before.
[3.] Promises of a glory upon his suffering. As he was to endure the cross, so he was also to enjoy a crown. The enduring the cross was an article on his part, the bestowing a crown was an article on God's part. It was testified before by the prophets that sufferings should precede, the glory follow, 1 Pet. i. 11. The solemn inauguration into all his offices was after his making reconciliation; making an end of sin, bringing in everlasting righteousness, and thereby shutting up all prophecy and vision, because all the prophecies tended to him, and were accomplished in him, and then as manifesting himself the most holy, he was to be anointed, i.e. fully invested in all the offices of king, priest, and prophet, Dan. ix. 24. The compact runs thus, Do this, suffer death for the vindication of the honour of my law, and thou shalt be a priest and king for ever. He could not, therefore, be solemnly installed till he had performed the condition on his part (for the promise was made to him considered as mediator, or God-man); then it was that he was advanced, for the ground of his exaltation is pitched wholly upon his sufferings: Philip. ii. 9, 'Wherefore God has highly exalted him;' i.e. because he became obedient to the death of the cross. God has given him a name which is above every name; and because he loved righteousness, therefore God, as his God covenanting with him, has anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows, Heb. i. 9, therefore he has given him a glory, as a just debt due to the price paid, the sufferings undergone, and the obedience yielded to the mediatory law. Therefore the glory Christ prayed for, which he had before the world was, John xvii. 5, may be understood of that glory which he had in promise to be given to him upon the completing the work he then engaged for. For this covenant was not about giving him his essential kingdom, for that belonged to him by nature, as he was God equal with the Father. But the mediatory kingdom belonged to his office by a particular grant. There were two works of Christ, works of humiliation, which were suffering and dying; which were voluntary, not natural works; no natural tie upon him as the Son of God to undergo them, but a moral tie, after agreement and promise. There are regal works which were conferred on him by his Father, that he should be honoured and adored in the world as mediator, Heb. i. 6, worshipped by all the angels of God, when the glory of his deity should be manifested in the humanity, which had been so long veiled, and had but now and then beamed out; and this full shine of the Deity through the humanity was a new mode of glory acquired by the right of his death.
First, He had a promise of resurrection. As he had a power or authority by command to lay down his life, so he had a power and authority by promise to take it again, John x. 18. His heart was glad, his glory rejoiced, his flesh had hope in his sufferings; the ground of which hope was the assurance from his Father that his soul should not be left in hell, nor his Holy One (one so holy in the undertaking, and so holy in the execution) see corruption, but should be reduced again to the path of life more glorious, and attended with a fullness of joy, Ps. xvi. 10, 11. It is contained in the promise of seeing his seed; for if he were to remain dead, how should he see his seed?
Secondly, A promise of a royal inheritance. The appointing him in the human nature heir of all things (Heb. i. 2, 'Whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds'), which is distinguished from that power he had over all things by right of the creation of them, as the person by whom God made the worlds. That power was natural, this by appointment. The inheritance that belonged to Adam, as the head of the lower creation, being forfeited by him, was restored to the human nature of Christ; which Christ was so pleased with in the first grant, that he esteems it a goodly heritage, Ps. xvi. 6, which appointing him head and heir of all things was for the behoof of the church, his spiritual seed: Eph. i. 22, 'The head over all things to the church.'
Thirdly, An extensive power. In heaven as well as earth, Mat. xxviii. 18, not only to judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations, Micah iv. 3, but to be the head of principalities and powers. That every knee in heaven, and under the earth, as well as in the earth, should bow down to him, and every tongue should confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, who appointed him, Philip. ii. 10,11. A power over all flesh was granted to him, and claimed by him, as a glory given him by promise upon his glorifying of his Father: John xvii. 2, 'Glorify thy Son, as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.' A power over the seed of the serpent, the whole flesh as it stood in opposition to spirit and the interest of the redeemed ones; for it was granted to him as a feoffee in trust for the use and behoof of his seed, and to be exercised by him in subservience to the eternal happiness of his people, the great design and fruit of reconciliation. He had power before his suffering; for as God saved men upon the promise of his suffering, so upon the same promise he committed all power of judgment to him; but the solemn investiture and publication of it was at his resurrection and ascension: Acts ii. 86, 'God has made that same Jesus whom thou have crucified both Lord and Christ.' For the setting him at his right hand in the human nature was a full declaration and confirmation of the right of that power which he had acquired by his death; therefore he prays for his glory, and pleads a deed of gift for it, which was by this agreement, and therefore desires a full investiture of it, as it had been agreed on first to be asked by him, and then given by God: Ps. ii. 8, 'Ask of me.'
Fourthly, A perpetual and royal priesthood, Ps. cx. 4. And indeed all the rights of the firstborn, which were the right of government, and the right of priesthood; by virtue of which he was to perpetuate the virtue of his expiation, and also purify the sons of Levi, and purge then as gold and silver, that they might offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness, Malachi ii. 2.
Fifthly, An universal victory; the propagation of his kingdom in all parts of the world. Isa. xiii. 4, 'The isles shall wait for his law;' the conquest of many hearts by his Spirit, the willingness of people in the day of his power, the subduing some rebellions by the sword of his mouth, others by the sword of his arm, when the Lord at his right hand should strike through kings in the day of his wrath, Ps. cx. 5, 6. At last a conquest of all his enemies, the devil and death, 1 Cor. xv. 26, which was for the benefit of his people. He had conquered the devil and death in his person, he was to have a complete victory over both in his members; so that we see the encouraging promise made him by his Father was the purchase of a seed, and the glory God promised him was in relation to, and for the advantage of, that seed, that the reconciliation to be purchased for them night be completely enjoyed by them. Judge then whether the Father was not signally, in this agreement in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.
We have handled this covenant, let us see what confirmation there was of it. On God's part we find an oath. God swears that Christ should be a priest, Ps. cx. 4; he is therefore called the man of God's right hand in the prayer of the church: Ps. lxxx. 17, 'Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand,' whether for the hastening the suffering of Christ, or for his assistance, is uncertain; the man to whom thou hast sworn with thy right hand, so the Targum; the manner of taking oaths being to lift up the right hand: so Ps. lxxxix. 3, 'I have sworn to David my servant,' when he made a covenant with him; though this was spoken to David in the type, 1 Sam. vii., yet, ver. 14, 'I will be his Fathers and he shall be my Son,' is applied to Christ, Heb. i. 5. And he swears by his holiness: Ps. lxxxix. 36, '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.' By David I understand Christ; once, i.e. once for all, irrevocably, unchangeable; and that by his holiness, by all that will fit him for a governor and judge of the world, by that holiness which he chiefly aimed to advance by this undertaking of his Son. As I am an holy God, and desire my holiness may be trusted by this undertaking, I will stand to my word, by that holiness which is the beauty of every attribute, without which, neither power, mercy, justice, nor wisdom could be perfections worthy of a God, as they could not be if holiness could not be ascribed to every one of them, holy power, holy mercy, holy justice, and holy wisdom. By his holiness, which comprehends all his attributes, which would fail, should he violate his oath; whereby it appears that this of settling the seed of Christ, was the main article which God intended, which his heart was set upon, since he assures it by the strongest bond of an oath, and an oath by that attribute which was so necessary to the being of the Deity, without which we can have no conception of a God. We may conceive God punishing all men by justice, or pardoning all men by mercy, but we cannot conceive a God without holiness, for then we conceive a God without the highest perfection belonging to the Deity, an ungodded God. Now, by this seed is not meant Christ the seed of David, because that David whom he had found as his servant, ver. 20, must be meant of Christ, by the greatness of the expression which follows after, and it is the seed of this David he will make to endure for ever, ver. 29; 'his seed,' his seed who was the first born. And though the word of the oath is said to be since the law, Heb. vii. 28, that must be in regard of the manifestation of it, or rather in order of nature. For in this covenant God excluded all other sacrifices as insufficient, the order in the decree runs thus: first, the creation of man, covenant of works, &c. The foresight of the violation of that covenant, the insufficiency of other sacrifices for expiation, then the settling this grand sacrifice and high priest by an oath; for the first call of Christ was upon the inability of other sacrifices to afford God any pleasure, Heb. x. 5-7; i. e. the foresight of their inability. It was confirmed also to Abraham by an oath, that the nations should be blessed in his seed: Heb. vi. 17, "emesiteusen" he mediated by an oath, the tenor whereof was, that as Abraham was willing to offer his son in a bloody sacrifice to him, so he would offer up his only Son for Abraham, and all such as should follow his example of faith and obedience.
Use of this.
1. We see the main cause of unbelief and despair. It is the ignorance of the Father's interest in redemption; the ignorance of the transaction between the Father and the Son is the cause of this, John xv. 21, 'because they know not him that sent me.' They consider not that this was the Father's contrivance, that I am sent forth by him, and ordered by him to do what I do. If we had a clear vision of the gospel, and remembered God as intent upon a way of redemption, we should not nourish that which disparages the whole plot. Such souls look upon him as a God of wrath rather than a God of peace, whose hand is more filled with thunders than his heart with love; they regard him as one of a narrow and contracted goodness; that God minded nothing after man's sin but preparing his bow and sharpening his arrows. Hence they have frightful thoughts of God, slavish fears, fretful jealousies, that he will never accomplish their desires though they seek him never so fervently.
2. See the blackness of unbelief. It is as much as lies in a man to make void the end of God, frustrate the covenant of redemption, deprive God of all the glory he was to get by the articles of it, and Christ of the honour of his undertaking, and make the whole covenant insignificant, rejecting the eternal counsel of wisdom, as well as the rejecting John's baptism, Luke vii. 30, was so interpreted. Whosoever does not believe upon the declaration of the gospel does endeavour to deprive Christ of a seed as far as he can. And those that endeavour to keep off others from Christ, endeavour, as far as their power extends, to make God violate his oath. This contrivance of God is the greatest masterpiece of wisdom and love; it was the most becoming thing God ever set about, most agreeable to his mercy and justice. Unbelief does what it can to demolish this fabric of God's erecting, as though the contrivance of his wisdom were a piece of folly, and the beating of his heart only worthy of the spurns of our feet.
3. Salvation is upon the most certain terms to every believer.
(1.) In regard that every believer is the seed of Christ. God has given such to Christ with an absolute will that they should not perish. Christ by covenant was to take care of them; God by covenant was engaged that Christ should see his seed. He confirmed it by oath, that his seed should endure for ever. Shall God be defeated of his will and the design of his everlasting covenant? He committed by covenant the souls of his people to Christ as his charge, John vi. 37-39. Would God put a charge he values into the hands of impotence or unskilfulness. Will Christ he guilty of disaffection to his Father? Can he break the trust reposed in him? Will the Father be guilty of unfaithfulness to Christ? Can there be a violation of articles so solemnly made between them? This seed was to be perfect, Christ was to see the travail of his soul, which will be when he has given Christ a full possession of that trust he acquired for him upon the cross; but they must wait, for it is with his people as with himself. He obtained a right upon the cross for himself and them, but neither he nor they are yet in a full possession of the right he then purchased.
(2.) In regard of the firmness of the covenant between them. The covenant the Father has made with Christ is an obligation wherein he stands bound to Christ, and consequently to every parcel of his seed. Free grace to us made him a promiser to Christ, and his promise made him a debtor to him. Therefore if it be possible that the infinitely true God could be false to a temporary promise, how could he be false to his Son, the Son of his dearest love, the Son that he appointed, called out, and put upon this undertaking! How can he be false to his own counsel, and to a solemn everlasting covenant! His truth is a powerful engagement for performance, especially added to that love which first moved him to make this covenant. The covenant indeed was firm between God and Adam, had Adam stood; but there was not altogether so strong an obligation on God, he never confirmed it by an oath; he never was so much pleased with that, as with this. The greater pleasure any man has in the promise he makes, and the stronger resolution to perform it, the stronger asseverations he backs it with. To what purpose does Christ give us a draught and epitome of this eternal transaction as the ground of his pleas in heaven, but that the joy of believers may be full, that they might have his joy fulfilled in themselves? John xvii. 13, 'These things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves;' that they might have a joy in the consideration of it, as he had in the making this covenant, and performing his part in it. 'These things I speak in the world.' I give them this history of our agreement, this copy of the articles between thee and me, that they may read thy eternal counsel concerning their good, and have a strong consolation, and run to this public record in all cases, spread it before, yea, and plead it with thee. And by virtue of this covenant, though a believer fall into sin (for it is not possible he can run on in a course of sin), God will reduce him. The afflicting them to that end is a condition ensured in this covenant, Ps. lxxxix. 28-32, God will visit them with rods, but not lash them with scorpions; he will afflict them, but not destroy them; whip them, but not damn them; because he will not take away his loving-kindness from his Son, or suffer his faithfulness to fail.
(3.) In regard that Christ has suffered and performed all on his part. Christ has performed his part by making his soul an offering for sin; he must therefore see his seed, and that to satisfaction, Isa. liii. 11, otherwise there would be a breach of covenant and promise on the Father's part. God was to please Christ, as Christ had pleased him; and the pleasure is not mutual unless both be pleased alike. The wafting therefore of every believer through this vale of misery is a debt God owes to Christ, and a satisfaction necessary to make his happiness as mediator complete, and which our Saviour may challenge as a due debt by virtue of compact. Will God ever go back from his word, tear the articles on his part in pieces, and so let the strength and blood of Christ be spent for nought?
(4.) In this covenant God has linked his own glory and the salvation of believers together. For in this covenant, wherein God was to be glorified, Christ was to be his salvation to the ends of the earth, Isa. xlix. 3, 6. As he covenanted with Christ for a glory from him, so by covenant he gave up the Gentiles to him; and thus having settled them together upon one corner stone, the happiness of a believer is as firmly upon that basis established as the honour of God. And therefore what the prophet calls the glory of God, Isa. xl. 5, 'All flesh shall see the glory of God,' Luke expresses by salvation, Luke iii. 6, 'All flesh shall see the salvation of God;' and when God has declared his will for the sending Christ for the redeeming of the prisoners from captivity, Isa. xiii. 5, 6, ver. 8 he says, 'My glory will I not give unto another.' I will entrust no other with redeeming work, which is my glory, but this servant of mine; so that the peace is as firm as God's honour, and can then only cease when God shall cease to love himself, his Son, and his own glory. What greater ground of faith can there be than this, since God's love cannot reach a strain higher than to venture his own glory in the same bottom with a believer's happiness?
4. Fly to this covenant of redemption, as well as to the covenant of grace, since that is the foundation of this. All other considerations of Christ's death, merit, and everything stored up in Christ, can give us little hope, unless we consider this covenant, which supports all the other stones of the building. Fly to it when your souls are in heaviness. Though there may be sometimes clouds upon the face of God, yet consider those compassion in his heart, when he struck this covenant with Christ. He covenanted to bruise his own Son by his wrath, while he promised to support him by his strength, and the sounding of his bowels always kept pace with the blows of his hand. The consideration of this will encourage our faintness, silence our fears, nonplus our scruples, and settle a staggering faith. Is a believer in a storm? Here is an anchor to hold him. Is he sinking? Here is a bough to catch at. Is he pursued by spiritual enemies? Here is a refuge to fly to. Sin cannot so much oblige God's justice to punish, as his oath to Christ obliges him to save a repenting and believing sinner. These two covenants, that of redemption, and the other of grace, are as a Hur and Aaron to hold up the hands of a feeble faith. His love cannot die, as long as his faithfulness remains, nor his peace with the soul perish as long as the covenant with his Son endures. This covenant of redemption is to be pleaded by us, as well as the merit of Christ's death, because the merit of his death is founded upon this compact.
IV. The Father did fit Christ for this great undertaking to make reconciliation. Christ was the vine, John xv. 1, 'I am the vine, and my Father the husbandman,' a vine of the Father's planting, a vine of the Father's dressing. And God planted him a noble vine, in order to the bearing branches. He made him a vine fit to cherish those he should insert in him. He is therefore said to be sanctified by the Father when he is sent into the world: John x. 36, 'Say you of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world,' sanctified in order to his mission, or sanctified at his mission, that the glory of God's reconciling love might be manifest by him; sanctified to do the works of his Father, for which end he was sent into the world, as ver. 37 intimates, 'If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.' Much of God's secret counsel was spent about him, whence he is called 'a polished shaft in his quiver,' Isa. xlix. 2, 'in the quiver of his secret counsel wherein he was hid.' This promise he had in that agreement between them, that 'the Spirit of the Lord should be put upon him,' Isa. xlii. 1; and for this great end of redemption, as you may read in the following verses in that chapter. And since the end of his undertaking was to glorify God in the work of redemption, the wisest counsels would be employed to furnish Christ for bringing about the highest glory to God and happiness to man.
1. A fitness for so great a task was absolutely necessary. In regard of his office: As he was settled in an office by the Father, so the graces and gifts of the Spirit were necessary to fit the human nature for those great works of the Father which were to be performed in it. The human nature had been unprofitable without an office, and an office had been unsuccessful without graces and gifts for the execution of it. An office of mediator, without capacity, fullness, charity, and goodness, had been useless, and to no purpose. In regard of the greatness of the work he was to do: Sin had blemished the world, turned all creatures from their true end by man's revolt from the service of God, whereby those creatures which were made to serve a loyal subject were forced to serve a rebel. The world then was to be restored, the ruins by sin repaired, the sin removed, and the sinner redeemed. As this required infinite skill for the contrivance, so it required infinite fitness for the execution. The glory of God's design required it, which was to make his attributes most illustrious, and display them more magnificently in the work of redemption than in that of creation; and this being to be done in the human nature (whose fall had necessitated a reparation or destruction) because by that God was dishonoured, in that therefore the glory of his attributes was to be manifested, it required a mighty fitness for the manifestation of an infinite glory.
2. Christ in regard of his divine nature was infinitely fit, and in regard of the union of that to the human suitably fit. For in regard of his infinite knowledge, he knew the rights of God in the infinite extent of his glory, and what was fit for the reparation of those rights which had been violated, he knew the infinite holiness of his Father, he knew the utmost malice of the inward bowels of sin, which he was to expiate; for he knew all things; for 'the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that himself does,' John v. 21. As God, he knew what wrong God had sustained in point of honour, and in point of service; and what was necessary to restore the honour to God, and reduce the creature to the service of the Creator. In regard of his infinite holiness therefore, God, who is holy, could be sanctified in his righteousness, Isa. v. 16. In regard of his power, as he was the fittest medium by whom God created the world, Heb. i. 2, so he was the fittest medium by whom God might repair the world, and give a new consistency to it: Col. i. 16, 'He was before all things, and by him all things consist.' He was 'the mighty God, the everlasting Father,' or the Father of the age to come, and therefore 'the prince of peace,' Isa. ix. 6. It was necessary he should be God, as it was necessary he should be man, to make the compensation suitable, because the human nature had committed the trespass; so it was necessary he should be God, to make the compensation sufficient, because God had received the wrong. Two things were requisite: suffering, therefore he must be man; satisfaction by that suffering, therefore he must be God. Two things in justice to be considered: the equity of justice, therefore the nature offending must suffer; the infiniteness of justice, therefore an infinite person must suffer. He therefore being thus infinite, could answer the infiniteness of God's honour in the reparation, and the infiniteness of our debts in the expiation. For as he had a human nature, wherein to merit, so he had a divine nature whereby to make that merit sufficient. No other nature could be fit; the angelical nature was not infinite, and therefore could not pay an infinite price; the human nature was neither infinite nor innocent, and therefore could not satisfy for infinite guilt. He was to stand under the sin of the world, and what creature could ever be fit to bear so vast a burden! As none but an infinite goodness could exercise so great a patience towards the sins of men, so none but an infinite goodness could pay a satisfaction for them. Now, though Christ, as he was the Son of man, 'gave his life a ransom for many,' Mat. xx. 28, yet the value of the redeeming price arose from it, as 'the blood of God,' Acts xx. 28. He gave his life as man, but the purchase was made by him as God. It could not have been for our glory, or purchased a glory for us, unless he who was the Lord of glory had been crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 6, 8; for 'being the express image of God, and upholding all things by the word of his power, he did by himself purge our sins,' Heb. i. 8. So that his shoulders were able to bear the weightiest burden, his strength able to endure the sharpest curses, and his soul able to drink down the bitterest potions. Christ therefore being God, and united to the human nature, was every way fit, as being God and man in one person, that what the human nature could not do by reason of its imbecility as a creature, the divine might; and what the divine nature could not do by reason of its perfection, the human nature might perform: that God's honour might be repaired by an infinite satisfaction, and man reduced to service by the highest motive, viz. the incarnation of his Son, than which God could not afford a greater.
3. The fitness, whether of his divine nature or his human, did originally arise from the Father. The Father, as the fountain of the Deity, did confer on him his natural fitness, by communicating to him the divine nature from eternity by natural generation. He had a natural fitness as the Son of God, and a gracious fitness as the Son of man. The natural fitness was from the Father, for 'as the Father has life in himself, so has he given to the Son to have life in himself,' John v. 26. To have life in himself is the property of God, who is therefore called the living God, and this is given by the Father.
(1.) All the fullness whereby he is fit to reconcile, and accomplish his mediatory work, he is enriched with from the Father: Col. i. 19, 'It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.' It is true, the word Father is not in the Greek text, but is to be supplied from the discourse of the apostle before, verse 12, where he begins a thanksgiving to the Father. He did not only ordain him to be head of the church, but he fitted him with whatsoever was necessary to constitute him in that office, and enable him for the exercise of it. By this fullness is meant both a fullness of the divinity, as he is the image of God, and a fullness of habitual grace, as he is the first born of every creature, having the rights of the firstborn given to him, as he is the head of the body the church, and the firstborn from the dead. God would have this great mediator filled with all the perfection of the Deity, and all the excellency of grace in his humanity, that he might be in this office of mediation every way acceptable to God, and successful for man; that no fault might be found in him, either by God or man, to stave off the acceptance of the one or the reliance of the other, that so the reconciliation might be in all parts and degrees complete.
(2.) The Father stored up this fullness in Christ with a mighty pleasure. He did not only order the communication of this fullness to him, and the perpetual residence of it in him for his appointed ends, but he did it with a transcendent pleasure, an "eudochia", such a pleasure as he had in his person, as that which answered all his ends, both for his own glory and his creatures' recovery. As he was the treasury of grace for us, so he was the object of God's delight.
(3.) This fullness was lodged in Christ, for the making peace with his Father, and accomplishing all the ends of it. As he assembled all light together and fixed it in the sun, as a natural type of Christ, to convey light and heat thereby to all sublunary bodies, as also to the stars in the firmament, whence both might derive that excellency they have, and so agree in one point and principle, so he has espoused together the divine and human perfections in one person, that thereby he might reconcile all things to himself; by him I say, 'whether they be things in earth or things in heaven,' that both the restoration of the broken peace with men, and the confirmation of the standing peace with angels, might meet in him, and be derived from him as one centre of both. For as it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell, so it was a pleasure to him that it should perpetually reside in him to this end, that peace might be made, and all the intendments and consequence of it be promoted to a perfect issue; that he having an alliance to God by his divinity, and an alliance to man by his humanity, might stand as a perfect mediator between God and his creature, to make peace and preserve it. For hereby he understood the rights of God to secure them, and the indigences of man to relieve him. He had his humanity fitted to be a sufferer, and his divinity fitted to be a repairer; the one made him possible, the other able, and the holiness of his person made him acceptable. His being in the form of a servant made him obnoxious to suffering, and his being in the form of God made that suffering meritorious of our peace, that in all respects he might become a prince of peace both in heaven and earth.
4. We may note also the constancy of it; it dwells in him. This was the pleasure of the Father, that it should not only be communicated to him to lodge, but dwell in him; not as a private person, but an universal principle; as head of the body, as well as a reconciler, that he might be able to do the works of God, and fill the emptiness of man. God promised to engrave the engravings of this stone, which is ushered in with a repetition of a behold: Zech. iii. 5, 'Behold the stone that I have laid: behold, I will engrave the engravings thereof, says the Lord,' that men might observe it, and the end of it. He would work all habitual grace in him with an indelible character; as the engravings of a stone cannot be razed out without defacing and dissolving some part of the stone at least, sometimes not without breaking the whole. The end of this engraving is expressed in the following words: 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.' Some understand it also of his death; and I think it may be understood of both his fitness for suffering, and his actual suffering. The end of this sculpture was for the taking away sin, and making reconciliation with God by the expiation of it. So that the graces of the Spirit are not only poured upon his head, as that which may be dried up again, but engraved on him, as noting fixedness and duration. Fullness acquaints us with the abundance of this grace, and dwelling signifies the perpetual residence of it, engraving the deep rootedness, and all for this end of redemption.
This fitness of his human nature was the work of the Father, not immediately, but by his Spirit.
1. He is fitted with a body.
(1.) This was necessary. Man, as constituted of soul and body, had violated the articles of the first covenant; therefore man, as constituted of soul and body, must answer the violations of it. He was therefore to have a body of the same kind with that man that had broken the covenant, whose punishment he was to remove; therefore he was not to be new made from the earth as Adam was, but to descend from him; otherwise he had not been of the same kind, and so could not satisfy for that kind whereof he was not a part. As the obligation descended upon all men from the first man, so it was fit that one descended from him should satisfy that obligation.
(2.) It was also necessary that he should have a mortal body, that he might be nearly related to us in all things (sin excepted), and redeem us by his passion. Blood was to be shed, death was to be endured (for we owed to God our life and blood), the righteousness of God was to be declared, Rom. iii. 25, which could not be but in the offending nature. His life he must lose, thereby to lay a strong foundation for the removing of sin, with a rich manifestation of God's righteousness. Now, to make a body mortal, which was not in itself sinful, was a work only to be wrought by the wisdom of God, whereby to make a salvo for his righteousness, always manifested to his rational creatures. That soul that sins, it shall die. Had not Adam sinned, he had not died. Our Saviour died who never sinned; he was therefore to have such a body whereby our sins might be imputed to him, yet not inherent in him. He was then to have a human nature to suffer our punishment, as well as a divine nature to surmount it. A flesh was necessary to be a sacrifice for sin, as well as the Deity to be a priest. What could he have offered for us, had he not had flesh and blood? Without a body be had been a priest without a sacrifice, without an holy flesh he had been a priest with a sinful sacrifice. He was to have a body to 'bear our sins on a tree,' 1 Peter ii. 24; yet an holy body, that by the offering of that body 'once for all, we might be sanctified,' Heb. x. 10. As God only could, so he did provide him such a body. This he ascribes to God: Heb. x. 5, 'A body hast thou prepared me.' A mortal body, fit to be a sacrifice; a body prepared, after the rejection of all other sacrifices, wherein God could find no pleasure; a body also prepared to be a reconciling sacrifice, such a body wherein he might do the will of God, i. e. the whole will of God, which was to take away sin. It was a body so fitted as to be obedient to the soul, to have no rebellious power in it against reason and command, but to be fully and readily obedient in all its motions to God; not barely a body, but a body so tempered as to do the service required of it. It was not indeed fit that the body wherein the Deity was to tabernacle, John i. 14, "eskenosen", should be framed by a less wisdom, and slighter order, than the Mosaical tabernacle, which was a shadow of it, which was done by exact order, and by the inspirations of the Spirit, filling the workmen with skill, Exod. xxxi. 2, 3.
(3.) Yet he was to have a holy body, free from any taint of moral imperfection, fit for the service he was devoted to, for which the least speck upon his humanity had rendered him unfit. This could not have been, had he descended from Adam by way of ordinary and natural generation. He had then been a debtor himself, a lamb with blemish, and so wanted a sacrifice for himself. His sacrifice would have been defective, and have needed some other sacrifice to fill up the gaps of it. It was necessary he should descend from Adam in a way of birth, but not in a way of seminal traduction, that he might have the nature of Adam without the spot. Such a knot could not be untied without infinite skill, nor such a way of production be wrought without the infinite power of God.
(1.) The Holy Ghost frames the body of Christ of this seed of the woman, that it might be mortal, and have his heel bruised by the devil, Gen. iii. 15; not of the seed of the man in an ordinary way of generation, that it might be without any taint of sin, sanctifying therefore the seed of the woman in a peculiar manner. Wherefore in relation to his humanity, conception, and birth, he is 'the holy thing,' Luke i. 35; as his body is called the Holy One in the grave: Ps. xvi. 10, 'Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.' His soul was not in the grave, being separated from the body upon the recommendation of it upon the cross into his Father's hand. And as it was an holy body, so it was a mortal body, called therefore a 'body of flesh,' Col. i. 22. This God had appointed and predicted as an extraordinary thing: Jer. xxxi. 22, 'The Lord has created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man;' "gibor", a mighty man. By calling it a new thing, he points to a miraculous birth of the Messiah, and the word creating signifies something out of a natural course, next to a mere creation, and God's work as much as creation. A new thing as not being from the old stock; for though his nature was the same with Adam's, yet he had no taint of original sin; because he was not morally in the loins of Adam before his fall (the promise of his incarnation of the seed of the woman being given after the fall), whereby the sin of Adam could not be imputed to him. It was therefore a new thing, and an holy thing according to that new promise after the fall. Though the Spirit was the immediate agent in fitting this body, yet it was by the appointment and power of the Father: Luke i. 85, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee;' where by the Highest is understood the Father, the mystery of the Trinity being manifested in the incarnation of the Son of God.
(2.) The Holy Ghost makes the union between the divine and human nature. The overshadowing by the power of the Highest unites the two natures, whereby that 'holy thing' in the virgin's womb should be 'called the Son of God,' Luke i. 35, which could not be without a union of the divine nature to the substance made of the seed of the woman, by this overshadowing; which also is the act of the Father by the Spirit, as being in the 'power of the Highest.' And this is that which is called the gratia unionis, grace of union, which Christ had from God, whereby the Godhead dwelt bodily in him, or personally, Col. ii. 9; the two naturesóthe divine, signified by the Godhead, the human, by that wherein it dweltómaking up one person; "Soma" among the Greeks signifying not a bare body, but a person, as it does also in common speech among us.
The union of the two natures by a particular conjunction, whereby the divine nature dwelt substantially in the human, and was acted by it in all undertakings, was the work of God by his Spirit. This union of both natures was for the making peace: Col. i. 21, 22, 'And you that were sometimes alienated, yet now he has reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death.' Who? Ver. 15: He who was 'the image of the invisible God.' The image of the invisible Deity rendered himself visible in the humanity, to reconcile us to his Father, so that by this union we who are afar off from the Deity are brought near in his humanity; and the gulf of original sin, which consisted in enmity to God, and which hindered the passage of God to man, or man to God, is filled up, taken away, and the work done in and by him. As he was God, he knew the terrors of hell, because he knew all things; but, as God, he could not have experience of them: he was to have a body of flesh to bear them, as well as he was the image of the invisible God to support that body under them. As man, he was fit to endure his wrath; and as God, fit to appease it. As man, he was fit to undergo the sharpness of the curse; and as God, able to remove it. As man, he was capable to obey both the moral and mediatory law; and as God, to transmit the fruit of that obedience to us, which is intimated in these words, 'Yet now has he' (who was the image of the invisible God) 'reconciled, &c. to present you holy, and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight.' Presenting us, as he is the image of God in our nature, free from sin by the washing of his blood, after he had reconciled us through the body of his flesh; the meriting of reconciliation was wrought in his flesh, but arose from his deity.
Thus Christ had a body every way fitted with a holy soul, with a glorious indweller, that he might be every way fit for making peace: a body in all things lily ours, but without impurity, that he might be our kinsman, and become a Goel, a redeemer by right of propinquity; that he might be the suffering head of the human nature, which he could not be without our nature. Had he taken the angelical nature, which was more excellent in itself, and suffered in that, his sufferings would have been esteemed the sufferings of that whole nature, but not of the human nature, because not partaking of it, and so he could not have suffered for it unless he had suffered in it: for since he was to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, 'he took upon him not the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, because it behoved him to he made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make this reconciliation,' Heb. ii. 16, 17. We may note, besides the holiness of his body, it was so framed by the appointment of the Father, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, and tempered with such affections, as to do this work with the greatest compassion to the fallen nature of man, that whereas he had a holiness to make him faithful to God, so he had a tenderness in his nature to make him merciful to us for the carrying on this reconciliation and the ends of it to the highest perfection, so that those two natures, thus united by God, made him every way capable and fit to be a reconciler, knowing the justice of God's claim, that he might give to God what he knew to be his due, and feeling the infirmities of our nature, that he might purchase that remedy he knew we wanted. Herein we see the incomparable wisdom and love of the Father, in fitting Christ, so that he might be in him reconciling the world to himself.
(3.) He is filled with his Spirit by the Father, i. e. with all the gifts and graces of the Spirit necessary to this work. That precious ointment, composed of so many sweet and excellent ingredients, wherewith the Levitical high priest was anointed, Exodus xxx., was a type of those excellent graces of the great high priest, whereby he was qualified for the exercise of his offices. As the Spirit espoused the human nature to the divine, so he espoused all his gifts and graces to the human. As the body was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, so his soul was beautified and adorned by the graces of the Holy Ghost, whereby he became 'fairer than the children of men, and grace was poured into his lips,' Ps. xlv. 9: 'His going forth is prepared as the morning,' Hos. vi. 3, furnished with all things necessary to work out redemption, and free the world from the wrath of God, as the sun is with light to deliver the world from the darkness of the night.
[1.] The subject of these gifts was the rational soul of Christ. The human nature was only anointed with the Spirit; the divine nature being infinite, could receive no increase of gifts, it having a fullness of perfection by eternal generation. Yet though the divine nature stood in no need of those gifts, it did capacitate the humanity of Christ for greater receipts, by reason of its union with it, than any other mere creature was capable of. We must not think, as some may conceive, that the divine nature was instead of a soul to the body of Christ. He had a real rational soul; for since the whole nature of man was corrupted, both soul and body, the whole nature of man was to be repaired. How could he have suffered in a body, without a soul, the wrath due to our souls as well as bodies? Had he only had a body, he had not taken the human nature; only the meanest and worst part of man, not that which constitutes the man. Unless he had been God and man in one person, his blood could not have been called 'the blood of God;' and unless he had a soul and body, an entire nature, his blood could not have been the blood of man. As he was to have a body prepared, so he was to have a soul proportionately furnished.
[2.] He was abundantly filled with them; he had 'the Spirit not by measure,' John iii. 34; not as light in a room, but as light in the sun; not as water in a vessel where the bounds are visible, but like water in the ocean, where the depths and limits are unknown. In him there was nothing but Spirit and fullness, without limits for quantity, without imperfections for quality; all the treasures, the fountain, not the rivers. There are varieties of gifts, as there are of stars, and the qualities of them, in heaven; and of flowers, and the beauties of them upon earth: what were various in others were entire in him. Others have parcels of those gifts and graces, like Abraham's children by Keturah; but Christ had them entire. As Isaac had an inheritance as the heir of promise, so Christ, as the heir of all things, had the possession of the choicest gifts in the treasuries of his Father. As God had communicated an infinite being to him by eternal generation, so it was convenient to communicate a fullness of graces and gifts to the humanity as far as it was capable to receive and contain it, because it was joined to so excellent a nature as the divine; for though he was made flesh, yet he had 'the glory as of the only begotten Son of God.' It was fit therefore he should be 'full of grace and truth' in that flesh, John i. 14. It was not congruous that the Spirit of God should come into the soul of Christ with half his attendants, but with the greatest majesty, with his whole train of excellencies. Not that the perfections poured out upon his soul by the Spirit of grace and glory were infinite, because those graces were created qualities, and infiniteness can never be ascribed to a creature; and his soul was the subject of them, and that being a creature, was not capable of receiving into it subjectively that which is infinite; but he had them without measure, as to the kinds of gifts; in the mass, not in parcels. As to the degrees of them, others have them in a lower degree, as light in a candle; Christ in the highest degree, as light in the heavens: so that whatsoever pertains to the nature of grace was conferred on Christ, as whatsoever belongs to the nature of light and heat is stored up in the sun. 'All his garments did smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia,' Ps. xiv. 8. As God has made the sea a treasure of waters, emptied into it from all the rivers of the world, so he has made Christ a mighty ocean of all perfections, in a vaster quantity and richer qualities than any other creature is capable to receive, as the sea is more capacious to receive the perpetual floods than the greatest river in the world. If the whole creation should be reaped, and gleaned, and stored up in one person, it would be but as the drops of a bucket to the fullness of Christ, which the Father has laid up in him.
(4. ) These graces were infused into him at once. As the new creature has all its parts framed at once, so the head of all the new creatures was principled at once with them, though in regard of the various exercises of them, they grew up in him by degrees: Luke ii. 40, 'The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom,' ver. 52, and shone forth as he increased in age, by new excitations of them by the Spirit of God. Grace came into the soul of Christ, as his soul into his body, or as light into the sun at the creation, not by pieces; but as the soul did not exercise its functions, so his graces did not exert their strength, but by degrees, according to the capacity of his age, and occasional occurrences. The anointing of this Spirit was conferred upon him at his incarnation; when he was made flesh, he was full of grace and truth, John i. 14. Also visibly at his baptism, which was his entrance into the exercise of his office, as a visible token of his Father's acceptation of him, now at his inauguration, Mat. iii. 16, 17; as David, the type, was anointed at Bethlehem, the place of his habitation, by Samuel, and afterwards at Hebron, when he was actually installed king by the tribe of Judah. The first anointing at his incarnation was his furniture for his office, that at his baptism his investiture in his office.
(5.) These gifts and graces of the Spirit were necessary for the human nature. It was necessary that the soul of Christ should exert supernatural acts. There was a necessity of love to God, to spirit him in his mighty difficulties; of faith in God, to suck refreshment from the promises made to him as mediator, when he should arrive at any conflict: these were supernatural acts in themselves, and so were above the bare natural strength of the soul of Christ, and the powers of it. As the soul of Christ did need a natural concourse to natural actions, as other souls do, and needed the gift of miracles for the working of miracles, so he needed a supernatural grace to exert supernatural acts. It is essential to the nature of a creature to depend upon God for all communications. To act independently, and without the influence of another, is a property of God, not to he derived to any creature. The humanity of Christ then being a creature, could not act of itself without the influence of a superior being; the humanity then did not endow itself; grace is not minted by any creature. It did no more inspire itself with grace than it did inspire itself with life. As God was the Father of Christ, so he was the Father of grace to him; the divine nature of Christ gave a personal dignity by union, but conferred not of itself a beauty upon it. Had the divine nature, by virtue of its union, elevated the faculties of Christ's soul, he needed not have grown in wisdom and knowledge; the divine nature, though united to the humanity, did not communicate to it all that it was capable of receiving. This communication was the proper world of the Spirit, according to the order in the operations of the Trinity: hence his human soul knew not the time of the day of judgment, though as God he did. If his divine nature had advanced his rational faculties, it had also stocked him with full comforts, without the mission of an angel to refresh him in the garden, Luke xxii. 43, and why did it not also advance the vegetative power to rear up his body to a full stature?
This elevation was the work of the Spirit. It was necessary he should be thus furnished.
[1.] In regard of the greatness of his task. Gifts are imparted to men suitable to the places wherein they stand for action, and according to the largeness of the vessel. Christ's place was higher, his work harder than any creature's, therefore required a greater measure of gifts than all creatures in heaven and earth put together. Though he was mighty in his person, and fit to have help laid upon him for us, yet he was to be anointed with the holy oil, Ps. lxxxix. 19, 20). Without this fullness of grace the human nature could never have arrived to the perfection of the great undertaking, but would have sunk in the midst of the work.
[2.] In regard he was to be a pattern, as well as the prince of believers. A pattern ought to be the most perfect in the kind. Christ was to be set up as a pattern for believers, both of the Spirit's operation in him, and of their imitation of him. Those who draw pictures look upon the original, that they may work them into a likeness to it. The Spirit of God in the fashioning souls, is to conform them to the image of Christ, Rom. viii. 29. It was fit that the pattern of all the heirs of heaven should be fully exact to the pleasure of God. It being God's end to bestow more upon the creature in this redemption than he did upon it by creation, and that in a more suitable manner, there was as much need of an infinite fitness in the person that was to prepare the way for those communications in an honourable manner to God, and everlastingly comfortable to the creature.
(6.) The Father was the principal cause of this furniture. It was God that 'anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost,' Acts x. 38, and 'God gives the Spirit not by measure to him,' John iii. 34. It is rendered as a reason why 'he that God has sent' (which is a peculiar and ancient title of Christ) 'speaks the words of God.' This the Father did out of the infinite affection he bore his Son for this work of mediation; ver. 35, 'The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.' The power he had conferred upon him, giving all things into his hand, did require a fullness of the Spirit to manage that power also, that he might be a person fit to be believed on, and confided in, ver. 30. All this was that he might do the Father's will, speak his words, perform his command of love in the repair of his creature. The Lord anointed him, Isa. lxi. 1, and as a God in covenant with him. God, Heb. i. 9, 'Even thy God,' according to the promise made to him, and with an oil of gladness, a joyful oil, as that which is a pleasure to the Father, makes the countenance of Christ cheerful, as the psalmist speaks of oil in another case, and joyful to the church; because upon this fitness depends its happiness and salvation, its reconciliation, and all the fruits of it. And if "dia toutou", therefore, notes to us the final cause or end of this anointing, viz., that he might love righteousness, and hate iniquity; it acquaints us that the end of this unction was to fit him for this work of redemption with a perfect holiness, without which he could not have restored God's honour, nor appeased his wrath, nor consequently reduced the creature to terms of amity with God. This putting his Spirit upon him was a fruit of that delight God had in him as his servant: Isa. xiii. 1, 'My servant in whom my soul delights, I have put my Spirit upon him.' Which delight is also testified, when the Spirit did visibly descend upon him, that he was 'his beloved Son in whom he was well pleased,' Mat. iii. 16, 17.
The gifts and graces he was endowed with by this Spirit the Father had given him, were
[1.] Habitual holiness. He was infinitely holy in regard of his deity holy by the hypostatical union in his humanity, holy by the residence of the Spirit; a greater holiness than man in innocence or angels in heaven have. The giving the Spirit not by measure to him implies a greater holiness, as well as other abilities in the human nature, than all the angels in heaven ever had, who have the Spirit by measure. The holiness, therefore, of Christ's person incomparably exceeds all the holiness of the angelical nature, which has a limited communication of the Spirit. As the apostle argues for his deity, Heb. i. 5, 'Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?' so to which of the angels did he at any time give the Spirit not by measure? Though he took upon him the form of a servant, yet he was a righteous servant. There was no original sin in his conception, nor actual sin in his conversation; he was separate from sinners in the manner of his birth and in the actions of his life; he had a purity of nature and a purity of life commensurate to the law, that he might be our paschal lamb without blemish; he was holy in the account of angels, Luke i. 35; holy in the account of devils, Mark i. 24, 'the Holy One of God;' holy in the account of his Father: John viii. 29, 'He always did those things which pleased him.'
This was necessary for his office. It became him and us, as our high priest, to be undefiled, Heb. vii. 26. As it was necessary he should suffer for the satisfaction of God's justice, so it was necessary he should by a purity be fit for so great a task. As reasonable creatures we owe a perfect obedience, as rebellious creatures an eternal punishment; there must, therefore, be an holiness commensurate to the precepts of the law, as well as a passion commensurate to the curses of the law. Upon this holiness of his is our reconciliation grounded: 2 Cor. v. 21, 'For he has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' Had he known experimentally the least spot, he could not by his sacrifice have been made the righteousness of God to us; for not only as his servant, but as his 'righteous servant,' he was to 'justify many,' Isa. liii. 11. Hereby he was able to 'appear to take away our sins,' and did do it, because 'in him there was no sin,' 1 John iii. 5, the apostle rendering the latter as the reason of the former. Had he had the least speck, he could not have been a mediator, because he had then been a party in being a sinner; his office could not have been performed, which was to make up the breach, not to make a new one; he had rather polluted than purged us, and fastened our sins rather than took them away. What could he have offered if he had not had flesh and blood? How could he have offered acceptably if there had been any spot upon him in his appearance before the holy justice of his Father? Heb. ix. 14. He had then been a rebel, a prisoner, and had forfeited all that might have been a ransom for us. How could he have made peace with God for us, when by reason of a blemish he could not make peace in his own conscience? An inevitable destruction had been brought upon mankind, which could not have been repaired. His intercession kept up the world from sinking when Adam fell; but whose mediation should have preserved the world had this mediator failed, since God had no other son to employ in so great an affair?
It was necessary in regard of his dignity. The Deity, because of infinite holiness, could not have dwelt in a tainted humanity. Though this habitual grace be given by God, yet it is a connatural property of Christ, God-man, because by the dignity of his person it was due to him. It had been a prodigious and preternatural thing to unite the human nature without the ornaments of grace to the divine, as it had been if the body of Christ had not by reason of the hypostatical union been made immortal and glorious, though those properties of the body do not flow from the union by any physical resultant; for to the humanity by this union there is only communicated esse personale, not essentiale divinae naturae, the personal, not the essential being of the divine nature; and therefore divine operations of grace do not physically follow this union, but as they are due to that nature so united. Had they followed physically this union, the body of Christ could not have been weary, hungry, and subject to the infirmities of our flesh. In regard of the dignity of his person, this holiness was due to him; without it, it had been the greatest disparagement to God to send him, and the greatest prejudice to us; for had there been any spot, the person of Christ had been said to sin, as well as the person of Christ is said to suffer. Since the Father had placed his delight in him, and had promised to uphold him, it could not be that that should enter upon him, which was so contrary to the perpetual delight God had promised to fix in him.
This was the act of the Father, and ascribed to him: John x. 36, 'Say ye of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world.' Some understand it of the sanctification of Christ by eternal generation, receiving, by that, holiness per essentiam, by essence; others by sanctification understand only a separation of him to his office. But it rather seems to be meant of the preparations for the exercise of his office, sanctification and mission being joined together; the Father separated him and anointed him with the Spirit, who, as the Spirit of the fear of the Cord resting upon him, Isa. xi. 2, was the immediate inspirer of him with this internal holiness.
[2.] With wisdom and knowledge. As God, he had an uncreated knowledge, but this could not be communicated to his humanity, because a creature is not capable of anything infinite; and though he was filled with all gifts from his conception, "hupestatikos", personally, yet it does not follow from thence that the soul of Christ should know everything, because this did not belong to the property of that nature. And though he was the head of angels, it will not follow that he should know, as man, what the angels knew; for then he had not stood in need of an angel to strengthen him. And if he were made lower than the angels, it was no disparagement to him, as being in the form of a servant, to be ignorant in some things which the angels knew, which he implies he was in that speech concerning his ignorance of the day of judgement: Mat. xxiv. 36, 'Of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven.' But there was no privative ignorance in Christ, but a negative, which is not sinful; and this kind of ignorance was no more disparagement to Christ than it was, that his soul, which was the soul of God, as well as his blood the blood of God, should be sad to death. But the wisdom he was filled with was the wisdom pertaining to his office of mediator; as he was to reprove, and convince, and smite the earth with the rod of his mouth: Isa. xi. 2-4, 'The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord'. He had wisdom, i.e. a right judgement of things pertaining to his office, judging of things according to the divine will, counsel and prudence in the direction of his actions, knowledge of all accidents and circumstances which might occur to hinder him from the accomplishment of his work, and might to effect all; which gifts were bestowed upon him by the Spirit. All which gifts did end in this of the fear of the Lord, a reverence and observance of his Father as superior to him in this work of mediation. And therefore it is repeated again, verse 3, 'Shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord;' an observance of the will of God in that work committed to him. All the gifts he had were to run into this ocean of faithfulness to God. The fear of the Lord in Christ was a reverence of the divine majesty and the divine command; not a fear of separation from the Father by any sin, or a fear of punishment by him for any sin, because he could not sin. Without a reverence of God, he had not been faithful; without wisdom and knowledge, he had not been able. Ignorance could never have managed his work, unfaithfulness could never have accomplished it; the one had made him incapable to attempt it, the other to perfect it; the one had stripped him of all capacity for it, the other of all successfulness in it. The knowledge of the will of God was that whereby he was 'mighty to help', Ps. lxxxix. 19. He had counsel to direct as well as power to effect; he had the gift of wisdom to manage his power to the defeating of his enemies. This was necessary; the human nature had been defective in that which it was designed for, unless it had understood what was fit to be done in order to it. It had not consisted with the wisdom of God to send one about so great a work who did not understand the nature of it, who was not fully instructed how to manage it. This was necessary as well as holiness, without knowledge he could not have been a reasonable and voluntary sacrifice, all voluntary acts being to be founded in reason; and without holiness concurring with it, he could not have been an acceptable sacrifice. This wisdom did fit him to sprinkle many nations: Isa. lii. 13, 15, 'My servant shall deal prudently, he shall be extolled, and be very high; so shall he sprinkle many nations.' "Yashchil", some translate prosper, it signifies both; when any one prospers, it is commonly ascribed to his own prudence and wise management of things. He shall understand what is due to God for the reparation of his honour, what is necessary for men for the relieving their necessities, and so purge many by the blood of his sacrifice. Now this wisdom, and the increase of it, was from the strength of the Spirit in him, and the grace of God upon him, Luke ii. 40. There were constant revelations to him of what was fit to be done by him in the exercise of his office, according as the Father pleased by his Spirit to communicate himself to his humanity.
[3.] The Spirit was given him to fit him with a tenderness to man, and to lead him out to those exercises whereby he might be sensible of the indigences of man. He had not only the law of redeeming love in his head, whereby he had a knowledge of his office, but in his bowels, whereby he was fitted for a tender execution of that office: Ps. xl. 8, 'Thy law is within my heart,' "me'ay", bowels. The Spirit therefore descended upon him in the likeness of a dove, an emblem of meekness and tenderness. And the apostle Peter, Acts x. 3, intimates that the intendment of this unction of him was to fit him for a compassionate converse with man: 'God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.' He had a tenderness as God, and his humanity is fitted with a tenderness to keep pace with that of the Deity as much as was possible, that the tenderness of both natures might be joined together in one person. And when this Spirit visibly settled on him after his baptism, he led him presently to an exercise whereby he might feel the miseries of man, and from an experience of them, be affected with more tenderness towards him: Mat. iv. 1, 'Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit in the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.' Then; when? As soon as ever he had the Spirit as a dove lighting upon him, and had heard those encouraging words, Mat. iii. 16, 17, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' He was led by this Spirit to be tempted by the evil one, that he might in his humanity be acquainted with the craft and subtilty of that adversary which had overturned the world, brought all the dishonour upon his Father, and sank mankind into their present misery; that he might know the enemy which was threatened in the promise of his incarnation, and experience the subtilties of that serpent which had wrought all those mischiefs he came to redress, and so, as he was to be 'acquainted with grief,' Isa. liii. 3, he might understand the first author of that which occasioned this grief to him. It was by this grace of meekness and humility he was specially fitted to be a second Adam to redeem us, because pride was the sin of the first Adam to destroy us, who, because he would become as high as God who created him, the Redeemer would become lower than man that was created by him; yea, 'a worm and no man,' Ps. xxii. 6; so excellently did the Spirit fit him with a humility proportionable to his undertaking.
[4.] The Spirit was given to him by his Father, to enable him with a mighty power to go through this undertaking. He had a 'Spirit of might,' executive of his wisdom and counsel, Isa. xi. 2, a courage to attempt the most daring difficulties, and endure the fiercest calamities: a power to suffer for the satisfaction of justice, a power to relieve the pressures of our wants, a power to conquer his and our enemies. When he was anointed by God with the Holy Ghost, he was anointed 'with power,' Acts x. 38, "dunamei", not "eksousiai", for the exercise of his office and the doing good. The design of putting the Spirit upon him, was that he might bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, for that immediately follows the promise of the Spirit to him, Isa. xlii. 1. This was his encouragement actually to engage in the exercise of every part of his office: Isa. lx. 1, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach glad tidings to the meek,' &c. The Spirit was upon him in all the acts of his mediation, the Spirit therefore did continually assist him in every exercise; he was not left alone, but 'he that sent him was with him,' John viii. 29. The Father was with him by his Spirit: the Father had promised his assistance. Now, assisting grace is the work of the Holy Ghost. His grace was fed and actuated by the Spirit, and brought forth into exercise. The Spirit led him into temptation, what? only to lead him to the conflict and desert him in it? No, surely, but to actuate those graces wherewith he had filled him against the tempter: 'God was with him,' Acts x. 38, assisting, exciting, actuating him. And the Spirit did assist him, and excite the graces in him to the very last gasp, for 'through the Spirit he offered up himself' Heb. ix. 14, through the virtue of this Spirit sanctifying his human nature, gifting him with strength and wisdom, exciting those eminent graces upon the cross, wherewith he had filled him at his conception, and supporting him with his power while the Father was bruising him. As he lived in this holiness of Spirit, so he died and offered up himself through the strength of it, without spot to God. Through the Spirit, signifies the strength and power of the Spirit, as when we are said 'to mortify the deeds of the body through the Spirit,' Rom. viii. 13, i.e. through the powerful operation of the Spirit. For as the highest graces of Christ, faith, love, and obedience, were to be exercised upon the cross, so the assistance of the Spirit was necessary to the exciting and actuating those graces; for acts of grace being supernatural, a suitable concourse is necessary for the exerting those acts, and this concourse is truly the exciting and assisting grace of the Spirit. The natural powers of the humanity cannot otherwise be helped by the word, but as the "logos" or word does flow in upon it to actuate those powers of the soul. But this influx and motion is common to the Trinity, and therefore it is not from the divine nature, as hypostatically united, but from God as the first cause, and from the Spirit as the person whose office it is to excite grace, and assist it in the exercise. Not that the Spirit did so possess Christ, as that he did not exercise his own faculties in his whole office; but as the Spirit is said to pray in us, Rom. viii. 26, and we said to pray in him, Jude 20. The Spirit quickens our faculties, and by his inspiration excites and assists the act. The Spirit did all along enable Christ with a mighty power; it did first unite his soul to his body, his divine nature to the human, strengthened him in his temptation, stood by him in his passion, and at last united his body to his soul at his resurrection: 1 Pet. iii. 18, 'Quickened by the Spirit', Rom. i. 14, 'Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead;' showing himself here in the whole administration a Spirit of holiness, in his conception, conversation, oblation, justification, and resurrection. Upon which account he is said to be 'justified in the Spirit,' in the administration and ordering of the church. For it was 'through the Holy Ghost he gave commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen,' Acts. i. 2, not leaving his human nature till it was made immortal and glorious in heaven, that thereby the redemption and reconciliation might be every way complete. It was to those ends and purposes God gave the Spirit not by measure to him.
[5.] The Spirit was given to him by his Father, not only to fit him for his mediatory undertaking, but thereby to accomplish all the fruits of reconciliation in his seed. As God prepared him a body to lay down as a ransom for us, Mat. xx. 28, so he gave him the Spirit to bestow as a largess on us. He was given to him to be derived from him, as from the fountain, to all believers, whence they are said to be his fellows, Heb. i. 9. As he made himself their fellow, by descending to the fellowship of their nature, so they were to be his fellows by the communications of his Spirit. All men are his fellows in regard of his partaking of human nature, but believers only are his fellows in regard of conformity to the image of God. There is a fullness of merit in him resident in heaven, as a sweet smelling savour before God, and a fullness of grace to distil upon his seed to make them acceptable to God: merit to keep up the amity on his Father's part, and grace to keep up the amity on the believer's part. The graces of the Spirit were given to him, not only as mediator, without which the human nature had not been capable for the work, but as a head, which redound from him upon his members, Col. ii. 19, and convey nourishment to every part. As God assembled light in the sun to fit it for a full fountain of light, to transmit from heaven to the creatures on earth motion, warmth, and influences, whereby the qualities in all bodies are preserved and excited, so has God given the Spirit to Christ, the Sun of righteousness, and stored him with grace and holiness, as a common fountain of gardens, a public head, for the quickening, beautifying, and enriching believers. Without this fullness of light, the sun could not be beneficial to the world, nor answer the end of its creation, so without this fullness of Spirit in Christ, he could not accomplish the fruits and ends of the reconciliation he has made. And therefore, though the Spirit sanctified Adam in innocence, as the third person in the Trinity, and so he breathed an holiness upon Christ, yet he sanctifies believers now in a new habitude, not only as the third person in the Trinity but as the Spirit of Christ, the mediator, sent in his name by the Father, John xiv. 26, as purchased by Christ, upon which account he is called the Spirit of Christ, and Christ is said to send him, John xvi. 7. Because, as mediator, he acquired a right by the merit of his sufferings to dispense this fullness of the Spirit, who now acts as a fruit of Christ's intercession upon believers: John xiv. 16, 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter.'
Use of this part.
1. How gross a sin is unbelief, which practically denies the ability of that Saviour, which the Father so richly fitted by his Spirit to the work of reconciliation! It is a charge and imputation upon God, as though he did not furnish him with sufficient abilities. It is a deriving his divinity or humanity, or both. It is all the heresies that ever were started against the person of the Son of God in the mass; they are all practically bundled up in this one single sin. God's anger will most flame when that which cost him the greatest treasures is despised. It is the despising all that is great in God; his riches, his power, his honour: his riches in furnishing him, his power in supporting him, his honour designed by him in both. It is a more sensible contradiction to the Trinity than any sin against the light of nature, because there is a more evident discovery of the Trinity in his mediation; the Father appointing, calling, counselling, ordering; the Spirit furnishing, fitting, exciting, supporting; the Son acting as the subject of all this. It does affront not a man; nor an angel, no, nor only the Son of God himself, but the magnificence of the Father towards him, and the pains of the Spirit on him.
2. How should we be encouraged to faith in this able Saviour! Since he has all the fitness that could delight God, and all the fullness whereby he can pleasure man, he is every way able to satisfy God and save the believer. His ability being so much and so great upon the earth, is not diminished in heaven, no more than his compassions are abated. As he learned a new mode of compassionating men before his departure out of the world, so, since his ascension to heaven, he has received a greater power of assisting men. Before, he had the Spirit to gift himself, now he has the Spirit to send upon his people. He has a fullness of grace, a fitness of gifts, that he may be every way able to help. He had a body to bear our sins, and a divine nature whereby to expiate them, his merit was as infinite as his person. He is an holy high priest, not tainted with any of those evils which he was to expiate in others. He is not only man; then he might have fallen as the first Adam did, and left us in the same, or a worse condition than before: he is not only God, then he could have performed no obedience to the law, as being not concerned in it as a subject, but as the lawgiver; nor could he have offered any satisfaction to God, as being incapable of suffering in the Deity; but God and man, fit to repair the honour of God and the fallen state of the creature. He had an enlarged understanding to know his work, inconceivable power to perform it, and incomparable goodness to be faithful in it. Such wisdom as he was furnished with could not be ignorant of his office, nor is to this day; such power could not be weak, nor will ever languish; such integrity could not be false, nor will ever deceive the comers to him.
3. Admire these infinite compassions of God. Oh marvellous grace! that Christ should be endued with the richest grace by his Father to relieve our poverty, with the highest might to help our weakness, with a powerful assistance to conquer our enemies, with an overflowing fullness to fill up our emptiness, and abundant grace poured into his lips to comfort our dejectedness. God cannot show greater love than to send his Son to make the peace, and unlock his cabinet wherewith to furnish him. An old frame of thankfulness will not fit an evangelical discovery of love. When God tells them, Isa. xiii. 9, 10, of his 'Servant in whom his soul delights,' and upon whom he had put his Spirit for the redemption of man, then he makes this use of exhortation of it, 'Sing unto the Lord a new song.' New love calls for new praise. God might have destroyed us with less cost than he has reconciled us; for our destruction there was no need of his counsel, nor of fitting out his Son, nor opening his treasures; a word would have done it, whereas our reconciliation stood him in much charge. It was performed at the expense of his grace and Spirit, to furnish his eternal Son to be a sacrifice for our atonement. An inexpressible wonder, that the Father should prepare his Son a mortal body, that our souls might be prepared for an incorruptible glory!
4. God commissioned Christ to this work of reconciliation. He gave him a fullness of authority us well as a fullness of ability. He is therefore said to be sealed, as having his commission under the great seal of heaven: John vi. 27, "Touton gar ho pater esfregisen, o Theos". Sealing notes a special designment of the thing sealed to some special purpose; so the sealing of Christ signifies his separation and authority to exercise his offices, and in particular, of giving meat to the world, which should endure to everlasting life. By virtue of this commission, whatsoever Christ does is valid, for he does it as God's attorney, to whom he has transferred a power to carry on the work of redemption, in which respect he is called God's servant, not by nature, but a servant by office. In this respect he is said to be anointed, Isa. lxi. 1. Anointing was not so much the fitting a person as a declaration of his fitness, and an authorising him to an exercise of his offices. Anointing under the law signified an authority conferred upon a person for government, priesthood, or prophecy. In that place Christ does distinguish his commission from his fitness, and declares himself fit, because he was commissioned. 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;' there is his fitness, 'because, "ya'an", therefore the Lord has anointed me.' It was not agreeable to the divine wisdom to commission any for an office but whom he had furnished with an ability for that office. What was he commissioned for? Not to thunder the law, but to declare the gospel, the gospel of peace to the broken-hearted, to reveal the thoughts of amity which his Father had. Upon this account Christ tells us he did not come of himself, John vii. 28, and in regard of this commission he is called God's angel, Mal. iii. 1, 'messenger;' the word signifies an angel, the 'apostle of our profession,' Heb. iii. 1, because, as he authorised and sent the apostles, so the Father authorised and sent him; 'a messenger, and an interpreter,' John xxxiii. 23. Though this commission was given him at his birth, yet God renewed the declaration of it several times: at his baptism, Mat. iii. 17, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;' at his transfiguration, Mat. xvii. 5, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.' Christ pleads this commission, as well as the covenant between them: John xvii. 4, 'I have finished the work thou gave me to do,' when he calls it a work given him to do. What work I have done was appointed me, and I have done it by thy authority, and therefore our redemption and security in it depends primarily upon the covenant or federal transaction between the Father and the Son; and next, upon the commission given to Christ, which was indeed but the performance of the first articles on the Father's part. Christ's commission was declared several ways; by the miracles he wrought by his own hand, as well as by the apostles; by the holiness of his life; by the accomplishment of all the predictions of the prophets in his person; by his resurrection from the dead; and by the conversion of the world executed in the most astonishing and divine manner. This commission he had at once, as well as his fitness; but he did successively enter into the exercise of his offices. At first he performed his prophetical, then exercised his priestly a little before his death, at his authoritative prayer, John xvii., where he begins his intercession, the greatest, choicest, and most durable part of his priesthood. His kingly he exercised more especially after his resurrection, in the orders he settled for the church; all power was then more manifestly declared to be given him.
He had then in the whole, the stamp of all God's authority upon him.
(1.) His whole work was prescribed him; which is expressed by the notion of a precept as he was God's servant. The command of a superior is a sufficient commission to a servant to do a work he is ordered to perform; and Christ, in regard of his mediatory office, was inferior to his Father, John xiv. 28. In which respect the Father is said to be greater than he. The command was his commission from God, but miracles were the manifestation of that commission to man. This command implies not any unwillingness in Christ to undertake and perform this work (as though God were necessitated to bend his will thereunto, and to force him by virtue of his obedience to it); but it is rather a law or rule of his acting voluntarily, agreed upon between the Father and the Son, and as heartily embraced by Christ as it was kindly enacted by God for the good of man. In regard of this particular order, his whole mediatory management in the world is called obedience: Philip. ii. 8, 'He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' Obedient to death, even to the utmost and sharpest point; which infers an extension of the command on God's part, and obedience on Christ's part, in all things preceding the cross, and all the circumstances of his reconciling death, doing nothing in his whole state of humiliation but in obedience to his Father's injunctions; which injunctions were so particular, that there is no material thing in the whole life and death of Christ upon record in the New Testament, but is expressed in the mysteries of the law, or the oracles of the prophets in the Old. He did nothing either as man or as mediator, but according to God's order. As he was man, he was observant of the moral law, as being that covenant of works he was to make up the breach of, which he performed in the highest manner upon the cross, manifesting his love to God in laying down his life according to his order, and love to man in giving his life for a ransom for him; and by an act of charity incumbent upon him by the moral law, praying for his persecutors. As he was born under the Jewish administration, he observed God's orders in that: in circumcision, as a federal rite, which he suffered in his flesh; and the Passover, a commemoration of a national deliverance, which he celebrated with his disciples; but not in purifications and sacrifices, which were appointed for atonement, and implied sin in the offerer, which it was not congruous for him to be subject to by reason of the exact purity of his person. But above all, he was an exact observer of the mediatory law, which was a law added over and above to him in that economy, and incumbent upon none else, neither angels nor men. In this he did nothing but by order; he 'did nothing of himself, but what he saw the Father do,' John v. 19, i.e. what he had directions from his Father to perform; for if you understand it of Christ as mediator, he did many things which the Father did not do, but nothing but what the Father did order him to do. And therefore whatsoever Christ did was manifested to him by the Father: ver. 20, 'For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that himself does,' &c.; and he had no respect to his own will, did nothing of his own head, but observed exactly the pattern set him by the will of his Father: ver. 30, 'I can of my own self do nothing; I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.' As he was sent by his Father's order, so he was altogether guided by his Father's will, wherewith his own will exactly concurred. Therefore those good works he had done were showed them from his Father, John x. 32, those "kala erga", those comely works; all that tenderness he had showed, either to soul or body, were wrought by his Father's commission and his Father's power. In this respect, as he was polished in regard of fitness, so he was a shaft in regard of motion, Isa. xlix. 2, flying swiftly to the mark whereto the archer designed him. And because he had so exactly observed his commission, he did 'abide in his Father's love,' which he uses as an incentive to his disciples' obedience, both from his own example and the issue of it, John xv. 10.
(2.) God gave him instructions how to manage this work. When any wise man intends an end, and fixes upon the best means for it, he orders every circumstance, time, place, manner, as far as he is able. God intending the mediation and incarnation of Christ, comprehended under that decree the place, manner, and all the circumstances of it in every punctilio. It is so evident that Christ had his instructions from God, that the Socinians fancy an ascension of Christ into heaven after his birth, and before his preaching in the world, to be instructed by God what he should preach; for Paul, say they, ascended into heaven before he was sent to the Gentiles; and if the servant did, why not the master? But this is to argue against the deity of Christ. It is strange that the Scripture, which speaks so particularly of the actions of Christ, of what was done before his preaching, viz. his birth and baptism, should be silent in so remarkable an occurrence, and every evangelist be forgetful of it. It is not credible, that if they had known it, they should be silent in it. But the Scripture plainly denies this pretended ascension: Heb. ix. 12, 24, 'He entered once into the holy place.' In regard of this instruction, God is said to call Christ to his foot, Isa. xii. 2, i.e. taught him, as scholars used to sit at their master's feet: 'Who raised up the righteous man from the east,' "tsedek", righteousness. Some understand it of Abraham, some of Cyrus, both which were raised from the east; but the following expressions are too high to suit either of them. God brought him as the sun from the east, to shine upon a dark and blind world. His work is in this respect said to be before him, Isa. lxii. 11, as having his instructions copied out to him, as ambassadors receive instructions from the prince. His doctrine is therefore said not to be so much his as his Father's, John xvii. 16; it is a transcript of his Father's mind and will: whence Ps. xl. 9, 10, 'I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation, I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth;' wherein Christ is represented speaking to his Father, and giving an account how he had observed his rule, and how faithful he had been in the declarations of his will; how emphatically is he referring all to God, thy righteousness, thy faithfulness, thy salvation, thy loving-kindness, thy truth. Whatsoever Christ spoke, he heard from the Father; not only as a Son by eternal generation, but as a mediator by an authoritative instruction, he spoke to the world those things which he had heard of the Father, John viii. 26, and every little of his instructions was observed, John xv. 16. He had communicated all things which he had heard of his Father; and whatsoever he did communicate, was revealed to him by his Father. This declaration, which was the chief part of his instructions, was of the name of God, which he pleads he had declared, John xvii. 6, 26, the name of grace and love which is expressed, Exod. xxxiv., his reconciling name. The name of God is said to be in him: Exod. xxiii. 21, 'My name,' i.e. my law and doctrine, as in some places the law of Christ is expounded, his law, Isa. xiii. 4, which is rendered his name, Mat. xii. 21. This was promised, Dent. xviii. 18,19, 'I will raise them a prophet, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.' They were God's words in his mouth; God's words which he should speak in God's name. God gave him authority to reveal his will, and commanded men to hear him if then had any mind to eternal happiness. You have the full instructions of the work he was to do and the words he was to speak, Isa. xlix. 8, 9, after the covenant made with him: he was to establish the tottering earth, which was shaken and disordered by sin, he was to be an herald, to proclaim pardon and liberty in favour to the prisoners bound in chains of guilt. God instructs him what he should say: 'That thou may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves;' come out of your dungeon, you that are sold under the power of sin, show yourselves, appear before God as a reconciled Father; for I am the covenant of the people, and God's salvation to the ends of the earth.
(3.) Miracles performed by him were a confirmation of the authenticness of his commission. They were miracles of that nature that had not been performed by any prophet before him. The opening the eyes of one that was born blind was an act unheard of in the world, and the raising one that had lain some days putrefying in his grave was not to be paralleled by any of the ancient prophets. And those miracles done by him which were of the same kind with those done by the prophets of old, were done with more ease, and in a way of absolute authority. These were such credentials, that not only Nicodemus acknowledged him upon that account to be 'a teacher sent from God,' John iii. 2, but the devils knew him to be the Messiah, the Son of God, Luke iv. 41. The casting out devils was an unanswerable argument of his authority, since those malicious spirits were too strong to be subject to a created power, or obey his command without a touch of omnipotence to compel them to it; these he dispossesses with authority, as one that had power over them, whence the people began to admire the excellency of his doctrine, because accompanied with such triumphant seals, Mark i. 27. Without a divine commission to fortify his command, his word had been as ridiculous to them as they were malicious against him. The end of all those miracles wrought by him was to testify God's approbation and mission of him. Acts ii. 22, 'Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you,' "apodedeigmenon". They were demonstrations of his commission, and are called signs which God did by him, as they are called also the works of his Father, John v. 36, which did bear witness of him that the Father had sent him, and challenge from the Jews a belief of him, and he intimates that their unbelief had been excusable if he had not done such works, John x. 37. These miracles were an evident testimony that the Father was in him, because, exceeding the sphere of natural causes, they were products of the creative power which is ascribed in Scripture principally to the Father, and therefore more unanswerable than an audible voice from heaven, which had been more liable to evasions and objections than ocular demonstrations, allowed by the common sense of all spectators, and felt by the subject who received the benefit of them. These being acts of omnipotence, could not be affixed to a falsity. For it would follow that either God were deceived himself, which he cannot be because of his omniscience, or that he would deceive others, which is impossible, because of his truth. And especially when he was solemnly desired to assist him with his omnipotence in the raising Lazarus, to this end, that 'they might believe that he had sent him,' John xi. 42, which he durst never have desired, nor would God ever have granted, had he only pretended an authority; for then he had settled the faith of man upon a false foundation, in overpowering their reason by a supernatural work, to assent to those things which they could not have been induced unto by lower arguments. These were the seals of his patent from heaven; whence, when John sent his disciples to know of him whether he were the Messiah, he gives no other demonstration than that of the supernatural works he had wrought.
(4.) The end of this commission was the reconciliation and redemption of man.
[1.] Satisfaction for our sins: Gal. i. 4, 'Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.' It was the will of God and our Father, that he should give himself for our sins; wherein God acted not only as a just judge, to have the honour of his law maintained; nor only as a sovereign lord, to reduce the creature to obedience; but as a tender father, out of a paternal affection to restore the creature to happiness, 'according to the will of God and our Father.' The apostle lays therefore our atonement upon the will of God whereby Christ was authorised to this work, 'by which will we are sanctified,' Heb. x. 10. By this will of God given in charge, and instructions to Christ, we are atoned and brought into a state of reconciliation, through the offering of the body of Christ once for all. Hence "hilaskesthai", a making reconciliation for the sins of the people, is said to be a thing pertaining to God, wherein Christ expressed his faithfulness to the instructions God gave him as a high priest, Heb. ii. 7.
[2.] Testification of the love of God. Isa. xliii. 10, 11, 'Ye are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he, I, even I am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour.' To witness the nature and love of God in the salvation he has provided, to evidence that he was the only true God, because the only fountain of' salvation to the lost world. He had therefore an account of all from his Father upon whose hearts an impression of this love was to be made, so that he knew them all by name, John x. 3. It was to give us an understanding of God, both of his truth and of his love, 1 John v. 20.
[3.] Final and perfect salvation. It was the will of God not only that he should give himself for our sins, but that he should deliver us from this evil world, i. e. conduct us to heaven, that we might be for ever there without spot or any stain of the evil of the world upon us, Gal. i. 4. Upon this account he had authority, "eksousian", to give eternal life to as many as God had given him, and it was in his instructions not to cast off any that came to him, John vi. 38. Whence the conversion of the Samaritan woman is said to be the will of his Father, John iv. 34, and there is no work of grace upon any soul by the merit of his passion and power of the Spirit, but is by an order of his Father to him for it; and therefore when God shall call for all those that as a right are deposited in his hands, he expects the full performance of his charge, and a resignation of them all to him without the loss of one, John vi. 39. For his commission and instructions extended not only to take away the enmity on God's part by the satisfaction of his justice, but to present them unblameable and unreprovable in the sight of God, that there might be no ground for the breaking out of this enmity again on either side, Col. i. 20, 22. Thus was our Saviour made, by the authority of God, a 'surety of a better testament,' Heb. vii. 22: a surety on man's part, to satisfy the debts which were owing to the justice of God, which he performed as a priest by his death; and a surety on God's part, to secure pardon and peace to believers, that they should be no more under arrest for their debts, which was ensured when all authority and power was given into his hands; so that the commission and instructions were every way extensive for the asserting the honour of God and ensuring the happiness of the creature.
5. The Father actually sends him. Nothing more frequent in the Gospels, especially of John, than Christ's affirming he was sent by the Father: John viii. 42, 'I proceeded forth, and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.' As he intruded not himself, nor appointed himself, so he did not take his journey, and present himself to the world, till he had his despatch from God; as he had his divine being by communication from the Father, so he had his temporary mission from his Father. His generation is the proper ground of his mission. John vii. 29, 'But I know him: for I am from him, and he has sent me,' though his mission is not the necessary consequent of his eternal generation; his eternal generation did not necessitate his temporal incarnation, no more than the eternal procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son can necessitate the incarnation of the Spirit. There was in the Father a right of sending prompter relationem originis; and because of Christ's voluntary putting himself into the relation of a mediator. In respect of his being the second person in the Trinity, he is said to be begotten; as mediator and reconciler, he is said to be sent. Generation was an eternal act, mission a temporal; that was natural, this voluntary; the decree of mission was eternal, the act of mission temporal. His being sent does not impair his deity; though sent, he is Jehovah: Zech. ii. 8, 9, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, After the glory he has sent me: and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me.' The person that says he is sent is Jehovah, and he is sent by Jehovah; and the end of his sending is there expressed, ver. 11 for the conjunction of many nations to the Lord, in that day of his sending and dwelling in the midst of Zion. And when he affirms that he is sent by the Lord,óIsa. xlviii. 16, 'And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, has sent me,'óhe affirms himself to be 'the first and the last', ver. 12, 13, 'Whose hand laid the foundation of the earth, and his right hand spanned the heavens,' when he called unto them to stand up together. His ancient name was sent, which some think is the signification of the word Shiloh, Gen. xlix. 10, which they derive from a word which signifies sending; and Moses speaks of him to God by this title. Exod. iv. 13, 'O my God, send, I pray thee, by the hand thou wilt send;' which anciently was understood of the Messiah, because the patriarchs did in difficult things express their desire of the coming of the Messiah, who was to restore and settle all things in a happy state. Moses knew that God would send him to be a redeemer, and he desires God would send by him. And it is a title appropriate to Christ by John Baptist: John iii. 34, 'He whom God has sent.'
(1.) There is the highest reason to acknowledge him sent of God. That there was such a person in the world, is acknowledged by the very enemies to his person, and owned in human stories as well as divine writ. Since he professed himself to be sent by God, if he were not sent by him, he had been guilty of the greatest falsity; and greatest folly in affirming so. Had he been a mere man, and come without any authority, how comes it to pass, that after his death he prevailed against the laws of the nation, the grandeur and valour of the world, the wisdom and eloquence of men, and against the whole world that resisted his doctrine; that he put to flight the powers of hell, silenced their oracles? How should one crucified as a malefactor be so powerful, after his death, to make such impressions upon the minds of men; to change the whole scene of the world, to assist his followers for many years after in the working of miracles? If God would for a time have left such a wickedness (had it been a false assertion} unrevenged, yet would he never have seconded it by his own power, and nonplussed men into a belief of it! Would he have assisted the heralds of this news even against himself, and his own truth and righteousness? Had this been done by human means, it might have been suspected; but a divine wisdom and art appeared in all. It was not by riches, honours, or the promises of worldly greatness, that this doctrine spread itself over the world, and found such harbour in the minds of men; but by promises of an invisible and future happiness, and assurance of present misery, reproach, poverty, prisons, torments, and death; and by these means his followers increased to a formidable number, against the opposition of princes and learning of the world; and they were more willing and fond to lay down their lives to seal the truth of the doctrine, that Christ was sent of God, than to strike one stroke for the propagation of it, though they wanted not courage for acting, as well as for suffering, had any such commission been granted them. Now if God does rule the world justly and righteously, we must believe that Christ was sent by God for those ends he declared in the time of his life, or we must deny the righteous providence of God, and acknowledge all things to be ordered by chance, or some worse power; we must accuse God of the highest unrighteousness, in bearing witness by a divine power to so great an imposture, whereby millions of souls would be undone, had he not, according to his own declaration, been sent by God.
(2.) God sent him for this end of reconciliation and redemption. He was sent as 'the messenger of the covenant,' Mal iii. 1, to declare the peace, as well as to be the peace, Eph. ii. 14, 17. The thing itself was so incredible, that an injured God should be desirous of reconciliation, and upon such terms as the death of his Son, that it was as needful to be declared by God, as contrived and acted by God. The objections that might have been made against it had such strength, that he only who lay in the bosom of the Father, and knew all his eternal counsels, and was the actor of it in his own person, could reveal the thoughts, purposes, and resolves of his Father concerning it from all eternity, John i. 18.
6. Uses. (1.) We see again here the sad charge against unbelief and disobedience. It is a despising the stamp of all God's authority upon Christ, and tearing his commission; a refusal of one particularly sent, a rejection of the messenger of the covenant, and all the covenant treaties of love and peace. This was the aggravation of the Jews' sin, and is likewise of all the inheritors of that unbelief, to the end of the world; that Christ has an authoritative commission from his Father, and is not received by the rebels; that he speaks in his Father's name, and is not believed by the offender, John v. 43. God was in Christ reconciling the world, as a prince in an ambassador; therefore God and his reconciling offer are despised in the refusal of his commission. It is to God the affront is offered, Christ being the representative of God in the highest and most gracious charge, in the tenderest and most indulgent offers; any slight thoughts of his person, any contempt of his precepts, any disregard of his promises, redounds upon the person authorising him to those ends. He was sent to be heard and obeyed, Mat. xvii. 5, not to be slighted and despised.
(2.) Study Christ's commission in the extent of it. Whatsoever Christ does, he does it by command, and commission from his Father. This will support faith against fears, and hope against despondencies. It will afford us arguments in prayer, when we can open before God the commission he gave to his Son, and back every petition with some clause in it; when we can go to Christ as an officer authorised and instructed, and show him what instructions he had: Isa. lxi. 1-3, 'To bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be trees of righteousness.' To bind up the broken-hearted, deliver the captives, open the prisons, change deformity into beauty, and sorrow into joy, a spirit of heaviness into a spirit of praise, a languishing frame into a fruitful growth; all which parts of his commission were owned by him, Luke iv. 18, and observed in his actings in the world. The poor woman pleaded with him for mercy, as he was the Son of David,' Mat. xv. 22; we upon a higher title, as he is the commissioner of God, the apostle of our profession, the messenger of the covenant.
3.) Act faith much upon it. There is little comfort in all that Christ did and suffered, unless we respect him as one sent. Had he come of his own head, we could not with any confidence plead his merit before God. He is sent as his Father's servant, to do service for his Father and his people. Christ must be respected, not only as dying, but as one sent by the Father to such an end. This is the character he gives his disciples' faith in his relation to the Father: John xvii. 8, 'They have believed that thou did send me.' It is this commission Christ pleads in his intercession: 'Let not them that wait upon thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake; let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel because for thy sake I have borne reproach,' Ps. lx. 6, 7. It is Christ's passion prayer. The 9th, 21st, 22rd verses, are applied to Christ in the New Testament. It was by thy order, and for thy honour, I bore this reproach; let not, therefore, any believer be ashamed and confounded. What he desired on earth, he intercedes for in heaven, and upon the same ground. He will not therefore refuse those that come unto God by him, he has an office in heaven for their reception. You come to one who has an obligation and order from his Father to receive you, and has too faithful a disposition, and too compassionate a nature of his own, ever to reject you. It was from the strict observance of his Father's orders, that he did nothing but what was pleasing to God: John viii. 29, 'I do always those things that please him' ( a r e s t a ) (aresta). 'A r e s t o n (Areston) signifies, some say, an order of a court. Not a work done not a word spoken, but was agreeable to the tenor of his commission, to the copy of his instructions: John xii. 49, 50, 'Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.' We cannot but please God by believing one that is so exact, by presenting to him what he is so highly pleased with. The command given him by his Father, was the publishing everlasting life. We should then believingly put in plea God's order. This is a stronger ground of support than the principles of sciences, and fallibility of sense, and the totterings of reason.
(4.) Bless God for his love, and for any work in your hearts. The authorising Christ is a piece of love, that could never enter into the heart of any man, unless God had revealed it. It is therefore called a mystery, Eph. iii. 3. The apostle could not consider the will of God and our Father in this work, without interrupting his discourse with a doxology: Gal. i. 4, 5, 'To whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.' Bless him for any gracious work in any of your hearts. It was by the order of his Father any work was done by him in the world. It is by the same order any work is done by him in your souls. It is Christ's 'meat and drink to do his Father's will' in both. Not a person that finds the qualifications of grace in his heart, but may read his name in the commission of the Father to Christ. As the angels rejoiced in the manifestation of the wisdom and power of God, when the new creation was laid in the incarnation of Christ, so should we in the mission of the Son of God. 'Glory to God, and peace on earth,' are in conjunction in themselves, and should be in our meditations on it.
7. The Father actually bruises him. In this act is the corner-stone of our reconciliation laid. He bore from his Father our punishment; the punishment of sense in his agonies in the garden, the punishment of loss in the eclipse upon the cross. In the one, he tasted the terrors of hell, in the other, he felt the bitterness of a temporary clouding of heaven. He was 'smitten of God and afflicted,' Isa. liii. 4, percussum Dei, "muchah Elohim". Men that were extremely afflicted, they regarded as smitten by the immediate hand of God. God indeed both loved and punished him in that act, John x. 17: he loved him as our Redeemer, and bruised him as the surety engaging for our debts; he loved him for the glory he was to gain by him, and punished him for the sins he did legally bear upon himself; he loved him as his servant in whom he would be glorified by the punishment of our sins, and the redemption of our souls. It is granted on all hands, that God was the supreme cause and author of Christ's sufferings; but some say, not the immediate executioner with his own hands. For the phrase in Scripture, that God did these or those things, concludes not that he did them with his immediate hand; but that he was the decreer, disposer, and director of them by his just judgment in a holy manner to correct the sins of men, or by his wisdom to make trial of his saints; God using for the executioners men or angels, good or bad, or other inferior creatures, as seems best to his wisdom: Amos iii. 6, 'Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?' where he does not ascribe all evil of punishment to the immediate hand of God, but to the sovereign judgment and power of God, appointing and ordering what should be done.
It is certain, that the grace of God was the cause of his tasting death, Heb. ii. 9. But it is most likely, that the Father did immediately bruise him.
(1.) It seems necessary that the stroke should come immediately from the Father.
[1.] In regard of what he was to suffer. It was more than a bodily death was due by the first sentence against Adam in case of failure on his part. Gen. ii. 17, 'In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,' "mot tamut". All kinds of death; the curse of the law reached further than the case of the body. If nothing more were due to the sinner but the temporal death of the body, it were a light and tolerable punishment. An infinite wrath surely was due both to soul and body for transgressing the precepts of an infinite majesty. The soul being principal in sin, must be the principal in suffering; the soul was the agent, the body but the instrument. The whole nature of man had sinned, and violated the articles of the covenant; the whole nature of man must therefore answer. The soul in us then being the proper subject of sin, the soul of Christ must be the immediate subject of suffering, otherwise he suffered not the penalty due to sin. Not one of those murderers, whose hands reeked with the blood of his body, could reach his invisible soul, and stain their hands immediately with the oppression of his spirit; that was beyond their touch, and was obnoxious only to the Father's stroke. No creature could drop an inward wrath upon his soul. An infinite justice was wronged, an infinite punishment must be suffered. Now none can execute infinite wrath, but an infinite person; what creatures could be sufficient to revenge an infinite offence against an infinite majesty? As every faculty of our souls had been depraved by sin, so must every faculty of the soul be afflicted with sorrow. 'The whole world was guilty before God,' Rom. iii. 19, u p o d i k o V t w J e w (hupodikos toi Theoi), under the judgment of God: 'his wrath abode upon us, John iii. 30. We were 'by nature children of wrath,' Eph. ii. 3. Christ must endure the wrath due to us; it was more than a common death that he was to taste, and did taste, Heb. ii. 9, 14, 15óthat death which the devil had the power of, who labours not only for the death of the body, but for that of the soul; that death which men under a sense of guilt feared, which was not a temporal, but an eternal one. Men feared not a death in sin, but a death for sin; not so much the death of the body, as that of the soul. Such a death which men feared, Christ endured; the penal death of men, not the spiritual death of men; and that in regard of the nature of it, not of the continuance, nor the despairs and moral evils which follow upon it. Such sins as the damned are guilty of, are not essential to the nature of punishment, but arise from the inherent unrighteousness of the person; neither is the eternal duration of the punishment essential to its nature, but arises from the finite nature of the suffering creature which renders a commensurate satisfaction from him impossible. The infinite holiness of Christ's nature was a bar against the sins which are committed by others under that wrath, and the infinite grandeur and dignity of his person was a bar against the eternal duration of that punishment. Now such a death is immediately inflicted by the wrath of God. I cannot see how any creature can inflict that which is infinite.
[2.] In regard of the attributes the Father intended to glorify in the death of Christ. He acted herein as judge, for the manifestation of his vindictive justice; as supreme lawgiver, for the vindication of his holiness; as a governor, for the declaration of his tenderness and kindness towards man: all which attributes were glorified in the highest strain by his being an actor in the death of his beloved Son.
His Justice. His justice had not been so eminent, if Christ had only suffered the death of the body, without impressions of wrath on his soul; nor if God had left him to the strokes of others, without striking him himself. This attribute had been manifested upon the highest creatures, angels in heaven, man upon the earth, and upon the account of the latter had reached both the irrational and inanimate creatures; there wanted nothing to express it to the utmost but this of bruising his Son. God designed the utmost demonstration of this in the death of his Son, Rom. iii. 26. Christ was 'set out as a propitiation, that God might be just;' that God might be just, i. e. that he might be known, and declared in the highest manner to be a righteous God; implying, that all other expressions of it before had been drawn in fainter colours than what he intended here, as if he could not have been known to have an impartial justice without such a way of discovery. He did, therefore, all in this case which an exact justice could require; for to neglect what it requires, is an injury to it, as well as to do what it prohibits. In the creation, he was a God of power and wisdom; in the law, a God of vengeance, which is mounted to the highest point in inflicting wrath upon Christ for man's violation of that law. In extraordinary visible judgments by the hand of God, there are clearer notices of his justice than when the hand of instruments is more sensibly felt in them. 'The heavens' then 'declare his righteousness,' when 'the Lord is Judge himself,' Ps. 50. 6. Abraham's obedience was more eminent by the laying hands upon his own son Isaac himself, according to God's order; so was God's justice in laying his own hand upon Christ, than if it had been committed merely to instruments. Had our Saviour suffered only a bodily death, with those griefs in his soul which are incident to men barely for the death of the body, he had under all that load of sin which was laid upon him suffered less than madly men have done. There was something therefore of wrath dropped into his soul, which was the act of his Father's bruising of him, for the manifestation of his justice, and giving it an unexceptionable satisfaction.
His holiness. God was now upon the highest discovery of his holiness and hatred of sin. Had this punishment been left only to instruments, he had indeed declared his holiness, but in a fainter degree; his hatred of sin had not been so conspicuous, had he not with his own hands poured out a wrath upon him. His end in sending his Son 'in the likeness of sinful flesh' being to make him a sacrifice to 'condemn sin in the flesh,' Rom. viii. 3, his shooting his wrath upon him was a more sensible, high, and full condemnation of sin, than if all the devils in hell, and all their subjects and votaries on earth, had been let loose to buffet him. Herein he showed that sin was odious and abominable to him, that it should not be spared though it were only by imputation upon his Son; and hereby he lays a foundation of greater awe and reverence of his sanctity, and pure indignation upon the hearts of men. Here was the beauty of his holiness, as well as the exactness of his justice; vindicating the honour of his law, displaying the purity of his nature by sheathing his sword with indignation in the bowels of sin, while he pierced the heart of his beloved Son. A prince punishing his own son for some enormous crime by his own hand, would evidence a greater abhorrence of it than if he only exposed him to the hands of executioners.
His love. If God's love appeared more in giving up Christ as a sacrifice than if he had saved the world without the death of his Son, and without any satisfaction,óas appears, John iii. 17, 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,' &c., which was a purer strain of love than pardoning sin without a sacrifice,óit may also follow, that since God resolved to signalise his love to us, he would have it reach the highest note, and it could not be screwed up to a higher peg than the sacrificing of his Son for us with his own hand. If there be such an emphasis of love in sending him, there is a stronger emphasis of love in bruising him. 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;' but God so loved the world, that he bruised his only begotten Son, declares a richer magnificence of love, and raises it to a height of glory, in showing what he would do for miserable creatures. He magnifies his kindness, demonstrates how much he values and delights in his elect, and gives an undeniable proof of the treasures of love in his heart for them. His earnestness in shooting his arrows into himself, rather than lose his people, and engraving upon him the marks of his anger, is the highest point his compassion to us could amount unto, and a step beyond the bare offer and mission of him. God would save us as a Judge, with the evidence of his righteousness; as a Lawgiver, in the discovery of his holiness; as a King, in the display of his sovereignty: Isa. xxxiii. 22, 'The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, and the Lord is our King; he will save us;' and as a Father too with the clearest and dearest affection.
(2.) God did bruise him: Isa. liii 10, 'Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.' This chapter is the history of the cross, and the epitome of the gospel; it is Christ's crucifixion in effigy before he was crucified in person. The double state of Christ, of humiliation and exaltation, are here described. The verse is a prophecy which has something minatory and something consolatory: minatory, 'It pleased the Lord to bruise him,' he speaks of what was future as if it were past, consolatory, 'He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days;' and yet, this word refers to something antecedent in ver. 9, 'he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.' Though he had an unspotted holiness in his nature, an unblameable purity in his life, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, as he stood in our stead, and represented our persons.
It pleased the Lord, "chafatz". The word signifies not only a bare will, but a will with delight. The word is used to signify God's pleasure in his church, Isa. lxii. 4, where the word is Hephzibah, my delight is in her, the same word, and it is used to express Christ's delight in his saints, Ps. xvi. 3, 'in whom is all my delight.' Not only his resolve, but his pleasure, his heart was as much in it as his hands; the word speaks more than a bare permission. He delighted not simply in the strokes he gave, but in his own essential perfections manifested by those strokes; he delighted not simply in the rod, but in that balsam which was to drop from the end of the rod upon mankind; he was pleased with every wound, as it was a necessary medium to redemption; the text intimates it, he was pleased to bruise him, but it was in order to another pleasure that was to prosper in the hands of the bruised person.
To bruise him, "racha'", he has put him to grief. The word signifies to pound as in a mortar, whereby the greatness of Christ's sufferings is expressed. God came armed with his vindictive justice, the sentence of the law in his mouth, and the penalty of the law in his hand; he appeared as a just governor of the world, with a readiness to exercise his authority for the vindication of his law, he glittered in his holiness to right the wronged holiness of his law, and in his justice to revenge the insolences committed against it. His delight in this might very well consist with his love to his Son. As a Father he loved him, as a judge he punished him; as a Father he loved his person, as a God he loved his own honour. A son enters into suretyship with his father for an insolvent debtor; the father loves his son as he is a father, but demands the debt of him as he is a creditor, and has the law passed against him as he is a governor: he did affect him as he stood in relation to himself, and punished him as he stood in relation to us; he loved him for his own holiness, and punished him for our sins.
Again, it is no wonder that it is expressed that the Lord was pleased or delighted to bruise him, since the bruising Christ was a part of the acceptation of the sacrifice: as fire descending from heaven to consume any sacrifice presented to God was a sign of the acceptableness of it to God. This is supposed to be the sign of the acceptation of Abel's sacrifice. Fire from heaven consumed Abel's sacrifice, and not Cain's. Theodotian therefore renders accepted e n e p u r i s e n (enepurisen), and the Scripture gives us frequent examples of this way of acceptation. So it was with Gideon's offering, Judges vi. 21; and so it was with Aaron's, Lev. ix, 24, and with Elijah's, 1 Kings xviii. 38, and with David's, 1 Chron. xxi. 26. God had never kindled the sacrifice, had he not been pleased with it.
When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. When God was to deal with him in a way of vindictive justice, as he was a sacrifice for us, he would not spare him, nor abate one stroke due to him for our sins; he would deal with him in the same manner as he would deal with us, in whose place he stood as a sacrifice; he did not bruise him as he was his Son, but as he was a sacrifice, and so would not abate anything of that weight of suffering which was due by the law and by the demand of justice for our iniquities.
The promissory part follows. 'He shall see his seed,' there shall be a succession of generations for the glory of Christ, according to that Ps. lxxii. 17, 'His name shall be continued as long as the sun;' he shall be childed, he shall have a generation of children to keep up his name.
In the verse you see,
1. The greatness of Christ's sufferings, expressed by bruising.
2. The inflicter of them, the Lord.
3. The reason of them, as he was an offering, a sacrifice for sin.
4. The subject, the Redeemer.
6. The fruit of it, a spiritual seed, with duration.
Doct. The greatest punishment inflicted upon Christ, when he stood as a sacrifice for sin, was not the act of men, but the act of God. There were sufferings in the body of Christ, as buffetings, spitting, scourging, crucifying; in these, men were the instruments, but the determinate counsel of God preceded. But there were sufferings in his soul which was beyond the reach of men. God himself made the impressions on this; the fire that as it were scalded his spirit, that made him sweat clods of blood in a cold season, came down from heaven, as the fire did upon the legal altar. He never expressed so great a sorrow under all the calamities he felt in the course of his life as in the garden; he was sore amazed and very heavy: Mark xiv. 38, 34, 'he began to be sore amazed,' as if he had tasted nothing but joy in the time past of his life, and never understood the invasions of any sorrow before. He then began to feel the first impressions of that wrath due to sin, a sudden consternation seized upon his faculties. Both words, e k q a m b e s q a i (ekthambesthai) and a d h m o n e i n (ademonein), signify that his pangs were highly strained; a mere bodily death could not amaze him thus. He had a divine nature to support his human, against a mere separation of his soul from his body, since the divine nature would be separated from neither, and he knew a few days would reunite them for ever in a glorious state. Christ did as well foreknow by the promise, the glory that was to follow upon his sufferings, as he did by the precept the passion he was to undergo. It was the wrath of God, a greater bitterness than any other gall in the cup of death, that the human nature, though supported by the divine, stood looking upon with apprehensions of grief and amazement; he knew the greatness of the punishment due to sin, and the greatness of the passion he was to undergo for sin. He is called 'the Lamb of God,' a lamb of his own appointing, a lamb of his own sacrificing, distinguished from the paschal lamb by the author and giver, called the Lamb of God, whereas those were the lambs of men. In the constitution of Christ in the office of mediator, which was God's immediate act, he acted the part of a wise governor; in punishing sin in the person of our surety, thereby satisfying his justice, he acts the part of a just judge. May not the punishment of Christ be immediate by God's own hand, as well as the constitution of Christ was immediate by his own mouth? Isaac was to be the sacrifice, and Abraham the sacrificer; Isaac a child of promise, in whom the seed should be called, ordered to fall by the hand of Abraham the father of many nations: Christ's suffering represented in the one, and God's striking prefigured in the other, God seeming to intimate, that as Abraham was willing to offer up his son at his command with his own hand, so he would offer up his Son as a sacrifice for him, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. It is true the devils were let loose upon him, with all the powers of darkness, Luke xxii. 53, John xv. 13, and upon the cross he combated with principalities and powers, because there he spoiled them, Col. ii. 15, they bruised his heel by their instruments, and his Father his soul by his wrath. The church of old expected and desired this: Ps. lxxx. 17, 'Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man,' &c. The psalmist complains of the miserable desolation of the church, for which there was no remedy but in Christ, the man of God's right hand, the man of his love. By the hand being upon a man, is meant punishing, many times in Scripture: as Ps. xxxviii. 3, 'Thy hand came upon me,' i. e. thou did strike me with a plague. Indeed, his Father mixed the cup, would not suffer it to depart from him, though he offered up supplications with strong cries; and God, who, as a righteous judge, will not clear the guilty, did sentence him to the drinking the dregs of it; and it is as righteous an act to inflict the punishment as to pronounce the sentence. He constituted him mediator by an act of sovereign mercy, he inflicted the punishment upon him by an act of sovereign justice, he sent him into the world, as the Father who had the power of mission, and bruised him upon the cross, as a judge who had the power of punishing.
1. The imputation of our iniquities to him was the act of God: Isa. liii. 6, 'The Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all;' "panenu", accurrere fecit incursu hostili. He gathered together the debts of men, put them into one sum, and transferred them upon Christ, as to guilt and punishment. He bound our transgression upon the back of his only Son, as Abraham did the wood upon the shoulders of his Isaac. Our sins were laid upon Christ, as the transgressions of the people were laid upon the head of the scape-goat, Lev. xvi. 20, 21, 22, which was but a type of this imputation to Christ; for their sins were not truly laid upon the goat, it had then been the antitype, not the type. Sins were confessed, fathered together by confession, laid upon the beast, which is said to bear them, he, and all that touched him, were accounted unclean. All our sins were laid upon the head of Christ by God. He it was 'made him sin for us who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him,' 2 Cor. v. 21; not by inhesion, but imputation; not only a sacrifice for sin, but sin itself. The double antithesis in the text intimates, he was made that sin he knew not; he knew the punishment by suffering, but he knew not the guilt by commission and practice; he was made that sin which is opposed to righteousness, and that was sin itself, which must be understood only as to the imputed guilt; for punishment could not have been indicted on him, unless guilt had first been imputed to him. Had he not first borne our sins, he could not have been driven into the wilderness of desertion and death. Upon this is laid the difference of his first and second appearance: Heb. ix. 28, 'So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.' At his first he bore our sins, not personally inherent, but legally, after the substitution of him in our stead; counted to him as his proper debt; upon which account he 'restored what he took not away.' At the second, he shall 'appear without sin.' His nature was free from sin in his first coming, but not his condition; he had sin as our surety, though none in his person; it was impossible he could be our surety without this imputation. Upon the account of this suretyship, God reckoned him a debtor, as 'made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law,' Gal. iv. 4. That what God in justice might charge upon the bankrupt, he might, after this constitution of him under the law, by the same right charge upon the surety, for this guilt, by the Father's act of imputation, upon his own voluntary submission to take our offending nature, became his; and, therefore, what penalty was by the law due from us was to be paid by him. All punishment supposes a guilt one way or other; but the Redeemer had no personal guilt, for 'he had done no violence,' Isa. liii. 10, 'yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, when his soul made itself an offering for sin,' imputed to him. This imputation was God's immediate act, and could not be the act of any other, because he was the sole creditor, without any partner; and therefore it is no more rejection upon God immediately to punish him, than it was to transfer our sins upon him, which was an act of God, not possible to be done by any creature. God imputed a world of sins to him, because he undertook for that world God had created by him; therefore God alone indicted upon his soul that punishment which was principally due for our sins. Since he died for our sins, he died under that hand which was to strike us for them; for God made him sin for us, i. e. he handled him as he would have done those sinners in whose stead he suffered, had he not undertaken for them.
2. His greatest sufferings appear to be above the power of any creature to indict. Was it a contest with any creature that made him desirous to waive that death, which was the main end of his coming?
(1.) How was his soul begirt with the wrath of God, before his agony in the garden! What an excess of sorrow do those words signify, Mat. xxvi. 37, Mark xiv. 33, ekqambeisqai, adhmonein, sore amazed, sorrowful, very heavy; an inward quaking, an inexpressible amazement. What a deluge fell from heaven upon our ark, of which that of Noah was a type! How was his soul ground to powder in his agony! How did his soul boil under the fire of wrath, and his blood leak through every pore of the vessel by the extremity of the flame! Must it not be more than a finite breath that thus melted his soul in the garden? Must it not be a stronger than a finite stroke, that wrung out those bitter cries? Was there any visible person to afflict him? Yet his agonies there are thought to have more of hell-fire in them, than his sufferings on the cross; clods of blood dropped from him when there was no visible hand to strike him. Inconceivable must be the afflictions of his soul, that could make such dismal commotions in his body, and put the whole instrument out of tune; that should make a dissolution of the parts, and make his heart like melted wax 'in the midst of his bowels,' Ps. xxii. 14. His spotless conscience could not flash such lightnings, as to melt the sword, when nothing touched the scabbard; his Father was then charging him with our sins, actuating his knowledge and sense of them; he had all his lifetime a knowledge of the ingratitude and rebellion of sin; he knew how it had offended and injured God, how it had deformed and ruined the creature; now was his knowledge actuated, and the charging upon him the punishment of them made his knowledge sensible and experimental. This cup discovers more bitter ingredients than any creature could wring out into it.
(2.) Could it be only the sense of an approaching bodily death, that could so deeply afflict his innocent soul? If so, he had discovered a greater weakness than many of the martyrs; nay, had been outstripped in courage by many moral heathens. His nature sure was as strong as theirs to bear it, had not his sufferings been attended with a more sensible sting than theirs were. Martyrs have suffered as great outward torments with joy, laughing in the faces of their persecutors, and edging their fury to more sharpness. But, alas, he suffered more deaths than one: Isa. liii. 9, 'He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,' "bemuto"; the death of the soul in regard of the bitterness, though not in regard of duration. His Father inflicted what was evil, and withdrew that which was good. Were not the clouds of his Father's countenance, and a subtraction of good looks from him, a bruising him? All the outward torments of the world could not have drawn one doleful cry from any man under the full and sensible beams of God's favour, much less from Christ. Could all the instruments in hell, earth, or heaven, draw a veil between his soul and his Father's countenance? This must only be his Father's act, and was a signal stroke. It is clear there was a negative act of God, denying that comfortable presence which was due to him as a holy person by the covenant of works; and could not be denied his humanity, as united to the second person in the Trinity, had he not been in another capacity upon the cross, and not only precisely as the Son of God. The inflicting of the evil of inward punishment was sure as much the act of his Father, as the withdrawing from him an inward good, the light of his countenance. Might there not be more than a bare cloud, might there not be some bitter frowns darted upon him, since he appeared at that time in the condition of the greatest sinner? If the wrath and justice of his Father did not immediately drop upon him, how could he satisfy it; what satisfaction could arise to it, if he were not at all touched by it? The fire upon the typical altar came down from heaven, and so did this wrath which consumed our sacrifice.
3. God had a choice delight in the bruising him. With what ardency does he rouse up the sleepy sword, to sheath it in the bowels of the man that is his fellow! Zech. xiii. 7, 'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow; strike the shepherd,' &c. The latter part of the verse is applied to Christ, Mat. xxvi. 31. He commands it to pursue his design with a strength like a man newly refreshed and risen from sleep, and make the deeper gashes. Never was God so pleased in drawing his sword against his creatures, as in drawing it against the man his fellow, against the Shepherd, one of Christ's titles in Scripture. It pleased the Lord to bruise him, Isa. liii. 10. God delighted in his bruising. The word "chafatz" answers to eudokian (eudokian) in the New Testament, when he says that he is well pleased in Christ as his beloved Son. In the formal condition of this action, as it was conversant about punishment, it was not delightful to God, for he does not punish with his heart: Lam. iii. 33, 'He does not afflict willingly, or grieve the children of men'; 'He delights not in the death of a sinner,' much less in the death of his Son, Ezek. xviii. 33. But as finally considered, it is highly pleasant to him in regard of his glory and man's redemption. The reason why God bruised him was not any delight simply in the death of Christ, but because in that act he broke in pieces our sins (which were the cause of the enmity) which were borne by Christ in his body upon the tree: 1 Peter ii. 14, 'Who his own self bore our sins in his own body upon the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes we were healed,' which is a comment on Isa. liii. 4, 5. He has home our griefs, he was smitten of God, he was bruised for our iniquities, and with his stripes we are healed. Christ appeared in that state, as bearing the whole body of sin, as well as the body of flesh. The Jews aimed at killing his body, and God aimed at killing our sin. Every stroke he fetched was not ultimately to put his Son to death, but the enmity to death; to destroy the dominion and power which sin by its guilt had derived from the law; for so being dead to sin must be understood, which is clear by observing the like phrase, Rom. vi. 11, 14, where by being dead to sin, he means sin not having dominion, or condemning power over him, which is evidenced by a suitable expression of being 'dead to the law,' Rom. vii. 4, which is no more than the law not having dominion over us in regard of the curse, as appears, ver. 1-3. It was sin which had made the breach, that God principally struck at in the bruising his Son. He had a pleasure to bruise him as our surety, a trouble to bruise him as his Son. He was afflicted in his afflictions as his Son, and would have the sun in the heavens bear witness to it by hiding its head. But he was delighted with his sufferings as our Redeemer, because they were for the satisfaction of his justice, the condemnation of sin, and the restoration of his creature. In this respect, the death of Christ was the sweetest sacrifice that ever was offered, and consequently the smiting of him the pleasantest work that ever God engaged in.
4. The graces of Christ were most eminent in enduring the inward impressions of wrath from his Father. The odours of his graces brake out more strongly by his Father's bruising him.
(1.) His kindness and tenderness to man. Christ was now upon the highest manifestation of his compassions to mankind. His death was the emphasis of his love; his love was stronger and purer than the love of any creature, not only in regard of the excellency of his person, but the greatness of his sufferings. Had he endured only a death of the body, and not such a death that could have been inflicted only by an infinite hand, his love had lost much of its lustre. His love is principally laid upon the score of his death: Gal. ii. 20, 'Who loved me, and gave himself for me.' If his passion had been only in his body, without impressions from an higher hand upon his soul, he had been in some measure paralleled in this (except in the dignity of his person) by several, who have freely resigned their lives to the enemies' swords, and some to unexpressible torments, for the public good of' their country, as the Roman Regulus to the Carthaginians, because his country should not agree to disadvantageous conditions of peace. Besides, by this inward conflict he was fitted for further tenderness, having hereby an experience of the worst men were exposed unto by sin, that he might be more tender of their welfare, and with more melting bowels solicit his Father for relief; hence did arise his strongest sympathising with the condition of men.
(2.) His obedience to his Father. It is a signal testimony given him, that he was 'obedient even to the death of the cross,' Philip. ii. 8. The sharper then his circumstances were upon the cross, the more illustrious his obedience was. The lustre of obedience is seen in engaging upon command with the most affrighting difficulties. It was a more full acknowledgement of his Father's sovereignty, and a stronger asserting his own obedience, in 'making his soul an offering for sin,' Isa. 53. 10, than if he had only made his body so by a temporal death (though I confess by soul, many times in Scripture, is only meant life), and also to have his eye fixed upon the mediatory law, and his own duty arising from thence. When his Father seems to have forgotten all the promises he had bound himself in, and shot frowns into his heart, and denied him both the light of sun and stars, comfort both from heaven and earth, he adds yet holy inflammations to obedience, which under those circumstances was most ravishing to the Father, and most meritorious for us. It was then an offering and 'a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour unto God,' 3:ph. v. 2.
(3.) His fiduciary trust in God, and the promises made to him, was more signal and noble. To trust a God smiling, when he does east about us nothing but cords of love, is not a case of difficulty; every man has a strong impulse to this, when God drops sweetness into him. But then is faith at the highest elevation, when a man can trust God though he kills him, and wait upon him when he hides his face and drops hell from his hand. Thus was our Saviour's faith put to the trial by this proceeding; yet he went forth conquering and to conquer, and would not let go his hold. Though his Father's beams were withdrawn, and his bowels seem contracted, the heaven overcast with darkness, and all the curses of the law let fly at him, he would still depend upon God for his help in his greatest passion: Isa. 1. 7, 9, 'The Lord God will help me;' ver. 10, 'Who is among You that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness and sees no light? let him trust in the name of the lord, and stay himself upon his God.' He would not let the storm blow these concerns of the world out of his hands, which then were managed by him; which trust of his, in this dismal time, he seems to set as a pattern for our imitation, in the words immediately following intimating we should have his faith under those dreadful circumstances always in our eyes to encourage ours.
These graces of Christ, tenderness, obedience, and trust, had not been set forth in such orient colours to us, bad not his soul drunk a cup of wrath of his Father's tempering, as well as his body felt the strokes of human fury.
5. I must add a caution or two for the better understanding this, and preventing any mistake.
(1.) Though Christ suffered from his Father an infinite wrath due to us, yet it was not necessary it should be eternally endured by him, because eternal wrath is due to us, for the eternity of punishment arises from the condition the subject suffering, not from the nature of the punishment itself. A creature being a limited nature, cannot give an infinite satisfaction commensurate to an infinite justice, without suffering eternally. Therefore though infinite punishment be due, yet eternal punishment is not in itself due, but falls in for want of the creature's ability to satisfy the demands of legal justice; since it cannot satisfy the law by one or many acts of suffering, it is always suffering, but never fully satisfies. But the infinite dignity of the person of Christ transcending all creatures, made the satisfaction he offered valuable without an eternal duration of those torments, which the insufficiency of the creature could never have made by suffering to eternity. He satisfies the debt, that pays at once the millions he owes; but he can never satisfy, but must remain in bondage, that pays a farthing in a year when his debts amounts to millions, besides his running farther into debt while he is paying. The eternity of punishment proceeds not only from old debts, but new ones contracted by blasphemies and hatred of God; for though some say that in termino the damned do not sin, I cannot think but loving and glorifying God is the essential duty of a creature; and while he is a creature, let him be in what state he will, he is under the obligation of it. It is impossible a creature can by any conditions be freed from the obligations of loving and adoring his Creator. Christ might suffer the pains of hell, but not with all the accidental circumstances, nor in the place of hell; time and place are but accidental things, and not of the essence of punishment. It is not the place of hell makes hell, but the wrath of God, in what place soever it is poured out. A surety goes not to prison if he pays the debt; the prison is not a place of payment, but a place to enforce the payment where there is unwillingness to pay.
(2.) This act of his Father in bruising him by his wrath was no approbation of the guilt of the instruments in the death of his body. The sufferings in his soul in the garden were before the Jews had laid hands on him to apprehend him. God dropped wrath upon his soul, yet had no hand in the crime of the Jews, in the covetousness of Judas, envy of the pharisees, cowardice of Pilate, and the fury of the people: these did spring from their natural corruption; they had one end, God another; they aimed at the satisfaction of those lusts, God aimed to content his justice, declare his wisdom, manifest his mercy, clear his holiness, remove the enmity, and relieve our souls. Though God approved of the death of Christ, and 'delivered him up,' Acts ii. 23, yet he did not approve of those ends which managed them in that action. It was the highest guilt that ever was manifest upon the stage of the world in them, as it was the highest love that ever God showed in the ordering things to the redemption of man. God determined redemption by the death of his Son, but did not positively determine the evil of the instruments. God laid no inward restraints upon them, left them to act as voluntary agents; he knew what their fury would do, and resolved to govern it for his own glory and the good of the world. God had given them a free power to act otherwise; he did not necessitate them to this rage; their own corruptions met together to commit this horrid crime. They were not impelled by a command, threatening, or promise; his law was a rock against it; the destruction of their city and the dissolution of their state were assured them by our Saviour if they went on in that way; they had no motives from God, but from their own lusts, which were not of God's infusion, but engendered by themselves and inflamed by the devil. God only as a wise governor used them, and ordered them to his own glorious ends, as a man uses the ravenous disposition of his hound to catch the hare, which the hound would of itself do, and governs it to his own ends, different from that of the animal. In short, they acted utterly against the law in shedding innocent blood; God acted according to the mediatory law, in bruising him who had voluntarily substituted himself in our room; they aimed not at any one end which God aimed at in it; their intentions were wholly different. Though God approved of the death of Christ precisely considered, because he delivered him up, yet his death as managed by them was the greatest wickedness that ever the sun saw, so that the Father's bruising Christ does not in the least excuse the Jews, nor had they been excusable had their intentions concurred fully with God's in the act, unless they had received a command from him to crucify him, as Abraham had for the offering his son.
The Father then has been in Christ reconciling the world unto himself: in bruising him by his wrath, glorifying his attributes in that act, which were necessary to be manifested in our redemption, laying all our sins upon him, delighting in it as it was for his glory and our happiness, thereby winding up the graces of Christ, necessary for the exercise of his office and our redemption and imitation, to the greatest height, and thereby relieving us from that curse of the law which we must always have borne and could never have satisfied. So deep a hand had the Father in this work of redemption! The Trinity were signal in it: the Father bruising, Christ receiving the stroke, and the Spirit supporting him under it.
Use 1. How may our meditations swim in this unlimited ocean of love! Oh the depth of the riches of grace, that we should have the cursed pleasure of sinning, and Christ the bitterness of suffering; that the punishment due to us should be charged upon the Son of God by the lathers Priest the Father bruise the Son for us, who had deserved as well as devils to be kept bound in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day? Might he not snore easily have condemned us, than condemned his beloved Son for us to a bitter death? But here he would have infinite love and infinite justice kiss each other. What could we do to deserve it? If we could merit any good, could we merit so great a gift as this? If we could have deserved that he should open his arm to embrace us, noted we merit that he should wound his Son's heart to redeem us? If we could deserve to be filled with his grace, could all the world deserve that his Son should be emptied of his glory? Could they deserve that God should be wounded by God for their transgressions? God gave Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners, Rom. v. 13, when we wanted motives of love as well as merits of grace, and had no incentive of his grace, unless the want of grace could pass for one. Were God as man, his thunder had crushed the world; the disciples, the best of man Spin earth at that time, would have been prodigal of God's thunderbolts, if they had had them in possession, when they desired fire from heaven upon the poor Samaritans. And had man a storehouse of punishment, he would empty it upon persons that notoriously wrong him; but God poured out those vials upon his own Son, which of right belonged to us. Consider, it was his Son whom he bruised, not a servant, not an unspotted angel; his only begotten Son, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, not an adopted Son, having only a dark representation of the divine nature; a begotten Son of his nature, not begotten of his will; a beloved Son, not a disaffected Son; an only Son, not one picked out of many children. God had no more in all the world, and yet he bruised him; he bruised him not only by a temporal death of the body, but by a weight of wrath on his soul, not to purchase some small favour, but an everlasting inheritance. How great is this love, that valued our salvation above the life of an only Son, and shed a blood more valuable than the whole creation to preserve ours, which could not be equivalent to the price of it, and put him into the posture of an enemy to his Son, to make us his friends! If the thunders of the law had been shot upon us, what strength had we to bear them? What merit to remove them? How great is the love of the Redeemer, to be willing not to be spared for a time, rather than millions of men and women should fail of being spared for ever! It was 'for our transgressions he was wounded, for our iniquities he was bruised, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him,' Isa. liii. 5. In every wound God gave him, he minded the full punishment of our sin, in the person of our Saviour, that those whom he represented might go free. He spared him not, abated not a mite of what justice might demand, that so his people might have a full redemption: Rom. viii. 82, 'He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.' He did not spare him in regard of the strength of justice, wherewith he punished him. What could more enhance the love of God than the terrors inflicted on Christ! And what could more enhance the love of Christ, than that he endured not only a bodily death, but a wrathful death in his soul for us!
2. Let then this love engage every man to come to God through Christ. how should it ravish us into an humble compliance with him, and subjection to him! If he has bruised him for us, he will not bruise us if we come to him. The blood shed by the order of God, is able to expiate a world of sins. God has spent his wrath upon him, and has none for those that accept of him. God has discovered a propensity to be reconciled, though we lie open to the stroke of his justice, and have no strength to withstand him; a higher evidence he cannot give.
3. Spare nothing for God. He spared not the best thing he had in possession, and shall we spare our lust from being mortified by him? The sin of man grieved him more than the death of his Son; shall we preserve that which grieves him, and slight that which was his greatest pleasure? How comes it to pass we are so indulgent to our lusts, and murmur to be parted from that which is the grief of God and the ruin of our souls? Are those destroyers of our souls so extremely dear to us, that we are loath to bring them out of our bosoms, and deliver them to a crucifixion; no, not in love to that God who melted that Son in the fire of his wrath out of love to us, whom he had cherished by the warmth of his bosom from eternity? Sure if our souls were all flint, being smitten by such a love, they should yield some fire to consume our corruptions. Bow hateful should sin be to us, since it is evidenced to be so hateful to God, as that he would not spare his only begotten Son, when he lay under the imputation of our iniquities, and caused the curses of the law to meet on him with all their stings, upon whom our sins had met in all their guilt! Why should we spare that, for which God did not spare his Son who never offended him, but highly pleased him, and in this very act, too, of bowing down under his strokes by reason of our transgressions? Why should we indulge that in our hearts, which God has discovered by this act to be so abominable and odious to him, and so deserving an object of his just indignation? Let not that find rest in our bosoms, under which, while our Saviour was in the form of a servant, he found no rest from the curses of the law and the wrath of his Father, till it had bruised him, and offered him up as a sacrifice of atonement for it.
6. The Father was in Christ reconciling the world, in accepting him, and his expiatory reconciling sacrifice. The steam of his precious blood went directly up to heaven, as the smoke of the sacrifices ascended right up to heaven (as they say), not blown aside by any wind. This gave God a rest, of which sin after the creation had endeavoured to despoil him, for if God had a complacency in the work of creation,ówhich is signified by the word refreshed, Exod. xxxi. 17, "yinafesh", 'In six days the Cord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed;'ómuch more must God be refreshed by the work of redemption by Christ, it being a restoring God's rest to him by a new creation, and a greater glory to God than the work of creation was, or, simply considered, could be. God did perform what was incumbent on his part, according to the covenant of redemption, in regard of acceptation, after Christ had trod the wine-press alone; and his grace was of the same tenor in the entertainment of Christ. after his work, as it was in the first designation and call of him to it, the foundation and the topstone being all the fruit of a condescending grace. The grace of God accepted it, and justice could plead nothing against it; grace and justice took him by each arm and led him to the throne of glory. It was God that justified him, Isa. 1. 8. His entrance into heaven, with the same clothes of flesh he wore upon the earth, only changed in the fashion suitable to that glorious country to which he was returning, was an evidence of his full acceptance.
(1.) It is evident that the Father did accept him.
[1.] The types and representations of this reconciling sacrifice were grateful to God upon this account. That first sacrifice after the deluge was a sweet savour, or a savour of rest: Gen. viii. 21, 'And the Lord smelt a sweet savour'; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not any more curse the ground for man's sake,' "hanikhakh". He smelt in that sacrifice a savour of that wherein he should have a rest, and which should fully quiet his mind; and such a rest, that he said in his heart, or swore, Isa. liv. 9. The oath there mentioned can refer to no other place but this. For the sake of the antitype, which was respected in that offering, God swore that he would not any more curse the ground for man's sake. What influence could the steam of the blood of a beast, and the stench of the burning fat, have upon a spiritual substance, an angel, much less upon God? Could the blood and burnt caresses of a few silly animals appease God, so much as to engage him to make so magnificent a promise, not to curse the ground any more for man's sake, when the doleful cries, and vehement supplications of multitudes of dying men in the deluge, could not persuade him to stop his hand, and shut up the flood-gates of heaven? Could this make him order the constant course of nature, and succession of times, when in the very moment he promised it he considered the perpetual fountain of evil in the heart of man, that 'the imagination of his heart was evil from his youth?' No; but God was pleased with a resemblance of Christ, presented to him in the faith of the offerer; as a man is with the picture of his friend whom he dearly esteems, and loves the person that presents such a medal to him, because of the estimation he has of his friend. If the picture be so acceptable, because of the relation it has to a delightful object, how much more dear is the object itself! In the day of the general expiation of the Jews, the sins of the people were atoned by the sacrifice of the beast, and sprinkling of the blood; what force had the blood of a brute to wash off the sins of a rational creature, and those of a nation? But this typified the mighty acceptableness of the blood of Christ, satisfactory to justice, and pleasing to the mercy of God, whence all sacrifices received what efficacy they had. God's being pleased with this sacrifice of Noah, and others of his own appointing, was but to testify how highly pleasing the death of his Son would be to him, as it was an atoning sacrifice, and sweeter than the iniquities of men were loathsome, both being under his consideration at one and the same time.
[2.] The time of Christ's coming, and being in the world, is called by way of eminency an acceptable time, much more was his suffering so, which was the complement of his humiliation work. It was an acceptable time, because it was a day of salvation for man: Isa. xlix. 8, 'In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee.' They are the words of the Father to Christ, wherein he assures him of the acceptance of his sacrifice extensively for the Gentiles: 'I will give thee for a covenant to the people;' which place the apostle uses as an argument to press the Corinthians to the sincere embracing of the gospel, 2 Cor. vi. 2, because it was an acceptable time, a time wherein Christ was accepted, and all believers accepted upon his account; a time acceptable to God in the prophet; a time which therefore ought to be acceptable to man, as the apostle infers. It is therefore called the acceptable year of the Lord: Isa. lxi. 2, 'To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' The clearest, and serenest time that ever God saw since the creation of the world. Why was it so acceptable? Because it was the day of vengeance of our God, a day of vengeance upon sin, a day of the taking away and removal of that which had caused all the enmity. Upon the knowledge of God's approbation of it, Christ prays for his assistance in the time of his suffering, Ps. lxix. 13. A psalm of Christ, as appears, ver. 9, 21, applied to him in the Gospel, 'As for me, my prayer is unto thee in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation,' when the whole world was set against him, and he was made the song of the drunkards; the time wherein he put it up, and the circumstances he was in, were pleasing to God, as being for his greatest service and glory. Let the mercy which engaged me first in this attempt, and the promise thou hast made me of the salvation of man, move thee to hear me now, and to manifest the truth of thy salvation which thou Last committed to me, and I am now upon the effecting of. When was this acceptable time? this tl81 By? When he was in the mire and deep waters, ver. 14; when he was reproached, and full of heaviness, ver. 20; when they gave him gall for his meat, and in his thirst vinegar to drink; then was the time of this highest acceptation with God for the redemption of man.
[3.] All the fruits of his death manifest God's high acceptation of it.
First, The mission of the Spirit. The great end why the Spirit was sent, was to manifest this acceptance; to evidence to the world that Christ was no impostor, because he was gone to the Father, John xvi. 7-10, and had a welcome in heaven. The coming of the Spirit, and the working miracles in the name of Christ, kept up the credit of his mission and authority from the Father in the world. lie was sent by the Father, in the name of Christ: John xiv. 26, 'The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,' i. e. upon the account of his mediation, as a fruit of it. His name would have been of no authority for so great a gift, had not his death been of a grateful efficacy. And by the virtue of his intercession, John xiv. 16, 'I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter,'óGod unlocks to him all his treasures, as a testimony of the pleasure he took in his death, and the completeness of it to appease his anger, and satisfy the most extensive demands of his justice. So high a favour could not be dispensed, if justice had not first been fully contented. This Spirit was also to abide for ever with his people: John xvi. 16, 'That he may abide with you for ever;' which sheds the everlasting acceptance of this sacrifice by God; for since the first coming of the Spirit was upon the first acceptance of his offering, the abiding of the Spirit evidences the perpetual prevalence of it with God; for he could not abide any longer than the ground of his mission did endure, for they must both run parallel. Now, had he not gone away, the Comforter would not have come, John xvi. 7, which refers not only to his ascension, but to his passion. And had he gone, and his death been unapproved by God, the Spirit had stayed in heaven. His work also testifies this approbation. He was to 'bring things to remembrance, whatsoever Christ had said to them,' John xiv. 26, which would never have been, had not Christ in every little been faithful to his Father's instructions. He was not to speak of himself, John xvi. 13; he was not to be the author of a new doctrine in the church, but to impress upon men what Christ had taught, and what he had wrought by his passion; he is therefore called the Spirit of truth, teaching and clearing up to the minds of men that truth which Christ had taught, and confirmed by his blood. There was no error or mistake in any part of the management of this work on Christ's part; for the Spirit is not sent to rectify anything, but to raise the superstructure upon that foundation Christ had already laid. He was to declare only what he heard, John xvi. 13, 14; to act the part of a minister to Christ, as Christ had acted the part of a minister to his Father; to glorify Christ, to manifest the fullness of his merit, and the benefits of his purchase; for he was to receive of Christ, i.e. the things of Christ, his truth and his grace, and manifest it to their souls, and imprint upon them the comfort of both. There had been no foundation to glorify Christ, had not Christ in this work been glorious in the eyes of God, and been acknowledged by the Father to have glorified him to the utmost. Now since all this is come to pass, according as Christ did predict it, it is an undeniable evidence that the Father has fully approved of Christ's faithfulness in his office, and rests highly contented by his death.
Secondly, The answer of prayers in his name. As his acceptance by the Father was the ground of all the miracles which were wrought in the name of the Son after his ascension, 60 it is the ground of all the answers of prayer that any believer receives from God, for our Saviour joins them both together: John xiv. 12, 13, 'He that believes in me shall do greater works than these, because I go to the Father; and whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.' 'Whatsoever you ask in my name,' i. e. says Cajetan, for my glory, not only in the intention of the petitioner, but the direct tendency of the thing petitioned for, I will do. His poker to do it, is an argument of the strength of his oblation, and validity of the price. 'That the Father may be glorified in the Son,' which is the end for which our prayers are answered, and is the event of those mercies we receive as answers from the hands of Christ. The Father is glorified in the success of Christ's mediation, and the 'finishing the work he gave him to do,' John xvii. Every return of prayer, upon the account of the merit of Christ, is a testimony of this success; and glory redounds by it to the wisdom of the Father, for contriving; to the kindness of the Father, for appointing so able a Saviour, who could fully satisfy all the concerns of God, and provide for the necessities of the creature, and lay a foundation for the full communication of all mercies needful for him. His receiving from his Father the keys of all his stores, to dispense to believers, manifests how welcome he was to the Father upon his return, after his conflict in the world, and how successful he was in his execution of his office, and how fully he contented the justice of his Father, which could not by any right keep those stores from him after his meritorious passion, so that in every answer of prayer, the wisdom, love, righteousness of the Father are glorified, in the obedience, merit, and purchase of his Son; the love of the Father is manifested in sending so sufficient a mediator; and the justice and grace of the Father is glorified in accepting him, and performing the conditions requisite on his part by the covenant of redemption. There is a most intimate conjunction of the glory of the Father and the glory of the Son in this mediation of Christ, which is the foundation of the acceptation of him, and his acceptation upon the same foundation will be perpetual; because, as whatsoever he did here was for the glory of his Father, whatsoever he does above also, in distributing his gifts, communicating his grace, is for the same end, and therefore can never be unacceptable; for, by this acceptation of him, the Father has a current and standing revenue of glory established; his exchequer is daily filled with it, by virtue of this approbation. This acceptance is writ upon every return of our supplications, put up in his name, and tending to his glory; the wonderful effects whereof have been known in all ages, and in the private experience of every sincere Christian. Would God ever listen to those pleas in his name, were he not well pleased with the sacrifice of his person? Would God ever expend his gifts to man, to keep up the credit of a person he had disowned? This is the ground of that near communion believers have with God, nearer than Adam was admitted to in paradise, wherein God condescends to the familiar expressions of his grace, and converses with men in and through a mediator, who before were alienated from him, and made the marks of his wrath. The 'golden altar with incense,' Rev. viii. 3. is the pleasant perfume of his merits.
[4.] The content God has in men's believing on Christ manifests it. God has made faith, the acceptance of him by men, the only condition of enjoying the fruits of his purchase; and it is not all the amiable virtues in the world, nor the riches of the whole creation, can procure us any right or title to him without it. So much does the Father stand upon the honour of his Son, that he will not grant an eternal happiness to any but those that join with him in a sincere and hearty acceptation and approbation of him, his meritorious death, and the righteousness evidenced thereby. Without this, no beams of glory can sparkle upon us, but an eternal wrath will swallow us up. As the Father has approved him, so as to give all power into his hands, so he wills us to approve him, so as to bring all our own righteousness to the footstool of Christ, and embrace him only by a naked faith, that nothing of the glory of his work and merit may be clouded by any thing of our own. A true, willing, cordial, lively acceptance is required, a resting on him for salvation, as God rests on him upon his satisfaction. An estimation of him approaching as near as a creature can to that of God's; the knowledge and embracing of him is the best savour to God, next to that of his own oblation; and man only in a believing embracing, stands in his true posture of acceptation with God.
[5.] The naked declarations of Christ to the world are acceptable to God. The very discourses, and the discoursers of it, are a sweet savour to God: 2 Cor. ii. 15, 'We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.' Yea, though men cast away the thoughts of him, and perish in their unbelief; yet the proposal of it to them for their acceptance is very sweet to the thoughts of God. As he will express how high his acceptation of them was, in the gifts of eternal happiness to them that entertain him, so the rejecters shall learn the same in the severity of the punishment inflicted on them. But whatever men do, the sound of it in the world is a sweet savour to him; and all men shall be at last convinced, that his righteousness was acceptable to God, because he is gone to the Father.
(2.) God accepted him with a mighty pleasure. As soon as he was made perfect by his sufferings, he was saluted an high priest, 'called an high priest,' Heb. v. 10, ProsagoreuqeiV saluted; prosagoreuei, aspazetai (Hesych.) When, by the accomplishment of his passion, he became the author of eternal salvation, God congratulates him for his attainment of a new honour by his consecration, as men congratulate one another upon new acquisitions. It was a 'sweet smelling savour to God,' Eph. v. 2; there was eudokia in his mission, and euwdia in his passion. God smelled a greater fragrance in his death than stench from our sins; the sweetness of the one did drown the noisomeness of the other: his death was more satisfying to God than our sins were displeasing. As he was a vine, he sent forth a delicious fruit of his blood to cheer both the heart of God and man; of God, by the fragrance of his satisfaction; of man, by the fullness of his merit. God's soul delighted in him, Isa. xiii. 1. He had an overflowing joy. All the attributes of God, which are the soul and perfections of the Deity, had an undisturbed acquiescence in him. There was an unblemished exactness in his work, because there was a fullness of delight in his Father. The delight he took in his designation was rather heightened than diminished by his faithfulness in the execution. He was, after his death, brought near before God: Dan. vii. 13, 'One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him,' two words to express the height of pleasure, near and before him. As if God would express his pleasure in the strait and intimate embraces of his Son, after his great engagement and return from the battle; and so welcome he was, that God presented him with the dominion of the whole world. For the order of the vision expresses first his incarnation, and then his exaltation; so that this being 'brought near before the ancient of days,' must be upon his ascension just after his death, and before his full investiture in the dominion of the world.
[1.] He pleased him more than all the sacrifices under the Jewish economy; far more than all the devoted creatures, than oxen and bullocks which have horns and hoofs; it is the expression concerning Christ, Ps. lxix. 31. A mark of eminency, a how much more is put upon this offering, above the virtue of the blood of bulls and goats, Heb. ix. 13, 14. Though they were instituted by God, vet they were not acceptable to God for the removal of sin, 'neither could make the offerer perfect before him,' Heb. x. 1. Nor could the heaps of sacrificed animals, the streams of brutish blood, persuade him to the justification of any one offerer: 'In burnt offerings or sacrifices he had no pleasure,' or rest, Heb. x. 6. He had a pleasure in them, not as they were the sacrifices of beasts, but representations of his Son's passion, and appointed as remembrances before him, of what was to be suffered by the true object of his rest in time. Christ is the person, and his death the sacrifice, wherein God only can find a rest: Isa. lxvi. 1, 2, 'Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things has my hand made, and all these things have been, says the Lord: but to this will I look, to the poor and a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word.' The temple and temple-worship was not the place of his rest; God speaks with contempt of them, and seems to cast in the whole created compares of heaven and earth, as no firm object of his pleasure. But to this will I look, i. e. this poor and contrite spirit, "nkheh", stricken; of the same root as "makhah", smitten of God and afflicted: Isa. liii. 4, 'That trembled at my word;' he speaks as of one that trembled under the curses of the law, and felt the weight and bitterness of them; to him will I look, or intently or fixedly look, as the word signifies. The word tremble, "kharad", signifies to be careful or solicitous, as, 2 Kings iv. 13, it is so translated, Thou hast been careful for us with all this care,' though it signifies also to tremble. Who was more stricken than Christ? Who more careful of the honour of God's law than Christ? Or who tasted more of the gall of the curse than Christ? Who can that signal mark this point to, but Christ? Who can be set in the balance with the whole frame of the creation, angels and men, but Christ? 'All those things has my hand made,' which seems to refer not only to the temple, but to the heavens, his throne, and the earth, his footstool; all those have been, and yet no rest found in them. Now after the coming and striking of this person, upon whom the eye of God is intent, an end is put to all the ceremonial sacrifices: ver. 3, 'He that kills an ox, is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck,' &c. It was a disgrace to him for men to think he could be pleased with such sacrifices, when he had appointed and accepted another; if they then kept them up, they should be an abomination to him, as the blood of swine, and yet they kept them up after this poor stricken spirit, after the offering of his Son: he calls them 'their own ways, their abominations in which he delighted not.' And ver. 4, he would 'bring their fears upon them;' perhaps it may be meant of their fear of the Romans, which you know they pretended, for the putting Christ to death, thereby to prevent any occasion of an invasion; and ver. 6, he prophesies of their destruction. But before this destruction she should be 'delivered of a man child,' ver. 7. You know how he armed the Romans against them, discharged his wrath upon them, gave up the city and temple, which they (and even their enemies) studied to preserve, for the death of his Son, as a prey to the fury and avarice of the enemies. I have been the longer upon it, to show there is some ground to understand this place principally of Christ, though not to exclude the common interpretation; perhaps we might have had more ground for the understanding it so from Stephen's discourse, Acts vii., where he ends his citations with this place of Scripture, ver. 48, 49, and descending to the application of what he had before cited, and charging upon them the blood of Christ, was interrupted by the fury of the Jews from any further light which his discourse might have given us. To consider it again, God demands where the place of his rest was? They might answer, the heavens. No; all these has mine hand made, yet no rest in them; but to this I will look; this is my rest, as the antithesis carries it; this stricken in spirit, as if he had pointed to Christ on the cross and in the garden, trembling under a sense of wrath. An intent look is a look of expectation, or a look of pleasure.
[2.] He shows his mighty pleasure in the acceptance of him by a public proclamation as it were: Heb. i. 6, 'Again, when he brings his first begotten into the world, he says, And let all the angels of God worship him.' Or as some read it, 'And when he brings his first begotten into the world again,' understanding it of his resurrection, he then proclaims him to the angels as an object of worship, He is the heir appointed, as well as the heir eternally begotten, proclaimed to the angels as their head, and the root of their standing. He was 'seen of angels,' manifested to them in such a manner as their head, after he was justified by the Spirit, 1 Tim. iii 16. Methinks being 'seen of angels' should signify something more than the simple vision. he was 'justified by the Spirit,' when he was quickened and raised by the Spirit, 1 Peter iii. 18. His being 'preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory,' were evidences of this acceptance of him by the Father. He brings him after his resurrection, as he did Adam after his creation, into the possession of the world, and gave him dominion over the creatures. He brings in his Son, and gives him an empire over the angels as he was mediator, which he had before as he was God blessed for ever; and the angels praise him, and acknowledge him 'worthy,' as the lamb slain, 'to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing,' Rev. v. 11, 12.
[3.] He declares the pleasure he had in his acceptation of him, by fixing his love for ever upon him. He was settled in his Father's love, because he had performed the mediatory command: John xv. 10, 'If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.' A commandment was given him, and a commandment was kept by him, which obedience has been hitherto the foundation of his Father's love to him as mediator; and when he had fully finished it, would make a fixation of his Father's love. If he had not performed the mediatory command, he had had no interest in his Father's affections; as poor creatures if they observe the commands of Christ, shall for ever be rooted in his love, never to be cast out. So is Christ, upon the observation of the command his Father gave, for ever settled in his affection and acceptation, whereby be has given us assurance, that he was in Christ reconciling the world.
(3.) As the Father accepted Christ, and accepted him with a mighty pleasure, so this acceptation of him and his death redounds to every believer. Grace and glory depend upon this; take away God's approbation, and the whole chain of privileges, linked together by it, falls in pieces.
[1.] It is the stability of the covenant. His approach to God as a surety, having engaged his heart for us, is that which God speaks of with a pleasing astonishment, and is so transcendently taken with it, that he settles the covenant of being their God, and making them his people upon it; that is the issue, Jer. xxx. 21, 22. And the everlastingness of the covenant is founded in his being a witness to the people: Isa. lv. 3, 4, 'I will make an everlasting covenant with you; behold, I have given him for a witness to the people.' All the promises of God are yea and amen, in him the faithful and true witness, Rev. iii. 14.
[2.] Justification is founded upon this acceptance. God was in Christ reconciling the world, i. e. not imputing their trespasses to them, but discharging them. For the pleasure he took in Christ's sufferings upon mount Calvary, he graciously forgets our sins, and of rebels entitles us heirs. There is a fundamental justification of future believers in the discharge of Christ, though not formal and actual till they believe. As there was a fundamental condemnation of all in the loins of Adam upon his fall, not actual till they were in being, and did actually partake of his nature; so Christ having his discharge as a common person, all those whose sins he bore have a fundamental discharge in that of his person from any more suffering. As he bore the sins of many as a common person in the offering of himself and satisfied for their guilt, so he has an absolution as the head from al; that guilt he bore; no more to lie under the burden of our sins, or endure any penalties of the law for them: Heb. ix. 27, 'As it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment, so Christ was once offered for the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear without sin unto salvation.' As judgment is appointed for all men, as well as death, and they receive their judgment after death, so Christ after his death was judged by God, and judged perfect, fully answering the will and ends of God, and shall not appear any more as a sacrifice, but as a perfect Saviour. He is no more to appear in a corruptible body prepared to bear sin try imputation, but in a glorious body, as a manifestation of his justification, fitted for the comfort of those that look for him. Unto them does this judgment extend, for upon the score of this judgment passed by God in his behalf, he is to appear at length to them for salvation. For if Christ satisfied for believers, he is accepted by God on their behalf; therefore his sufferings are imputed to them; for it would be strange that Christ should endure a punishment for them, be approved of God as standing in their stead, and his acceptance not be counted to them. If there be an approbation of his sufferings for us, there is an imputation of his sufferings to us, or else no satisfaction is mice to justice upon our account. As he suffered, so he was acquitted as our surety and representative.
[3.] The acceptation of our persons and services redounds to us from the Father's acceptance of Christ. His love to Christ as mediator, is the ground of our acceptation: Eph. i. 6, 'To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.' He chose him first as the head, and his members in him; he accepts him as the first beloved, and believers in him. Had not Christ been accepted first, none could have pretended an holiness worthy of the notice of God. The grace of God is the cause, his love to Christ the ground, acceptation of us in him the effect of both. In ourselves, we are the objects of his anger; in Christ, the marks of his choice affection. It is the pleasure God took in the obedience of his Son, which makes believers as his members, and their services, though weak imitations of him, delightful to God.
[4.] The constant wooings of men by God flow from hence. He entreats and beseeches men to embrace him, to be reconciled to him, because he has been thus reconciling the world in Christ: 2 Cor. v. 20, 'As though God did beseech you by us, be ye reconciled to God.' The entreaty and arguments used to persuade men to the acceptance of it, could have no validity without this foundation, that a reconciliation is wrought, and the expiatory sufferings of Christ accepted by God. So much is God in love with Christ's performance, that he condescends to the lowest step, to beseech and solicit the creatures' affections for him, and presses them with that sweet importunity, as loath to take any denial at their hands.
Use 1. See the inexpressible value of Christ's mediation with God. God truth given the highest evidence of the grandeur of it, of Christ's faithfulness in the discharge of the trust committed to him, glorifying the Father in all that he undertook and taught. It is from his being a 'righteous branch,' that he is become the Lord our righteousness, Jer. xiii. 5, 6. He was by his voluntary submission, and his Father's designation, made sin for us, which performance is so grateful, that all that believe in him are made not bare righteousness, but 'the righteousness of God in him.' He seems to become sin itself, wholly guilt, and believers thereby righteousness itself in the presence of God. His death is so valuable as to procure the casting our sins into the depths of the sea, and the advancing our persons to the heights of glory, to stand before God in his kingdom. Our persons, odious in Adam, are made beautiful in Christ; and our duties, that smell rank by nature, smell sweet by his merits, Rev. v. 8. The odours of his merits are so strong as to overcome the stench of our nature. There is no need of any masses, human satisfactions, and additions of any merits of our own.
2. Comfort to believers. Since this acceptance, how does justice itself smile! The rod of God's fury falls out of his hand upon the sweetness of his Son's offering, and gives way to a sceptre of grace; nothing was omitted which was Necessary for the pleasure of God's piercing eye. This may well calm the fears in our hearts, because it smooths the frowns in God's face. If no charge can be brought against Christ since the acknowledgement of the sufficiency of his offering, no charge can be brought against believers. For whom was it performed, but for them? For whom was it accepted, but for them? The acceptation must be for the same ends for which his sufferings were endured, shall not then the influence of it upon them answer the intention of it for them? If it should not, the first acceptation would be in vain, Christ must then return to offer another sacrifice, which shall never be. In the acceptation of Christ for you, he has accepted you in him. He stood in no need of it, but in relation to you, he was the eternal Son of God, acceptable to the Father, but by this he is established an eternal Saviour. An obedient faith on our part will entitle us to salvation on his part: Heb. v. 9, 'And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.' Since God has accepted him for you, God will appear full of omniscience to understand your wants, full of compassion to pity you, full of power to relieve you, full of wisdom to guide you, full of grace to pardon you, full of glory to bless you for ever. Every believer will be accepted by God, because by his faith he owns that which gives God a rest; and as the grace of God assists him, so he contributes to God's contentment. Oh, then, remember your offences against God, to be humbled; and God's acceptation of the blessed offering, to be comforted. The odour of this sacrifice was so agreeable to God, that, not content to discharge us from the condemnation we had merited, he would also that we should partake of the life, and enjoy the kingdom of his Son, judging it not equity to make any separation between the head and the members, the redeemer and the redeemed, and a disparagement to the greatness of the offer, and offering, to shut heaven against them. Hereby is not only condemnation removed, but eternal glory assured. It is not only a not perishing, but an eternal life upon faith, John iii. 16.
3. This is the main foundation of faith. How invaluable had all Christ's sufferings been and how vain our faith, had God disapproved him; justice had been armed against us if a blemish had been in the oblation. Faith first reads Christ's commission, then casts its eye upon the streams of blood flowing from his heart, listens to his doleful cries, considers them for itself, but ultimately rests itself in God's acknowledgement of the full discharge of the debt, and his cancelling the obligation wherein Christ was bound. After this, none have any excuse for Unbelief, unless they will accuse God of weakness, or falsity, and imposture in bearing witness to the faithfulness of one who had not discharged his office.
4. Glorify God. It is the use Christ in the prophetic psalm makes of it: Ps. xxii. 23, 24, 'Praise ye the Lord, all ye the seed of Jacob; glorify him, all ye the seed of Israel: for he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has he hid his face from him:' a meiosis. His face indeed was hid for a time, but to return with fresher and brighter beams; and the warmth at the return made a recompense for the clouds upon the cross. How should our beasts swell with praise, as heaven did with joy, and the thankful gladness of our hearts keep time with the joyful acceptance of his Father!
5. Accept Christ. What is worthy of God's acceptation cannot be unworthy of ours. If this be agreeable to the fountain of goodness, why should it not be grateful to the derived streams? That which gratifies an infinite ocean of purity would surely gratify us, were we not abominable sinks of corruption. It is the highest contrariety to God not to seek and acknowledge rest in that wherein God finds a full content. If the pure eye of God behold not the least spot to disturb, but a commensurate goodness to settle his rest, what can we see in Christ which should make us nauseate him? Christ is the object of God's rest, and well may be of ours. As God rested not in anything after the degeneracy of the world but in Christ, so neither should we rest in anything since the degeneracy of our hearts but in the same object. God will love us highly for our acceptance of him. God is highly pleased with his creatures' converse with him in and by a mediator: Deut. xviii. 16, 17, 'They have well spoken that which they have spoken,' when they desired that God would not speak to them but by Moses, a type of the Mediator. God never gave them so great a commendation as in this case, nor ever approved so highly of any action or words that came from the body of this people. God dwells above in the clouds, we cannot come to him but by Christ. He is a God of vengeance; and we the meritors of it; we cannot he screened from his wrath but by Christ; accept him, and God will accept TIS in him; refuse him, and all the other righteousness in the world cannot secure us. Let God's. approbation be the director of ours. Acceptance of Christ is a noble imitation of God.
7. God raised him. There was a necessity of his resurrection in regard of the predictions; for since the Messiah was to die, and not see corruption,ó Ps. xvi. 10, 'Thou wilt not suffer thy holy fine to see corruption,'óit is clear he was to rise again, else his body in a natural course would have seen corruption. This resurrection is a clear evidence of his acceptation; himself uses this as an argument both of the authority of his commission and fidelity in execution: John ii. 18, 19, 21, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,' speaking of the temple of his body. Rev. i. 5, he is the 'faithful witness,' manifested to be so by being the 'first begotten from the dead.' Without his resurrection, his acceptation had not been manifest; neither could he have appeared in the quality of a Redeemer and High Priest, had he, like one of us, lain rotting in his grave; he had not, without it, been powerfully declared to be the true Son of God, nor consequently evidenced to be our Redeemer, nor been in a capacity, according to the decree, to reign to the ends of the earth. All men would have concluded him an impostor' but by rising up from the power of an ignominious death, he was manifested to angels and men to be not only God's beloved Son, but his obedient servant, faithful in all his will, the exact revealer of his counsels, and grateful to him in his sufferings, whereby not only the valuableness and sufficiency of his passion for a foundation of everlasting reconcilement, but the actual acceptance of it, was evidenced. It was a testimony to Christ of his faithfulness, a testimony to us of the approbation of his sacrifice for those purposes for which it was offered As his resurrection by the Father was, as it were, a new generation of him as the Son of God,óRom. i. 4, 'Declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead,'óso it was as a new constitution of him as the mediator of men. Himself calls his resurrection a regeneration, Mat xix. 28, and he is therefore called not the first risen, but the first-born from the dead: Col. i. 18, 'Who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead,' this being a new birth of him from the womb of the earth. It is a rule in the language of the Scripture, aliquid factum dicitur, cum factum esse demonstratur. Hereby his person was owned to be the Son of God, and his works and suffering, as our Redeemer, were declared highly pleasing; the suit was depending till his resurrection, but then the controversy between God and sinners upon the account of the law was at an end, and the bond was cancelled in token of full satisfaction. The public decree of God determined it; the decree is extant, Ps. ii. 7; the interpretation of it, Acts xiii. 33, 'God has fulfilled the same unto us, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' Thus was he justified and declared righteous, and his obedience, which run through all his acts, exceeding acceptable. He was indeed approved of God by miracles, which God did by him in the time of tie life, Acts ii. 22; and by such miracles that could not fall under any jealousy, but by those he was testified to be a prophet, a man approved of God, a teacher come from God, as Nicodemus argues, John iii. 2. But by his resurrection he was testified to be more than a man, the Son of God in his majesty. Notwithstanding the miracles of his life, he appeared in the form of a servant, and scarce assumed any other title than that of the Son of man; but after he had by his conquest made death his captive, he illustriously appears to be the Son of God, the glory of which is increased by his ascension, exaltation, and the plentiful effusion of the Spirit: by all which his righteousness and obedience was declared to be pure without any mixture, perfect without any defect, clear gold without any dross, and a full payment of the utmost farthing to divine justice for believing sinners.
(1.) It was the act of the Father. The body of Christ was raised, and resurrection is not the work of either soul or body, but of God only. God raised him from the dead in such a manner as to declare him to be his Son. It being the declaration of the Father, his resurrection was the act of the Father: 'God raised him from the dead,' Acts xiii. 30, 33. Upon which account God is set forth in this raising Christ as the object of faith: Rom. iv. 24, 'If you believe on him, who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.' This being, as it were, a new begetting him, was the act of the Father, whose Son he was by eternal generation. It is particularly ascribed to the Father: Rom. vi. 4, 'As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father;' by the glorious power of the Father, which was made illustrious in it. Some take glory of the Father for the formal cause, as though the meaning were, Christ in his resurrection was adorned with the glory of the Father; others for the final cause, he rose to the glory of the Father; but to take it for the efficient cause is more natural; as the love of the Father was most magnificent in giving him to die, so the power of the Father is most glorious in unloosing the bands of death, and delivering him from the grave with triumph; because the reuniting the soul to the body, and restoring it to all the functions of life, in an act of creative power. And this resurrection was more glorious than a single creation, in regard of the mighty load of guilt Christ lay by imputation under when upon the cross. It is true this resurrection was the work of the Trinity, it was the work of the Spirit; he is therefore said to be 'quickened by the Spirit,' 1 Pet. iii. 18, and 'justified in the Spirit,' 1 Tim. iii. 16. His resurrection was the justification of his person in all that he performed for the satisfaction of God. Christ also is said to raise himself: John ii. 19, 'I will raise it up,' and had an authority to 'take up his life again,' John x. 18. As he is said to conquer his enemies, 1 Cor. xv. 25, 'he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet;' yet the Father is said to do it, Ps. cx. 1; for acts of power are more peculiarly ascribed to the Father, and resurrection is an act of omnipotence, as wisdom is ascribed to the Son, and love to the Holy Ghost. The conquest of his enemies is the act of his Father, and therefore the beginning of his triumph, and the overpowering the great enemy death. And as he waits at God's right hand till his enemies be subdued, so he waited in the grave till his discharge was ordered by the Father.
(2.) It was most congruous and regular for the Father to be principal in the raising Christ. The Father had the power of mission, and therefore of acceptation; and therefore the act whereby it was declared did principally pertain to the Father, as it was a fall manifestation of the faithfulness of Christ in his office. As he received his commission from his Father, so it was most regular he should receive his discharge from the same hand, because he had been faithful to him that appointed him. The Father was the creditor, he had covenanted with his Father to suffer and give him satisfaction; the Father then was the most proper judge whether the articles were performed or no, whether the satisfaction was valid and the debt paid. As the Father was the lawgiver and judge, the delivering Christ to death belonged to him; upon the same account the delivering him from prison and judgment belonged to the Father. None have power to remit or discharge after the sentence but the supreme authority. So that the raising Christ belonged as properly by right to the Father as the power of delivering him to death. When the account was made up in heaven, and not a farthing of what was due was found wanting, but the demands of justice fully balanced by the satisfaction of Christ, 'he was taken from prison and judgment,' Isa. liii. 8, and God sends an angel to roll away the stone, Mat. xxviii. 2; not indeed to make way for the resurrection of Christ, as though there was a necessity of rolling away the stone to give his body passage out of the grace, but to evidence to the women that intended to come into the sepulchre that his discharge came from heaven, and that they might see the grave empty of his body. As he that is in prison for debt ought not to go out without the judge's authority, so Christ was held in the fetters of death till his Father's absolution, and then was delivered from the grave as a debtor from prison. 'God loosed the chains of death,' Acts ii. 24, 'it being not possible that he should be held' in those chains, for it was not equitable that after he had satisfied he should be held longer in his fetters. The judge only can free from prison; and when the law, where any is imprisoned, is satisfied, he is in justice boned to order the discharge, and pronounce in open court the acquittal of the prisoner.
(3.) This act of the Father in raising him was with respect to this work of reconciliation, and the accomplishment of all the fruits of it.
[1.] For the justification of every believer. As the same authority which had delivered him to death raised him from the grave, so in pursuance of the same ends for which he was delivered, he was 'delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,' Rom. iv. 24, 25. It is declared as an encouragement to believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; which argument would have no validity in it to incite the soul to faith in God, if those ends there spoken of were not actually aimed at in those acts of his. The Father, who was the author of both, had the same ends in both those acts; they were the acts of the Father, and therefore the ends of the Father. Though his death was the foundation of his merit, yet his resurrection is the foundation of the application of that merit to all his seed. At this door comes in our justification. As God, in delivering him up to undergo the curse of the law, delivered us in him, and looked upon believers as suffering in him the punishment due to sin, so in raising him he virtually raised them in him, and fundamentally comprehended them in that discharge. His resurrection was not meritorious of our justification, that was the fruit of his death; he paid by his death what was due for our sins, and began to receive at his resurrection what was due for his sufferings; by compact he suffered for us, and by compact he was raised for us. As the expiation of our offences depended upon the death of our surety, so the justification of our persons depended upon the discharge of our surety; and to that end he was raised up by God to be a standing foundation of and encouragement to our faith, to believe the promises of God, and grow up into hope of the enjoyment of them: 1 Peter i. 21, 'God raised him up from the dead, that your faith and hope might be in God.'
[2.] For the regeneration of the seed promised him. This depends upon his resurrection, and was the aim of God in it: 1 Pet. i. 3, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.' As the resurrection of Christ was as the Father's new begetting of him to be the Son of God, so in regard that he rose as a common person, his resurrection was a new begetting all his elect to be the sons of God. Herein was the foundation of their regeneration, as well as of their justification, settled. He was 'taken from prison and from judgment,' and then it follows, 'who shall declare his generation?' Isa. liii. 8. For by the resurrection of Christ, God having declared himself pacified, has opened all the treasures of his grace to Christ for the framing a new generation in the world to serve him, without which merit of the suffering, and discharge thereupon, there could not have been a unite of grace given out of God's treasury for the renewal of the image of God in any one person. The spiritual resurrection of any one soul is as much the effect of this resurrection of Christ, as the resurrection of bodies shall be at the last day. That power which does raise any soul from a death in sin, would never have wrought in any heart without this antecedent to it, it would have wanted the foundation of satisfaction, for God only sanctifies as n God of peace. And therefore the power which was exerted for the raising of Christ from the grave was put forth as a power to work in the hearts of all his seed. As the subject of this resurrection was not a private person, but a public representative, as God acted in it in a public manner as the governor and creditor, so the poser whereby he raised him was, as I may call it, a public power, a pattern of what was to be spiritually wrought in the hearts of all those whose debts he paid and for whom the payment was accepted by God. His working in all believers is but 'according to the working of that mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,' Eph. i. 20. It was also a pattern of that power which should be employed for doing all works necessary in the hearts of those that believe. It is the fountain from whence all spiritual life streams don n to us; by this God put into him the spring of the Spirit of life to flow out upon all his seed.
[3.] For to give us the highest security for all new covenant mercies. This security was intended by God in the very act of raising him. 'For as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David,' Acts xiii. 34. This was in the thoughts of God when he put forth his hand to the raising of him. There can be no greater security than the fulfilling of the promises made, which the apostle there places in the resurrection of Christ, 'For,' says he, 'we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promised made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again,' Acts xiii. 32, 33. What promise was that which was thus fulfilled? It was the promise of 'an everlasting covenant,' Isa. lv. 3. Whence this is cited, that grand promise that God made to Adam, and in him to all his posterity, was fulfilled in this act of raising Christ; it being a declaration of the bruising the serpent's head, the author of all the enmity between God and man, by the seed of the woman. The promises also of blessing all nations in the seed of Abraham, and the bringing in an everlasting righteousness, were fulfilled. These were but initially performed by the sending Christ and bruising him. But the wisdom of God, the righteousness of God, and the truth of God, did all shine forth in their fullest beams, in the raising him from the dead, which was the top-stone of our reconciliation, as his death had been the corner-stone and foundation. The certain enjoyment of all the blessings of the new covenant is insured to us by this act of God, and so intended by him in the act itself; this giving and dispensing of the sure mercies of David, i. e. the making all the mercies which this our David had purchased by his sacrifice, and had been promised to him in the first agreement, sure and settled for ever.
Use. How strong a ground is here for our faith and comfort! When our Saviour was upon the cross, there was a black cloud of wrath between God and him, the heavens were dusky, the face of God veiled; but in his resurrection the heaven looked clear, the wrath of God was pacified. It left its sting in our Saviour's side. Christ therefore after his resurrection salutes his apostles with peace: John xx. 21, 'And Jesus said to them again, Peace be unto you; as my Father has sent me, so send I you;' which seems to be more than an ordinary salutation, since it is attended with a special commission, the fruit of his reconciling death. Peace dawned at his birth, but was not in its meridian till his resurrection. Thereby he was cleared to all the world, and eased of the burden of men's sins, which bowed down his head upon the cross. Had not God been a God of peace, i. e. fully reconciled by his death, he had not brought him again from the dead, but suffered him to have lain there: Heb. xiii. 20, 'Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ.' Would we be perfect in every good work? Would we do the will of God? Would we have everything well-pleasing in his sight wrought in us? Then we should go to him as a God of peace, as a God lifting up Christ from the grave, that he might with honour to all his attributes work such excellent things in the hearts of all that believe in him, and act faith upon this act of God's power, righteousness, and truth, in the raising the great Shepherd of our souls. He delights now to be called the God of peace, and by this act has laid aside what was terrible to us in the consideration of a judge for the breach of his law. Why may we not hope to attain whatsoever is needful at his hands, since he has clothed himself with a new title? And it is to be observed that the apostle says, God 'brought him again from the dead, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.' He entered into prison as our surety, and paying the price, was delivered by that payment; and freeing himself by that payment from any more satisfaction, he frees all those that are his members; so that the blood of Christ will have the same virtue for those that it has for himself. God manifested it to be the blood of the everlasting covenant, a blood sufficient to establish the everlasting covenant upon, by this deliverance of him. God has no more to lay to his charge, all bonds are cancelled, all actions against him fully answered; he rose not only by his own power and right, but by his Father's warrant, whereby God owned himself his Father, and in him our Father, upon which account he tells Mary, John xx. 17, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.' This resurrection is the testimony, God is become your Father as well as mine, the enmity is abolished, you stand in a relation to God, and I ascend to him as your Father as well as mine, to take possession from his hands of the inheritance I have purchased for you.
8. God glorified Christ, and so was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, fully establishing this reconciliation wrought by him. All power was promised to him: Ps. ii. 8, 'I will give thee the heathen for shine inheritance.' It was performed: Mat. xxviii. 18, 'All power is given me.' His resurrection had not attained its full end and perfection, had he not been exalted to a glorious government; it was for this end, dia touto, that he died, that 'he rose again and revived, that he might be Lord both of dead and living.' He died to purchase it, he rose to possess it, and lives for ever to manage it. He was exalted for the honour of God and the happiness of believers, as Joseph the type was advanced to manage things for the interest of the crown and the good of the people.
First, We must premise these two things: there is a double glory and dominion of Christ.
(1.) Essential, as God, which was communicated to him in the communication of his essence; for being God from eternity, he had all the prerogatives of God.
(2.) Mediatory, which was by an agreement between them to be bestowed upon him upon the accomplishment of his work in the world. He had a right to this by the donation of his Father at his conception, for he was made Lord when he was made Christ: Acts ii. 36, 'Know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.' But he had not his actual investiture and full settlement in it till after his resurrection, because his reconciling death was to precede his entrance into glory, where he was to reside for the management of this power. In this respect he is called the heir of all things: Heb. i. 2, 'Whom he has appointed heir of all things;' which inheritance is not meant of his essential dominion, for so he is not appointed but begotten heir. He might then be said to be constituted God as well as heir, which would be an improper speech, like the Socinian's Deus factus. What is natural, cannot be said to be by constitution; the one is voluntary, the other necessary. He is appointed heir, as he was appointed mediator, Heb. iii. 2. He was mediator by a voluntary designation, he was heir by a voluntary donation, and all judgment was committed to him by a voluntary deputation, but he was a Son by a natural generation. Again, an heir succeeds in the place of another; so Christ as mediator succeeds in the place of his Father, in regard of government, as his delegate and deputy; but what the Son has from the Father as God, he has not as his deputy, but by an essential, natural, and eternal communication. So that these two differ.
(1.) The one belongs to his essence as God, the other to his office as mediator.
(2.) The essential is by nature, the mediatory is conferred as a reward of his humiliation and expiation of sin: Philip. ii. 8, 9, 'Wherefore God has highly exalted him,' viz. because of his obedience to death. The one belonged to him without suffering, but his suffering death for us was the moral cause of his exaltation. Since the heavenly sanctuary was shut against us, the expiation of our crimes must precede his entrance into it, and possession of it.
(3.) The essential is an absolute sovereignty, the mediatory is delegated. For it is a judgment committed to him by the Father, John v. 22. In the first he is one with the Father, in the other he is the Father's substitute and deputy; his Father's lord-lieutenant in the world according to a derived authority.
(4.) The essential is wholly free, it has no obligation upon it; the mediatory has a charge annexed to it. It is a dominion with rules, and given him as a means to bring believers to salvation, which is part of the work belonging to the charge of mediator, John xvii. 42. He has this power given him by the Father, 'that he should give eternal life to all that God has given him.'
(5.) The essential is necessary: he cannot possibly be God without an infinite glory and dominion. The other, though due by the covenant, yet is a free gift: Philip. ii. 9, 'God has given him a name which it above every name,' icarisato. Not that God, who is infinite goodness and holiness, would ever let such an exquisite holiness and affection to his glory, which Christ discovered in the whole course of his obedience, pass without a rewarding and crowning it with the greatest glory in his treasury (it being an obedience superior to that of all the angels, it required a recompense superior to all their glory), yet that high exaltation is a free gift.
[1.] In regard that the whole economy, the mission of Christ and his incarnation, is a free gift of God to us; and in his exaltation he is considered as appearing for us, and receiving from the Father those treasures which were to be dispensed to us, and that power and dominion which was to be employed for us.
[2.] Because as it was the free gift of God to unite our flesh to the deity of the second person, it was also an act of free grace to continue the manifestation of the glory of the divinity in the same flesh.
[3.] Because the death he suffered, and the conquest he gained thereby, being by the powerful assistance of the Father, according to those promises of assistance made to him, his glory may be well said to be a free gift from the Father.
[4.] Because given without constraint, with a free pleasure, though upon a valuable consideration.
(6. ) The essential is eternal, without beginning and end; the mediatory has a beginning after his death and resurrection, and shall have an end. When all the seed are brought in and perfected, all enemies subdued and conquered, (Christ shall resign his commission and his people, for whose sake he was commissioned and deputed to this government, unto his Father, 1 Cor. xv. 24, when he shall still reign with his Father in the glory of the Deity. The Father lays aside his immediate government, that Christ may- be all in all; at last Christ shall resign the government to the Father, that God may be all in all, and delight immediately in his people, when they shall be fully perfected, and free from sin. The power, in regard of the particular ends for which it was conferred on Christ, ceases when those ends cease; but what belongs of right to him AS God, or what was given him by covenant as a reward for his obedience, will endure as long as the humanity remains united to the divinity.
Secondly, This is to be considered, that it was the person of Christ which was exalted by the Father. The subject of this power is the person of Christ, and the execution of this power is by the person of Christ.
1. His divine nature was exalted and glorified in regard of its manifestation. The Father would manifest that the Redeemer of the world was God blessed for ever, above angels or men. His deity in the time of his humiliation was incapable of any change, and therefore neither did nor could receive any detriment in its nature and essential perfections. It could not be subject to infirmities, or fall under the strokes of death; yet the Son of God emptied himself in taking upon him the form of a servant, and veiled that deity which dwelt bodily in him by the flesh he took, and suffered reproaches and indignities from men, and masked the glory of it by human infirmities; but in his resurrection and ascension, the deity did gloriously spring out of that obscurity, and brake out from under the cloud of his humanity in a glorious lustre, which before had discovered itself in some few sparklings; he was now 'clothed with a gesture dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God,' Rev. xix. 13; i.e. he was manifested to be the Word of God after and upon the account of his death.
2. His human nature was exalted and glorified by a new acquisition and addition of perfections of glory, which had been never conferred upon any man or angel. That was really delivered from all that suffering and debasement it had been subject to before in the days of his flesh, and was drawn up into a great and glorious condition, and endowed with gifts above all creatures in heaven and earth, and received a new royalty and power of ruling; and as the Mediator had performed a new work in dying, so he received a new glory in his exaltation. Thus the person of Christ, and each nature, may be said to be glorified in a distinct sense: the divine, in the manifestation of it, from that obscurity wherein it had been disguised; the human, in the reception of that which it had not before possessed. This was fully conferred on him at his ascension, and sitting down at the right hand of God; whereas before the name of a servant was written upon him, the fashion of his vesture being changed, there was a new name writ upon him, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Rev. xix. 16.
These things premised.
1. The exaltation and power of Christ is everywhere ascribed to the Father. It was his promise: Ps. lxxxix. 27, 'I will make him higher than the kings of the earth.' Several monarchies overtopped the Jewish kingdoms throughout the whole duration of that state. He bruised him as he was the rector and judge of the world, to whom belonged the right of punishment; he advanced him as the supreme governor and fountain of all honour; and thus he was in Christ ordering the application, and insuring reconciliation to us upon the conditions in his word.
(l.) In regard of donation. It is a gift from the Ancient of days, Dan. vii. 14. God anointed him to this office as well as to the rest. He sets him in the highest place next to himself, at his right hand:óPs. cx. 1, 'The Lord said unto my Lord;'ógives him all the ensigns of authority, a crown in the day of his espousals, an everlasting throne, a sceptre of righteousness: Heb. i. 8, 'But unto the Son he says, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;' a sword in his mouth, the keys of life and death, all royal prerogatives; subjects all the angels to him, to receive commissions from him, and be at his service; they are now the eyes and horns of the Lamb, ministers and instruments of his jurisdiction. He 'committed all judgment to his Son,' John v. 22; not only a power of judging or sentencing, but a power of governing and conducting all things. In regard of the power he received, he is said to sit down, Luke rxii. 69, 'at the right hand of the power of God.' In regard of the authority invested in him, he is said to sit down at 'the right hand of the throne of God;' in regard of the glory conferred upon him, he is said to sit down 'at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,' Heb. viii. 1. His royal power to manage it, and the glory attending it, being all the gifts of God to him, and that not in a way of common providence, whereby other kings reign, but by a peculiar deputation and special decree, in a mighty affection, whereby he does as it were take him by the hand and set him upon his throne,óPs. cx. 1, 'Sit thou at my right hand,'óand peculiarly calls him his King, Ps. ii. 6; makes him higher than the heavens, gives him by inheritance a more excellent name than all the angels; all which are peculiarly the acts of God towards him, Heb. i. 8, 18, the special orders of God concerning him.
(2.) In regard of fitness for this government. 'The Spirit of counsel and might' did rest upon him for the exercise of this government, as well as for his other transactions in the world; that he might 'reprove with equity,' 'smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips slay the wicked,' Isa. xi. 4; righteousness was to be the 'girdle of his loins,' and 'faithfulness the girdle of his reins.' This was his excellency, conferred upon him as King of the church; he had seven horns, a full power, and seven eyes, a perfect wisdom, for the management of the government, Rev. v. 6. He had need of the highest fitness, because this government upon his shoulders was a charge incumbent upon him above what all the angels in heaven were entrusted with. He has a spirit of wisdom to guide the church, a spirit of power to defend it, a spirit of faithfulness to take care of it, a spirit of compassion to pity it, and inexhaustible fullness to impart unto his people in all their necessities, able to fill the cistern, the church, and every private bucket He was not without power to rescue those out of the hands of the devil by conquest, whom he had redeemed from the wrath of God by his death. He had full power given him to force the jailer, after he had contented the creditor; God fitted him with wisdom against the wiles of Satan, and might against this power.
(3.) In regard of defence and protection in it. He has the whole power of the Godhead to defend him in it, he sits at his right hand. The right hand is a place of honour, and the right hand of a great king is a place of security Though Christ has a power to subdue his enemies, yet the Father is said to make his enemies his footstool. Putting forth his power, to show in the punishment of his enemies the high acceptance of his person and passion, that he will with his own hands bring down all that concur not with him in giving honour to his Son. The power which is essential to the Deity, is promised to be employed for the subduing his enemies under his sceptre and under his feet: Ps. cx. 1, 'Till I make thy enemies thy footstool.' As he did bring him to his throne in spite of all opposition, so he will establish it against the storms and powers of hell. He set him Upon the throne with a mighty zeal for his honour, and indignation against his opposers: 'Then shall he speak to them in his wrath, yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Sion,' Ps. ii. 5, 6, notwithstanding all their counsels against him and resolutions to cast his cords frown them. So the increase of his government and peace, the ordering of it, the stability of it with judgment and justice, and the perpetuity of it, are Settled, protected, and assured by the same zeal that placed him in it: Isa. ix. 7, 'The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this,' i. e. that vehement love which he has both to the honour of Christ and the eternal peace and security of his seed. The power of God first lifted him to his throne, and the same omnipotence will keep it from being shaken by the powers of darkness. And the Redeemer was still to exercise faith in God as his Father, as his God, the rock of his salvation, even when he had 'set his hand in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers', Ps. lxxxix. 25, 26. Then God does promise to 'beat down his foes before his lace, and plague them that hate him,' and 'his seed' he would make to 'endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven,' verse 23, 29.
2. The Father did this upon the account of his death, and to show his high valuation of it, and that reconciliation he wrought by it.
(1.) This exaltation and dominion was upon the account of his reconciling death. His sufferings were the way to his crown; he first surrendered himself as our surety to the justice of God, before God surrendered his power to the management of Christ for the good of man: 'He died and rose again and revived, that he might be Lord of the living and the dead,' Rom. xiv. 9; he obtained a new state of life, not to die again, as Lazarus; and he was not raised barely to a life, but to a royal and princely life, to have an extensive dominion over all, the foundation whereof was laid in his death. God 'lifted up his head,' because he did 'drink of the brook in the way,' Ps. cx. 7, and it was as he was a lamb that had been slain as a sacrifice, that he had both his power and his wisdom, Rev. v. 6.
[1.] The exercise of his dominion before his incarnation, did in order of nature presuppose his death. Though he exercised a power in the world before his incarnation, yet it was exercised by him as a constituted mediator; and his assumption of a mortal body, and offering it up to death, was the condition required at the first constitution of him as mediator, as a reparation of the honour of God, which had been violated in the disorder of his first form of government by the entrance of sin. As soon as ever man fell the government of the world devolved into the hands of Christ by virtue of the covenant between the Father and himself. When sin had undermined the pillars of the world, they would have fallen had he not given a new consistency to them, Col. i. 17, and 'upheld all things by the word of his power,' Heb. i. 3, and 'established the earth,' Isa. xlix. 8, which else would have been overthrown by justice as well as the angels. Had not the government of the world been put into the hands of Christ, and a covenant of grace been erected, the world had been destroyed; the holiness of God would not have endured the sinfulness of it, and the justice of God could not have endured the standing of it according to the covenant of works. And this government was not put into the hands of the mediator, but upon a supposition of his death. What reason have we to think God should constitute a new mode of government without a reparation of his honour in the first? 'The government was upon his shoulders' when he was first given to us as a Son, Isa. ix. 6. He was given to us in promise before he was given to us in the flesh; and in that first promise' wherein his power is ensured to him for us, viz. the bruising the serpent's head, his death is supposed by the serpent's bruising his heel, Gen. iii. 15. He was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and it was upon this presupposed oblation that the world had its standing, that any had grace bestowed upon them, and found acceptance with God. If the great end of the government he is since his death invested with, was performed by him before his incarnation, viz. the salvation of souls, yet with respect to his future death, then the government also, which was but a means in order to this, was conditionally conferred upon him. As believers were saved before his coming, so the world was governed by him, because he was to die. Hence he was the angel of the Lord in delivering his church; the captain of the Lord's hosts in fighting their battles, Joshua v. 14; the guardian of the church, and an advocate for them in their distresses, Zech. i. 8, 12, and attended upon his throne with all the angels as messengers to perform his will, Isa. vi. 1, 2, which, in the evangelist's interpretation, was the Lord Jesus, whose glory Isaiah saw, John xii. 41, when the seraphims celebrated his glory in the earth: it was he, the foundation of whose glory was laid in the earth, in the redemption of the sons of men. They are silent of that glory God has in the vast heavens, and speak only of his glory in the small point of earth, which relates to that of his mediation, wherein the establishing the earth and reducing it to a due order was the maim concern.
[2.] He was absolutely confirmed in it upon his death. There was a confirmation of it in the first instant of his conception, for he eras made Lord when he v. as made Christ; at his birth he was proclaimed by the angels a Lord as well as a Saviour, Luke ii. 11, but his fall investiture was after his death, upon his ascension, when seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. David had an authority conferred upon him at his anointing, but was not fully inaugurated till his coronation at Hebron. So after the Redeemer had finished his ministerial work, God did fix him in his royal dignity to exercise his power, not only in the divine nature, as he had done before, but also in his human nature assumed by it. There was an 'anointing' of him after his 'bringing in everlasting righteousness' by his death, and 'making reconciliation for iniquity, making an end of sin, and sealing up the vision and prophecy' which centred in him; then was the most holy to be anointed and have his solemn investiture, Dan. ix. 24. Because of that illustrious holiness he had manifested in the whole course of his humiliation, and that signal obedience upon the cross, he then was settled an high priest for ever, which he exercises by himself; a prophet of his church, which he exercises by his Spirit; an everlasting king, which he manages partly by his Spirit, partly by himself. Thus our Noah was brought out of the ark after the suffering, the terror of a deluge, to be the father of a second world, and as Isaac was raised up, after he had appeared as a victim under his father's sword, to be the father of many nations, he was to be Shiloh, a peacemaker, before the gathering of the nations under his sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10; and the Son of man, before he was to have a 'dominion that should not pass away,' Dan. vii. 13, 14. As God brought him again from the dead, 'through the blood of the everlasting covenant,' he raised him because his blood was a covenant blood, Heb. xiii. 20, so by his own blood he entered once into the holy place, Heb. ix. 12. But it was not only after his death, but because it was a death for man voluntarily submitted unto. The conquests made by him in the world, his having a 'portion divided with the great, and the spoil with the strong,' was 'because he poured out his soul to death, made intercession for the transgressors, and bare the sins of many, Isa. liii. 12. It was upon this score of purging and expiating our sins by himself that he 'sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,' Heb. i. 3. He expiated sin by the oblation of himself, not as other high priests, by the blood of animals. If any creature had been offered by him, though held in the highest rank in the creation, the priest had been infinite, but the sacrifice had been finite. But it was himself which he offered, a finite, human nature, in conjunction with an infinite person, and that for the atonement of our iniquity; for which infinite obedience, and infinite charity, God rewarded him with an infinite exaltation. It was his own blood which procured his admission into the holy place, and he was crowned because he had combated with the curses of the law and enemies of our peace, and conquered them for us.
There are two things requisite to the exercise of this power and dominion: the knowledge of God's decrees, and authority over the chief ministers in the execution of them; both which Christ has upon the account of his redeeming death.
First, The knowledge of God's decrees. God gave to him the knowledge of his decrees concerning his people, Rev. i. 1. No man on the earth or angel in heaven was found worthy to open the book, i.e. to be acquainted with the contents thereof, nor to unloose the seals, to dive into the depth and mysteries of his counsels and providence, but only the lion of the tribe of Judah. But it was by virtue of his death ins he was the lamb slain, the antitype of the legal lambs sacrificed) that he took the book and opened it, Rev. v. 6, 7. The prevalence of his death with his Father was the cause of the knowledge of all the secrets of his will. As he was the lion of the tribe of Judah' and the root of David, as he had taken human nature according to the will of his Father, and suffered in it, he prevailed to open the book and unloose the seals thereof, Rev. v. 5, that they should not be concealed from him who was the head of the reconciled world. When the justice of God was appeased by the prevailing death of Christ, he gives forth willingly whatsoever may conduce to the salvation of his people; and in order to this, there was a necessity Christ should understand his secrets. How else could he be an executor of all the counsels of God? This revelation is to him as mediator in his human nature, as appointed king by God, which is distinct from that knowledge he had as God, as his mediatory kingdom was distinct from that essential kingdom he had as God. As that was a delegated power, so this is a revealed knowledge; and both one and the other he had, as he was the lamb of God taking away the sins of the world.
Secondly, Authority over the chief ministers employed in the execution of his will. 'Things in heaven' must bow down to him, Philip ii. 10; 'all power in heaven, as well as earth, was given him,' Mat. xxviii. 18, and nothing was exempt from his jurisdiction but only the Father, who did put all things under him, 1 Cor. xv. 27. The innumerable company of angels, which are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem and mount Zion, the seat of his royalty, Heb. xii. 22, are under his sceptre. His sitting on the right hand of God (as was said) was because he purged our sins by himself, and whatsoever did accrue to him by virtue of this session was upon the same foundation with the session itself. Part of that dominion accruing to him, as sitting at the right hand of God, was the power over angels (1 Peter iii. 22, 'Who is on the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject to him', who had authority and power from God in the administration of his providence either among other angels or among men; they were subjected to him, i. e. by his Father. He was passive in it, and had it conferred upon him as part of his mediatory glory. As God, he did himself subject the angels to him. Thus, as an honour for the oblation of himself, were they all marshalled under the power of Christ by the Father, who had power to dispose of his creatures under the reins of what government he pleased. And the most excellent orders of them were not exempt from this subjection, but every person to whom God had granted a principality, power, might, and dominion, either in this world or that which is to come, was brought under his sceptre, to be serviceable to him in the execution of those designs he had for the church, which he had reconciled to God by his blood: Eph. i. 21, 'Far above all principality and power;' not only anw, but uperanw, exceedingly above in excellency of dignity and largeness of authority; whence they are called his angels, Rev. i. 1, and fellow-servants of 'those that have the testimony of Jesus,' Rev. xix. 20, and therefore servants to Christ as mediator. And as a testimony of this subjection of them, God sent all his angels to wait upon him at his triumphant reception, as his chariots to convey the human nature of Christ to heaven, and to welcome him after his victory, Ps. lxviii. 17. He was 'among them as in Sinai,' when he came down to give the law; he was commander of them, and gave them directions in that affair. This is spoken with respect to his ascension, as it follows, ver. 18, 'Thou hast ascended on high;' they attended him to his throne and waited upon him, to be employed in the execution of his royal edicts. Now, this adoration which the angels are commanded to render him was because he had expiated sin, Heb. i. 3, 6. Their waiting round about his throne to attend his pleasure, and the joyful acclamations they shout forth in his praise, is because he was the lamb slain, the reconciling sacrifice, whereby God and man were brought together, Rev. v. 11, 12.
[3.] It was very fit and congruous that he should have this glory. This was the agreement between the Father and the Son before he set foot out of heaven. He had glorified God, had given him a foundation by his submission to the sharpness of his mediatory work, to display his wisdom in the highest glory, his justice in the deepest severity, his mercy with the clearest lustre, his veracity in the firmest stability. Without his undertaking this, none of those attributes could have appeared in such glory upon any other foundation; they could never have been thus manifested by any creature, or the undertaking of the whole creation. As he therefore glorified the Father more than all creatures could glorify him, so it was fit he should have a glory transcendently above them. As he had improved his talents above them, so he should be possessed with a rule above them. Without this power he could not have conducted those whom he had purchased to a blessed eternity. It was very reasonable, that as the Father had by him done the hardest work, viz., the expiating sin, he should also by him work the full accomplishment of it. It was congruous that things should be given into the hands of the Redeemer to manage, who had purchased them all by a price so valuable as that of his death. If he died to purchase them, it was fit he should have authority to perfect them. He, being a divine sacrifice, was of infinite price, and as his sufferings surpassed the punishments of all creatures, so the value of his sacrifice exceeded the riches of the whole creation, both of heaven and earth, angels or men. He had not had a reward commensurate to the value of his death, had not a dominion been added to him as mediator, beside that of his deity, which was his by nature, and could not fall within the compass of a purchase, since he never was nor could be dispossessed of it. It was but reason the angels should be subjected to him, who had been preserved and confirmed bv him; for God hall in him 'gathered together things in heaven as well as things in earth, Eph. i. 10' which collection would have signified little, unless by it they had been wrapped up into a permanent state, and a full assurance from any danger of apostasy from God and a fall into misery, as some of their fellows had done. It was very convenient that they who had received so great a benefit by him should be subject to him, that they who had been gathered under his wing should be as well under his sceptre. Besides, as he had discovered himself faithful to death against some reluctance of human nature, he should have an opportunity to discover himself faithful in the other parts which concerned the honour of God; he that was faithful to him under the curse of the law would not be unfaithful to him under the blessing of deliverance. And very fit at last that he that was the innocent sufferer should be the judge of his guilty enemies, and condemn the great head of that enmity which was the occasion of his conflict with his Father's wrath, to remove it out of the way. As he, being rich in the deity and in the form of God, became poor in his humanity and in the form of a servant, eclipsing thereby the glory of his Godhead, it was fit he should reassume his former state as the heir of all things, and exercise that power in his humanity which he had a right unto in his deity.
[4.] This power was conferred upon him for the application nod perfection of the fruits of reconciliation. This power and dominion is given to him for the advantage and full growth of his seed. When his people shall be perfected and his enemies subdued, the government devolves wholly to his Father, there being no longer any occasion for the exercise of his mediatory dominion. If it were conferred upon him only for himself, the power would not cease as long as his person endures; but the cessation of it upon the accomplishment of such effects evidences that those effects were the end for which it was first conferred. It is upon this score the Scripture places the extent of his dominion, Eph. i. 22. He, i. e. the Father, has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, for the church's welfare, for the good of the subjects as well as the glory of his empire. He is the King of saints, to rule them by his grace; and the King of nations, to rule them by his providence. He is set to reign in Zion, the hill of holiness, Ps. ii. 6, as the centre of all the power and wisdom of his government, as the chief city of a prince partakes most of the fruits of his valour in conquering, and his wisdom in ruling. As his prophetical office is not to cease till instruction be swallowed up in vision, nor his priestly till his intercession be succeeded by immediate communion, so neither his kingly till there be a total cessation from all danger, and not an enemy left to disturb their peace.
First, For the bestowing gifts on men for the publishing this reconciliation. He received gifts at his triumph, that he might, as a royal steward of his Father, distribute them for the good of those that had been rebels to the government of God, to fit them for the great fruit of this peace, viz., a communion between God and them, 'that the Lord God might dwell among them,' Ps. lxviii. 18; Eph. iv. 8, 11-13. These gifts come from God as a God of salvation, as the doxology infers, Ps. lxviii. 10, 'Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with his benefits, even the God of our salvation.' The intent whereof was to wound the head of the enemy Satan, who had been the first makebait: Ps. lxviii. 21, 'God shall wound the head of his enemy.' The Spirit was not therefore given in that eminency and fullness of gifts and graces till the glorification of Christ, wherein he absolutely received the keys of all the treasures of his Father, as well as the keys of hell and death: John vii. 39, 'The Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.' The giving the Spirit depended on the glorification of him as Jesus, a Saviour. God would receive those gifts for the triumphal coronation of his Son as an evidence of the peace which was made by him, by the effusion of the richest treasures of God. The Spirit was in the world before, as light was upon the face of the creation the three first days, but not SO glorious, sparkling, and darting out full beams till the fourth day, the day of the creation of the sun, and fixing it in the heavens; so was the rich beaming forth of light, when after four thousand years, the fourth divine day, the Sun of righteousness was seated in the heavens to disperse his beams. The first edict he gave out after the receipt of his power, was the commission for preaching the gospel: Matt. xxviii 18, 19, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth; Go therefore and teach all nations.' It was the intention of his Father that he should dispose of his power for this end; for he who did all things according to his Father's will would not use his power in the least, but for those ends for which it was conferred upon him.
Secondly, For the inviting of men to an acceptance of him. As the most beneficial commands that ever he gave, so the most condescending affections he ever discovered, the most gracious invitations that ever he made, were at those times where he had a sense of this power in a more peculiar manner, to show the proper intendment of it, and to what ends he was to manage it. The grant of this power is the foundation of that invitation he makes to weary souls, Mat. xi. 27, 'All things are delivered to me of my Father;' the inference is, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour;' and his governing them as a leader and commander to the people is the encouragement God uses to men to accept of that rich and liberal invitation of coming to the waters and buying wine and milk without money and without price, Isa. lv. 1, 4. God exalted him to all his power, to enable him to make the most gracious offers to men, and encourage their acceptance of him, as himself intimates in that fore-mentioned Mat. xi. 27, that the delivery of all his treasures to him was to make a revelation of his Father to the sons of men.
Thirdly, For the preserving the reconciliation for ever firm. As there is an increase of his government, so there is an increase of his peace: Isa. ix. 7, 'Of the increase of his government and peace there is no end.' His government, and the peace he purchased, go hand in hand; as his glory rises to the meridian, so does the reconciliation. He therefore went to heaven to purify the heavenly things themselves with his sacrifice, Heb. ix. 23, i. e. (say some) heaven itself, which in some sense was polluted by the stench of our sins coming up into the presence of God, into which Christ as the high priest entered with his blood, to settle the sweet savour of that before God, instead of the loathsome savour of our sins which had offended his majesty. But howsoever, this exaltation was that he might 'appear in the presence of God for us,' Heb. ix. 24, and preserve by his intercession what he had wrought by his passion. He has therefore his head encircled with a rainbow, Rev. x. 1, to evidence the perfection of the peace he had made, and the establishment of the security in heaven, against the opening any more the flood-gates of wrath for an overflowing deluge.
Fourthly, For the subduing his and our enemies. He is to continue in the exercise of this power, 'till all the enemies be put under his feet,' 1 Cor. xv. 25. All the enemies, all the enemies to him as God, all the enemies to him as mediator, all the enemies to the great design of his mediation, all the enemies to him in that state and condition wherein he sits at the right hand of God, which is as mediator, and therefore whatsoever is contrary to his mediation and the intendment of it, all those enemies to his members which would hinder their arrival at happiness, and their blessed conjunction with their head, are to be destroyed. And those are,
First, Sin, which has 'reigned unto death,' Rom. v. 21.
Secondly, Satan, who as a prince has reigned in the world, and kept up sin in its vigour, John xii. 31.
Thirdly, Death, the last enemy, which has reigned from Adam to Moses,, Rom. v. 14, and will reign to the end of the world, 1 Cor. xv. 26. Whatsoever sets itself in contrariety to the happiness of believers, is an enemy to the design of Christ, and is to be put under his feet, as one end of the authority granted to him. All the powers of hell must be crushed, all the fortifications of the devil must be demolished, and himself despoiled of 0a arms. This was necessary, that his kingdom should extend over the devils, to repress them, if it did extend over his subjects to secure them; these could not be advanced by his mercy, if the others did not sink under his power.
Fifthly, For the perfect salvation of his seed. His exaltation was tor the perfection and perpetuity of salvation; the apostle's inference else would have no validity: Rom. viii. 34, 'It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?' But the apostle sets forth the eternal knot between him and believers, upon his session at the right hand of God, with a rather. God 'exalted him to be a prince and a Saviour,' Acts v. 31. A princely Saviour, to bestow the royal gifts of repentance and forgiveness of sins. As he appointed Christ to give it, so he has appointed men to attain it by him, and from him, 1 Thes. v. 9. As he merited salvation by his death, he might perfect it by his life, Rom. v. 10. That as his death was by the ordination of God to purchase a seed, so his exaltation was, by the like designation, for a full sanctification of this seed, that he might at last behold them in their perfect glory; and therefore that he thought his proper work, upon a sense of it in his soul, when he considered his divine original, and his approaching glory, when yet it was not absolutely conferred upon him, John xiii. 3, 4, he will think his work when he is in full possession of it, viz., the full sanctification of his people, the washing their souls, which was symbolically signified by the washing their feet. What seems to be the end of that present sense, will much more be the end and issue of his enjoyment. As he was humbled to save them, so he was exalted to perfect them; and since he was made sin for us in his death, he is in his advancement mode wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, a full treasury to supply all our necessities, that as he was the author, so he might be the finisher of our faith. If God delivered to him the full contents of his will because he was a lamb slain, it must be in order to carry on that work for which he was slain, to perfect an eternal amity between God and them, that there might be an eternal rejoicing in one another, The mediator being to reign till the whole church be brought to heaven, the intendment therefore of his heavenly royalty is the perfection of them in a heavenly glory; that as in his humiliation he Divas the way of our access, as by his spirit he was the discoverer of the truth, so by his life he might be the perfecter of our happiness: John xiv. 6, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.' As he glorified his Father on the earth by a full satisfaction of his justice, so his Father glorified him in heaven, to make a full application of his merits, John xvii. 1, 2.
[5.] By this the Father testifies the highest acceptance of his person, and the sufficiency of his death. John iii. 35, 'The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hands.' His coronation testifies the acceptation of his person, and it being after his death, testifies the acceptation of his passion; as Pharaoh's elevating Joseph from a prison, to the highest dignity in Egypt, next to that of the sovereign, was a testimony of that king's high admiration of Joseph's wisdom.
This acceptance is testified by two things: the manner of his reception and settlement; the nature of his power.
First, The manner of his reception and settlement. It was with an infinitely pleased countenance, and all the marks of joy in the soul of God, which rejoiced him more than the crown of pure gold set upon his head, or the length of days for ever and ever granted to him. The psalmist places all the joy of Christ upon his ascension in this: Ps. xxi. 3-6, 'Thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance,' "tekhadehu besimkhah", thou hast made him glad with joy. One frown in the face of God would have damped all the joy of Christ. The psalm was anciently understood of the ascension and glory of Christ, and Ainsworth makes a pretty observation of the word rejoice, "yishmakh", by transposition to be "mashiakh", Messiah. If there be joy in heaven at the return of sinners, how great was the joy of God at the return of the Saviour of them, after the performing unto God so eminent a service! How heartily did the Father take him in his arms! How straitly did he embrace him! How magnificently did he fix him in a throne of immortality and advocacy! And when he did thus constitute him his king upon his holy hill, he established his throne and perpetuity of his kingdom by an oath: Ps. lxxxix. 35, 36, '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.' What men are mightily pleased with, they confirm under the highest obligations. As when the daughter of Herodias pleased Herod, he confirms by an oath the grant he had made of whatsoever she should ask him, Mark vi. 22, 23. And the solemnity at Christ's entrance into heaven, and sitting upon his throne, lasted ten days before the sending of the Spirit as the first fruits of his purchase.
Secondly, The nature of that glory and power invested in him. It is not in the orbs of the planets, or the starry heaven, where Christ has taken up his residence, but he is mounted above all the visible heavens: Eph. iv. 10, 'Far above all heavens;' uperanw, not anw, exceedingly above the heavens, into the holy of holies, the habitation of the glorious majesty of God; a place of purity for a pure Redeemer, a place of glory for a glorious Mediator. And he is seated in his humanity in the highest place of heaven, next the Father, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, yea, 'in the midst of the throne,' Rev. vii. 17, an honour never allowed to the highest angels, Heb. i. 13, which stand before the throne of God, but sit not in the throne with him. The obedience of angels never did, never could, equal the obedience of the Son of God. His empire is of the same extent with his Father's; so highly did his Father value his expiatory offering, that he would not exempt an angel in heaven, nor a devil in hell, nor any creature upon earth from a subjection to him, but poured the whole rule and government into his hands, ordered the same worship to be performed to the Son as to himself, John v. 23, and that in heaven, Heb. i. 6, Rev. v. 13. And for duration, it is for ever and ever; he is to reign as Mediator till all the ends of it be accomplished, and afterwards for ever with the Father in the glory of the Deity, Heb. i. 3. He is to reign as Mediator in the place of the Father, till the church be perfected, by reducing all enemies to an entire subjection, and then to resign his power to his Father. As the son of a king, sent to reduce rebellious countries to obedience, has a royal commission from his father to act as king, an authority to pardon or punish, till his conquest be finished; so when Christ shall have gained the full victory, he shall cease his mediation, and God shall reign immediately over all, and Christ shall reign with him, not as Mediator, but as God. 'God shall be all in all,' 1 Cor. xv. 28, which is opposed to Christ's interposition or intercession as mediator; there will be no need of God's communicating himself by a mediator but he will immediately shine forth upon then, when the fruits of sin, and sin itself, is abolished in them. But for the Father to resign things to the management of his Son, as the Son had given himself up to the justice of he Father, in a sort to eclipse his own glory for so long a time, as the Son had eclipsed his Deity in his humiliation, and as it were lay by the immediate exercise of his authority of Judging and governing which originally pertains to him, and veil it, to let the beams of it shoot into the world only through this medium, is such a mark of his acceptation, that higher cannot be given. It cannot be conceived how the Father should do more than this, for a testimony of his pleasure in him and his sacrifice. It is impossible the Father should dethrone himself, and therefore anything higher than what he has done cannot be imagined. For though the authority still resides in the Father, and is extant in every act of Christ's government, yet he acts not immediately, receives no addresses immediately to himself, lint all in and by his glorified Son. lied he had the least displeasure with him, or found the least blemish in him, he had not lodged the exercise of his power in him.
Use of this head.
First, This exaltation of Christ by the Father is a mighty encouragement to faith in Christ.
1. Hereby we have assurance, that all that Christ spoke and did was agreeable to the will of the Father. This exaltation of Christ will not suffer us to think that anything was left undone by him which he ought to have done. Otherwise the exact justice of God would never have consented to have put the government of all things into his hand; an exact obedience was to precede before a glory was to be conferred. Since therefore this glory is conferred, it is evident his obedience was unblemished. All the world, and the concerns of it, would never have been laid upon his shoulders, had the piercing eye of the Father discerned any fault in it. The infinite wisdom of God would never have entrusted him with so great an affair, if he had not been faithful in the management of what had been before committed to him; because, if he had been unfaithful in one, there was no ground to think he would be faithful in the others. But it is a strong argument that he will be exact in the glorious part of his charge, since he has been exact in the ignominious part of his work. It is upon the account of his being a faithful witness, that he is the 'Prince of the kings of the earth,' Rev. i. 5. It is this argument the Spirit uses to convince the world of righteousness, i. e. the righteousness of his person, the righteousness of his mediation, that there is a full expiation of sin, because he is entertained and received by the Father, John xvi. 10.
2. Hereby we have assurances that it is the intent of the Father, that all things should be managed by Christ for the good of those that believe in him. Since he has delivered the book to Christ, containing the secrets of his will, because he was a lamb slain, it is evident that it is the pleasure of the Father, that his government shall be for those ends for which he was slain, and that the book contains the will of God pursuant to the ends of that death. Had that book contained anything contrary to those ends, and to the interest of his people, the Father would not have delivered it into his hands. The end of his exaltation can never cross the end of his passion; nor could the unchangeable love of the Father give him rules for his acting in his government, opposite to those he had designed his humiliation for. Since therefore he was in Christ upon the cross, reconciling the world to himself, he is in Christ upon his throne, pursuing the ends of that reconciliation, and bringing the fruits of it to a glorious maturity by the glorification of the reconciler. How soon were the tears of John dried up, when he looked upon Christ opening the book of God's decrees, and found by the praises of the elders that the world was committed to him, to order all things for the good of the church, Rev. v. 4, 5. What encouragement would they else have had to have fallen down, singing the praises of him, and acknowledging him as their Lord and King, and to present to him their golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints? The first homage he receives, after his opening the book, and that as a pleasant odour, is the prayers of believers: ver. 8, 'And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints;' which does evidence their good to be the intendment of the Father in delivering it to him, and that the rules in it were to that purpose, and his own resolution to observe the rules of it.
3. It is to be considered who this person is that is thus exalted, in order to the encouragement of faith. It is the same person, in whose humiliation the Father was reconciling us; our kinsman, by the assumption of our nature, but more by the relation of oar faith to him into whose hand this power is put. He is made the steward to dispense his Father's gifts, who knew our indigences and wants of them, and whose tenderness cannot be questioned, since he has had an experience of our infirmities. He that shed his blood to sale us, will not spare his power to relieve us. As he had not died but to reconcile us, so he would not halve been exalted as a reconciler, hut to perfect it by bringing us to the Father: by the one he made way for our access, and by the other for our perfect conjunction. His being quickened by the Spirit, and the glory following thereupon, as well as his being put to death in the flesh, was to 'bring us to God,' 1 Peter iii. 18. He had a tenderness as he is the Son of God, partaking of the same nature with his Father; he has a tenderness as our mediator, and clothed with our flesh; he has also an engagement of faithfulness, since all the treasures of heaven are put into his hands, to be expended for those ends for which he died. He is not only administrator of his Father's goods, but guardian of the souls committed to him by his Father, and faithful he is in both.
How may we then east our souls into this bottom, since the directions he receives from the Father are agreeable to all the former economy? Since, as a lamb slain, he is God's steward to distribute; since both his heart, and the heart of his Father, are so full of love, one in the execution, the other in the acceptation, nothing can be cross to the interest of those for whom the one died and the other accepted it. No higher ground can there be of faith, than the love the Father has strewn to our Redeemer for his reconciling passion, by his glorious exaltation. He loved him in the laying down his life, and he loved him in the taking of it again, John x. 17. Get your thoughts then up into heaven. Behold the Father taking him up in his arms, congratulating his victory, adorning his triumph, conferring upon him, and perpetuating a government. See if in all this you can find a frown on God's face, any doubt in his heart of the validity of his sacrifice; see if any letters, but those of grace, be written about his throne. And if God has no doubt of it, who is more concerned in his glory, than you in your salvation, why should any jealousies remain' in any heart that accepts him, discards all affection to sin, and endeavours to imitate him in an holy obedience to God? 'Be followers therefore of God as dear children,' since he has so magnificently entertained his Son, upon the account of what he did, for all that will believe in him; and wait upon God till he shall send his Son in all his royal attire, to bring you to the full enjoyment of all the fruits of this reconciliation, so strongly wrought, and so heartily accepted, and till that be accomplished, let hope every day pierce through the veil, and enter into that which is within it, more inward, Heb. vi. 19, eis to eswteron tou katapetasmatoV, inning our souls by faith and hope every day in the veil. This faith is a firm anchor, to hold the soul safe in storms, and the Father's admission of Christ into heaven is the rock on which it should fasten.
The second use is of comfort.
1. Sin is fully expiated, since it is upon the recount of the expiation of it that he is thus dignified. The purging of our sins by himself has met not only with a bare acceptation, but an high valuation, with the Father. Since he has thus crowned and enthroned him, what assurance have we of the full atonement by the blood of his cross! How can we doubt the full satisfaction, delight, and content of the Father with him, and with us upon the condition of faith, since it was for the purging, not his own, but our sins, that he did 'sit down,' as of right, 'on the right hand of the throne of the majesty on high'? Heb. i. 3. The gratifications the Father made to our Redeemer, manifest the satisfaction of his justice, since not only God's kindness, but his justice, which is a part of his majesty, was employed in the welcome reception of him. End that frowned, there had been no throne for him to sit on; and if it ever frown upon him, his throne will shake under him. But it never shall, for it is a 'throne for ever and ever,' and that because 'his sceptre is a sceptre of righteousness,' Heb. i. 8. A majesty still offended would never have admitted him to this honour. Is there any room for sorrow and dejection, for jealousies of the sufficiency of the ransom, after so illustrious a discharge from the Father?
2. Accusations shall be answered. We have great enemies; the devils that tempt us, our corruptions that haunt us, and both to accuse us. To whom must they accuse us? To that majesty, at whose fight hand Christ has his residence. Whence must the vengeance they call for issue, but from that majesty upon whose throne Christ sits as a lamb slain, who sits ready to answer the accusations, and stop the revenge? He tore Satan's charge upon the cross, will he let it be pieced together in his triumph? As he bowed down his head upon the cross to expiate our sins, so his head is lifted up on the throne to obviate any charge they can bring against us. Satan knows it is fruitless for him to bring his indictment there, where Christ perpetually appears, and is never out of the way. The perpetuity of our justification results from this sitting of Christ at the right hand of God; for he sits there, not as an useless spectator, but an industrious and powerful intercessor, to keep up a perpetual amity, slid prevent sin from making any new breach: 1 John ii. 1, sin we must not, but 'if any man sin' (not a course of sin, but fall by some temptation), 'we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' He sits as an advocate, as a reconciler, and a propitiation for sin, spreading before his Father the odours of his merits and righteousness, to answer the charge and indictments of sin. 'He appears in the presence of God for us,' Heb. ix. 24, before the face of his glory in the highest heavens. It was through the blood of the covenant he arose, it was through and with the blood of the covenant be entered into the holy place, to carry the merit of his death as a standing monument into heaven. God, by his advancement, would have the sight of it always in his eye, and the savour of it in his nostrils; that as the world, after the savour of Noah's sacrifice, should no more sink under the deluge; so the believers in Christ should no more groan under the curse of the law, though they may, in this world, smart under the corrections of a Father. It is a mighty comfort in the midst of all infirmities (where there is the answer of a good conscience towards God), that Christ is gone to heaven, and is on the right hand of God, to save those that are baptised into his death, and that have the 'stipulation, eperwthma, of a good conscience towards God,' which is the apostle's reasoning, 1 Peter iii. 21, 22.
3. Wants shall be relieved. It is that human nature wherein the expiation was made on earth, which is crowned with glory in heaven by the Father; that human nature, with all the compassions inherent in it, with the same affections wherewith he endured the cross and despised the shame, with the same earnestness to relieve them as he had to deliver them, with the same desire to drink of the fruit of the vine with them in the kingdom as he had to eat the Passover with them upon the earth, to supply their wants as he had redeemed their persons. If the free gift of all things be argued from the Father's delivery of the Son to death, Rom. viii. 32, the full distribution of all things may be expected from the Father's setting him upon his throne, and giving him the keys of death and hell to stop their inroads upon a believer, and the command of his treasures to dispense at his pleasure; what can be denied to the merit of his death, since as our surety he is established in an eternal throne? Since he was admitted as a 'forerunner for us,' Heb. vi. 20, prodromos, what can there be necessary for us, in our journey till we overtake him, that we may not expect at his and the Father's bands? All our needs will be supplied, since there are riches in glory in Jesus Christ, Philip. iv. 19.
4. Spiritual enemies shall be conquered. All enemies are to be made his footstool, Ps. cx. 1. Satan, who was wounded by him upon the cross, shall not rise, since he is upon his throne. He that could not overpower him while he was covered with the infirmities of our flesh, cannot master him, since all power is delivered to him in heaven and earth, and the keys of hell put into his hands. He bruised him while he was known only to be the seed of the woman, and bruised him for us; and shall he be able to repair his broken strength, since his conqueror is now declared to be the Son of God with power? Our inward enemies shall fall under the same might. It was the purpose of the Father to 'conform his elect to the glorious image of his Son,' Rom. viii. 29. What has Christ this power in his hands for, but to destroy the power of that in the heart, the guilt whereof he expiated by his blood? That as he appeased the anger of God, and vindicated the honour of his lava by removing the guilt, so he may fully content the holiness of God by cleansing out the filth. As he had a body prepared him to effect the one, so he has a power given him to perfect the other; that as there is no guilt to provoke his justice, there may be no dirt to offend his holiness; that, as the Father has been reconciled by the death of Christ, he may delight himself in the soul by the operation of the power of Christ. This will be accomplished. The first fruit of his exaltation was the mission of the Spirit, whose proper title is a Spirit of holiness, in regard of his operation, as well as his nature; and whose proper work is, to quicken the soul to a newness of life, and mortify by grace the enemies of our nature. The apostle assures the believing Thessalonians of it, from this argument, of his being a God of peace: 1 Thes. v. 23, 'The very God of peace sanctify you wholly,' autos o QeoV. That God of peace: ver. 24, 'Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.' It is not only a petition, but an assurance; as appears by ver. 24, that it will be done by him as the author of reconciliation; and completely done, of, wholly perfect, universally for the subject, in understanding, will, affections, body, 'in spirit, and soul, and body.' The enmity else would not be taken away; as the enmity is removed from God in the satisfaction of his justice, by the blood of his Son; so the enmity shall be removed from a believer, in the renovation of his image by the grace of his Spirit, that there may be at last no disgusts on either side; for 'he is faithful who has called you.' He is not a God of peace for a day or an hour; it is not an imperfect reconciliation he designed; it is a faithfulness to himself, to his own resolves, to his own honour, to his Son's blood, to the call of his people. And this is a good argument to plead in our prayers for sanctification, since God has manifested himself to be a God of peace in the raising Christ, accepting him, exalting him; all which were evidences of a perfect reconciliation, that he would perfect in you every good work, Heb. xiii. 20, 21.
Use 3. As the Father's exaltation of Christ is comfortable to the believer, so it is as terrible to the unbeliever and unregenerate. He that advanced him to the throne, and conferred upon him a power of asking the heathen for his inheritance, confers also upon him a power of destroying his enemies: Ps. ii. 8, 9, 'Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,' &c. 'and thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.' The breaking refers to ask of me; and as thou shalt have blessings for believers, so thou shalt leave wrath and judgment for unbelievers. Unbelievers that break his bands, and cast his cords far from them, are so far from having the benefit of Christ's intercessions for mercy in his glorified state, that they have a dreadful interest in his pleas for wrath. He has a power of dashing them like a potter's vessel conferred upon him. He that gives Christ the whole world upon asking, will not contradict him in his severest acts against his unbelieving enemies. For that love to him that advanced him, as a lamb slain, will spirit his wrath with a greater fury against the undervaluers of his death and sufferings. Will the Father, who upon his death thought him worthy to devolve the government of the world upon him, and to act all by the hand of his Son, take it well that he is not imitated by his creature? Is it not a reflection upon the Father, as if he had acted a weak part, had set too high a value upon the death of his Son, that his eyes were too dim to pierce into the nature of it? Will God, who is pleased with him, bear with such real blasphemies against him? for so all unbelieving rejection of Christ is. Shall his obedience be so pleasant to God, and be unrevenged, if it be unpleasant to us? Shall God subject the whole host of angels to him, and let worms despise him without severe punishment? If there be not an holy estimation of Christ, obedience to his will and laws, it will not consist with the Father's exaltation of him to suffer the affront, or let his authority be an idle name, au authority without hands, an empty title. No; as he has a sceptre of righteousness, so he has an iron rod to bruise his enemies. What a folly is it to despise that Redeemer, wilfully to violate his laws, who has all power given hen in heaven arid earth, and the power of judging committed to him by the Father! This is to dare the curses of the law, break open the store house of his wrath, and be bent upon hell with violence.
Use 4. Let us accept Christ then, as our Reconciler and our King. God is not contented only with the establishment of him in this honour, but he loves to hear the world ring with acknowledgments of it; he will have every tongue to confess to the glory of God the Father, that Jesus is the Lord: Philip. ii. 11, 'That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' For the glory of God, who conducted him through this great undertaking, accepted him for it, and dignified him for bringing in an everlasting righteousness. The way to glorify God the Father, is to acknowledge the dignity of Christ, and to accept him for those ends for which the Father has exalted him. All things are for the glory of God, but this more signally; hereby he has discovered the wonders of his wisdom, justice, power, and love, before men and angels; and he that owns Christ as a glorified Mediator, owns God in the glory of all those perfections; without this acceptation of him, we cannot answer the end for which God has exalted him, 'he has given him a name above every name,' that we might confess and acknowledge him as he has declared him, and pay him a service by our faith. If he do not render him a voluntary homage now, we shall be forced to render him an homage hereafter in a deplorable state. Heartily to accept him for our Lord, is to perform a duty in fellowship with the angels which encompass his throne. Faith is a choice of Christ for head and governor; it is therefore expressed, Hos. i. 11, 'They shall appoint themselves one head,' i. e. the Messiah, they shall believe in him. Christ is an head of God's appointing, and of believers' approving. God sets him as an head authoritative, and we should embrace him voluntarie and obedientialiter, freely and obediently. As the magistrate chooses a public officer, and the people consent to him; the magistrate gives him the authority, and the people encourage him in the exercise. God 'set his Son upon the holy hill of Soon,' Ps. ii. 6, and we are commanded to kiss him, which is a token of acknowledgement, consent, and subjection. As he sits at the right hand of God, he ought to sit in the centre of our hearts. Since he is possessed of the highest place, and does not disdain the lowest, it is unworthy to keep him from it. Serve him as a Lord. As he has made himself a sacrifice for us, and rose again and revived, Rom. xiv. 9, i. e. acquired a new state of life, we should serve him as a living Lord, in obedience to the pleasure and authority of God the Father, who has been in him reconciling the world, and for his work has advanced him to the dominion over all creatures. As God exalted him out of a sense of what he had done for the appeasing his wrath, and the salvation of man, so should we exalt him in our hearts, out of a sense of what he has done for our souls: 'He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father who has sent him,' John v. 22, 23, and who has glorified him. For he contradicts the ends for which God has given all judgment to the Son.
Use. 6. Glorify God in Christ, glorify Christ. 'God is gone up with a shout:' Ps. xlvii. 5, 'God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet; sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our king, sing praises;' alluding to the joy in the fetching up the ark, 1 Chron. xiii. 8. There were shouts of angels at his entrance into heaven: 'God reigns over the heathen, God sits upon the throne of his holiness;' a throne which his holy and righteous obedience purchased, or the holiness of God is now gloriously apparent, fully vindicated. Glorify the Father for it, the Father and the Lamb are joined together in their praises: Rev. v. 13, 'Blessing, honour, glory, and power be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.' As the Father has enlarged his hand to Christ, as our reconciler, we should enlarge our hearts in thankfulness to him. God was not satisfied with giving a little mite to Christ, a small reward; all the treasures of heaven must be open for him. Why should we put off God with a little praise?
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