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The Acts of the Will of the human soul of Jesus Christ, necessarily holy, yet truly virtuous, praise-worthy, rewardable, &c.
I have already considered how Dr. Whitby insists upon it, that a freedom, not only from coaction, but necessity, is requisite either to virtue or vice, praise or dispraise, reward or punishment. He also insists on the same freedom as absolutely requisite to a person being the subject of a law, of precepts, or prohibitions; in the book before mentioned, (p. 301, 314, 328, 339, 340, 341, 342, 347, 361, 373, 410.) And of promises and threatenings, (p. 298, 301, 305, 311, 339, 340, 363.) And as requisite to a state of trial, p. 297, &c.
Now, therefore, with an eye to thee things, I would inquire into the moral conduct and practices of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he exhibited in his human nature, in his state of humiliation. And first, I would show, that His holy behaviour was necessary; or that it was impossible it should be otherwise, than that he should behave himself holily, and that he should he perfectly holy in each individual act of his life. And secondly, that his holy behaviour was properly of the nature of virtue, and was worthy of praise; and that he was the subject of law, precept, or commands, promises and rewards; and that he was in a state of trial.
I. It was impossible, that the Acts of the Will of Christ’s human soul should, in any instance, degree, or circumstance, be otherwise than holy, and agreeable to God’s nature and Will. The following things make this evident.
1. God had promised so effectually to preserve and up hold him by his Spirit, under all his temptations, that he could not fail of the end for which he came into the world; but he would have failed, had he fallen into sin. We have such a promise, (Isa. xliii. 1-4.) “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles: he shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.—He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth; and the isles shall wait his law.” This promise of God’s Spirit put upon him, and his not crying and lifting up his voice, &c. relates to the time of Christ’s appearance on earth; as is manifest from the nature of the promise, and also the application of it in the New Testament, (Matt. xii. 18.) And the words imply a promise of his being so upheld by God’s Spirit, that he should be preserved from sin; particularly from pride and vain-glory; and from being overcome by any temptations he should be under to affect the glory of this world, the pomp of an earthly prince, or the applause and praise of men: and that he should be so upheld, that he should by no means fail of obtaining the end of his coming into the world, of bringing forth judgment unto victory, and establishing his kingdom of grace in the earth. And in the following verses, this promise is confirmed, with the greatest imaginable solemnity. Isaiah 42:5 “Thus saith the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand; and will keep thee, and give thee for a Covenant of the people, for a Light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house. I am Jehovah, that is my name,” &c.
Very parallel with these promises is another, (Isa. xlix. 7, 8, 9.) which also has an apparent respect to the time of Christ’s humiliation on earth.—“Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers; kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship; because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. Thus saith the Lord, in an acceptable time have I heard thee; in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth,” &.c.
And in Isa. l. 5, 6.we have the Messiah expressing his assurance, that God would help him, by so opening his ear, or inclining his heart to God’s commandments, that he should not be rebellious, but should persevere, and not apostatize, or turn his back: that through God’s help, he should be immovable in obedience, under great trials of reproach and suffering; setting his face like a flint: so that he knew he should not be ashamed, or frustrated in his design; and finally should be approved and justified, as having done his work faithfully. Isa. l. 5. 6. “The Lord hath opened mine ear; so that I was not rebellious, neither turned away my back: I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face as a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me: who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold the Lord God will help me: who is he that shall condemn me? Lo, they shall all wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up.”
2. The same thing is evident from all the promises which God made to the Messiah, of his future glory, kingdom, and success, in his office and character of a Mediator: which glory could not have been obtained, if his holiness had failed, and he had been guilty of sin. God’s absolute promise makes the things promised necessary, and their failing to take place absolutely impossible: and, in like 43 manner, it makes those things necessary, on which the thing promised depends, and without which it cannot take effect. Therefore it appears, that it was utterly impossible that Christ’s holiness should fail, from such absolute promises as these, (Psal. cx. 4.) “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec.” And from every other promise in that psalm, contained in each verse of it. (And Psal. ii. 6, 7.) “I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee: Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,” &c. (Psal. xlv. 3, 4,&c.) “Gird thy sword on thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty; and in thy majesty ride prosperously.” And so every thing that is said from thence to the end of the psalm. (See Isa. iii. 13-15; liii. 10-12.) And all those promises which God makes to the Messiah, of success, dominion, and glory in the character of a Redeemer, (Isa. chap. xlix.)
3. It was often promised to the church of God of old, for their comfort, that God would give them a righteous, sinless Saviour. (Jer. xxiii. 5, 6.) “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will rise up unto David a righteous branch; and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days shall Judah be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely. And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” (So, Jer. xxxiii. 15.) “I will cause the branch of righteousness to grow up unto David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” (Isa. xi. 6, 7.) “For unto us a child is born;—upon the throne of David and of his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice, from henceforth, even for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isa. xi. 1.&c.) “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,—the spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord:—with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity:—Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Isa. lii. 13.) “My servant shall deal prudently.” (Isa. liii. 9.) “Because he had done no violence, neither was guile found in his mouth.” If it be impossible, that these promises should fail, and it be easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one jot or title of them to pass away, then it was impossible that Christ should commit any sin.—Christ himself signified, that it was impossible but that the things which were spoken concerning him, should be fulfilled. (Luke xxiv. 44.) “That all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me.” (Matt. xxvi. 53, 54.) “But how then shall the scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Mark xiv. 49.) “But the scriptures must be fulfilled.” And so the apostle, (Acts I. 16, 17.) “This scripture must needs have been fulfilled.”
4. All the promises, which were made to the church of old, of the Messiah as a future Saviour, from that made to our first parents in paradise, to that which was delivered by the prophet Malachi show it to be impossible that Christ should not have persevered in perfect holiness. The ancient predictions given to God’s church, of the Messiah as a Saviour, were of the nature of promises; as is evident by the predictions themselves, and the manner of delivering them. But they are expressly and very often called promises in the New Testament; (as in Luke i. 54, 55, 72, 73. Acts xiii. 32, 33. Rom. i. 1-3; xv. 8. Heb. vi. 13., &c.) These promises were often made with great solemnity, and confirmed with an oath; as, (Gen. xxii. 16, 17.), “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed, as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore:—And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” ( Compare Luke i. 72, 73.and Gal. iii. 8, 15, 16.) The apostle in Heb. vi. 17, 18.speaking of this promise to Abraham, says, “Wherein God willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation.” In which words, the necessity of the accomplishment, or (which is the same thing) the impossibility of the contrary, is fully declared. So God confirmed the promise of the Messiah’s great salvation, made to David, by an oath; (Psal. lxxxix. 3, 4.) “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant; thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.” There is nothing so abundantly set forth in Scripture, as sure and irrefragable, as this promise and oath to David. (See Psalm. lxxxix. 34-36. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Isa. lv. 4. Acts ii. 29, 30; xiii. 34.) The Scripture expressly speaks of it as utterly impossible that this promise and oath to David, concerning the everlasting dominion of the Messiah, should fail. (Jer. xxxiii. 15., &c.) “In those days, and at that time, I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David.—For thus saith the Lord, David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.” (Jer. xxxiii. 20, 21.) “If you can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne.” (So in Jer. xxxiii. 25, 26.) Thus abundant is the Scripture in representing how impossible it was, that the promises made of old concerning the great salvation and kingdom of the Messiah should fail: which implies, that it was impossible that this Messiah, the second Adam, the promised seed of Abraham, and of David, should fall from his integrity, as the first Adam did.
5. All the promises that were made to the church of God under the Old Testament, of the great enlargement of the church, and advancement of her glory, in the days of the gospel, after the coming of the Messiah; the increase of her light, liberty, holiness, joy, triumph over her enemies, &c. of which so great a part of the Old Testament consists; which are repeated so often, are so variously exhibited, so frequently introduced with great pomp and solemnity, and are so abundantly sealed with typical and symbolical representations; I say, all these promises imply, that the Messiah should perfect the work of redemption: and this implies, that he should persevere in the work, which the Father had appointed him, beings in all things conformed to his Will. Thee promises were often confirmed by an oath. (See Isa. liv. 9.with the context; Isa. lxii. 18.) And it is represented as utterly impossible that these promises should fail. (Isa. xlix. 15.with the context, Isa. liv. 10.with the context; Isa. li. 4-8; Isa. xl. 8.with the context.) And therefore it was impossible that the Messiah should fail, or commit sin.
6. It was impossible that the Messiah should fail of persevering in integrity and holiness, as the first Adam did, because this would have been inconsistent with the promises, which God made to the blessed Virgin, his mother, and to her husband; implying, that he should “save his people from their sins,” that God would “give him the throne of his father David,” that he should “reign over the house of Jacob for ever;” and that “of his kingdom there shall be no end.” These promises were sure, and it was impossible they should fail, and therefore the Virgin Mary, in trusting fully to them, acted reasonably, having an immovable foundation of her faith; as Elizabeth observes, ( ver. 45.) “And blessed is she that believeth; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
7. That it should have been possible that Christ should sin, and so fail in the work of our redemption, does not consist with the eternal purpose and decree of God, revealed in the Scriptures, that he would provide salvation for fallen man in and by Jesus Christ, and that salvation should be offered to sinners through the preaching of the gospel. Thus much is implied in many scriptures, (as 1 Cor. ii. 7.—Eph. i. 4, 5; iii. 9-11.—1 Pet. I. 19, 20.) Such an absolute decree as this, Arminians allow to be signified in many texts; their election of nations and societies, and general election of the christian church, and conditional election of particular persons, imply this. God could not decree before the foundation of the world, to save all that should believe in and obey Christ, unless, he had absolutely decreed, that salvation should be provided, 44 and effectually wrought out by Christ. And since (as the Arminians themselves strenuously maintain) a decree of God infers necessity; hence it became necessary, that Christ should persevere and actually work out salvation for us, and that he should not fail by the commission of sin.
8. That it should have been possible for Christ’s holiness to fail, is not consistent with what God promised to his Son, before all ages. For that salvation should be offered to men, through Christ, and bestowed on all his faithful followers, is at least implied in that certain and infallible promise spoken of by the apostle, (Tit. i. 2.) “In hope of eternal life; which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” This does not seem to be controverted by Arminians. 125125 See Dr. Whitby on the five Points, p. 48,49,50.
9. That it should be possible for Christ to fail of doing his Father’s Will, is inconsistent with the promise made to the Father by the Son, the Logos that was with the Father from the beginning, before he took the human nature: as may be seen in Ps. xl. 6-8.(compared with the apostle’s interpretation, Heb. x. 5-9.) “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: mine ears hast thou opened, (or bored;) burnt-offering and sin-offering thou hast not required. Then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy Will, O my God, yea, thy law is within my heart.” Where is a manifest allusion to the covenant, which the willing servant, who loved his master’s service, made with his master, to be his servant for ever, on the day wherein he had his ear bored; which covenant was probably inserted in the public records, called the volume of the book, by the judges, who were called to take cognizance of the transaction; (Exod. xxi.) If the Logos, who was with the Father before the world, and who made the world, thus engaged in covenant to do the Will of the Father in the human nature, and the promise was as it were recorded, that it, might be made sure, doubtless it was impossible that it should fail; and so it was impossible that Christ should fail of doing the Will of the Father in the human nature.
10. If it was possible for Christ to have failed of doing the Will of his Father, and so to have failed of effectually working out redemption for sinners, then the salvation of all the saints, who were saved from the beginning of the world, to the death of Christ, was not built on a firm foundation. The Messiah, and the redemption which he was to work out by his obedience unto death, was the saving foundation of all that ever were saved. Therefore, if when the Old-Testament saints had the pardon of their sins and the favour of God promised them, and salvation bestowed upon them, still it was possible that the Messiah, when he came, might commit sin, then all this was on a foundation that was not firm and stable, but liable to fail; something which it was possible might never be. God did as it were trust to what his Son had engaged and promised to do in future time, and depended so much upon it, that he proceeded actually to save men on the account of it, though it had been already done. But this trust and dependence of God, on the supposition of Christ’s being liable to fail of doing his Will, was leaning on a staff that was weak, and might possibly break. The saints of old trusted on the promises of a future redemption to be wrought out and completed by the Messiah, and built their comfort upon it: Abraham saw Christ’s day, and rejoiced; and he and the other Patriarchs died in the faith of the promise of it, (Heb. xi. 13.) But on this supposition, their faith, their comfort, and their salvation, was built on a fallible foundation; Christ was not to them ”a tried stone, a sure foundation;” (Isa. xxviii. 16.) David entirely rested on the covenant of God with him, concerning the future glorious dominion and salvation of the Messiah; and said it was all his salvation, and all his desire; and comforts himself that this covenant was an “everlasting covenant, ordered in ail things and sure,” (2 Sam. xxiii.5.) But if Christ’s virtue might fail, he was mistaken: his great comfort was not built so “sure” as he thought it was, being founded entirely on the determinations of the Free Will of Christ’s human soul; which was subject to no necessity, and might be determined either one way or the other. Also the dependence of those, who “looked for redemption in Jerusalem, and wailed for the consolation of Israel,” (Luke ii. 25, 38.) and the confidence of the disciples of Jesus, who forsook all and followed him, that they might enjoy the benefits of his future kingdom, were built on a sandy foundation.
11. The man Christ Jesus, before he had finished his course of obedience, and while in the midst of temptations and trials, was abundant in positively predicting his own future glory in his kingdom, and the enlargement of his church, the salvation of the Gentiles through him, &c. and in promises of blessings he would bestow on his true disciples in his future kingdom; on which promises he required the full dependence of his disciples, (John xiv.) But the disciples would have no ground for such dependence, if Christ had been liable to fail in his work: and Christ himself would have been guilty of presumption, in so abounding in peremptory promises of great things, which depended on a mere contingence; viz. the determinations of his Free Will, consisting in a freedom ad ulrumque, to either sin or holiness, standing in indifference, and incident, in thousands of future instances, to go either one way or the other.
Thus it is evident, that it was impossible that the Acts of the Will of the human soul of Christ should be otherwise than holy, and conformed to the Will of the Father; or, in other words, they were necessarily so conformed.
I have been the longer in the proof of this matter, it being a thing denied by some of the greatest Arminians, by Episcopius in particular; and because I look upon it as a point clearly and absolutely determining the controversy between Calvinists and Arminians, concerning the necessity of such a freedom of Will as is insisted on by the latter, in order to moral agency, virtue, command or prohibition, promise or threatening, reward or punishment, praise or dispraise, merit or demerit. I now therefore proceed,
II. To consider whether christ, in his holy behaviour on earth, was not thus a moral agent, subject to commands, promises, &c.
Dr. Whitby very often speaks of what he calls a freedom ad utrumlibet, without necessity, as requisite to law and commands: and speaks of necessity as entirely inconsistent with injunctions and prohibitions. But yet we read of Christ being the subject of His Father’s commands, (John x. 18; xv. 10.) And Christ tells us, that every thing that he said, or did, was in compliance with “commandments he had received of the Father;” (John xii. 49, 50; xiv. 31.) And we often read of Christ’s obedience to his Father’s commands,(Rom. v. 19. Phil. ii. 18. Heb. v. 8.)
The forementioned writer represents promises offered as motives to person to do their duty, or a being moved and induced by promises, as utterly inconsistent with a state wherein persons have not a liberty ad utrumlibet, but are necessarily determined to one. (See particularly, p. 298, and 311.) But the thing which this writer asserts, is demonstrably false, if the christian religion be true. If there be any truth in Christianity or the Holy Scriptures, the man Christ Jesus had his Will infallibly and unalterably determined to good, and that alone; but yet he had promises of glorious rewards made to him, on condition of his persevering in and perfecting the work which God had appointed him; (Isa. liii. 10, 11, 12. Psal. ii.; cx. Isa. xlix. 7, 8, 9.) In Luke xxii. 28, 20.Christ says to his disciples, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” The word most properly signifies to appoint by covenant, or promise. The plain meaning of Christ’s words is this: “As you have partaken of my temptations and trials, and have been steadfast, and have overcome; I promise to make you partakers of my reward, and to give you a kingdom; as the Father has promised me a kingdom for continuing steadfast and overcoming in those trials.” And the words are well explained by those in Rev. iii. 21.“ To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” And Christ had not only promises of glorious 45 success and rewards made to his obedience and sufferings, but the Scriptures plainly represent him as using these promises for motives and inducements to obey and suffer; and particularly that promise of a kingdom which the Father had appointed him, or sitting with the Father on his throne; (as in Heb. xii. 1, 2.) “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God.”
And how strange would it be to hear any Christian assert, that the holy and excellent temper and behaviour of Jesus Christ, and that obedience which he performed under such great trials, was not virtuous or praiseworthy; because his Will was not free ad utrumque, to either holiness or sin, but was unalterably determined to one; that upon this account, there is no virtue at all in all Christ’s humility, meekness, patience, charity, forgiveness of enemies, contempt of the world, heavenly-mindedness, submission to the Will of God, perfect obedience to his commands unto death, even the death of the cross, his great compassion to the afflicted, his unparalleled love to mankind, his faithfulness to God and man, under such great trials; his praying for his enemies, even when nailing him to the cross; that virtue, when applied to these things, is but an empty name; that there was no merit in any of these things; that is, that Christ was worthy of nothing at all on account of them, worthy of no reward, no praise, no honour or respect from God or man; because his will was not indifferent, and free either to these things, or the contrary; but under such a strong inclination or bias to the things that were excellent, as made it impossible that he should choose the contrary; that upon this account, to use Dr. Whitby’s language, it would be sensibly unreasonable that the human nature should be rewarded for any of these things.
According to this doctrine, that creature who is evidently set forth in Scripture as the first-born of every creature, as having in all things the pre-eminence, and as the highest of all creatures in virtue, honour, and worthiness of esteem, praise, and glory, on account of his virtue, is less worthy of reward or praise, than the very least of saints; yea, no more worthy than a clock or mere machine, that is purely passive, and moved by natural necessity.
If we judge by scriptural representations of things, we have reason to suppose, that Christ took on him our nature, and dwelt with us in this world, in a suffering state, not only to satisfy for our sins; but that he, being in our nature and circumstances, and under our trials, might be our most fit and proper example, leader, and captain, in the exercise of glorious and victorious virtue, and might be a visible instance of the glorious end and reward of it; that we might see in Him the beauty, amiableness, and true honour and glory, and exceeding benefit, of that virtue, which it is proper for us human beings to practice; and might thereby learn, and be animated, to seek the like glory and honour, and to obtain the like glorious reward. (See Heb. ii. 9-14; v. 8, 9.; xii. 1, 2, 3. John xv. 10. Rom. viii. 17. 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. 1 Pet. ii. 19, 20; iv. 1-3.) But if there was nothing of any virtue or merit, or worthiness of any reward, glory, praise, or commendation at all, in all that he did, because it was all necessary, and he could not help it; then how is here any thing so proper to animate and incite us, free creatures, by patient continuance in well-doing, to seek for honour glory, and virtue?
God speaks of himself as peculiarly well pleased with the righteousness of this distinguished servant. (Isa. xlii. 21.) “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake.” The sacrifices of old are spoken of as a sweet savor to God, but the obedience of Christ as far more acceptable than they. (Psal. xl. 6, 7.) “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: mine ear hast thou opened [as thy servant performing willing obedience;] burnt- offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come, [as a servant that cheerfully answers the calls of his master:] I delight to do thy will, O my God, and thy law is within mine heart.” (Matt. xvii. 5.) “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” And Christ tells us expressly, that the Father loves Him for that wonderful instance of his obedience, his voluntary yielding himself to death, in compliance with the Father’s command, (John x. 17, 18.) “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life:—No man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself—This commandment received I of my Father.”
And if there was no merit in Christ’s obedience unto death, if it was not worthy of praise, and of the most glorious rewards, the heavenly hosts were exceedingly mistaken, by the account that is given of them, (Rev. v. 8-12.) “The four beasts, and the four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours;—and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain.—And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
Christ speaks of the eternal life which he was to receive, as the reward of his obedience to the Father’s commandments. (John xii. 49, 50.)” I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak: and I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”—God promises to divide him a portion with the great, &c. for his being his righteous servant, for his glorious virtue under such great trials and afflictions. (Isa. liii. 11, 12.) “He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” The Scriptures represent God as rewarding him far above all his other servants. (Phil. ii. 7-9.) “He took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.” (Psal. xlv. 7.) “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
There is no room to pretend, that the glorious benefits bestowed in consequence of Christ’s obedience, are not properly of the nature of a reward. What is a reward, in the most proper sense, but a benefit bestowed in consequence of something morally excellent in quality or behaviour, in testimony of well-pleasedness in that moral excellency, and of respect and favour on that account? If we consider the nature of a reward most strictly, and make the utmost of it, and add to the things contained in this description proper merit or worthiness, and the bestowment of the benefit in consequence of a promise; still it will be found, there is nothing belonging to it, but what the Scripture most expressly ascribes to the glory bestowed on Christ, after his sufferings; as appears from what has been already observed: there was a glorious benefit bestowed in consequence of something morally excellent, being called Righteousness and Obedience; there was great favour, love, and well-pleasedness, for this righteousness and obedience, in the bestower; there was proper merit, or worthiness of the benefit, in the obedience; it was bestowed in fulfilment of promises, made to that obedience; and was bestowed therefore, or because he had performed that obedience.
I may add to all these things, that Jesus Christ, while here in the flesh, was manifestly in a state of trial. The last Adam, as Christ is called, (1 Cor. xv. 45. Rom. v. 14.) taking on him the human nature, and so the form of a servant, and being under the law, to stand and act for us, was put into a state of trial, as the first Adam was.—Dr. Whitby mentions these three things as evidences of persons being in a state of trial, (on the five Points, p. 298, 299.) 46 namely, their afflictions being spoken of as their trials or temptations, their being the subjects of promises, and their being exposed to Satan’s temptations. But Christ was apparently the subject of each of these. Concerning promises made to him, I have spoken already. The difficulties and afflictions he met with in the course of his obedience, are called his temptations or trials, (Luke xxii. 28.) “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations or trials.” (Heb. ii. 18.) “For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted [or tried,] he is able to succor them that are tempted.” And, (Heb. iv. 15.) “We have not an high-priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And as to his being tempted by Satan it is what none will dispute.
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