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[272] Gal. i. 17. “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia and returned again to Damascus.” It is probable that this was Arabia Deserta, which was that part of Arabia that lay nearest to Damascus, lying east of the land of Canaan, and reached up to the very neighbourhood of Damascus. By the apostle’s going from Damascus into Arabia, and returning from thence into Damascus again, it looks as if the Arabia that he went into, was that which was neighbouring to this city. As Christ after his baptism withdrew into the wilderness, before he actually began to preach; so it is no improbable conjecture that Paul, after his conversion and baptism, withdrew into the deserts of Arabia, there to receive the knowledge of the gospel, by immediate revelation from Christ; and that this being done, he returned to Damascus, and after this his return that way preached Christ in their synagogues, as Acts ix. 20. See Wells’s Sacred Geography, part ii. p. 22, 23. This very well agrees with this context, in which the scope of the apostle is to show that he had his gospel not from men, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, as verse 12. “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ;” and verse 15, 16. “But when it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.”

Then follow the words of this verse that we are upon, to show how he did not confer with flesh and blood, but was taught immediately of Christ; “neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 563563    Gal. i. 16. ” This is a desert, uninhabited country; and therefore it is the more probable that the apostle went thither for this end, and not to preach the gospel to any that dwelt there. And the inhabitants that were in Arabia Felix, under whose king, Aretas, Damascus then was, they were chiefly heathens; but preaching to the heathens was not yet begun, though there were then some Jews, that were then inhabitants of Arabia, of whom we read in the 2nd chapter of Acts; “Cretes and Arabians.”

[421] Gal. iii. 16. “Now to Abraham and his seed was the promise made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” This Mr. Locke paraphrases thus: “God doth not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as if he spake of more seeds than one that were entitled to the promise on different accounts, but only of one sort of men, who upon one sole account, were that seed of Abraham which was alone meant and concerned in the promise, so that unto thy seed, designed Christ, and his mystical body, i. e. those that became members of him by faith.” And Mr. Locke adds in his notes, “By seeds, Paul here visibly means the , those of faith; and the °i if fmu», those of the works of the law, spoken of above, ver. 9, 10. as two distinct seeds or descendants claiming from Abraham. Paul’s argument to convince the Galatians that they ought not to be circumcised, or submit to the law from their having received the Spirit from him, upon their having received the gospel which he preached to them, ver. 2, and 5. stands thus, The blessing promised to Abraham and to his seed, was wholly upon the account of faith, ver. 7. There were not different seeds who should inherit the promise, the one by the works, of the law, and the other by faith: for there was but one seed, which was Christ, ver. 16. and those who should claim in and under him by faith. Among those there was no distinction of Jew and Gentile. They, and they only who believed, were all one and the same true seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise, ver. 28, 29. and therefore the promise made to the people of God of giving them the Spirit under the gospel, was performed only to those who believed in Christ: a clear evidence that it was not by putting themselves under the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, that they were the people of God, and heirs of the promise.”

[422] Gal. iii. 17, 18. “And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect; for if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” Mr. Locke paraphrases it thus, “This therefore I say, that the law, which was not till four hundred and thirty years after, 803cannot disannul the covenant that was long before made and ratified to Christ by God, so as to set aside the promise. For if the right to the inheritance be from the works of the law, it is plain it is not founded in the promise to Abraham, as certainly it is. For the inheritance was a donation and free gift of God settled on Abraham and his seed by promise.”

[423] Gal. iii. 19,20. “It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made. And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” The apostle’s design in mentioning the law’s being ordained in the hand of a mediator, is to show the contrary of what the Jews and judaizing teachers supposed concerning that transaction of mount Sinai, between God and the people. When the law was ordained, they supposed it to be a merely legal transaction, that God acted therein merely as a sovereign righteous lawgiver in that affair, prescribing to the people legal terms of life and death; this is implied in their doctrine of justification by the works of the law. The apostle in what he here mentions of the transaction’s being by a mediator, would show the contrary, viz. that it was not a mere legal transaction, but a transaction of grace; for a mere legal transaction of God with men does not admit of any mediator, but a transaction of grace does. Indeed, in a mere legal transaction, a middle person may be improved to act in the name of God, and appear for God to them, but such a middle person does not answer the notion of a mediator, as the apostle would signify. A mediator acts for both parties: he not only appears for God to man, and to act for God, but he also appears for man to God, and acts for man; for a mediator is not of one, he is not a middle person to act only for one of the parties. But God is one, i. e. God is but one of the parties transacting. If he acts as a middle person only on one side, he does not act as mediator; but a mediator appears for both parties, he acts for each to the other. A legal transaction would have admitted of a middle person to act for one side, viz. for God to man, but not for man to God, to intercede and plead for him. So was Moses. Moses was the mediator here spoken of, as is confirmed by Deut. v. 5. God condescended, because the people could not bear the terrors of the law, to admit Moses as a mediator for them to stand before him, and hear and bear those terrors for them, as well as to act as his messenger to them. This shows plainly that it was a transaction of grace, wherein God was willing to admit a method to screen and save the poor fearful people, to screen them from the dreadful things apprehended, as well as from the terrible apprehension they had by hearing the dreadful voice, and seeing the raging fire. Therefore this is an evidence of what the apostle is arguing for, viz. that God in this transaction was not disannulling the transaction of grace, or that gracious covenant that had before been established with Abraham; he was now only building on that foundation that was then laid, and not setting it aside by this transaction that seemed to have an appearance of a legal transaction. This inference is made very much after the same manner with many others from transactions and passages of the Old Testament in the epistle to the Hebrews, and here and there in other epistles. And this reasoning is not so far fetched, and the arguments so much out of sight, as some may imagine. The words might be paraphrased thus: “In that transaction of mount Sinai, when the law was given, a mediator was made use of, and the notion of a mediator is, one that appears and pleads for both parties, one with the other. This mediator therefore that was admitted, did not only transact for God, who in the transaction was but one party, but also appeared and pleaded for the other party also with God, which shows that it was not a merely authoritative and legal, but a gracious, transaction.” The 20th verse. comes in as a kind of parenthesis, or a short exegetical digression, just to explain the meaning of the word mediator, which the apostle had used, because the argument he intended his readers should conceive from it, depended on their understanding what a mediator was; and therefore he was willing to let them know that, by a mediator, he did not only mean a middle person to act for God towards the people, but also one to act and plead for the people towards God. The apostle’s words therefore may be otherwise paraphrased thus: “The law was ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator, i. e. in the hands of a middle person who appeared and pleaded for each party with the other, and not merely for God, who was but one party.”

[196] Gal. v. 18. “But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Here inquire, 1. In what sense they are not under the law; and, 2. Why it is said, Ye are not under the law, if ye are led by the Spirit; or wherein is the connexion between being led by the Spirit, and not being under the law.

Inq. I. In what sense Christians are not under the law?

Answ. In one word, They are not under the law as servants; for this is what the apostle insisted on, in the 4th chapter, and latter end of the 3rd, that Christians are not under a schoolmaster, but a father, chap. iii. 25, 26. and iv. 2.; that they are not servants, but children, chap. iv. the seven first verses, especially the 7th verse.; that they are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free, and so are not in a state of bondage, but in a state of liberty, as chap. iv. from the 9th verse to the end.; and it is the argument the apostle is still upon in this chapter, as verse 1, &c.

And it is evident, that, by being under the law in this verse, the apostle means, being under the law as a servant; or as being under the law, is opposite to a state of liberty; by the immediate context, and by the manner in which this and the intermediate verses are introduced, by verse 13. “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,” &c. which may be seen. So the apostle opposes being under the law to liberty, in the beginning of this chapter, and so in the latter part of the foregoing chapter: see the 21st verse., compared with the allegory that follows; also the apostle’s explanation of that allegory, ver. 25. He tells us that Agar the bond-woman represents mount Sinai, the mount where the law was given. So being under the law, is called being under a schoolmaster, and under tutors and governors; which is opposed to being children, chap. iii. 24, 25, 26. and chap. iv. 2. with context. Yea, a being under the law is expressly opposed to being children, chap. iv. 5. and is called being servants, ver. 7.

By these things it is most evident that the apostle here, when he says Christians are not under the law, means only that they were not under the law as servants or bondmen, or in any sense wherein a being under the law is opposite to liberty, or the state of children.

I. They were not under the ceremonial law at all; which was a yoke of bondage, a law adapted to a servile state of the church, or the state of the church’s minority, wherein it differs nothing from a servant, as chap. iv. 1, 2, 3.; where it is evident the ceremonial law is especially intended, by the expression of the elements of the world there used. It is evident that, by being under the law, the apostle has a special respect to the ceremonial law, from chap. iv. 9, 10, 11. and chap. v. 3, 6, 11. and from the occasion and drift of the whole epistle.

II. They are not under the moral law, as servants. Not only the ceremonial but the moral law is intended in the words; as is evident from the context, as particularly the 14th and 23rd verses. Children in a family, where things are in their regular order, i. e. where the father has the proper qualifications and spirit of a father, and the children, of children, are not so properly under law, as the servants. The commands of a father in such a family to his children, especially if the children be not in their minority, is not called law, in the same sense, as the edicts of an absolute monarch to his subjects. Laws are not made for children, and for intimate and dear friends, but for servants. A being under the law, in the more ordinary use of the expression among the apostles, was inconsistent with liberty; a being under the law, and enjoying liberty, were opposites; and therefore the phrase, the law of liberty, is used by the apostle James as paradoxical. To be under law, is to be under the declaration of the will of another, not only as an instruction or doctrine for our direction in acting, but to be under it as a rule of judgment, or a being under the justifying or condemning power of it. A being under the law in this sense is the apostle’s meaning as is 804evident by the 4th verse of this chapter, and by chap. iii. per totum: vid. Rom. viii. 1. For what is said in that 3rd chapter, introduces what follows in these two succeeding chapters. They cannot be said to be under the law where the breaches of the law are not imputed to them; sin is not imputed where there is no law; and, vice versa, (in a sense,) there is no law, or persons are not under the law, where sin is not imputed.

The doctrine of the holy will of God, as revealed, and directed to those that are in Christ, is improperly called giving law: where we find it so called, that word is used out of its strictly proper sense. The giving law to another is the exacting conformity to the declared will of the lawgiver. There may be a command without a law: a declaration of another’s will, without an exaction, is not a giving law: a being under the law, is being under such an exaction. God may be said to exact obedience of men to the commands of the law, when he signifies, or makes known to them, that they are by his power held bound either to obedience or the penalty of the law. And they that receive a declaration of another’s will, but at the same time have it not exacted of them, have it not as a law, but only as an instruction or doctrine. A declaration of a superior’s will without its being signified or supposed that it will be exacted by power, may be called a doctrine, a rule, a precept, or command, but not a law, unless improperly, as God’s declaration of his will to his saints is called the law of liberty: the expression shows that the word is not designed to be used in this strictly proper sense.

Object. But is not sincere obedience exacted of believers, though perfect obedience be not? The Scripture often gives us to understand that no man can be saved, and that every one shall perish, without sincere obedience.

Ans. I. If sincere obedience be exacted of them, yet it is not by the law by which it is exacted of them.

The thing that the law exacts is perfect, and not sincere, obedience. It is a contradiction to suppose that any law requires and exacts any other than conformity to itself, or, which is the same thing, perfectly as much, or full as much, as it requires or exacts. Sincere obedience, or sincerely aiming at obedience, is not required or exacted by the law, in any other way than as we consider it as a part of perfect obedience, or a part of that conformity to the law, and so it is no more exacted by the law than the perfect obedience is. If the whole is not exacted, a part is no more exacted than the whole; a part of the conformity to the law cannot be exacted by the law any more than conformity, because it is not exacted at all only because it is a part of conformity and included in it; and therefore if conformity is not exacted of believers by the law, or which is the same thing, perfect obedience, no more is a part of conformity. So that no obedience at all is exacted of believers of the law. They are not under the law in whole nor in part, for conformity is by the law exacted of all that are under it; Christ has freed them from the whole law, by fulfilling the law for them. So that if any obedience at all be exacted of believers, it is not by the law, but it must be by some other constitution, or superadded law. But,

II. It is not properly by any other constitution made since the law. There is indeed nothing properly exacted of any man whatsoever by any other constitution than the law. Indeed faith, and so sincere obedience, which is virtually implied in it, are by a new constitution made the conditions of salvation. Salvation is promised to them, and they are declared to be the only conditions of salvation, so that without them we still lie under condemnation, and must perish. Yet it will not hence follow that any new constitution or law does exact faith and sincere obedience, or require them upon pain of perishing, or suffering any punishment at all of any man whatsoever; because it is not by virtue of the new constitution, which was only an offer or promise, that he perishes or suffers in unbelief, but by virtue of the law only that he was under before. If a criminal is to be put to death for his breach of the law, and his prince offers him a pardon if he will accept of it at his hands, acknowledging his grace in it; if he refuses the king’s offer, he is not pardoned but suffers, and the law is executed upon him. But the prince cannot be properly said by a new law or edict to exact it of him, that he should thankfully accept of pardon; for his execution is by virtue of a law made before that he had broke, and not by any new law, nor by that new act of his prince, his offering him pardon. It is not by virtue of any threatening contained in that new act, but the threatening of the law that he had before broke, that he suffers. Yea, though besides his suffering for all that breach of law, the pardon of which he refused, he may also suffer for his refusal, he may receive an additional punishment from his affronting the king in his contemptuous rejecting his gracious offer. Yet it will not follow that acceptance of pardon was properly exacted of him as by law, for that additional suffering for his affront may also be by virtue of the law that he was under before, and the threatening of that, and not any threatening implied in the king’s offer: that may be contained in the law, that whoever by his behaviour affronts or casts contempt upon the king, shall be punished according to the degree of the affront: and he may be punished for his rejecting of the king’s offer, by virtue of this, and not by virtue of any threatening contained in that new act of the king in offering pardon. Accepting the offer, indeed, is exacted of him; but it is exacted by the law and not by the offer.

So faith and repentance, and sincere obedience, are indeed exacted of sinners, upon pain of eternal damnation, but not by the gospel. Eternal life is offered upon these terms by the gospel, and eternal damnation is threatened for the want of them by the law.

Unbelief in the present state of things is a great immorality, and as such forbidden by the law, and faith is strictly commanded, and as a duty of the law is exacted of all that are under the law. It is not by the gospel, but by the law, that unbelief is a sin that exposes to eternal damnation, as is evident, because we have the pardon of the sin of unbelief by the death of Christ, which shows that Christ died to satisfy for the sin of unbelief, as well as other sins, but Christ was to answer the law, and satisfy that: he in his death endured the curse of the law. Gal. iii. 10, 11, 12, 13. Rom. viii. 3, 4. It is absurd to say that Christ died to satisfy the gospel, or to hear the punishment of that.

Inq. II. Why is it said, “If ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law?” or what is the connexion between being led by the Spirit, and not being under the law?

Ans. The connexion consists in two things: 1. As this evidences their not being under the law. 2. It renders them not the proper subjects of law.

I. Their being led by the Spirit, is an evidence of their being in Christ, who has fulfilled the law, and delivered them from it. The Spirit is given in Scripture as the proper evidence of being in Christ, 1 Cor. i. 22. v. 5. Eph. i. 13, 14. and iv. 30. Rom. viii. 9. 1 John iii. 24. and iv. 13. It is the proper evidence of their being children, for it is the Spirit of the Son, Gal. iv. 6. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, because it is the Spirit of adoption.” Rom. viii. 14. “But children are not under the law as servants.”

II. A being led by the Spirit is a thing that causes that alteration with respect to them, that renders them unapt to be the subjects of law.

1. By their having the Spirit given them, they are advanced to that state that does not agree with a state of subjection to the law. 2 Cor. iii. 17. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;” see Note on that verse. For hereby they are regenerated, are born of God, and do become the sons of God; they are hereby assimilated to the Son of God in nature and state. Being sons, it is suitable that they should be dealt with alter another manner: to hold them under the law, is to treat them as servants, as in the 6th and 7th verses. of the preceding chapter, And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father; wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son.”

2. The Spirit of Christ in Christians, or Spirit of adoption actuating and leading, is a principle that supersedes the law, and sets them above law, upon two accounts: (1.) By their having this principle, so far as it prevails, they are above the need of the exaction of the law, and therefore are such as the law was not given for, and are not aimed at in the law. They have a spirit of love and truth that 805fulfils the law, 1 Tim. i. 9. the thing that is aimed at by the law, as in the 14th and 16th verses. of the context. They do not need the exaction of the law to drive them to their duty; for, so far as they are led by the Spirit, they are of themselves naturally inclined to the same things that the law requires, and derive strength from God according to his promises to fulfil them. The fruits of the Spirit are such, as they by the Spirit without the law are inclined and enabled to, such as love, joy, peace, &c.; are such as the law is not against, as in the22d and 23d verses of the context,. “Against such there is no law.”

The filial Spirit, or Spirit of love and truth, fulfils the law; that is, the law obliges to no other things but what this Spirit inclines to, and is sufficient for. The law was not made for those that are already sufficiently disposed to all things contained it. 1 Tim. 9. “The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient,” &c. A filial spirit is law enough. It is a superior sort of law, the law of the Spirit of life is the best law, and makes free from any other law. The spirit is better than the letter. They, that have the Spirit of Christ in them, have the law written in their hearts, according to God’s promise by his prophets.

The Spirit of Christ is superior to the law, and sets a person above a subjection to the law, because it is a principle that is superior to a legal principle, or that principle which is the proper subject of the force and influence of the exaction of a law, viz. fear; so far as the Spirit of the Son, or the Spirit of adoption, prevails, so far he is above the need of that principle, and consequently above the need of being under the law.

II. The filial Spirit, or Spirit of the son, or Spirit of adoption, is a principle that, so far as it prevails, excludes and renders the saints incapable of fear, or a legal principle, or spirit of bondage. 1 John iv. 18. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” It casts it out as Sarah and Isaac cast out the bond-woman and her son, that we read of in the chapter preceding the text that we are upon. It is in Christians a principle of love, of childlike confidence and hope, as in the 6th verse of the foregoing chapter, it cries, “Abba, Father.” It evidences to them their being the children of God, and begets that trust and assurance that renders them incapable of a legal principle. Rom. viii. 15, 16. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God.” If a person has not that legal principle, or principle of fear, he has not that principle which the law, or that constitution which exacts obedience, was made to influence and work upon; and therefore is not a proper subject of law, because, being destitute of that principle, the law takes no hold of him, for it finds no principle in him to take hold by.

A being led by the Spirit of the Son of God, as a Spirit of adoption, is inconsistent with a state of bondage, as son-ship is inconsistent with servitude. 2 Cor. iii. 17. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

[235] Eph. i. 22, 23. “And gave him to be head over all things to the church which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” By fulness, according to the apostle’s use of the phrase, is signified the good of any being; all that by which any being is excellent and happy; including its perfection, beauty, riches, joy, and pleasure. Rom. xi. 12. “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness!” The word fulness, in the former part of this verse, is doubtless to be understood in like manner as the word filleth in the latter part. By Christ’s filling all in all, seems evidently to be intended that he supplies all the creatures in heaven and on earth, angels, and blessed spirits, and men, with all good; as in chap. iv. 10. “He that descended, is the same also that ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, viz. that he might supply all intelligent creatures in heaven and earth with good. So when it is said, chap. ii. 19. “That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God,” the meaning seems to be, that ye might have your souls satisfied with a participation of God’s own good, his bounty and joy; “for our communion is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John i. 3. So when the apostle says Christ, the 4«ev»i« iaunt, ”emptied himself,” as Philip. ii. 7. he means that he appeared in the world without his former glory and joy; see John xvii. 5. So that here the apostle teaches that Christ, who fills all things, all elect creatures in heaven and earth, is himself filled by the church; he, who supplies angels and men with all that good in which they are perfect and happy, receives the church as that in which he himself is happy; he, from whom and in whom all angels and saints are adorned and made perfect in beauty, himself receives the church as his glorious and beautiful ornament, as the virtuous wife is a crown to her husband. The church is the garment of Christ, and was typified by that coat of his that was without seam, which signified the union of the various members of the church, and was typified by those garments of the high priest that were made for glory and for beauty, Exod. xxviii. 2. as seems evident by the 2d verse of the 133d Psalm, and by the precious stones of his breastplate, in a particular manner, on which were engraven the names of the children of Israel. Isa. lxii. 3. “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God,” i. e. in the possession of God. So Zech. ix. 16, 17. “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown lifted up, as an ensign upon his land.” As it is from and in Christ that all are supplied with joy and happiness, so Christ receives the church as that in which he has exceeding and satisfying delight and joy. Isa. lxii. 5. “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” This seems to be the good that Christ sought in the creation of the world, who is the beginning of the creation of God; when all things were created by him and for him, viz. that he might obtain the church, who is “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” to whom, and for whom, he might give himself, on whom he might pour forth his love, and in whom his soul might eternally be delighted. Until he had attained this, he was pleased not to look on himself as complete, but as wanting something, as the first Adam was not complete before the creation of Eve. Gen. ii. 20.

[481] Eph. i. 23. “The fulness of him that filleth all in all.” The church is not only represented as Christ’s ornament, but God’s people are often spoken of in the Old Testament as God’s portion and inheritance, his treasure, his jewels, his garden of pleasant fruits, his pleasant plant, Isa. v. 7. the plant of his pleasures, his pleasant food, as the first ripe figs. Jer. xxiv. 2. Hosea ix. 10. the first-fruits of all his increase, Jer. ii. 3. A garden and orchard of spices, and his bed, or field, of lilies, among which he feeds, his fountain of gardens, or refreshing streams from Lebanon, a garden where he gathers his myrrh and his spice, and where he eats his honeycomb with his honey and drinks his wine with his milk.

So the saints in the New Testament are spoken of as God’s wheat, and good grain, that he gathereth into his garner.

[300] Eph. ii. 7. “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.” Intimating that this was not made known in ages past, but in a great measure kept hid, as it is said in the next chapter, at the 5th verse., which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. The riches of God’s grace in his kindness through Christ Jesus here spoken of, is the same with those unsearchable riches of Christ spoken of in the next chapter, 8th and 9th verses., which the apostle there says was a mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God. So Rom. xvi. 25. “According to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began;” and Colos. i. 26, 27. “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but is now made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known, what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The apostle, in this text we are upon, speaks of it as being now made known for the present and all future ages; brought to light for the last ages of the world, which were new begun.

806Upon second thought, I am inclined to doubt whether by , may not be meant the world to come; *>»» is almost every where put for world, and ii«» <v<px«u»oc, or iie\\Mv, is always put for the world to come, though here it be in the plural number. See chap. i. 21. and this chap. ver. 2. in the original.

[504] Eph. ii. 7. “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.” In Dr. Goodwin’s Works, vol. i. part ii. p. 237. there are two interpretations of this.

“I. Some say that what is intended, is God’s holding forth in that kindness which he had shown to the primitive Christians, (whom he had converted out of so desperate and damnable a condition,) an assurance of the communication of the like riches of his grace in all ages to come, to the end of the world, whereof they were the patterns and examples. I find most of the protestant writers run this way, and the most judicious among the papists.

“II. Others say, that this showing forth the riches of his grace in ages to come is to eternity, after the resurrection which he had spoken of in the words immediately before; and that these words do contain the utmost accomplishment, the manifestation and breaking up of the hidden treasure, which shall be expended in the world to come, and requires an eternity to be spending in. And I find this latter to be the sense that all the ancient interpreters run upon, not one exempted, and some of our protestant writers, and most of the papists.”

Ibid. p. 238. “That of the apostle, 1 Tim. i. 16. is alleged as parallel with these words in the former interpretation. ‘For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”’ P. 240, 241, 242, 243, 244. “But to go on to the second interpretation, which I think to be as much the scope of the apostle here, if not more than the other; and if both cannot stand together, I had rather cast it to exclude the other and take this. To confirm this interpretation to you, I shall lead you along through these several reasons.

I will begin with the phrase, In the ages to come, in opposition to this present world, as the apostle calleth this in Gal. i. 4. You have the very phrase in the first chap. of this epistle, [to the Ephesians,]ver. 21. “Far above all principalities, &c. not only in this world but that which is to come,” ivraiiHw; the word translated there world to come, is the word which is used here for ages. And in Heb. vi. 5. they are said to have tasted of the powers of the world to come. It is the word that is here used for ages.

But it will be objected, are ages, in the plural, taken for the times after the day of judgment to eternity, where there is no flux of time? For that, my brethren, the Scripture often expresseth it in the plural. Also, you read of the phrase for ever and ever, you have it in Revelations again and again: “We shall reign with Christ for ever and ever“ it is for ages and ages. You have the same in Romans xvi. 27.; and in the 3rd chap. of this epistle, [to the Ephesians,]ver. 22. you shall find it in the plural as well as here. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” He means not only this world, but the world that is to come too; and why? because that to come is the age of ages, it is the secula seculorum.

And then it is to be considered that in these words, “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace,” is held forth God’s ultimate and highest end that he hath in the salvation of man. He mentions it as the close of all, in the language of a final event. But this is accomplished in heaven, and nowhere else. The gospel revealeth infinite grace to us, but the exceeding riches of grace shall be broken up in the world to come. There is a reserve of it for eternity, such as we cannot now comprehend. Therefore here is now intended the actual enjoyment that those saints which God hath now quickened, and set in heaven in Christ, shall have in ages to come of these exceeding riches of grace, which Christ hath taken possession of for them in heaven.

And then is to be observed the apostle’s order in discoursing of our salvation in this place. He sets out salvation in all the gradual accomplishments of it, until it is made fully perfect and complete. First he shows what is begun in our own persons in quickening of us. He tells us, secondly, how heaven and the resurrection is made sure to us, though we do not enjoy it; ver. 6. “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Now then, here, in the 7th verse., as the close of all, he shows how that God will spend to eternity the exceeding, the utmost riches of that grace; there he will show it, and then he will bring it forth. In the world to come he will bring forth all his rich treasure, and then shall salvation be complete, and there shall be the utmost demonstration of it.

It answers the parallel that the apostle did intend to make between Christ and us. He tells us in the first chapter, that the same power works in us that believe, that wrought in Christ when God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places; and here you see in the 6th verse of this 2nd chapter., the verse next before the text, he brings in the parallel. “He hath quickened us, saith he, and raised us up, and made us sit in heaven in him. 564564    Eph. ii. 5. ” There it is said of Christ, that in heaven he sits far above all principality, &c. not only in this world, but that which is to come. To make up the parallel now on our parts, he tells us in this chapter, You have worlds to come, (for it is the same word, only in the plural number,) in which to sit with Christ, and you shall have all the riches of God’s free grace, bringing in joy and happiness to you to feast you with unto eternity.

Then again the phrase show forth, will exceedingly fit this interpretation. For we do not see now otherwise than by faith the riches of the glory that Christ hath taken possession of for us in heaven. But, saith he, After the resurrection in the world, or ages, to come, he will show them forth; and so it is a parallel place with that Col. iii. 3, 4., where he had said, ver. 2. “Ye are risen with Christ,” as here he addeth, “Your life is hid with Christ in God, but when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

That in Rom. ix. 23. is a clear parallel to this in the text. The apostle there, in ver. 22. says, “What if God, willing to show his wrath, (it is the same word,) and to make his power known, and that he might make known the riches of his grace, which he there calls the riches of his glory, on the vessels of mercy before prepared unto glory.”

The word likewise exceeding riches, agrees well with this sense. The apostle uses the phrase, the exceeding riches of his grace, nowhere that I know of but here; and why? Because he speaks of the utmost manifestation and accomplishment of the height of the riches of grace, which shall not be till then.

And here is another confirmation also of this interpretation. We have here a continued discourse of the apostle, which agrees with the 18th verse of the foregoing chapter, which ends with this verse of the second chapter. There he begins this discourse by praying that they might know what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and then concludes his discourse in this verse, by signifying that there is a world to come wherein God will show forth the exceeding riches of his grace towards them. The apostle begins and ends his discourse with these riches of grace and glory; in this glorious circle involving all things concerning our salvation.

[502] Eph. ii. 19, 20, 21, 22. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, &c. According to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ Jesus, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and power, &c. And hath put all things under his feet,” &c. In the work that was wrought, and the alteration made in exalting Christ from the depth of his humiliation to his height of glory, two things are to be considered, viz, the relative change, or change of Christ’s circumstances; and the real change made in the human nature, which was not only greatly exalting it from that low state of sorrow, weakness of body and mind, and comparative meanness of nature, and narrow capacity, to that high, and as it were infinite, 807degree of knowledge, power, holiness, joy, and real inherent glory; (here is to be considered the change made both in body and in soul. Christ, in his exaltation, not only received power, riches, honour, and blessing, wherein the change of circumstances consisted, but also wisdom and strength, as in Rev. v. 12.;) but exalting it to this from a far lower state, from a state of death under which he descended into the lower parts of the earth, and as it were into hell; in raising him from which, we may conceive greater difficulty than in raising another from the dead, as we may suppose all the powers of hell engaged to their utmost to hinder his resurrection. This real change made in Christ in his resurrection and exaltation, is an unspeakably greater power than the work of creation, not only considering the term from, which was a state of death, and so a creation as it were from nothing; but as overcoming the greatest created power; but especially if we consider the term to which, or the thing finally extant as the fruit of this work, which is as it were infinitely higher, greater, and more excellent than any thing accomplished in the old creation.

But then Christ in this affair is not to be considered by the apostle singly and personally; but all his church are considered as thus raised and exalted with him, and in him: he as the head, and they as partaking members. This power is manifested in raising them, in raising their dead souls from an infinite depth, infinitely lower than a state of nonentity, and from under as it were infinitely strong chains, to hold them in that state, and the most mighty opposition to their restoration; and also raising their bodies from the dead, and from a state of corruption, and exalting them with Christ, making their bodies like his glorious body, and their souls like his glorious soul; giving them a participation of his elevation of nature, his exalted knowledge, strength, holiness, beauty, glory, and joy, according to their capacity and station.

Herein, in this whole work of the restoration and exaltation of Christ mystical, is above all things manifested the power of God and the new creation.

[169] Eph. iii. 10. “That now unto the principalities and powers might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God; that is, by the things done in the church, by what they see concerning the church.

[50] Eph. iv. 13. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of God, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;” that is, till we all come to agree in the same faith, which is fully conformed to Christ, and therein are come to his rule and measure in faith, and perhaps in other graces, the body of Christ becomes complete, being completely conformed to Christ. The church is the completeness of Christ, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. But this body is not complete, and perfect, till it is perfectly conformed to his mind in faith, and to his image in other graces. Christ and his church, as here, so elsewhere, being as body and soul, are called one man, it is as if he had said, till Christ’s body is complete in stature. The church, the body of Christ, is called a man. Eph. ii. 15.

[232] Ephes. v. 30, 31, 32. “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Christ did as it were leave his Father in order to obtain and be joined to the church; he came down from heaven, and did as it were leave the bosom of his Father, he left the sweet and joyful manifestations of his Father’s love, and became subject to the hidings of his Father’s face, and even to the expressions of his wrath, and gave himself to his church that he might be joined to his church, and that he might present it to himself a glorious church, &c. as ver. 25, 26, 27. So he also left his mother, which was the church of the Jews, to cleave to the New-Testament church. Christ was born of the Jews, and the ordinances, and legal observances of the Jewish church. Christ was hid as the infant is hid in its mother’s womb. All God’s dispensations towards that church, his calling of them by Moses, his giving them such ordinances, and his so ordering their state from age to age, was in order to bring forth Christ into the world. This Old-Testament church is represented by Sarah, Isaac’s mother, and the New-Testament church by Rebekah, whom Isaac loved, and in whom he was comforted after his mother’s death. (Vide Gen. xxiv. 67. Notes.)

The Old-Testament church was as Christ’s mother, but the New-Testament church is as his wife, whom he treats with far greater affection and intimacy. He forsook his mother also in this respect, viz. as he made a sacrifice of that flesh and blood, and laid down that mortal life, which he had from his mother, the Virgin Mary; that which is born of the flesh is flesh; though he did not derive flesh from his mother in the sense in which it is spoken of, John iii. 6. viz. corrupt, sinful nature; and therefore, did not forsake his mother for the church, in the same sense wherein the church is advised to forsake her father’s house for Christ’s sake, viz. to forsake sin, and lusts derived from parents, by crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts. Yet Christ derived flesh from his mother, viz. the animal nature, and human nature, with that frailty and mortality that is the fruit of sin; this Christ forsook, and yielded to be crucified for the sake of the church.

[1461 Philip. ii. 11. And every tongue should confess. In the place of the Old-Testament, that is here quoted, it is, every tongue shall swear, which confirms, that by swearing by God’s name, so often spoken of in the Old-Testament, as a great duty of God’s people, is meant publicly professing the true God, and entering into covenant with him.

[69] Colos. ii. 11. “In putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” If this means the outward circumcision, with which Christ was circumcised, our sins are put off by Christ’s circumcision, after the same manner as by our own baptism; that is, Christ’s circumcision signified the putting off our sins, as much as our own baptism, for our body of sin was imputed to him, he bore it, and put it off in outward sign by his circumcision. Christ represented us; he came into the world without any original sin, and he was circumcised to signify the putting off our corruption of nature.

[329] 2 Thess. ii. 7. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” As Christianity, or the scheme for setting up the kingdom of God, and advancing his glory, and the salvation of men, by Christ, is called the mystery of godliness; so antiChristianism, or the scheme for setting up the kingdom of the devil, and accomplishing the destruction of men by antichrist, is called the mystery of iniquity. The Christian scheme is called the mystery of godliness very much on that account, that all the ancient mysteries, types, shadows, and prophecies, relating to the kingdom and interest of godliness, have their fulfilment in it. So antichristianism is called the mystery of iniquity, because in this the types and prophecies that relate to the kingdom and interest of iniquity have their principal fulfilment. Here is fulfilled what was shadowed forth of old, by the murder of Cain, and his city in the land of Nod, and by the building of the tower of Babel, and by the city of Babylon, and by the mighty Nimrod, and Belus, or Bel, and by the city of Sodom, by Egypt, and Pharaoh; and the great things that were done in Egypt, in the time of Moses and Aaron, are types of what is done by and to the church of Rome. Here is the antitype of Jabez and Sisera, Oreb and Zeeb, Zeba and Zalmunna, the Moabites and the Ammonites, the Philistines, and especially the Edomites. Here is the antitype of proud Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar, and Haman. Here is the antitype of the city and king of Tyrus, and of Antiochus Epiphanes, and here is the chief fulfilment of the ancient prophecies of Daniel and other prophets that relate to the kingdom of iniquity, and also of most of such prophecies in the New Testament. On the same account the antiChristian church is called “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT.”

[137] 2 Timothy ii. 18. “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying, that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” The Jews before Christ, had a general belief that there would be a resurrection, and they thought it would be when the Messiah came. When he comes, they thought the saints that were of old, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and David, &c. would rise again, and there was a number of them did rise when Christ rose, as Matthew informs us, and therefore 808there were some that the apostle here speaks of that thought we were to expect no other resurrection.


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