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Containing the fifth Motive to apply Christ, drawn from another excellent Title of Christ.
Which, none of the princes of this world have known, for had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
In this chapter the apostle discourses to the Corinthians, of the excellency of his ministry, both to obviate the contempt which some cast upon it for want of human ornaments, and to give the greater authority unto it among all: and whereas the spiritual simplicity of his ministry laid it under the contempt of some, he removes that several ways, by showing them,
First, That it was not suitable to the design and end of his ministry, his aim being "to know nothing among them, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified," ver. 1, 2.
Secondly, Neither was it for the advantage of their souls; it might indeed tickle their fancies, but could be no solid foundation to their faith and comfort, ver. 4, 5.
Thirdly, Though his discourses seemed jejune and dry to carnal hearers, yet they had a depth and excellency in them, which spiritual and judicious Christians saw and acknowledged, ver. 6, 7.
Fourthly, Therefore this excellent wisdom which he preached far transcended all the natural wisdom of this world; yea, the most raised and improved understandings of those that were most renowned and admired in that age for wisdom, ver. 8. "which none of the princes of this world knew."
In which words we have,
1. A negative proposition.
2. The proof of the proposition.
First, A negative proposition: None of the princes of this world knew that spiritual wisdom which he taught. By princes of this world, or rather, principes seculi, the princes of that age, he means, as Cameron well notes, the learned Rabbies, Scribes, and Pharisees, renowned for wisdom and learning among them; and honoured upon that account as so many princes: but he adds a diminutive term, which darkens all their glory: They are but the princes of this world, utterly unacquainted with the wisdom of the other world. To which he adds,
Secondly, A clear and full proof; "For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." In which words we find one of Christ's glorious and royal titles, The Lord of glory: upon which title will be my present discourse. The words being fitly rendered, and nothing of ambiguity in them, they give us this observation,
Doct. That' Christ crucified is the Lord of glory.
Great and excellent is the glory of Jesus Christ, the scriptures every where proclaim his glory: yea, we may observe a notable climax, or gradation, in those scriptures that speak of his glory. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of him, calls him glorious; Isa. 4:2. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious." John, speaking of his glory, rises a step higher, and ascribeth to him a "glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father," John 1:14. i.e. a glory meet for, and becoming the Son of God: proper to him, and incommunicable to any other. The apostle James rises yet higher, and does not only call him glorious, or glorious as the only begotten of the Father, but the glory, James 2: 1. glory in the abstract; "My brethren, (saith he) have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory, with respect of persons;" For the word "Lord", which is in our translation, is a supplement; Christ is glory itself, yea, the glory emphatically so stiled; the glory of heaven; the glory of Sion; the glory of our souls for ever. The author to the Hebrews goes yet higher, and calls him not simply the glory, but "the brightness of the Father's glory," Heb. 1:3. as though he should say, the radiancy, sparkling, or beaming forth of his Father's glory; the very splendour or refulgency of divine glory. O what a glorious Lord is our Lord Jesus Christ! the bright, sparkling diamond of heaven; who shines in glory there, above the glory of angels and saints, as the glory of the sun excels the lesser, twinkling stars. When he appeared to Paul, Acts 26:13. "I saw (saith he) a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me:" Needs must the glory of Christ be unspeakable, who reflects glory upon all that are with him, John 17: 24. and stamps glory upon all that belong to him. His works on earth were glorious works, Luke 13:17. the purchased liberty of his people, a glorious liberty, Rom. 8:21. the church his mystical body, a glorious church, Eph. 5:27. the gospel which reveals him is a glorious gospel, 1 Tim. 1:11.
But more particularly let us consider the glory of Christ, as it is distinguished into his either,
1. Essential, or,
2. Mediatorial glory.
First, The essential glory of Christ, which he has as God from everlasting; which is unspeakable and inconceivable glory: For (saith the apostle, Phil. 2:6.) "He being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God," i.e. he has a peerage or equality with his Father in glory; John 10:80. "I and my Father are one." And again, John 16:15. "All things that the Father has are mine:" the same name, the same nature, the same essential properties, the same will, and the same glory.
Secondly, The mediatorial glory of Christ is exceeding great. This is proper to him, as the head of the church, which he has purchased with his own blood. Of this glory the apostle speaks, Phil. 2:9, 10. "Wherefore God also has exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, &c. "huperupsose", exalted above all exaltation. Now the mediatorial glory of our Lord Jesus Christ consisteth either,
1. In the fulness of grace inherent in him; or,
2. In the dignity and authority put upon him.
First, In the tallness of grace inherent in him: The humanity of Christ is filled with grace, as the sun with light: John 1:14. "Full of grace and truth." Never any creature was filled by the Spirit of grace, as the man Christ Jesus is filled; for "God gives not the Spirit to him by measure," John 3:34. By reason of this fulness of grace inherent in him, he is "fairer than the children of men," Psal. 14:2. excelling all the saints in spiritual lustre and gracious excellencies.
Secondly, In the dignity and authority put upon him. He is crowned King in Sion; all power in heaven and earth is given unto him, Matth. 28:18. he is a law-giver to the church, James 4:12. all acts of worship are to be performed in his name; prayer, preaching, censures, sacraments, all to be administered in his name. Church officers are commissioned by him, Eph. 4:11. The judgement of the world in the great day will be administered by him; Matth. 25:81. "Then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory."
To conclude, Jesus Christ shall have glory and honour ascribed to him for evermore, by angels and saints, upon the account of his mediatorial work; this some divines call his passive glory, the glory which he is said to receive from his redeemed ones. Rev. 5:8, 9, 10. "And when he had taken the book, 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, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou west slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," &c. And thus you see that our Lord Jesus Christ is upon all accounts the Lord of glory. The uses follow.
Inference 1. How wonderful was the love of Christ, the Lord of Priory, to be so abased and bumbled, as he was for us, vile and sinful dust? It is astonishing to conceive that ever Jesus Christ should strip himself of his robes of glory, to clothe himself with the mean garment of our flesh: O what a stoop did he make in his incarnation for us! If the most magnificent monarch upon earth had been degraded into a toad; if the sun in the heavens had been turned into a wandering atom; if the most glorious angel in heaven had been transformed even into a fly; it had been nothing to the abasement of the Lord of glory. This act is everywhere celebrated in scripture as the great mystery, the astonishing wonder of the whole world, 2 Tim. 3:16. Phil 2:8. Rom. 8:3. The Lord of glory looked not like himself, when he came in the habit of a man; Isa. 53:3. "We hid, as it were our faces from him:" Nay, rather like a worm than a man, Psal. 22:6. "A reproach of men, and despised of the people." The birds of the air and beasts of the earth were here provided of better accommodations than the Lord of glory, Matth. 8:20. O stupendous abasement! O love unspeakable! "Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich," 2 Cor. 8:9. He put off the crown of glory to put on the crown of thorns; Quanto pro me vilior, tanto mihi charior, said Bernard; The lower he humbled himself for me, the dearer he shall be to me.
Inf. 2. How transcendently glorious is the advancement of be believers, by their union with the Lord of glory? This also is an admirable and astonishing mystery; it is the highest dignity of which our nature is capable, to be hypostatically united; and the greatest glory of which our persons are capable is to be mystically united to this Lord of glory, to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. O what is this! Christian, dost thou know and believe all this, and thy heart not burn within thee in love to Christ? O! then, what a heart hast thou? What art thou, by nature, but sinful dust, a loathsome sinner, viler than the vilest creature, cast out to the loathing of thy person in the day of thy nativity! O that ever the Lord of glory should unite himself to such a lump of vileness! take such a wretch into his very bosom! Be astonished, O heavens and earth, at this! this is the great mystery which the angels stooped down to look into: Such an honour as this could never have catered into the heart of man. It would have seemed a rude blasphemy in us, once to have thought or spoken of such a things, had not Christ made first the motion thereof; yet how long didst thou make this Lord of glory wait upon thy undetermined will, before he gained thy consent? ight he not justly have spurned thee into hell, upon thy first refusal, and never have made thee such another offer? Wilt thou not say, Lord, what am I, and what is my father's house, that so great a King, should stoop so far beneath himself, to such a worm as I am! That strength should unite itself to weakness, infinite glory to such baseness! O grace, grace, for ever to be admired!
Inf. 3. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of glory? Then let no man count himself dishonoured by suffering the vilest indignities for his sake: The Lord of glory puts glory upon the very suffering you undergo in this world for him. "Moses esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt," Heb. 11:26. he cast a kingdom at his heels, to be crowned with reproaches, for the name of Christ. The diadem of Egypt was not half so glorious as self- denial for Christ. This Lord of' glory freely degraded himself' for thee; wilt thou stand hesitating with him upon terms? It is certainly your honour to be dishonoured for Christ, Acts 5:41. to you it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe, but also to suffer for his sake, Phil. 1:29. The gift of suffering is there matched with the gift of faith; it is given as an honorarium, a badge of honour to suffer for the Lord of glory. As all have not the honour to wear the crown of glory in heaven, so few have the honour to wear the chain of Christ upon earth. Thanus reports of Ludovicus arsacus, a knight of France, that being led to suffer with other martyrs, who were bound, and he unbound, because a person of honour; he cried out, "Why don't you honour me with a chain too, and create me a knight of that noble order?" My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, James 1:2. i.e. trials by sufferings. David thought it an honour to be vile for God, and that is a true observation that disgrace itself is glorious when endured for the Lord of glory.
Inf. 4. Is Christ the Lord of glory? How glorious then shall the saints one day be, when they shall be made like this glorious Lord, and partake of his glory in heaven?, John 17:22. "The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them:" Yea, the vile bodies of believers shall be made like to the glorious body of Christ, Phil. 3:21. What glory then will be communicated to their souls? True, his essential glory is incommunicable; but there is a glory which Christ will communicate to his people. "When he comes to judge the world, he will come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," 2 Thes. 1:10. Thus he seemeth to account his social glory, which shall result from his saints, a great part of his own glory: As we have now fellowship with him in his sufferings, so we shall have a fellowship or communion with him in his glory: When he shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory; then the poorest believer shall be more glorious than Solomon in all his royalty. It was a pious saying of Luther, that he had rather be Christianus rusticus, quam Ethnicus Alexander; a Christian clown, then a Pagan emperor. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, though he live next door to a graceless nobleman: But it does not yet appear what they shall be. The day will come, it certainly will come, for the Lord has spoken it, when they shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Inf. 5. How has the devil blindfolded, and deluded them that are frighted off from Christ, by the fears of being dishonoured by him? Many persons have half a mind to religion, but when they consider the generality of its processors to be persons of the lowest and meanest rank in the world, and that reproaches and sufferings attend that way; they shrink back as men ashamed, and as Salvian saith, Mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur; they chuse rather to remain wicked, than to be esteemed vile: But to them that believe, Christ is an honour; as the word which we translate "precious" might be rendered, 1 Pet. 2:7. Till God open men's eyes thus, they will put evil for good, and good for evil. But O dear bought honours, for which men stake their souls and everlasting happiness! Paul was not of your mind: for birth he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews; for dignity and esteem, a Pharisee; for moral accomplishments, touching the law, blameless: Yet all this he trampled under his feet, counting it all but dross and dung in comparison of Jesus Christ. Moses had more honour to lay down for Christ than you; yet it was no temptation to him to conceal or deny the faith of Christ. Noble Galeacius would not be withheld from Christ by the splendour and glory of Italy; but O, how does the glory of this world dazzle and blind the eyes of many: "How can ye believe (saith Christ) who receive honour one of another?" John 5: 44. Saints and sinners, upon this account, are wonders one to the other. It is the wonder of the world to see Christians glory in reproaches; they wonder that the saints run not with them into the same excess of riot; and it is a wonder to believers, how such poor toys and empty titles (rather than titles of honour) should keep the world as it does from Jesus Christ, and their everlasting happiness in him.
Inf. 6. If Christ be the Lord of glory, how careful should all be who profess him, that they do not dishonour Jesus Christ, whose name is called upon by them? Christ is a glory to you, be not you a shame and dishonour to him. How careful had Christians need to be, to draw every line and action of their lives exactly: The more glorious Christ is, the more circumspect and watchful ye had need to be. How lovely would Jesus Christ appear to the world, if the lives of Christians did adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, in all things! Remember, you represent the Lord of glory to the world; it is not your honour only, but the honour of Christ which is engaged and concerned in your actions. O let not the carelessness or scandal of your life, make Jesus Christ ashamed to be called your Lord. When Israel had grievously revolted from God, he bids Moses rise and get down from thence; for (saith he) thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt, have corrupted themselves, Deut. 9:12. as if the Lord were ashamed to own them for his people any longer. It was a cutting question, James 2:7. apt to startle the consciences of these loose professors; "Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called? Your duty is to adorn the gospel by your conversations, Titus 2:10. The words signify to deck, trim, or adorn the gospel, to make it trim, neat, and lovely, to the eyes of beholders. When there is such a beautiful harmony, and lovely proportion betwixt Christ's doctrine and your practices, as there is in the works of creation, wherein the comeliness and elegancy of the world much consists, (for to this the apostle's word here alludes) then do we walk suitably to the Lord of glory.
Inf. 7. What delight should Christians take in their daily converse with Jesus Christ in the way of duty? Your converses in prayer, hearing, and meditation, are with the Lord of glory: The greatest peers in the kingdom count it more honour to be in the presence of a king, bare-headed, or upon the knee at court, than to have thousands standing bare to them in the country. When you are called to the duties of communion with Christ, you are called to the greatest honour, dignified with the noblest privilege creatures are capable of in this world: Had you but a sense of that honour God puts upon you by this means, you would not need so much pressing and striving, to bring a dead and backward heart into the special presence of Jesus Christ. When he saith, Seek ye my face, your hearts would echo to his calls; Thy face, Lord, will we seek. But alas! the glory of Christ is much hid and veiled by ignorance and unbelief, from the eyes of his own people; it is but seldom the best of saints, by the eye of faith, do see the King in his glory.
Inf. 8. If Christ be so glorious, how should believers long to be with him, and behold him in his glory above? Most men need patience to die, a believer should need patience to live. Paul thought it well worth enduring the pangs of death, to get a sight of Jesus Christ in his glory, Phil. 1:23. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ," (saith the apostle) 2 Thess. 3:5. intimating that the saints have great need of patience, to enable them to endure the state of distance and separation from Christ, so long as they must endure it in this world. The spirit and the bride say, come, and let him that heareth say, come, and let him that is a-thirst come: even so, come Lord Jesus, and be thou as a swift roe upon the mountains of separation.
Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
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