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While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.—Mat. XVII. 5.
IN this branch of the story two things are remarkable, and there is a behold prefixed before either of them to excite our attention. First, they see a bright cloud, and then they hear a voice out of the cloud.
First, Of the cloud: and while he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. It was not a dark cloud, as upon Mount Sinai, when God gave the law, but a bright one, yet not so bright and lightsome but that it was mixed with some obscurity. It was no natural and ordinary cloud, such as are commonly engendered in the air above us, but extraordinary and supernatural, created by God for this occasion. The use of it was double.
1. To convey Moses and Elias out of their sight when this conference was ended. Therefore some expound that which is said, Luke ix. 34, ‘They feared as they entered into the cloud,’ after this manner, the disciples feared when they saw Moses and Elias entering into the cloud—that is, involved and covered in it. It is said of Jesus Christ himself, when he ascended into heaven, Acts i. 9, ‘A cloud received him out of their sight.’
2. To be a token of the extraordinary presence of God, whose voice immediately came out of the cloud, as also to veil the glory thereof, which was best done by a cloud, a thing of a middle nature between terrestrial and celestial bodies. When Solomon builded the temple the Lord showed his special presence there by filling the house with 383a cloud, 1 Kings viii. 10. This way of apparition God useth to moderate the splendour of his excellent glory. We are not able to behold God as he is, and must not pry into his glory; there is a cloud and veil upon it.
Secondly, They heard a voice: and behold, a voice out of the cloud which said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
1. Observe, That there was a voice distinctly and audibly heard. Though God did sensibly now manifest his presence in the mount with Christ, and did audibly speak to them, yet he did not appear in any distinct form and shape, either of man or any other living creature, but all was done by a voice out of the cloud; so Deut. iv. 12, ‘Ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude,’ and ver. 15, ‘Take good heed to yourselves, for ye saw no similitude in the day that the Lord spake to you in Horeb, lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make to you any graven image.’ The similitude of any figure, &c. The voice of God may with less danger come to us than any sight or representation of him.
2. The matter, or what this voice said: This is my beloved Son; hear ye him. By this voice there is:—
[1.] A testimony given to Christ.
[2.] A command to hear him; or,
(1.) The dignity of Christ. He is the beloved Son of God, in whom he is well pleased.
(2.) A suitable respect bespoken for him.
The words are few, but yet contain the sum of the whole gospel, and they are spoken, not by a man, nor by an angel, but by the Lord himself, and therefore they should be entertained with the more reverence. The apostle Peter, who was one of the parties present, could never forget this testimony of the Father concerning his Son Jesus Christ: 2 Pet. i. 17, ‘He received from the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;’ and besides, what Christ speaketh of another voice from heaven is true of this: John xii. 30, ‘This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes,’ not so much to encourage him in his suffering as to our edification and instruction. All the testimonies given unto Christ from heaven tended to point him out to sinners as the true Messiah, approved and accepted of God; therefore these words should ever be in our minds, especially when we draw nigh to God in solemn duties.
I shall begin with the dignity, honour, and glory of Christ, solemnly declared from heaven. There are three things in it:—
1. The relation between him and the Father: he is a Son.
2. The dearness of that relation: his beloved Son.
3. The complacential satisfaction which he taketh in him, and the price of our redemption paid by him: in whom I am well pleased.
Doct. That it is the main and principal point of the gospel, and of great necessity to be known and believed to salvation, that Jesus Christ is the beloved Son of God, in whom he is well pleased.
1. I shall open this testimony given to Christ.
2. Speak of the importance and weight of it.384
I. Of the testimony given to Christ.
1. Let me open the term that expresseth his filiation, that he is God’s Son. Christ is the Son of God properly so called, a Son only-begotten: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son;’ eternally begotten, Prov. viii. 22, 23, ‘I was set up from everlasting, the Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.’ A Son co-equal with his Father, John v. 18. The Jews sought to kill him because he said God was his Father, making himself equal with God, πατέρα ἴδιον ἔλεγε τὸν Θεὸν, his own proper Father. So co-essential, of the same substance with his Father, John i. 1, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ Now thus is he the Son of God.
Why is it mentioned there?—
[1.] To show the special dignity of Christ above all others. He is the Son of God: Christians are the sons of God, but in a different manner—he by nature, we by adoption. Though God have many sons by creation and adoption, yet Christ is his Son in a peculiar and proper way, by eternal generation, and communication of the same essence, ὁ υἱὸς ἀγαπητὸς, that Son, that beloved Son; so a Son as none else is; the Son of God, properly so called.
[2.] To distinguish him from Moses and the prophets. From Moses, Heb. iii. 5, 6, ‘Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, but Christ as a Son over his own house, whose house we are.’ &c.; so from the rest of the prophets: Heb. i. 1, 2, ‘God at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, but hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world.’ This is the great doctor of the church; now as to meekness above Moses, as to zeal above Elias, as to familiarity and communion he was with God and was God.
[3.] To show the old prophecies were fulfilled, which foretold the union of the two natures in his person, the predictions concerning one whose name should be Immanuel, God with us, and who should save and redeem the church, Isa. vii. 14; and of a child that should be ‘the mighty God, the everlasting Father.’ Isa. ix. 6. This the prophets foretold, that he should be God, and the Son of God: Micah v. 2, ‘His going forth is from everlasting.’ though born at Bethlehem; so the bud of the Lord and the fruit of the earth, Isa. iv. 2. The man God’s fellow, Zech. xiii. 7; and in many other places the union of the two natures is asserted.
2. He is the beloved Son.
[1.] That God loved Christ. Christ is the object of his Father’s love, both as the second person and as mediator. As the second person of the Trinity—two things are wont to attract love, nearness and likeness, they are both here. Nearness, he was in the bosom of the Father: John i. 18, ‘The only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ Likeness is another load stone of affliction:3131 Qu., ‘affection’?—ED. Heb. i. 3, He is ‘the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.’ Such as the Father is so is Christ.
[2.] As mediator, so God loveth him on the account of his obedience: John x. 17, ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life for the sheep;’ John iii. 35, the Father hath loved him and put all things into his hand. The Father approved Christ’s undertaking for sinners, delighted in it as an excellent way of glorifying his name, and recovering poor creatures out of their lost condition; and rested satisfied, and was pleased with his death, as a sufficient ransom for poor souls. Well, then, God loved him so as to trust the souls of all mankind in his hands, and to appoint him to be the great mediator, to end all differences between him and us; and the more he doth in pursuance of his office, the more beloved he is and acceptable to God.
[3.] The testimony of his love to him as mediator; for his unspeakable rejoicing in him, as second person in the Trinity, we are not competent judges of. It is described: Prov. viii. 30, ‘I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.’ The mutual complacency which the divine persons take in one another is there set forth; God delighted in Christ, and Christ in God. But in the second love as mediator, God expressed his love to him in two things: the gift of the Spirit, and the glory of his human nature.
(1.) The gift of the Spirit: John iii. 34, ‘God giveth not the Spirit in measure to him, for the Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hands.’ This was the great expression of his love to Christ as mediator, not to make him a visible monarch of the world, but by the gift of his Spirit to be head of the church.
(2.) The other expression of his love to him as mediator was the gift of everlasting glory: John xvii. 24, ‘Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me should be where I am, and behold my glory, for thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world.’ God’s love to Christ, as mediator, was manifested in exalting him to glory, and this everlasting. These are the great expresses of God’s love to Christ, as God incarnate, or appearing in our nature.
Why is it put here?—
[1.] To show the end for which Christ came; to represent the amiableness of God—that he is love, 1 John iv. 8, and hath love for his children. Christ is the pattern of all, for he is first beloved, and the great instance and demonstration of God’s love to the world.
[2.] To intimate the redundancy of this love; it overfloweth to us, for Christ being beloved, we are beloved also: Eph. i. 6, ‘He hath made us accepted in the beloved,’ to the praise of his glorious grace. It is an overflowing love; he is loved, and all that have an interest in him are loved. There is a twofold love in God—the love of benevolence and complacency. The elect from all eternity are loved by God with a love of benevolence, whereby he willed good unto them, and decrees to bestow good upon them; but the love of complacency and delight is that love whereby God accepteth us, delighteth in us, when he hath made us lovely as his own children, reconciled them by the death of Christ, renewed them by the Spirit of Christ, and furnished them with all the graces which make us acceptable to him, and precious in his sight.
[3.] To show the kind and manner of the expressing of his love to 386his redeemed ones. Christ prayed: John xvii. 23, ‘That the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.’ And ver. 26: ‘That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them.’ that is, by the gift of the Spirit and everlasting glory. Though Christ was the beloved. Son, yet his state was but mean and despicable in the world; ‘he was afflicted.’ ‘a man of sorrows.’ pursued to the death, even a shameful, painful, accursed death; yet all this while he was full of the Holy Ghost, of his graces, comforts, and afterwards received to glory; and so will he love us. At this rate and tenor, his love bindeth him not to give us worldly greatness, but if we have the Spirit, and may be welcomed to heaven at the last, we have that which is the true discovery of God’s love. So he manifested his love to the only-begotten Son, and therefore the adopted children should be contented with this love, if by the Spirit they may be enabled to continue with patience in well-doing, till they receive eternal glory and happiness.
3. The next thing is ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα, ‘in whom I am well pleased.’ This is to be interpreted of Christ as mediator, or God incarnate; for this was twice spoken—at Christ’s baptism, Mat. iii. 17, and now at his transfiguration. Both imply his mediatorship; for his baptism had the notion of a dedication; he did then present himself to God as a mediator for us, to be the servant of his decree, as we in baptism dedicate ourselves to fulfil the precepts which belong to us, and as we are concerned to promote his glory in the world. Christ presented himself as a mediator, that is, as a prophet to acquaint us with the way of salvation, as a priest to pay a perfect ransom for us, as a king to give us all things, and defend and maintain all those who submit to his government till their glory be perfected, and they attain unto their final estate of bliss and happiness. Now, then, God from heaven declared himself well pleased; and now, again, when Christ had made some progress in the work, confirmeth it for the assurance of the world.
This, then, must be interpreted:—
[1.] As to Christ.
[2.] As to those who have benefit by him and interest in him.
[1.] As to Christ. He was well pleased; partly, as to the design—the reparation of lost mankind; partly, as to the terms by which it should be brought about; partly, as to the execution and management of it by Christ.
(1.) As to the design. God was well pleased that lapsed mankind should be restored. At the first, God was pleased with his creation, Exod. xxxi. 17. ‘On the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed;’ that is, recreated in the view of his works, as the effects of his wisdom, power, and goodness. And Ps. civ. 31, ‘The Lord shall rejoice in his works.’ The Lord saw all to be good in the beginning and working, not to be repented of. This was God’s rest and Sabbath, to take delight in his works. When he looked on it altogether, behold it was exceeding good; but afterwards man, the ungrateful part of the creation, though the masterpiece of it in this visible and lower world, fell from God his creator, and preferred the creature before him, to his loss and ruin; then God was so far displeased that he had reason to 387wish the destruction of mankind. It is said, Gen. vi. 6, that ‘it repented God that he had made man;’ that is, he was displeased with us, estranged from us, no more contented with us than a man is in what he repenteth of. For, properly, God cannot repent; but this is an expression to show how odious we were grown to him: Ps. xiv. 2, 3, ‘The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and did seek after God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ Alas! there is a lamentable appearance of mankind to God’s sight, now nothing good to be found in them; an universal defection, both in piety and humanity. But then Christ undertook the reparation of mankind, and the design was pleasing to God, that he might not lose the glory of his creation, and all flesh be utterly destroyed: Col. i. 19, 20, ‘It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.’ The restoring of fallen man to friendship with God, and all things tending to it, were highly pleasing to God, namely, that Jesus Christ, the second person in the Trinity, should become a mediator; for that end he had a great affection and liking to this thing: εὐδόκησε, it is the same word used here, the thing is highly pleasing to God, that the breach should be made up; that man, who had lost the image, favour, and fellowship with God, should be again restored, by renewing his heart, reconciling his person, and admitting him again into communion with God, who was so justly provoked by him. God stood in no need of our friendship, nor could any loss come to him by our hatred and enmity; only it pleased the Father to take this way: Isa. liii. 10, for ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the’ Lord shall prosper in his hand.’
(2.) He is pleased with the terms. God, who is the supreme governor of the world, and the offended party, stood upon these terms, that the honour of his governing justice should be secured, and the repentance and reformation of man carried on. Strictly these must be done, or else man must lie under his eternal displeasure; if one be done and not the other, no reconciliation can ensue. Now that God is highly pleased with the satisfaction and compensation made to his governing justice: Heb. x. 6, 7, ‘In burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;’ ver. 10, ‘By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.’ God rejected all other sacrifices, but was fully satisfied with this, as enough to expiate the sin of man. Christ delighted to give it, and God delighted to accept of it. He paid a perfect ransom for us, besides or above which he craved no more, but rested fully content in it. For the other, the renovation of man’s nature, to put him into a capacity to serve and please God, for God would not admit us to privileges without change of heart and disposition: Acts v. 31, ‘God exalted him to be a prince and saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins.’ In short, God is so satisfied with these terms, that (1.) He seeketh no further amends for all their 388wrongs: Rom. iii. 25, ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past;’ (2.) No further price for what they need: 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, ‘Ye are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot and blemish.’ The repentance of a sinner is pleasing to him, there is joy in heaven: Luke xv. 7, ‘Joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that is converted.’ A feast was made at the return of the prodigal: ‘As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner.’ Our conversion is more pleasing to God than our destruction.
(3.) He is pleased with the execution and management of it by Christ. He carried himself in the office of the mediator according to what was enjoined him: John viii. 29, ‘I do always the things that please him.’ John v. 30, ‘I can of myself do nothing; as I hear I judge, and my judgment is just; because I seek not my will, but the will of the Father which sent me.’ And did finish all that was necessary for the redemption of the elect before he died: John xix. 30, ‘When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.’ Evidences of this are his resurrection from the dead: Acts v. 30, 31, ‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.’ Heb. xiii. 20, ‘The God of peace brought again the Lord Jesus from the dead, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.’ As pacified in Christ, ‘received into glory.’ 1 Tim. iii. 16. Certainly God is well pleased, since he hath given not only a discharge, but a reward. The gift of the Spirit, for renewing the heart of man, which is the great pledge of God’s being satisfied: John vii. 39, ‘This he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified;’ a sure evidence that our ransom is paid: Acts v. 32, ‘And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Ghost, which he hath given to them that obey him.’ A sacrifice of infinite value and esteem.
[2.] That he is well pleased with us who have an interest in him. In our natural estate we are all displeasing unto God. Whatever we are in the purpose of his decree, we must look upon ourselves as we are in the sentence of his law; so ‘Children of wrath.’ Eph. ii. 3: ‘Enemies by our minds in evil works.’ Col. i. 21: ‘Estranged from the womb.’ Ps. lviii. 3; so that all of us were cut off from the favour of God, obnoxious to his wrath; this is our miserable condition by nature, that we were no way pleasing to him, ‘for without faith it is impossible to please God.’ Heb. xi. 6. A sinner as a sinner can do nothing acceptable; indeed, God having found a ransom, is placabilis, but not placatus, not actually reconciled to us till we are in Christ; and he is placandus antequam placendus, to be appeased before he can be pleased; he is not actually reconciled till we are in Christ.
(2.) Awakened sinners are not easily satisfied, so as to look upon themselves as pleasing unto God; for the conscience of sin is not easily laid aside, nor is the stain soon got out. And though the grant be 389passed in heaven, yet we have not the sense of it in our own hearts; for it is the blood of Christ can only do it: Heb. ix. 14, ‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’ The carnal offer thousands of rams, and rivers of oil, and ‘the fruit of the body for the sin of their soul,’ Micah vi. 6, 7. They would give anything for a sufficient sin-offering; yea, the renewed and pardoned have not so firm a peace as to be able always to look upon themselves in a state of well-pleasing, therefore often beg that God would dissipate the clouds and cause the light of his countenance to break forth upon them: Ps. lxxx. 19, ‘Turn us, Lord God of hosts; cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.’ So that when there is a grant of pardon, and peace, and access to God, we have not always the sense.
(3.) Yet the ground is laid. As soon as we have an interest in Christ, God is well pleased with us; if you consent to his mediation, and take him in his three offices, as a prophet, priest, and king. As a prophet, hear him; the business is put out of all question, that God will love you because he loved Christ. When you depend on him as a priest, you have reconciliation and access to God: Rom. v. 1, 2, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into the grace wherein we stand.’ When you subject yourselves to him as a king, Col. i. 13, ‘He hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.’ Christ is dear to God, and to him all the subjects of his kingdom are dear also. So that if you will be more explicit in your duty, you may be more explicit in your comforts; if you will receive his doctrine, so as it may have authority over your hearts; if in the anguish of your souls you will depend on the merit of his sacrifice, and give up your selves to live in a constant obedience to his laws; you will find him to be a dear Son indeed, one very acceptable with God, for you also will be accepted with him, for his sake.
II. Concerning the weight and importance of this truth.
1. It is propounded as the foundation upon which God will build his church: Mat. xvi. 16-18, ‘And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’
2. It is the question put to those that would enter upon Christianity: Acts viii. 37, ‘If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest: and he answered and said, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’ When they were serious in the profession, that was enough: 1 John v. 1, ‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.’
3. This engaged the hearts of the disciples to tarry with him when others murmured at his doctrine. He that cleaveth to this profession carrieth himself accordingly, whatever temptations he hath to the contrary: we believe and are Sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
4. For this end the scriptures were written: ‘These things are written, 390that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name,’ John xx. 31. By obedience to his laws, dependence on his promises.
5. This is the ground of submission to Christ in all his offices, why we should hear him as a prophet in this place (which I shall more fully make manifest in the next sermon), why we should depend on him as a priest, for the virtue of his oblation and intercession: ‘If God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ Rom. viii. 32. 1 John iv. 10, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ 1 John ii. 1, ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ The blood of Christ is of high esteem and infinite value, both as to merit and satisfaction, to purchase all manner of blessings for us, and to satisfy God’s provoked justice for our sins. And if the Father be so well pleased with him, what can he not obtain at his hands? which is an encouragement in our prayers and supplications. So for our improvement of his kingly office, which respects duties and privileges; our duty with respect to the kingly office is subjection: Ps. ii. 12, ‘Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and you perish in the midway.’ Because Christ Jesus is the Son of God, he should be submitted unto and embraced with the heartiest love and subjection; for to kiss, is a sign of religious adoration, Hosea xiii. 2; as they kissed the calves, and offer homage and hearty subjection; as Samuel kissed Saul, because God had anointed him to be king over his people, 1 Sam. x. 1. So for privileges; he is God co-equal, coeternal with his Father, able to protect all those that apply themselves to him, till he bring them to eternal glory and happiness; and, therefore, it is said, 1 John v. 5, ‘Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?’ That is the fortifying truth; this both cautioneth us against all the delights and snares, and supports us against all the terrors and fears of the world. If we have the Son of God for our prophet, priest, and king, we ought to carry ourselves with greater reverence, trust, and subjection.
Use 1. Believe it, lay up this truth in your hearts by a firm and sound belief. There are in faith three things—assent, acceptance, dependence. The matter in hand calleth for all these.
[1.] A firm assent; for here we have the testimony of God concerning his Son. The apostle tells us, that ‘he that believeth not hath made God a liar, because he believeth not the testimony of God concerning his Son,’ 1 John v. 10. The great testimony is this, that we have in hand that Jesus is his beloved Son, with whom he is well pleased; that he will give pardon and life to all that hearken to him, embrace his person, receive his doctrine, believe his promises, fear his threats, obey his precepts, the strictest of them. Oh! labour to work it into your hearts that indeed it is so. In matters of fact we receive the testimony of men, two or three credible men; why not in matters of faith?—the testimony of God evidenced to us by this solemn action, an account of which we have from ear-witnesses and eye-witnesses, who were men that hazarded their all for the delivery of this truth, and yet referred us to the surer word of prophecy, 1 Pet. i. 19. He 391was owned as a Son: Ps. ii. 7, ‘Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.’ As a beloved Son, in whom God is well pleased: Isa. xlii. 1 , ‘Behold my servant whom I uphold, my elect in whom my soul delighteth.’ If you be not wanting to yourselves, you may have this witness in your hearts: 1 John v. 10, ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.’ Oh! let us not give the flat lie to God. House up this languid faith. Is this true, or is it a cunningly devised fable?
[2.] Faith is an acceptance of Christ, or an entering into a covenant with God by him. You must have the Son: 1 John v. 12, ‘He that hath the Son hath life.’ John i. 12, ‘As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name.’ Receiving, respects God’s offer. God gives Christ, and we receive what God giveth,—to what end? Why, he giveth him as king, priest, and prophet, to dwell in our hearts by faith, to rule us and guide us by his word and Spirit, and maintain God’s interest in us against the devil, the world, and the flesh, till we come to everlasting glory.
[3.] Dependence. He is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him; therefore on him alone should we depend for all things necessary to salvation. Two things persuade this dependence:
(1.) That nothing can be done without Christ: Acts iv. 12, ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.’ Nothing can be done without Christ that may be effectual to our recovery, either for the paying of our ransom, or for the changing of our hearts. Alas! what could we do to please God, or profit our own souls? The work would cease for ever if it should lie upon our hands.
(2.) That he can do what he pleaseth for the good of his redeemed ones: John xvii. 2, ‘As thou hast given power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.’ All that Christ did for our salvation did highly content and please the Father; he is satisfied with him; he can make us lovely in his sight: Eph. i. 6, ‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’ And will now joy in his people, Isa. lxv. 19, and rest in his love, Zeph. iii. 17. Well, then, let us believe; faith is a ratifying God’s testimony concerning his Son; we believe what God hath said, that Christ is his Son; we receive him as he is freely offered, and subscribe to this declaration. The Father saith from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.’ So penitent believers must answer back again, This is our beloved Redeemer, in whom we are well pleased; let the Father hear him. He hath somewhat to say to the Father as well as to us; his doctrine concerneth us, but his intercession is made to God.
Use 2. Entertain it with thankfulness. That such a remedy should be provided for us argueth the unspeakable love of God: 1 John iv. 9, ‘Tn this was manifested the love of God to us, because that God sent 1m only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live by him.’ That God should bestow his Son upon us to procure our salvation. God tried Abraham’s love in sacrificing his son, but manifested his love to us in sending his own Son; ‘He spared him not, but delivered 392him up for us all.’ Now that such a remedy and ransom is found out for us, it should leave an impression of God’s love on our hearts, that we may love him again who first loved us, 1 John iv. 19. Think nothing too dear for God, who thought no rate too dear to purchase our life and peace. As our salvation was precious to him, let his glory be dear to us; only let me tell you, this love must not be confined to a bare act of our reason, but you must pray to God to shed abroad this love in your hearts by the Holy Spirit, Rom. v. 5, that so you may study to love and please God, prize Christ and his precious benefits above all things in the world, and live to him who died for you, that you may feel the constraining efficacy and force of love.
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