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of glory itself, it communicates glory to all that behold it aright. It gives them a glorious robe of righteousness; their God is their glory; it calls them to glory and virtue; it gives them the spirit of God and of glory; it gives them joy unspeakable and full of glory here, and an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory hereafter.
It communicates a glory to all other objects, according as they have any relation to it: it adorns the universe; it gives a lustre to nature, and to providence. It is the greatest glory of this lower world. that its Creator was for a while its inhabitant. A poor landlord thinks it a lasting honour to his cottage, that he has once lodged a Prince or Emperor; with how much more reason may our poor cottage, this earth, be proud of it, that the Lord of glory was its tenant from his birth to his death; yea that he rejoiced in the habitable parts of it, before it had a beginning, even from everlasting, Prov. viii. 31.
It is the glory of the world, that he who formed it dwelt on it; of the air, that he breathed in it; of the sun, that it shone on him; of the ground, that it bore him; of the sea that he walked on it; of the elements, that they nourished him; of the waters, that they refreshed him; of us men, that he lived and died among us, yea that he lived and died for us; that he assumed our flesh and blood, and carried it to the highest heavens, where it shines as the eternal ornament and wonder of the creation of God. It gives also a lustre to providence. It is the chief event that adorns the records of time, and enlivens the history of the universe. It is the glory of the various great lines of providence, that they point at this as their centre; that they prepared the way for its coming; that after its coming they are subservient to the ends of it; though in a way indeed to us at present mysterious, and unsearchable. Thus we know that they either fulfil the promises of the crucified Jesus, or his threatenings; and shew either the happiness of receiving him, or the misery of rejecting him.
GOD'S CHIEF MERCY.
ROMANS Viii. 32.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
T is certainly no small defect in our meditations
on the work of redemption, and perhaps too common to think we do justice to it, by considering it merely as a very great mercy. Every mercy from the sovereign Lawgiver of the world to such transgressors of his laws, even the least mercy, is a great mercy. To put this in the same rank with others, with any temporal mercy, with any other spiritual or other eternal mercies, to put it on a level with them in our meditations, our prayers, our praises, on pretence of honouring it, is a real indignity to it. It is evident from Scripture we are always in the wrong to it, unless we consider it, not only as a very great mercy, but as absolutely the greatest of all mercies; not only as a high manifestation of love, but as the highest; not only as an excellent gift, but as the chief gift. And if this be God's chief gift, it follows plainly, that gratitude for it is our chief duty, ingratitude for it is our chief sin itself should
be our chief joy and delight, the chief object of our thoughts and affections, our esteem and desire, that in all things it may have the pre-eminence, be chief in all, and all in all.
As the due contemplation of it is in a special manner our principal work at this occasion, so its transcendency over all other mercies is one of the most suitable views we can have of it, and the text before us one of the fittest Scriptures to give us that view of it.
The prospect the apostle takes of it in the context is very large and comprehensive. He looks back as: far as the first blessed design and purpose of it before the foundation of the world, even from everlasting, and pursues the bright and joyful prospect in its consequences beyond the end of the world, even to everlasting. No wonder such a view of such an object makes him in a manner pause and stop, as overwhelmed with the greatness of the prospect, and as at a loss for words, ver. 31. What shall we say to these things? He speaks, inspired by the Spirit of God; but he is speaking of the love of God, and he is speaking in the language of men. The same apostle when he is praying for the Ephesians, (Eph. iii. 16. 19.) that they might be strengthened by the Spirit to know the love of Christ, after all the Spirit's srengthening of them, says, it passeth knowledge.. Not that any thing can surpass the strength of the Spirit, which is infinite, but the capacity of the creature, which is necessarily finite; and what passes. knowledge must needs surpass all expression. All great objects naturally cause difficulty of expression, and perplex the speaker. The apostle Peter, in the mount of transfiguration, was under such a blessed perplexity of joy and wonder at the view of Christ's glory that he knew not what he said. This other apostle, at the view of Christ's love and its fruits, has at least as much cause to be at a loss what to say to that love and those blessings contained in it: His expression is like that of the author of these blessings, at
the view of the sufferings that purchased them, John xii. 27. Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? No wonder than all the world be troubled what to say, when he who spoke as never man spoke, is so; and no wonder the greatest saints so oft express their gratitude for God's goodness, by acknowledging they cannot express it. What shall we render to the Lord? and, what can David say more? We can render nothing, and we can say or think but very little; yet are we not therefore to say or think nothing; our hearts and tongues would then be useless. We may turn the expression to, What shall we not say? or what shall we not think? There is no want of matter for language, but want of language enough for the matter. It is our duty to say all we can, to say our utmost. This is what the apostle does in our text, he spared not his own Son, &c. And then indeed might the apostle say as David did, What can Paul say more? He had before broke out in admiration at the number and greatness of God's blessings; but now as it were recollecting himself, he shews that though believers receive all things from God, yet in some sense they have but one thing to wonder at, and that after receiving the gift of his Son, they need not doubt nor wonder at any thing else; yea the wonder would be, if after that, any thing else would be withheld.
In the words we have therefore; First, An account of God's chief gift: Secondly, The connexion between that gift and all others.
First, An account of God's chief gift, He spared not his own Son, &c.
The word sparing has such a double signification in the original, as well as in our language, that the meaning of the apostle's expression may be either, that God did not withhold so great sufferings from Christ, or so great a benefit from us. But it is not very needful to make a distinction here, since his sufferings were for our benefit, and he was given to us when he was delivered up to justice. As to the mean
ing of his being delivered up for us all, what we are' chiefly concerned to consider here is, that the free offer of that gift extends to all to whom it is revealed, and the saving virtue of it to all by whom that offer is embraced: and there is nothing more just than that they who reject it, should get no saving benefit by it.
Secondly, The connexion between this gift and all others. Where we may consider separately, 1st, The vast extent of the privileges of believers. 2dly, The manner they receive them. 3dly, The ground of the connexion between the chief gift and all others.
1st, The vast extent of the privileges of believers, all things. We have the like expression in several other scriptures, Rev. xxi. 7. 1 Cor. iii. 22. Every thing that contributes to our good, we may in some sense call ours: And this the apostle tells us, (a little before the text, v. 26.) is what the believer may say of all things. On this account necessary afflic tions and fatherly chastisements are none of the least privileges, and accordingly are contained in the covenant as promises, though we are very ready, absurdly enough, to understand them for threatenings.
Some of those pretended wise men among the Heathens, whom the apostle elsewhere speaks of, (Rom. i: 22. 1 Cor. i. 20.) and who opposed Christianity, (Acts xvii. 18.) taught that it was impossible their virtuous man should be a poor man, because, placing virtue in renouncing all desires, he who desired: nothing, would want nothing. But this was the language of pride, and the most wilful delusion.
2dly, The words of the text teach us the manner how all things are given to believers, viz. freely. God gives all things with Christ, and therefore gives all things freely. We are told, Psal. lxviii 18. how Christ received gifts; but it is not said he received them freely. Never gifts were purchased at a dearer rate, or more freely given to others. Believers are bought with a price: but both price and purchase are