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to assume human nature, which becoming thereby peculiarly his, own, he might dispose of it to what end he pleased, saving the union which ensued on its assumption, for this was indissoluble, Again, some things are made lawful or good, or suited to the glory, honour or satisfaction, and complacency of them that make the covenant, by virtue of somewhat arising in or from the covenant itself. And of this sort are most of the things that are disposed in the covenant, under consideration between the Father and the Son. They become good and desirable, and suited unto their glory and honour, not as considered absolutely and in themselves, but with respect to that order, dependence, and mutual relation that they are cast into, by and in the covenant.
Such was the penal suffering of the human nature of Christ under the sentence and curse of the law. This in itself absolutely considered, without respect unto the ends of the covenant, would neither have been good in itself, nor have had any tendency unto the glory of God. For what excellency of the na. ture of God could have been demonstrated in the penal sufferings of one absolutely, and in all respects innocent ? Nay, it was utterly impossible that an innocent person, considered absolutée ly as such, should suffer penally under the sentence and curse of the law. For the law denounceth punishment unto no such person. Guilt and punishment are related, and where the one is not real, or supposed, or imputed, the other cannot be. But now in the terms of this covenant, leading to the limitations and use of these sufferings, they are made good, and tend to the glory of God, as we shall see. So the pardoning and saving of sinners absolutely, could have had no tendency to the glory of God. For what evidence of righteousness would there have been herein, that the great Ruler of all the world should pass by the offences of men without animadverting upon them? What justice would have appeared, or what demonstration of the holiness of the nature of God would there have been therein ? Besides it was impossible, seeing it is the judgment of God, that they who commit sin are worthy of death. But, as we shall see, through the terms and conditions of this covenant, this is rendered righteous, holy and good, and eminently conducive to the glory of God.
$ 15. The matter of this covenant, or the things and ends about whịch, and for which it was entered into, are next to be considered. These are the things which, as we observed before, are to be disposed of unto the honour, and, as it were, mutual advantage of them that make the covenant. And the matter of this covenant in general is the saving of sinners, in and by ways and means suited to the manifestation of the glory of God. So, it is compendiously expressed, where the execution of it is de
clared, John iii. 16. “ God so loved the world, that he only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And upon the coming of the Son into the world, he was called Jesus, because he was “ to save his people from their sins,” Matt. i. 21. “ Even Jesus the Deliverer, who saves us from the wrath to come,” 1 Thess. i. 10. To declare this design of God, or his will and purpose in and by Jesus Christ to save his elect from sin and death, to bring his many sons to glory, or to the full enjoyment of himself to eternity, is the principal design of the whole Scripture, and whereunto the whole revelation of God unto men may be reduced. This was that on the prospect whereof the Son or Wisdom of God rejoiced before him, and had his delights with the children of men before the foundation of the world, Prov. viii. 30, 31. Man having utterly lost himself by sin, and coming short thereby of the glory of God, and having become ob. noxious to everlasting destruction, the prævision whereof was in order of nature antecedent to this covenant, as hath been declared; the Father and Son do enter into a holy and mutual agreement, concerning the recovery and salvation of the elect in a way of grace. This we state as the matter of this covenant, the thing contracted and agreed about. The distinction of the parts of it into persons and things, the order and respect in it of one thing to another, are not the subjects of our present consideration. The explanation of them belongs to the covenant of grace, which God is pleased to enter into with believers by Jesus Christ. But this was that in general, that was to be disposed of, to the mutual complacency and satisfaction of Father and Son.
$ 16. The end of these things, both of the covenant, and of the disposition of all things made thereby, was the especial glory both of the one and the other. God doth all things for himself. He can have no ultimate end in any thing but himself alone, unless there should be any thing better than Irimself, or above himself. But vet in himself he is not capable of any accession of glory, by any thing that he intendeth or doth. He is absolutely, infinitely, eternally perfect in himself and all his glorious properties, so that nothing can be added to him. His end therefore must be, not the obtaining of glory unto himself, but the manifestation of the glory that is in himself. When the holy properties of his nature are exercised in external works, and are thereby expressed, declared, and madę known, then is God glorified. The end therefore in general of this covenant, which regulated the disposal of the whole matter of it, was the exercise, exaltation and manifestation of the glorious properties of the divine nature; other supreme and ultimate end it could have none, as hath been declared. Now such is the mutual respect of all the holy properties of God in their exercise, and such their oneness in the same divine Being, that if any one of them be exerted, manifested, and thereby glorified, the residue of them must be therein and thereby glorified also, because that nature is glorified which they are, and whereunto they do belong. But yet in several particular works of God, his design is first, immediately and directly, to exercise in a peculiar and eminent manner, and therein to advance and glorify one or more of his glorious properties, and the rest consequentially in and by them. So, in some of his works, he doth peculiarly glorify justice, in some mercy, in some his power. We may therefore, as to the end of this holy eternal compact, consider what are those properties of the divine nature which were peculiarly engaged in it, and are peculiarly exerted in its execution, and were therefore designed to be exalted in a peculiar manner. Now these are three : 1. Wisdom attended with sovereignty. 2. Justice springing from holiness. 3. Grace, mercy, goodness, love, which are various denominations of the same divine excellency.
That this covenant sprang from these properties of the divine nature, that the execution of it is the work and effect of them all, and that it is designed to manifest and glorify them, or God in and by them unto eternity, the Scripture doth fully declare.
First, The infinite sovereign Wisdom of God, even the Father, exerted itself: 1. In passing by the angels in their fallen condition, and fixing on the recovery of man, Heb. ii. 16. 2 Pet. ii. 4. Jude 6. 2. In the projection or provision of the way in general to bring about the salvation of man, by the interposition of his Son, with what he did and suffered in the pursuit hereof, Acts ii. 23. iv. 28. 3. In the disposal of all things in that way, in such an holy and glorious order, so as that marks and footsteps of infinite divine Wisdom should be imprinted ort every part and passage of il, 1 Cor. i. 23-31. Rom. xi. 3336. Eph. iii. 10, 11.
Secondly, His justice accompanied with or springing from holiness, gave as it were the especial determination unto the way to be insisted on for the accomplishment of the end aimed at; and it was effectually exerted in the execution of it. For upon a supposition that God would pardon and save sinners, it was his eternal justice which required that it should be brought about by the sufferings of the Son, and was itself expressed and exercised in those sufferings, as we shall afterwards more fully declare, Rom. iii. 25, 26. Rom. vii. 3. Gal. iii. 13. 2 Cor. v. 21.
Thirdly, Grace, love, goodness or mercy, chiefly induced to the whole. And these the Scriptures most commonly cast the work upon, or resolve it into. See John iii. 16, 17. Rom. v. 8. xi. 6. 1 Cor. i. 29–31. Eph. i. 5-7. iii. 7, 8. In these things, in the exercise, manifestation and exaltation of these glorious excellencies of the divine nature, with their effects in and upon the obedience of angels and men, doth consist that peculiar glory which God, even the Father, aims at in this covenant; and which supplies the place of that security or advantage, which amongst men is intended in such compacts.
§ 17. There must also moreover be an especial and peculiar honour of the Son, the other party covenanting, intended therein; and was so accordingly, and is in like manner accomplished. And this was twofold: 1. What he had conjunct with the Father, as he is of the same nature with him, over all, God blessed for ever. For on this account the divine excellencies before mentioned belong to him, or are his; and in their exaltation is he exalted. But as his undertaking herein was peculiar, so he was to have a peculiar honour and glory thereby, not as God, but as the Mediator of the covenant of grace,
which sprang from hence. For the accomplishment of the ends of this covenant, as we shall see, he parted for a season with the glory of his interest in these divine perfections, emptying him- : self, or making of himself of no reputation, Phil. ii. 7-9. And he was to have an illustrious recovery of the glory of his interest in them, when he was declared to be the “ Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead,” Rom. i. 4. when he was again glorified with the Father," with that glory which he had with him before the world was," John xvii. 3. namely, that peculiar glory which he had, and assumed upon his undertaking to be a Saviour and Redeemer to mankind; then when his delights were with the sons of men, and he rejoiced before the Father, and was his delight on that account.
And this, 2dly, was attended with that peculiar glorious exaltation, which in his human nature he received, upon the accomplishment of the terms and conditions of this covenant. What this glory was, and wherein it doth consist, I have manifested at large in the exposition on ch. i. ver. 3. See Isa. liii. 12. Psal. cx. 6. Psal. ii. 8, 9. Zech. ix. 10. Psal. Ixxii. S. Rom. xiv. 11. Isa. xlv. 23. Matt. xxviii. 18. Phil. ii. 10. Heb. xii. 2. &c.
$ 18. The manner how these things were to be accomplished, that is, the condition and limitation of this covenant, as it had respect to a prescription of personal obedience and promises of reward, is lastly to be considered. For herein lies the occasion and spring of the priesthood of Christ, which we are inquiring after. And this sort of covenants hath most affinity to those relations which are constituted by the law of nature. For every natural relation, such as that of father and children, of man and wife, contains in it a covenant with respect to personal
services and rewards. Now things were so disposed in this covenant, that on the account of bringing sinners unto obedience and glory, (to the honour of God the Father, and to the peculiar and especial honour or glory that was proposed unto himself,) that he, the Son, should do and undergo in his own person, all and every thing which in the wisdom, righteousness, holiness and grace of God, was requisite or necessary to that end; provided that the presence and assistance of the Father was with him, and that he accepted of him and his works.
I shall a little invert the order of these things, that I may not have occasion to return again to them, after we are engaged in our more peculiar design. We may therefore, in the first place, consider the promises that in this compact or covenant were made unto the Son upon his undertaking of this work, although they more naturally depend on the prescription of duty and work made unto him. But we may consider them as encouragements to the susception of the work. And these promises were of two sorts. 1. Such as concerned his Person. 2. Such as concerned the prosperity of the work which he undertook. Those also which concerned his Person immediately, were of two sorts. 1. Such as concerned his assistance in his work. 2. Such as concerned his acceptance and glory after his work.
1. The Person of the Son of God, not absolutely considered, but with respect to his future incarnation, is a proper object of divine promises. And so was he now considered, even as an undertaker for the execution and establishment of this covenant; or as he became the minister of God to confirm the truth of the promises made afterwards to the fathers, Rom. xv. 8. And herein he had promises,
1. As to his assistance. The work he undertook to accomplish, as it was great and glorions, so also it was difficult and arduous. It is known from the gospel what he did and what he suffered, what straits, perplexities, and agonies of soul he was reduced to in his work. All this he foresaw in his first engagement, and thereon by his Spirit foretold what should befal him, Psal. xxii. Isa. liii. 1 Pet. i. 11. Whatever opposition hell and the world, which were to prevail unto the bruising of his heel, could make against the Son of God, acting in the frail nature of man, he was to encounter. Whatever the law and the curse of it could bring on offenders, he was to undergo it. Hence in that nature, he stood in need of the presence of God with him, and of his divine assistance. This therefore was promised unto him, in respect whereunto he placed his trust and confidence in God, even the Father, and called upon him in all his distresses, see Isa. xlii. 4. 6. Psal. xvi. 10, 11. Psal. xxii, Psal. Ixxxix. 25, Isa. 1. 5-9. This God promised him, and