« ForrigeFortsæt »
corruption of nature that followed from it; and these generas tions, by which the human race is propagated, shall continue to the end of the world. These two are the limits of the generations of men on the earth; the fall of man, and the end of the world, or the day of judgment. The same are the limits of the work of redemption, as to those progressive works of God, by which that redemption is brought about and accomplished, though not as to the fruits of it ; for they shall be to eternity.
The work of redemption and the work of salvation are the same thing. What is sometimes in scripture called God's saving his people, is in other places called his redeeming them. So Christ is called both the Saviour and the Redeemer of his people.
Before entering on the proposed History of the Work of Redemption, I would explain the terms made use of in the doctrine ;-and show what those things are that are designed to be accomplished by this great work of God.
First. I would show in what sense the terms of the doctrine are used ;—particularly the word redemption ;—and, how this is a work of God, carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world.
I. The use of the word redemption.--And here it may be observed, that the work of redemption is sometimes understood in a more limited sense, for the purchase of salvation ; for the word strictly signifies, a purchase of deliverance. If we take the word in this restrained sense, the work of redemption was not so long in doing ; but was begun and finished with Christ's humiliation. It was begun with Christ's incarnation, carried on through his life, and finished with the time of his remaining under the power of death, which ended in his resurrection. And so we say, that on the day of his resurrection Christ finished the work of redemption, i. e. then the purchase was finished, and the work itself, and all that appertained to it, was' virtually done and finished, but not actually.
But sometimes the work of redemption is taken more largely, as including all that God accomplishes tending to this end ; not only the purchase itself, but also all God's works that were properly preparatory to the purchase, and accomplishing the success of it.
. So that the whole dispensation, as it includes the preparation and purchase, the application and success of Christ's redemption, is here called the work of redemption. All that Christ does in this great affair as mediator, in any of his offices, either of prophet, priest, or king; either when he was in this world, in his human nature, or þefore or since. And it includes not only what Christ the
mediator has done, but also what the Father, or the Holy Ghost, have done, as united or confederated in this design of redeeming sinful men ; or, in one word, all that is wrought in execution of the eternal covenant of redemption. This is what I call the work of redemption in the doctrine; for it is all but one work, one design. The various dispensations or works that belong to it, are but the several parts of one scheme. It is but one design that is formed, to which all the offices of Christ directly tend, and in which all the persons of the Trinity conspire. All the various dispensations that belong to it are united ; and the several wheels are one machine, to answer onc end, and produce onc effect.
II. When I say, this work is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world ; in order to the full understanding of my meaning in it, I would desire two or three things to be observed.
1. Tbat it is not meant, that nothing was done in order to it before the fall of man. Some things were done before the world was created, yea from eternity. The persons of the Trinity were, as it were, confederated in a design, and a covenant of redemption. In this covenant the Father had appointed the Son, and the Son had undertaken the work; and all things to be accomplished in the work were stipulated and agreed. There were things done at the creation of the world, in order to that work; for the world itself seems to have been created in order to it. The work of creation was in order to God's works of providence. So that if it be inquired, which are greatest, the works of creation or those of providence? I answer, the works of providence; because those of providence are the end of his works of creation; as the building of a house, or the forming of a machine, is for
But God's main work of providence is this of redemption, as will more fully appear hereafter.
The creation of heaven was in order to the work of redemption; as an habitation for the redeemed; Matth. xxv. 34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Even the angels were
. created to be employed in this work. And therefore the apostle calls them, ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation : Heb. i. 14. As to this lower world, it was doubtless created to be a stage upon wbich this great and wonderful work of redemption should be transacted : and therefore, as might be shown, in many respects this lower world is wisely fitted, in its formation, for such a state of man as he is in since the fall, under a possibility of redemption. So that when it is said, that the work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the end
of the world, it is not meant, that all that ever was done in order to redemption has been done since the fall. Nor,
2. Is it meant that there will be no remaining fruits of this work after the end of the world. That glory and blessedness that will be the sum of all the fruits, will remain to all the saints for ever. The work of redemption is not a work always doing and never accomplished. The fruils of it are eternal, but the work has an issue. In the issue the end will be obtained; which end will last for ever. As those things which were in order to this work-God's electing love, and the covenant of redemption-never had a beginning ; so the fruits of this work neyer will have an end. And therefore,
3. When it is said in the doctrine, that this is a work that God is carrying on from the fall of man to the end of the world, what I mean is, that those things which belong to this work itself, and are parts of the scheme, are all this while accomplishing. There were some things done preparatory to its beginning, and the fruits of it will remain after it is finished. But the work itself was begun immediately upon the fall, and will continue to the end of the world. The various dispensations of God during this space, belong to the same work, and to the same design, and have all one issule; and therefore are all to be reckoned but as several successive motions of one machine, to bring about in the conclusion one great event.
And here also we must distinguish between the parts of redemption itself, and the parts of the work by which that redemption is wrought out. There is a difference between ihe parts of the benefits, and the parts of the work of God by which those benefits were procured and bestowed. For example, the redemption of Israel out of Egypt, considered as the benefit which they enjoyed, consisted of two parts, viz. their deliverance from their former Egyptian bondage and misery, and their being brought into a more liappy state, as the servants of God, and heirs of Canaan. But there are many more ubings which are parts of that work. To this belongs his calling of Moses, bis sending him to Pharaoli, and all the sigus and wonders he wrought in Egypt, and bis bringing such terrible judgments on the Exyptians, and many other things.
Such is this work hy which God effects redemption, and it is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world, in two respects.
1. With respect to the effect wrought on the souls of the redeemed; which is common to all ages. This effect is the application of redemption with respect to the souls o particular persons, in converting, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying them. By these things they are actually redeemned, and receive the benefit of the work in its effects. And in this
sense the work of redemption is carried on in all ages, from the fall of man to the end of the world. The work of God in converting souls, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, raising dead souls to life, and rescuing te miserable captives out of the hands of Satan, was begun oon after the fall of man, has been carried on in the world over since to this day, and will be to the end of the world. God has always had such a church in the world. Though ctentimes it has been reduced to a very narrow compass, and to low circumstances; yet it has never wholly failed.
And as God carries on the work of converting the souls of fallen men through all ages, so he go6 on to justify them, to blot out all their sins, and to acceptthem as righteous in his sight, through the righteousness of Cirist. He goes on to adopt and receive them from being the children of Satan, to be his own children; to carry on the wok of his grace which he has begun in them, to comfort them with the consolations of his Spirit, and to bestow upon them, vhen their bodies die, that eternal glory which is the fruit of Christ's purchase. What is said, Rom. viii. 30. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, thim he also justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glorifi:d ;-is applicable to all ages, from the fall to the end of the world.
And the way of eff cting this, is carried on by repeating continually the same work over again, though in different persons, from age to age. But,
2. The work of redemption with respect to the grand design in general, as it respects the universa subject and end, is carried on-not merely by repeating or renewing the same eff ct in the different subjects of it, but-by many successive works and dispensations of God, all tending to one great effect, united as the several parts of a scheme, and all together making up one great work. Like a temple that is building ; first, the workinen are sent forth, then the materials are gathered, the ground is fitted, and the foundation laid; then the superstructure is erected, one part after another, till at length the top-stone is laid, and all is finished. Now the work of redemption in this large sense, may be compared to such a building. God began it immediately after the fall, and will proceed to the end of the world. Then shall the top-stone be brought forth, and all will appear complete and glorious.
This work is carried on in the former respect, as being an effect common to all ages; and in the latter respect-the grand Jesign in general--not only by that which is common to all a es, but by successive works wrought in different ages. All are parts of one great scheme, whereby one work is brought about by various steps, one stip in one age, and another in another. It is this last that I shall chiefly insist upon, though
not excluding the former; for one necessarily supposcs the other.
Having thus explained what I mean by the terras of the doctrine; I now pnceed,
SECONDLY, to how what is the design of this great work, or what things are dsigned to be accomplished by it. In order to see how any desiền is carried on, we must first know what it is. To know forinstance, how a workman proceeds, and to understand the various steps he takes in order to accomplish a piece of work, we need io be informed what he intends to accomplish ; othervise we may stand by, seeing him do one thing after another and be quite puzzled, because we sce nothing of his schme. Suppose an architect, with a great number of hands, vere building some great palace; and one that was a stranger to such things should stand by, and see some men digging in the arth, others bringing timber, others bewing stones, and the like; he might see that there was a great deal done, but if he knew not the design, it would all appear to him confusion. And therefore, that the great works and dispensations of God which belong to this great affair of redemption may not appear like confusion to you, I would set before you briefly the main things designed to be accomplished.
I. It is to put all God's enemies under his feet, and that his goodness may finally appear triumphant over all evil. Soon after the world was created, evil entered into the world in the
, fall of the angels and man. Presently after God had made rational creatures, there were enemies who rose up against him from among them; and in the fall of man evil entered into this lower world; where also God's enemies rose up against him. Satan endeavoured to frustrate his design in the creation of this lower world, to destroy his workmanship, to wrest the government of it out of his hands, to usurp the throne, and set up bimself as the God of this world, instead of him who made it. To these ends he introduced sin into the world'; and having made man God's enemy, he introduced guilt, and death, and the most dreadful misery.
Now one great design of God, in the affair of redemption, was to subdue those enemies. 1 Cor. xv. 25. . He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. Things were originally so planned, that he might disappoint, confound, and triumph over Satan; and that he might be bruised under Christ's feet, Gen. iii. 15. The promise was given, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. It was a part of God's original design in this work, to destroy the works of the devil, and confound him in all his purposes : 1 John iii. 8. For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. It was a part of his design to triumph over sin, and over the corruptions