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God for ever manifesting himself in him and to him, according to this divine union.
This is that glorious piece of human nature, that one man, whom God has chosen, from all the rest of mankind, to bring so near to himself. This is that flesh, and that soul, which were chosen by God the Father's decree, from among all possible, and all future Heshi and souls, to be made for ever one with God : and they are for ever one. This wondrous union has, and must have everlasting pleasure in it, vastly beyond our nearest unions and approaches to God even in our most exalted state in grace or glory. This is an approach to God indeed, and blessed is the man whom thou hast thus chosen, O Lord, and thus caused to approach unto thee, that he may dwell, not only in thy courts, but in thy bosom, in thyself for ever and ever : Blessed is this man, and may he be for ever blessed ! *
2. His knowledge of God is much more intimate, more extensive, and more perfect, than any other creature can attain : for as he is exalted to the bighest station and dignity that can belong to a creature, so we may be assured the all-wise God has furnished him with faculties of the noblest capacity, answerable to so exalted a station; and Christ has the highest advantage to fill all those capacities with inconceivable treasures of knowledge, by dwelling so near to God, and being so intimately united to Divine Wisdom. The sublime furniture of his understanding is vastly superior to all that we know, or can know; for our union to God is but a distant copy, his is the bright, but inimitable original. Our nearness to God bears no proportion to that of the man Jesus ; for his union to the godhead is of a superior kind. He has therefore a vaster comprehension of all truth, and a sweeter relish in the survey of it, than any created spirit, angelic or human; and thereby this part of his blessedness becomes far superior to theirs.
3. All the outgoings of his holy soul towards God, all his desires, his love, and delight, are more noble in their kind, and more intense in their degree, than those of any other creature. He who dwells so near to godhead, sees vastly more beauty, excellency, and loveliness in the Deity, than men or angels can do at their distance; and therefore his love is raised to unknown heights and raptures.
* I know the word blessed, when it is applied to God or Christ, gene. rally signifies, that they are the objects of our blessing or praise, and it is thus translated from the originals, zina or evacyntos: But in our tongue this word signifies also happy, aod the original words "qwx and Manaçı@ are frequently rendered blessed, to signify happiness, as io my text. Though, if our trans. lators had always observed the distinction, the precise seose of the original bad beller appeared.
All his worship of the Father consists of nobler acts, and nearer approaches, than it is possible for any other creature to perform or partake of. Jesus, the man, worshipped here on earth, and he worships above in glory: He loves the go thead, as infinitely more amiable than himself; he trusts in it as more powerful; acknowledges God is above him in every glory, in every beauty infinitely superior to him; and this is divine worship; for a creature is still beneath God, and the acknowledgment of it is the worship due from him. Now Christ pays this acknowledgment with greater humility than the meanest worm of the race of Adam ; for the nearer he is to God, the better he knows the true distance of a creature; and because he does it with greater humility, therefore with sweeter delight; for the lower a creature lies before God, the nearer doth God approach it. The High and Holy One, who inhabiteth eternity, and dwelleth in the high and holy place, dwelleth also with the humble soul; Is. lvii. 15. But this leads me to a farther degree, of the blessedness of the man Christ Jesus; and that is,
4. He hath a fuller, a richer, and a more transporting sense of the love of God, since God makes nearer approaches to him, and discovers more of his infinite goodness, and communicates more of his love. We may venture to say, that God loves the human nature of Christ better than he does any other creature ; and this human nature has a stronger, and more intimate consciousness of the divine love, and a sweeter sensation of it, than saints or angels can have, because of the personal union between the son of man and the eternal God : which union, though we know not precisely what it is, yet, we know to be sufficient to give him the name Emmanuel, God with us; which distinguishes it most gloriously from all our unions to God, and raises his dignity, his character, and his advantages, even as a man, to so sublime a degree above that of all other creatures.
By his exaltation, and his dwelling so near to God, his powers are inconceivably enlarged, and made capable of taking in higher degrees of felicity. Sights of God stretch the faculties of the soul, and enlarge it to receive more of God; this eternal sight has our Redeemer. We see the glory of God chiefly in the face of Christ Jesus his Son, but he sees the glory of God in his own face and brightness, Christ himself is the brightness of his Father's glory; Heb. i. 2, 3.
5. As Christ is the medium of our nearness to God, as he is the head of all those who approach to God, and the Mediator through whom all approach, so his blessedness is above ours; for in some sense, and by way of eminence, he enjoys and feels all that we enjoy and feel, and vastly more too; for he is the medium through which we approach and we enjoy, as well as a person who himself, and for himself, approaches and enjoys : As when a stream of wine or living water is conveyed from the spring by a pipe or channel, the pipe has a tincture of the rich liquor as it flows; so, if it be lawful to illustrate things heavenly and divine, by things on carth, and to bring them down to our ideas by material sinilitudes, our Lord Jesus, who is authorised to confer life and joy on the saints, and through whom all grace, glory, and blessedness, are conveyed to them, feels, and tastes, and relishes, eminently and in a superior manner, all the joy and the blessedness that he conveys to our souls; and all better than we can do, for he is nearer the fountain; he takes a divine and unknown satisfaction in every blessing which he communicates to us. Besides all this, there are some richer streams that terminate and end in himself; the peculiar privileges and pleasures of the good man, while others flow through him, as the head, down to all his members, and give him the first relish of their sweetness.
When Christ, at the head of all the clect saints, shall at the great day draw near to the Father, and say, Here am I and the children thou hast giren me; those blessed ones whom thou hast chosen, that they may approach unto thee by me; I have often approached to thee for them, and behold I now approach with them to the courts of thy upper house. What manner of joy and glory shall this be! How unspeakably blessed is our Lord Jesus; and we rejoice with wonder!
[This sermon may be divided here.] Fifth, or supreme degree of Blessedness.-V. Our admiration may be raised yet higher, if we make one excursion beyond all created nature, and lift our thoughts upward to the blessedness of the three glorious persons in the trinity* All their infinite and unknown pleasures are derived from their ineffable union and communion in one godhead, their inconceivable nearness to each other in the very centre and spring of all felicity. They are inseparably and intimately one with God; they are eternally one God, and therefore eternally blessed; 1 John v. 7. For there are three that bear record in heuven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are one ; which text I believe to be authentic and divine, and that upon just reasons, notwithstanding all the cavils and criticisms that have endeavoured to blot it out of the bible. Nor is their blessedness, or their nearness, a dull inactive state: Knowledge and mutual love make up their heaven, so far as mortals dare conceive of it, and so far as we have leave to speak of God after the manner of men.
* See the note toward the end of this part of the sermon, p. 151,
First, Knowledge.--An eternal blissful contemplation of all the infinite beauties, powers, and properties of godhead, and of all the operations of these powers in an inconceivable variety among creatures, is the glorious employment of God. His own knowledge of infinite truths, whether wrapt up in his own nature, or unfolded and displayed in his works, is a pleasure becoming the Deity; and each sacred person possesses this unknown pleasure.
And besides the general glories of the divine nature, we may suppose, that a full and comprehensive knowledge of the sameness, the difference, the special properties, and the mutual relations of the three divine persons, which are utterly incomprehensible to mortals, and perhaps far above the reach of all created minds, is the incommunicable entertainment of the holy Trinity, and makes a part of their blessedness. In reference to this mystery, God may be said to dwell in thick darkness; I Kings viii. 12. or, which is all one, in light inaccessible ; 1 Tim. vi. 16. We are lost in this glorious, this divine abyss, and overcome with dazzling confusion : But the ever blessed Three behold these unities and distinctions in the clearest light. As the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father, saith Jesus the eternal Son; John X. 15. And as the spirit of a man knoweth the things of a man, so the things of God are known to his own Spirit, for he searcheth the depths of "God; 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. as it is expressed in the original, tá Blon ta 08.
But God's contemplation, or knowledge of himself, is not his only pleasure, for God is love; 1 John iv. 8. He has an infinite propensity towards himself
, and an inconceivable complacence in his own powers and perfections, as well as in all the outgoings of them toward created natures. His love being most wise and perfect, must exert itself toward the most perfect object, and the chiefest good; and that in a degree answerable to its goodness too : Therefore he can love nothing in the same degree with himself, because he can find no equal good.
May we not therefore suppose the blessedness of the sacred Three to consist also in mutual love? May I call it a perpetual delightful tendency, and active propensity toward each other? An eternal approach to each other with infinite complacency? An eternal embrace of each other with arms of inimitable love and with sensations of unmeasurable joy? Thus saith the Son of God under the character of divine wisdom ; Prov. viii. 23, 30. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. Then was I by him as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him. As the Father loveth the Son, so the Son loveth the Father. As the Father delights infinitely in his perfect image, so may we not venture
to say, the Son takes infinite delight in the glorious archetype, and thus imitates the Father? Will not the expressions of the apostle Paul; Heb. i. 3. and the words of Christ himself; John v. 19, 20. encourage and support this manner of speaking? He is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the erpress image of his person: The Father loveth the Son, and shexeth him all things that himself doeth: and what things soever he seeth the Father do, these also doth the Son likewise. And this seems to be the first founda. tion of those glorious offices of raising the dead, and judging the world, which in the following verses are committed to the Son, that all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father ;
As the blessed Three have an unknown communion in the Godhead, or divine nature, so they must have an unspeakable nearness to one another's persons, an inconceivable in-being and in-dwelling in each other. John xiv, 10. I in the Father, and
I the Father in me. Each is near to the two other divine subsistences, and this mutual nearness must be attended with delight and felicity unknown to all but the blessed Three who enjoy it. O glorious and divine communion! The Father for ever near to his own image the Son, and herein blessed! The Son never divided from the embraces of the Father, and therefore happy! The Spirit everlastingly near them both, and therefore he is the ever-blessed Spirit! And all these united in one Godhead, and therefore infinitely and for ever blessed!
The Father is so intimately near the Son and Spirit, that no finite or created natures or unions can give a just resemblance ofit. We talk of the union of the sun and his beams, of a tree and its branches : But these are but poor images, and faint shadows of this mystery, though they are some of the best that I know. The union of the soul and body, is, in my esteem, still farther from the point, because their natures are so widely different. In vain we search through all the creation to find a complete similitude of the Creator.
And in vain may we run through all the parts and powers of nature and art, to seek a full resemblance of the mutual propensity and love of the blessed Three towards each other. Mathematicians talk in deed of the perpetual tendencies, and infinite approximations of two or more lines in the same surface, which yet never can entirely concur in one line: And if we should say that the three persons of the Trinity, by mutual in-dwelling and love, approach each other infinitely in one divine nature, and yet lose not their distinct personality; it would be but an obscure account of this sublime mystery. But this we are sure of, that for three divine persons to be so inconceivably near one another in the original and eternal spring of love, goodness, and pleasure, must produce