« ForrigeFortsæt »
safely all your days, if other things correspond. It will make you hate the sin you smarted by, and fly the occasions of that which cost you so dear.
9. The sin of pride is one of the most mortal, damning sins in the world, and that which thousands of professors do miscarry by. And humiliation is most directly contrary to this ; and therefore must needs be an amiable and necessary thing. It is worth all the sorrow that a hundred men endure here, to be saved from this dangerous sin of pride.
10. A thorough humiliation is usually a sign of the greater exaltation to come after. For “ those that humble themselves shall be exalted, and those that exalt themselves shall be brought low;" Luke xiv. 11. “ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, and he shall lift you up;" 1 Pet. v.5. The higher you mean to build, the deeper you will dig to lay the foundation. Your consolations will be greater, as your sorrows have been greater. You may be free from those doubts that follow others all their days, lest they were never truly humbled. You need not be still questioning, or pulling up your foundations, as if you were to begin again. It is a sign that you are intended to greater employments, (if other things concur). Paul must be laid exceeding low in his conversion, that he might be the fitter as a chosen vessel to bear Christ's name among the Gentiles.
Lay all this now together, sirs, and consider what cause you have to cherish the humbling works of grace, and not to quench them. When your hearts begin to be afflicted for sin, go not among foolish or merry companions to drink or laugh it away. Drive it not out of your minds, as unkindly as if it came to do you hurt; but get alone, and consider of the matter, and on your knees in secret beseech the Lord to follow it home, and break your hearts, and make you meet
, for his healing consolations, and not to leave you in this Red Sea, but to bring you through, and put the songs of praise into your mouths.
Direct. V. Having thus directed you about your Humiliation, the next direction which I would offer you, that you may not miscarry in the work of conversion, is this: · See that you close with the Lord Jesus Christ, understandingly, heartily, and entirely as he is revealed, and offered to you in the Gospel. In this your Christianity doth consist, upon
this your justification and salvation lie. This is the sum of your conversion, and the very heart of the new creature. The rest is all but the preparatives to this, or the fruits of this. Christ is the end and the fulfilling of the law, the substance of the Gospel, the way to the Father, the life, the help, and the hope of the believer; if you know not him, you know nothing ; if you possess not him, you have nothing; and if you are out of him, you can do nothing that hath a promise of salvation. And therefore I shall distinctly (though briefly) tell you what it is to close with Christ, understandingly, heartily, and entirely, as he is offered in the Gsspel.
And, 1. That you may close with Christ understandingly, you must look to these things. 1. That you understand who Christ is, as in his person and his offices. 2. That you understand the reason of his undertaking. 3. That you understand what it is that he hath done and suffered for us. 4. That you understand the nature and worth of his benefits, and what he will do for you. 5. That you understand the terms on which he conveyeth these benefits to men; and what is the nature, extent, and condition of the promises. And 6. That you understand the certain truth of all this.
For the first, you must understand that Jesus Christ hath two natures in one person; that he is both God and man: as he is God, of the same substance with his father, and one in essence with him, the second person in the blessed Trinity; the Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, eternal, incomprehensible, and infinite. As man he hath a true human soul and body, as men have; so that his Godhead, his human soul, and his body, are really distinct. This human nature was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Virgin Mary, without man, and born of her, and is so truly united to the Divine nature, as that they are one person: not that the Godhead is turned into the manhood, nor the manhood into the Godhead; but the Godhead hath taken the manhood into personal unity with itself. This was not from eternity, but when man had sinned, and lost himself, and needed a Redeemer. By reason of his miraculous conception, he was free from all original sin, being holy, harmless and undefiled. His person and natures were fit for his office; which was to be Mediator between God and man, to make reconciliation, and recover us to God. Had he not been God, but mere man, his dignity would not have been suffi
cient for such an interposition, nor his obedience or sufferings of any such value, as to be the price of our redemption. Nor could he have borne our burden, or conquered death, and risen again, and overcome the prince of death, the devil ; nor have ruled his church, and preserved and sanctified them, and prospered his cause, and subdued his enemies, nor effectually interceded with the Father, nor judged the world, or raised the dead, and done the work of a perfect Saviour. Nor was the angelical nature sufficient for this office. Had he not been man, he had not been near enough to us, to have suffered in our stead, and taught us by his doctrine, and given us his example, nor could he have suffered or died for for God cannot die or suffer. As he is God he is one in nature with the Father; and as he is man, he is one in nature with us; and therefore is fit to mediate for us; and in him we are brought thus nigh to God. To this office of the Mediator there are many acts belonging, from whence it hath several denominations, of which more
So much for the person of Christ. 2. The next thing that you must understand, is, the reasons and ends of his undertaking; which though we are not able fully to comprehend, (nor the reason of any of the works of God ;) yet must we observe so much as is revealed. And these following ends or reasons of this work, do shew themselves clearly in the Scripture, and in the event.
(1.) One is, The demonstration of God's justice, as he is Governor of the world, according to the law of nature. He made man a rational and voluntary agent, capable of good and evil, with desires and hopes of the good, and fears of the evil, and so to be ruled according to his nature. He made for him a law that revealed good and evil, with promises to move him by desire and hope, and with threatenings to drive him by necessary fear. By these engines God resolved to govern mankind. This law was the rule of man's duty, and of his receivings, or of God's judgment. According to this law, the world was to be governed by God. His governing justice consisteth in giving all their due according to his law : at least so far as that the end of the law may be attained, that is, the honour of the lawgiver preserved, transgression made odious by the terror of penalty, and obedience made honourable by its fruits of impunity and reward. Otherwise the law would not have
deterred effectually from evil, nor encouraged to good; especially to so much as creatures must go through for the crown of life: and so the law would have been no fit instrument for the government of the world; that is, the law would have been no law. But this the wise and righteous God would not be guilty of, of making a law that was no law, and was unmeet for the ends to which he made it; which was essential to it as a law. There was no way to avoid this intolerable consequent when man had sinned, but strict execution of the law, or by sufficient satisfaction instead of such an execution. The execution would have destroyed the commonwealth, even the whole inferior world, at least the reasonable creature who was the subject. The wisdom and love, and mercy of God would not give way to this, that the world should be destroyed so soon after it was made, and man left remediless in everlasting misery. Satisfaction therefore must be the remedy : this must be such as might be fit to procure the ends of the law, as if the law itself had been executed that is, as if the offenders did all die the death that it did threaten. It must therefore be a public demonstration of justice, and of the odiousness of sin, to the terror and warning of sinners for the future. And this was done with Jesus Christ, when none else in heaven or earth could do it. For it did as fully demonstrate the justice of God, and preserved his honour, and the usefulness of his law and government, that a person so high and glorious, and so dear to him, should suffer so much for sin, as if all the world had suffered for themselves. And thus God " made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; 2 Cor. v. 21. And thus “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us ; Gal. iii. 31.
(2.) Hereby also God demonstrated the holiness of his nature; how much he hateth sin, and how irreconcileable he is to it, as light to darkness. As the law and judgments of God do proceed from his perfect nature and will, so do they bear the image of that perfection and demonstrate it to the world. This therefore is the nobler end and work of Christ in our redemption, to declare the holiness and perfection of God in his nature and will; though the former (the declaring of his governing justice,) be the nearer end. If the death of Aaron's two sons were such a declaration, that “ he will be sanctified in all that draw near him;" Lev.
x. 2,3. If his laws and present judgments do declare him to be “ a holy and jealous God, that will not forgive sin without a valuable consideration or satisfaction; Josh. xxiv. 19. How much more evidently is this declaration in the death of Christ? If the Bethshemites cry out, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God ?” (1 Sam. vi. 20.) upon the death of 50,070 men; how much more may the guilty soul say so, when he thinks on the crucified Son of God? As it is the end of God's execution on transgressors, that “ the Lord may be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy may be sanctified in righteousness;” (Isa. v. 16.) so was it his end in the sacrifice of his Son.
(3.) Another end of our redemption by Christ, is the demonstration of the infinite wisdom of God. His wisdom in the preventing the ruin of the created world ; that it might not be said that sin and satan had frustrated him of the glory of his creation, and destroyed it almost as soon as he had made it. Yea, in getting an advantage by the malice of his enemies for the more admirable attainment of the ends of his law, and the glorifying of all his governing attributes. He would not have made man a free agent, and left him in the hand of his own will, and suffered him to sin, if his wisdom had not known how to secure his own interest and honour to the full. And so also in the economy and admirable frame of his gracious sapiential government by Christ, the manifold wisdom of God doth shine ; Ephes. iii. 9, 10. As the wonderful structure of heaven and earth, and every part of this natural frame, doth gloriously reveal the wisdom of the Creator; so the wonderful contrivance of our redemption by Christ, and the reparation of the world by him, and the moral frame of this evangelical dispensation, doth wonderfully demonstrate the wisdom of the Redeemer. And as the observation of our natures may give us cause to say with David, Psal. cxxxix. 14. " I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ;" so the observation of our natures and conditions, may well cause us to say, 'I will praise thee, for I am graciously and wonderfully redeemed ; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.' As nature may teach us to admire the frame of nature; so grace will teach us to admire the frame of grace, and to see the beauty of its several parts, and much more of the whole, where all the parts are orderly composed.