Imágenes de páginas

the will of God above? ver. 12. But hereon a question might arise, how he should himself come to the knowledge of these heavenly things whereof they had never heard before, and which no other man could tell them of, especially considering what he had said before, ver. 11. •We speak that we do know, and testify what we have seen.' Hereof he gives an account in these words. Wherefore, the ascending into heaven, which he denies unto all men whatever, 'no man hath ascended up to heaven,' is an entrance into all the divine, heavenly counsels of God; no man either hath or ever had a full comprehension of these heavenly things but he himself alone. And unto him it is ascribed on a double account: first, That he came down from heaven; secondly, That when he did so, he yet still continued in heaven; which two properties give us such a description of the person of Christ, as declare him a full possessor of all the counsels of God. He descended from heaven in his incarnation, whereby be became the Son of man ; and he is and was then in heaven in the essence and glory of his divine nature. This is the full of what we assert. In the knowledge and revelation of heavenly mysteries unto the calling, sanctification, and salvation of the church, doth the prophetical office of Christ consist. This he positively affirms could not otherwise be, but that he who came down from heaven, was also at the same instant in heaven. This is that glorious person whereof we speak. He who being always in heaven in the glory and essence of his divine nature, came down from heaven, not locally by a mutation of his residence, but by dispensation in the assumption of our nature into personal union with himself; he alone is meet and able to be the prophet of the church in the revelation of the heavenly mysteries of the counsels of the will of God. . In him alone were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ;' Col. ii. 3. Because in him alone dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily ;' ver. 9.

I do not hereby ascribe the infusion of omniscience, of infinite understanding, wisdom, and knowledge into the human nature of Christ. It was and is a creature finite and limited, nor is a capable subject of properties absolutely infinite and immense. Filled it was with light and wisdom to the utmost capacity of a creature. But it was so, not by

being changed into a divine nature or essence, but by the communication of the Spirit unto it without measure. The Spirit of the Lord did rest upon him, “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord, and made him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord ;' Isa. xi. 2, 3.

[3.] The Spirit of God dwelling in him in all the fulness of his graces and gifts, gave him an understanding peculiar unto himself; as above that of all creatures, so beneath the essential omniscience of the divine nature. Hence some things, as he was a man he knew not, Mark xiii. 32. but as they were given him by revelation; Rev. i. 1. But he is the prophet of the church in his whole entire person, and revealed the counsel of God, as he was in heaven in the bosom of the Father. Cursed be he that trusteth in man, that maketh flesh his arm, as to the revelations of the counsels of God. Here lies the safety, the security, the glory of the church. How deplorable is the darkness of mankind in their ignorance of God and heavenly things ? In what ways of vanity and misery have the generality of them wandered ever since our first apostacy from God ? Nothing but hell is more full of horror and confusion, than the minds and ways of men destitute of heavenly light. How miserably did those among them who boasted themselves to be wise, wax foolish in their imaginations ? How wofully did all their inquiries after the nature and will of God, their own state, duty, and happiness, issue in curiosity, uncertainty, vanity, and falsehood ? He who is infinitely good and compassionate, did from the beginning give some relief in this woful state by such parcels of divine revelations as he thought meet to communicate unto them by the prophets of old, such as they were able to receive. By them he set up a light shining in a dark place, as the light of stars in the night. But it was the rising of the sun of righteousness alone that dispelled the darkness that was on the earth, the thick darkness that was on the people, bringing life and immortality to light by the gospel. The divine person of the Son of God, in whom were all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath now made known all things unto the church, giving us the per

fect idea and certainty of all sacred truth, and the full assurance of things invisible and eternal.

Three things are necessary that we may have the benefit and comfort of divine light or truth. 1st. The fulness of its revelation. 2dly. The infallibility of it. And, 3dly. The authority from whence it doth proceed. If either of these be wanting, we cannot attain unto stability and assurance in the faith of it, or obedience unto it.

1st. Full it must be, to free us from all attempts of fear that any thing is detained or hidden from us, that were needful for us to know. Without this the mind of man can never come to rest in the knowledge of truth. All that he knows may be useless unto him, for the want of that which he neither doth nor can know, because not revealed.

2dly. And it must be infallible also. For this divine truth whereof we treat, being concerning things unseen, heavenly, eternal mysteries, transcending the reach of human reason, nothing but the absolute infallibility of the revealer can bring the mind of man to assurance and acquiescency. And whereas the same truth enjoins unto us duties, many of them contrary unto our inclinations, and cross unto our several interests, the great guides of corrupted nature; the revelation of it must proceed from sovereign authority, that the will may comply with the mind in the embracement of it. All these are absolutely secured in the divine person of the great prophet of the church. His infinite wisdom, his infinite goodness, his essential veracity, his sovereign authority over all, give the highest assurance whereof a created understanding is capable, that nothing is detained from us, that there is no possibility of error or mistake in what is declared unto us, nor any pretence left of declining obedience unto the commands of the truth that we do receive. This gives the soul assured rest and peace in the belief of things which'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor can enter into the heart of man to conceive.' Upon the assurance of this truth alone can it with joy prefer things invisible and eternal above all present satisfactions and desires. In the persuasion hereof can it forego the best of present enjoyments, and undergo the worst of present evils ; namely, in the experience of its present efficacy, and choice of that future recompense, which it doth secure.

[ocr errors]

And he believes not the gospel unto his own advantage, or the glory of God, whose faith rests not in the divine person of Jesus Christ, the great prophet of the church. And he who there finds rest unto his soul, dares not admit of any copartners with him as to instruction in the mind of God.

3dly. It was requisite unto the office of this great prophet of the church, and the discharge thereof, that he should have power and authority to send the Holy Spirit to make his revelations of divine truth effectual unto the minds of men. For the church which he was to instruct, was not only in darkness by reason of ignorance, and want of objective light or divine revelations, but was incapacitated to receive spiritual things in a due manner when revealed. Wherefore, it was the work of this prophet, not only to make known and declare the doctrines of truth, which are our external directive light, but also to irradiate and illuminate our minds, so that we might savingly apprehend them. And it is no wonder if those who are otherwise minded, who suppose themselves able to receive spiritual things, the things of God, in a due manner, upon their external proposal unto them, are regardless of the divine person of Christ as the prophet of the church. But hereon they will never have experience of the life and power of the doctrine of the gospel, if the apostle is to be believed ; 1 Cor. ii. 9-12. Now this internal illumination of the minds of men unto the acknowledgment of the truth, can be wrought in them only by the Holy Spirit of God; Eph. i. 17-19.2 Cor. iii. 18. None therefore could be the prophet of the church, but he who had the power to send the Holy Spirit to enable it to receive his doctrine by the saving illumination of the minds of men. And this alone he could do, whose Spirit he is, proceeding from him, whom he therefore frequently promised so to send.

Without a respect unto these things, we cannot really be made partakers of the saving benefits and fruits of the prophetical office of Christ. And this we can have only in the exercise of faith on his divine person, which is the eternal spring from whence this office derives all life and efficacy.

The command of God in respect unto him as the prophet of the church, is, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear him.' Unless we actually regard him by faith as the only-begotten Son of God, we can perform no duty aright in the hearing of him, nor shall we learn the truth as we ought. Hence it is that those who deny his divine person, though they pretend to attend unto him as the teacher of the church, do yet learn no truth from him, but embrace pernicious errors in the stead thereof. So it is with the Socinians, and all that follow them. For whereas they scarcely own any other office of Christ but his prophetical, looking on him as a man sent to teach the mind of God, and to confirm his doctrine by his sufferings, whereon he was afterward highly exalted of God, they learn nothing from him in a due manner.

But this respect unto the person of Christ is that which will ingenerate in us all those holy qualifications that are necessary to enable us to know the mind and will of God. For hence do reverence, humility, faith, delight, and assurance arise and flow, without whose continual exercise, in vain shall men hope to learn the will of God by the utmost of their endeavours. And the want of these things is the cause of much of that lifeless, unsanctified knowledge of the doctrine of the gospel, which is amongst many. They learn not the truth from Christ, so as to expect all teachings from his divine power. Hence they never come to know it either in its native beauty drawing the soul into the love and delight of what they know, nor in its transforming efficacy changing the mind into its own image and likeness.

(2.) The same also is the state of things with respect unto his kingly office and power. But this I have at large treated on elsewhere, and that much unto the same purpose ; namely, in the exposition of the third verse of the first chapter of the Epistle unto the Hebrews. Wherefore, I shall not here enlarge upon it.

Some seem to imagine, that the kingly power of Christ towards the church, consists only in external rule by the gospel and the laws thereof, requiring obedience unto the officers and rulers that he hath appointed therein. It is true, that this also belongs unto his kingly power and rule; but to suppose that it consisteth solely therein, is an ebullition from the poisonous fountain of the denial of his divine person. For if he be not God over all, whatever in words may

« AnteriorContinuar »