Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

that mystery, the wonderful eternal design of God to glorify himself in the incarnation of Christ. God would have his eternal, his only-begotten Son to be incarnate, to take our nature on him, to be made man. What is his design in this incomprehensible work of his wisdom, love, and power? Indeed, in the first place, it was for the redemption of the church, by the sacrifice of himself and other acts of his mediation. But there is that which is more general and comprehensive, and wherein all the concerns of the glory of God do centre. And this was that he might 'gather all things into one' in him; that the whole creation, especially that which was to be eternally blessed, should have a new head given unto it for its sustentation, preservation, order, honour, and safety. All springs are in him, and all streams are unto him, and in and by him unto God. Who can express the divine beauty, order, and harmony of all things that are in this their recapitulation in Christ? The union and communion between angels and men, the order of the whole family in heaven and earth, the communication of life, grace, power, mercy, and consolation to the church, the rule and disposal of all things unto the glory of God, do all depend hereon. This glory God designed unto his Son incarnate, and it was the greatest, the highest that could be communicated unto him. For, as the apostle observes, All things are put in subjection unto him, he only excepted who doth so make them subject, that is, God the Father; 1 Cor. xv. 27.

There is no contemplation of the glory of Christ that ought more to affect the hearts of them that do believe, with delight and joy, than this of the recapitulation of all things in him. One view by faith of him in the place of God as the supreme head of the whole creation, moving, acting, guiding, and disposing of it, will bring in spiritual refreshment unto a believing soul.

And it will do so the more, in that it gives a glorious representation of his divine nature also. For that any mere creature should thus be a head of life, motion, and power, as also of sovereign rule, and disposal of the whole new creation, with all things reduced into order thereby, is not only an impious but a foolish imagination.

Did we live more in the contemplation of this glory of Christ, and of the wisdom of God in this recapitulation of all

things in him, there is not any thing of our duty which it would not mind us of, nor any thing of privilege which it would not give us a sense of, as might easily be demonstrated.

3. In particular, the Lord Christ is glorious herein, in that the whole breach made on the glory of God in the creation by the entrance of sin, is hereby repaired and made up. The beauty and order of the whole creation consisted in its dependance on God by the obedience of the rational part of it, angels and men. Thereby were the being, the goodness, the wisdom, and power of God made manifest. But the beauty of this order was defaced, and the manifestation of the divine perfections unto the glory of God eclipsed by the entrance of sin. But all is restored, repaired, and made up, in this recapitulation of all things in one new head Christ Jesus; yea, the whole curious frame of the divine creation is rendered more beautiful than it was before. Hence the whole of it groaneth for the interest of each part in this restoration of all things. Whatever there is of order, of beauty, of glory in heaven above, or in earth beneath, it all ariseth from this new relation of the creation unto the Son of God. Whatever is not gathered into one, even in him, in its place, and according to its measure, is under darkness, disorder, and the curse. Hence the Jews have a saying, that in the days of the Messiah all things shall be healed but the serpent,' that is, the devil, and wicked men, which are as his seed.

4. He is glorious herein, in that he is appointed as the only means of exerting, and expressing all the treasures of the infinite wisdom of God towards his creatures. The wisdom of God is absolutely, always, and in all things infinite. God doth not, God cannot act with more wisdom in one thing than in another; as in the creation of man, than in that of any inanimate creatures. In the first creation infinite wisdom was the inseparable companion of infinite power. • How marvellous are thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast thou made them all.' But when the effects of this divine wisdom in their principal beauty and glory were defaced, greater treasures of wisdom were required unto their reparation. And in this recollection of all things in Christ did God lay them forth unto the utmost of whatever he will do in dealing with his creatures; so the apostle expresseth it, Eph. iii. 10. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.' By the recapitulation of all things into this one head, the manifold various unsearchable wisdom of God was made known unto the angels themselves. They knew not before of the design and work of God after the entrance of sin. These could not comprehend the wisdom that might repair that loss. They knew not that divine wisdom had another way to take herein, at least they knew not what way that should be. But hereby the manifold wisdom of God, his infinite wisdom in the treasures of it, able by various ways to attain the ends of his glory, was made known unto them. Herein, namely, in the recollection of all things in Christ, divine wisdom hath made known and represented itself in all its stores and treasures unto angels and men. 'In him are hid,' and by him are displayed, . all the treasures of wisdom;' Col. ii. 3. Herein is he glorious, and will be so to eternity.

5. He is glorious herein, in that hereby firmness and security is communicated unto the wbole new creation. The first creation in its order was a curious and glorious fabric. But every thing depending immediately on God by virtue of the principles of its own nature and the law of its obedience, all was brought unto a loss by the sin of angels and men. But now every thing that belongs unto this new creation, even every believer in the world as well as the angels in heaven being gathered together in this one head, the whole and all, and every part and member of it, even every particular believer are secured from ruin, such as befell all things before. In this new head they have an indissoluble consistency.

But manum de tabula.' I shall insist on no more instances of this nature which plentifully offer themselves in the Scripture unto us. For who can declare this glory of Christ? Who can speak of these things as he ought? I am so far from designing to set forth the whole of it, that I am deeply sensible how little a portion I can comprehend of the least part of it. Nor can I attain unto any satisfaction in these meditations, but what issue in an humble admiration.

CHAP. XII.

6

Differences between our beholding the glory of Christ by faith in this world,

and by sight in heaven. The first of them explained. We walk' here 'by faith, and not by sight;' 2 Cor. v. 7. That is, in the life of God, in our walking before him, in the whole of our obedience therein, we are under the conduct and influence of faith, and not of sight. Those are the two spiritual powers of our souls; by the one whereof, we are made partakers of grace, holiness and obedience in this life; and by the other, of eternal blessedness and glory.

Both these, namely, faith and sight, the one in this life, the other in that which is to come, have the same immediate object. For they are the abilities of the soul to go forth unto, and to embrace their object. Now this object of them both, is the glory of Christ, as hath been declared, as also what that glory is, and wherein it doth consist; wherefore my present design is to inquire into the difference that is between our beholding of the glory of Christ in this world by faith, and the vision which we shall have of the same glory hereafter.

The latter of these is peculiarly intended in that prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ for his disciples, John xvii. 24. * Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.' But I shall not distinctly insist upon it, my design being another way, respecting principally the work of God in this life, and the privileges which we enjoy thereby. Yet I shall now take a short prospect of that also; not absolutely, but in the differences that are between faith and sight, or the view which we have of the glory of Christ in this world by faith, and that which they enjoy by vision who are above; the object of them both being adequately the same.

But herein also, I shall have respect only unto some of those things which concern our practice, or the present immediate exercise of faith. For I have elsewhere handled at large the state of the church above, or that of present glory. Giving an account of the administration of the office of Christ in heaven, his presence among the glorified souls, and

the adoration of God under his conduct. I have also declared the advantage which they have by being with him, and the prospect they have of his glory. Therefore, these things must here be only touched on.

These differences may be referred unto two heads: 1. Those which arise from the different natures and actings of those means and instruments whereby we apprehend this glory of Christ, namely, faith and vision. And, 2. Those that arise from the different effects produced by them. Instances in each kind shall be given.

1. The view which we have of the glory of Christ by faith in this world, is obscure, dark, inevident, reflexive. So the apostle declares, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Now we see through a glass darkly' di łoórtpov xv aiviyuari. “Through' or by a glass in a riddle,' a parable, a dark saying. There is a double figurative limitation put upon our view of the glory of Christ, taken from the two ways of our perception of what we apprehend, namely, the sight of things, and the hearing of words.

The first is, that we have this view not directly but reflexively and by way of a representation, as in a glass. For I take the glass here, not to be optical or a prospective which helps the sight, but a speculum, or a glass which reflects an image of what we do behold. It is a sight like that which we have of a man in a glass, when we see not his person or substance, but an image or representation of them only, which is imperfect.

The shadow or image of this glory of Christ is drawn in the gospel, and therein we behold it as the likeness of a man represented unto us in a glass; and although it be obscure and imperfect in comparison of his own real, substantial glory, which is the object of vision in heaven; yet is it the only image and representation of himself, which he hath left, and given unto us in this world. That woful cursed invention of framing images of him out of stocks and stones however adorned, or representations of him by the art of painting, are so far from presenting unto the minds of men any thing of his real glory, that nothing can be more effectual to divert their thoughts and apprehensions from it. But by this figurative expression of seeing in a glass, the apostle

« AnteriorContinuar »