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much of the demonstrative impressions of the nature of God, as may fully assure us that he himself is the approving
And as the sun hath a double light, 'lux et lumen,' its essential light in itself, and its emitted beams, or communicated light; so the Spirit and image of God, by which Christ and Christianity are demonstrated, are partly that which is essential, constitutive, and inherent, and partly that which is sent and communicated from him to others.
In the person of Christ there is the most excellent image of God. 1. Wonderful power, by which he wrought miracles, and commanded sea and land, men and devils, and raised the dead, and raised himself; and is now the glorious Lord of all things. 2. Wonderful wisdom, by which he formed his laws, and kingdom, and by which he knew the hearts of men, and prophesied of things to come. 3. Most wonderful love and goodness, by which he healed all diseases, and by which he saved miserable souls, and procured our happiness at so dear a rate.
But as the essential light of the sun is too glorious to be well observed by us; but the emitted light is it which doth affect our eyes, and is the immediate object of our sight; at least that we can best endure and use; so the essential perfections of Jesus Christ, are not so immediately and ordinarily fit for our observation and use; as the lesser communicated beams, which he sent forth. And these are either such as were the immediate effects of the Spirit in Christ himself, or his personal operations, or else the effects of his Spirit in others: and that is either such as went before him, or such as were present with him, or such as followed after him: even as the emitted light of the sun, is either that which is next to its essence; or that which streameth further to other creatures: and this last is either that which it sendeth to us before its own appearing or rising, or that which accompanieth its appearing, or that which it leaveth behind it as it setteth or passeth away; so must we distinguish in the present case.
But all this is but one light, and one Spirit.
So then I shall in order speak. 1. Of that Spirit in the words and works of Christ himself, which constituteth the Christian religion. 2. That Spirit in the prophets and fathers before Christ, which was the antecedent light.
3. That Spirit in Christ's followers, which was the concomitant and subsequent light or witness: Both, 1. In those next his abode on earth: And 2. Of those that are more remote.
The Image of God's Wisdom.
I. AND first, observe the three parts of God's image, or impress upon the Christian religion in itself as containing the whole work of man's redemption, as it is found in the works and doctrine of Christ.
1. The wisdom of it appeareth in these particular observations (which yet shew it to us but very defectively, for want of the clearness, and the integrality, and the order of our knowledge: for to see but here and there a parcel of one entire frame or work, and to see those few parcels as dislocated, and not in their proper places and order; and all this but with a dark imperfect sight, is far from that full and open view of the manifold wisdom of God in Christ, which angels and superior intellects have).
1. Mark how wisely God hath ordered it, that the three essentialities in the divine nature, power, intellect and will, omnipotency, wisdom and goodness, and the Three Persons in the Trinity, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and the three causalities of God, as the efficient, directive, and final cause, (of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things) should have three most eminent specimens or impressions in the world, or three most conspicuous works to declare and glorify them; viz. nature, grace and glory. And that God should accordingly stand related to man in three answerable relations, viz. as our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Perfecter (by holiness initially, and glory finally).
2. How wisely it is ordered, that seeing man's love to God is both his greatest duty, and his perfection and felicity, there should be some standing eminent means for the attraction and excitation of our love: and this should be the most eminent manifestation of the love of God to us; and withal, of his own most perfect holiness and goodness;
and that as we have as much need of the sense of his goodness as of his power, (loving him being our chief work) that there should be as observable a demonstration of his goodness extant, as the world is of his power.
3. Especially when man had fallen by sin from the love of God, to the love of his carnal self, and of the creature ; and when he was fallen under vindictive justice, and was conscious of the displeasure of his Maker, and had made himself an heir of hell; and when man's nature can so hardly love one that in justice standeth engaged or resolved to damn him, forsake him, and hate him: how wisely is it ordered, that he that would recover him to his love, should first declare his love to the offender in the fullest sort, and should reconcile himself unto him, and shew his readiness to forgive him, and to save him, yea, to be his felicity and his chiefest good; that so the remedy may be answerable to the disease, and to the duty.
4. How wisely is it thus contrived, that the frame and course of man's obedience, should be appointed to consist in love and gratitude, and to run out in such praise and cheerful duty as is animated throughout by love, that so sweet a spring may bring forth answerable streams: that so the goodness of our Master may appear in the sweetness of our work; and we may not serve the God of love and glory, like slaves, with a grudging weary mind; but like children with delight and quietness: and our work and way may be to us a foretaste of our reward and end.
5. And yet how meet was it, that while we live in such a dark material world, in a body of corruptible flesh, among enemies and snares, our duty should have somewhat of caution and vigilancy, and therefore of fear and godly sorrow, to teach us to relish grace the more: and that our condition should have in it much of necessity and trouble, to drive us homeward to God, who is our rest. And how aptly doth the very permission of sin itself subserve this end.
6. How wisely is it thus contrived, that glory. at last should be better relished, and that man who hath the joy should give God the glory; and be bound to this by a double obligation.
7. How aptly is this remedying design, and all the work of man's redemption, and all the precepts of the Gospel, built upon, or planted into the law of natural perfection =
faith being but the means to recover love; and grace being to nature, but as medicine is to the body; and being to glory, as medicine is to health: so that as a man that was never taught to speak, or to go, or to do any work, or to know any science, or trade, or business, which must be known acquisitively, is a miserable man, as wanting all that which should help him to use his natural powers to their proper ends; so it is much more with him that hath nature without grace, which must heal it, and use it to its proper ends.
8. So that it appeareth, that as the law of perfection is fitly called the law of nature, because it is agreeable to man in his natural state of innocency; so the law of grace may be now called, the law of depraved nature, because it is as suitable to lapsed man. And when our pravity is undeniable, how credible should it be, that we have such a law?
9. And there is nothing in the Gospel, either unsuitable to the first law of nature, or contradictory to it, or yet of any alien nature; but only that which hath the most excellent aptitude to subserve it: "Giving the glory to God in the highest," by restoring "peace unto the earth, and goodwill towards men."
10. And when the Divine Monarchy is apt in the order of government, to communicate some image of itself to the creature, as well as the divine perfections have communicated their image to the creatures in their natures or beings, how wisely it is ordered, that mankind should have one universal vicarious head or monarch! There is great reason to believe that there is monarchy among angels: and in the world it most apparently excelleth all other forms of government, in order to unity, and strength, and glory: and if it be more apt than some others to degenerate into oppressing tyranny, that is only caused by the great corruption of human nature; and therefore if we have a head who hath no such corruption, there is no place for that objection. And as it is not credible that God would make no communication of, this image of his dominions in the world; so it is certain, that besides the Lord Jesus, the world hath no other universal head (however the Pope may pretend, to be an universal vicarious monarch, under the Universal Vicarious Monarch). Kingdoms have their monarchs subordinate to Christ; but the world hath none but Christ alone.
11. And how meet was it that he who was the monarch or deputy of God, should be also the Mediator! And that a polluted sinner dwelling in clay, should not come immediately to God, but by a Reconciler, who is worthy to prevail.
12. And when we had lost the knowledge of God, and of the world to come, and of the way thereto; yea, and of ourselves too, and our own immortality of soul; how meet was it that a sure Revelation should settle us, that we might know what to seek, and whither to return, and by what way! seeing light must be the guide of our love and power. And who could so infallibly and satisfactorily do this, as a Teacher sent from God, of most perfect knowledge and veracity.
13. And when God intended the free forgiveness of our sins, how meet was it that he who would be the Mediator of our pardon, should yield to those terms, which are consistent with the ends of government, and expose not the wisdom, and veracity, and justice, and the laws of God to the world's contempt: if no mark of odiousness should be put upon sin, nor any demonstration of justice been made, the devil would have triumphed, and said, 'Did not I say truer than God? when he told you of dying, and I told you that you should not die?' And if the grand penalty had been remitted to the world, for four thousand years together successively, without any sufficient demonstration of God's justice undertaken, why should any sinner have feared hell to the world's end? If you say, that repentance alone might be sufficient, I answer, 1. That is no vindication of the justice and truth of the Law-maker. 2. Who should bring a sinner to repentance, whose heart is corrupted with the love of sin? 3. It would hinder repentance, if men knew that God can forgive all the world upon bare repentance, without any reparation of the breaches made by sin, in the order of the world. For if he that threateneth future misery or death for sin, can absolutely dispense with that commination, they may think that he may do so as easily by his threatening of death to the impenitent.
If you say, that threatenings in a law, are not false when they are not fulfilled, because they speak not 'de eventu,' but de debito pænæ;' I answer, they speak directly only 'de debito;' but withal he that maketh a law, doth thereby