« AnteriorContinuar »
by repeating and continually working the same work over again, thougb in different persons, from age to age. But,
(2.) The work of redemption with respect to the grand design in general, as it respects the universal subject and end, is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world in a different manner, not merely by repeating or renewing the same effect in the different subjects of it, but by many successive works and dispensations of God, all tending to one great end and effect, all united as the several parts of a scheme, and all together making up one great work. Like a house or temple that is building ; first the workmen are sent forth, then the materials are gathered, then the ground fitted, then the foundation is laid, then the superstructure is erected, one part after another, till at length the top stone is laid, and all is finished. Now the work of redemption in that large sense that has been explained, may be compared to such a building, that is carrying on from the fall of man to the end of the world. God went about it immediately after the fall of man. Some things were done towards it immediately, as may be shown hereafter; and so God has proceeded, as it were, getting materials and building, ever since; and so will proceed to the end of the world; and then the time will come when the top stone shall be brought forth, and all will appear complete and consummate. The glorious structure will then stand forth in its proper perfection.
This work is carried on in the former respect that has been mentioned, viz., as to the effect on the souls of particular persons that are redeemed, by its being an effect that is common to all ages. The work is carried on in this latter re spect, viz., as it respects the church of God, and the grand design in general, it is carried on, not only by that which is common to all ages, but by successive works wrought in different ages, all parts of one whole, or one great scheme, whereby one work is brought about by various steps, one step in one age, and another in another. It is this carrying on of the work of redemption that I shall chiefly insist upon, though not excluding the former; for one necessarily supposes the other.
Hating thus explained what I mean by the terms of the doctrine ; that you may the more clearly see how the great design and work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world; I say, in order to this,
I now proceed, in the second place, to show what is the design of this great work, or what things are designed to be done by it. · In order to see how a design is carried on, we must first know what the design is. To know how a work. man proceeds, and to understand the various steps he takes, in order to accomplish a piece of work, we need to be informed what he is about, or what the thing is that he intends to accomplish; otherwise we may stand by, and see hiin do one thing after another, and be quite puzzled and in the dark, seeing nothing of his scheme, and understanding nothing of what he means by it. If an architect, with a great number of hands, were a building some great palace, and one that was a stranger to such things should stand by, and see some men digging in the earth, others bringing timber, others hewing stones, and the like, he might see that there was a great deal done; but if he knew not the design, it would all appear to him confusion. And therefore, that the great works and dispensations of God that belong to this great affair of redemption may not appear like confusion to you, I would set before you briefly the main things designed to be accomplished in this great work, to accomplish which God began to work presently after the fall of man, and will continue working to the end of the world, when the whole work will appear completely finished. And the main things designed to be done by it are these that follow.
I. It is to put all God's enemies under his feet, and that the goodness of God should finally appear triumphing over all evil. Soon after the world was created, evil entered into the world in the fall of the angels and man. Presently after God had made rational creatures, there were enemies who rose up against him from among them; and in the fall of man evil entered into this lower world, and God's enemies rose up against him here. Satan rose up against God, endeavoring to frustrate his design in the creation of this lower world, to destroy his workmanship here, and to wrest the government of this lower world out of his hands, and usurp the throne himself, and set up himself as god of this world instead of the God that made it. And to these ends he introduced sin into the world; and having made man God's enemy, he brought guilt on man, and brought death and the most extreme and dreadful misery into the world.
Now one great design of God in the affair of redemption was, to reduce and subdue those enemies of God, till they should all be put under God's feet : 1 Cor. xv. 25, “ He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Things were originally so planned and designed, that he might disappoint and confound, and triumph over Satan, and that he might be bruised under Christ's feet, Gen. iii. 15. The promise was given, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. It was a part of God's original design in this work, to destroy the works of the devil, and confound him in all his purposes : 1 John iii. 8, “For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” It was a part of his design, to triumph over sin, and over the corruptions of men, and to root them out of the hearts of his people, by conforming them to himself. He designed also, that his grace should triumph over man's guilt, and that infinite demerit that there is in sin. Again, it was a part of his design, to triumph over death; and however this is the last enemy that shall be destroyed, yet that shall finally be vanquished and destroyed.
God thus appears gloriously, above all evil; and triumphing over all his enemies, was one great thing that God intended by the work of redemption ; and the work by which this was to be done, God immediately went about as soon as man fell; and so goes on till he fully accomplishes it in the end of the world.
II. In doing this God's design was perfectly to restore all the ruins of the fall, so far as concerns the elect part of the world, by his Son; and therefore we read of the restitution of all things : Acts iii. 21, “ Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things ;” and of the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord Jesus : Acts iïi. 19, “ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
Man's soul was ruined by the fall; the image of God was ruined ; man's nature was corrupted and destroyed, and man became dead in sin. The design of God was, to restore the soul of man; to restore life to it, and the image of God, in conversion, and to carry on the restoration in sanctification, and to perfect it in glory. Man's body was ruined; by the fall it became subject to death. The design of God was, to restore it from this ruin, and not only to deliver it from death in the resurrection, but to deliver it from mortality itself, in making it like unto Christ's glorious body. The world was ruined, as to man, as effectually as if it had been reduced to chaos again ; all heaven and earth were overthrown. But the design of God was, to restore all, and as it were to create a new heaven and a new earth : Isaiah lxv. 17, “Behold, I create
2d, From Christ's incarnation till his resurrection : or the whole time of Christ's humiliation : the
3d, From thence to the end of the world.
It may be some may be ready to think this a very unequal division: and it is so indeed in some respects. It is so, because the second period is so much the greatest: for although it be so much shorter than either of the other, being but between thirty and forty years, whereas both the other contain thousands ; yet in this affair that we are now upon, it is more than both the others. I would therefore proceed to show distinctly how the work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world, through each of these periods in their order : which I would do under three propositions ; one concerning each period.
the between thirt that we are now
how the worlugh each of thes
I. That from the fall of man till the incarnation of Christ, God was doing those things that were preparatory to Christ's coming, and working out redemption, and were forerunners and earnests of it.
II. That the time from Christ's incarnation, till his resurrection, was spent in procuring and purchasing redemption.
* III. That the space of time from the resurrection of Christ to the end of the world, is all taken up in bringing about or accomplishing the great effect or success of that purchase.
In a particular consideration of these three propositions, the great truth taught in the doctrine may perhaps appear in a clear light, and we may see how the work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world.
demption is carriep pear in a cleapositions, the gre
FROM THE FALL TO THE INCARNATION.
My first task is, to show how the work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, under the first proposition, viz.,
That the space of time from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ was taken up in doing those things that were forerunners and earnests of Christ's coming, and working out redemption, and were preparatory to it.
The great works of God in the world during this whole space of time, were all preparatory to this. There were many great changes and revolutions in the world, and they were all only the turnir.g of the wheels of Providence in order to this, to make way for the coming of Christ, and what he was to do in the world. They all pointed hither, and all issued here. Hither tended especially all God's great works towards his church. The church was under various dispensations of Providence, and in very various circumstances, before Christ came. But all these dispensations were to prepare the way for his coming. God wrought salvation for the souls of men through all that space of time, though the number was very small to what it was afterwards; and all this salvation was, as it were, by way of anticipation. All the souls that were saved before Christ came, were only as it were the earnests of the future harvest. VOL. I.
God wrought many lesser salvations and deliverances for his church and people before Christ came. These salvations were all but so many images and forerunners of the great salvation Christ was to work out when he should come. God revealed himself of old, from time to time, from the fall of man to the coming of Christ. The church during that space of time enjoyed the light of divine revelation, or God's word. They had in a degree the light of the gospel. But all these revelations were only so many forerunners and earnests of the great light that he should bring who came to be the light of the world. That whole space of time was, as it were, the time of night, wherein the church of God was not indeed wholly without light : but it was like the light of the moon and stars that we have in the night; a dim light in comparison of the light of the sun, and mixed with a great deal of darkness. It had no glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth, 2 Cor. iii. 10. The church had indeed the light of the sun; but it was only as reflected from the moon and stars. The church all that while was a minor. This the apostle evidently teaches in Gal. iv. 1, 2, 3: “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all ; but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the Father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.”
But here, for the greater clearness and distinctness, I would subdivide this period, from the fall of man to the coming of Christ, into six lesser periods, or parts: the
1st, Extending from the fall to the flood: the
FROM THE FALL TO THE FLOOD.
This was a period farthest of all distant from Christ's incarnation; yet then this great work was begun to be carried on; then was this glorious building begun, and will not be finished till the end of the world, as I would now show you how. And to this purpose I would observe,
I. As soon as ever man fell, Christ entered on his mediatorial work. Then it was that Christ first took on him the work and office of a mediator. He had undertaken it before the world was made. He stood engaged with the Father to appear as man's mediator, and to take on him that office when there should be occasion, from all eternity. But now the time was come. When man fell, then the occasion came; and then Christ immediately, without further delay, entered on his work, and took on him that office that he had stood engaged to take on him from eternity. As soon as ever man fell, Christ the eternal Son of God clothed himself with the mediatorial character, and therein presented himself before the Father. He immediately stepped in between a holy, infinite, offended Majesty, and offending mankind; and was accepted in his interposition