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THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifiest to his saints : to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.—COL. I. 26, 27.
We have done with the subject and author of it, let us come to the properties of it.
1. It is rich ; 2. Glorious.
1. First, Rich ; so chap. ii. ver. 3, he tells us that in it or him, that is, the gospel or Christ, of both which he speaketh, are • hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.' Now the riches of this knowledge appear in three things.
(1.) In abundance; (2.) Preciousness ; (3.) Gainfulness. And such is the knowledge of Christ.
(1.) First, Abundant. For that place tells us that it is all knowledge,' via eminentiæ ; as the metaphysic is said to be all knowledge, because of the fulness, largeness of the subject of it, all truths and axioms in other sciences being swallowed up in its principles. Such is this knowledge also, the subject of it being Christ; and therefore, as Christ contains in him, via eminentiæ, all the treasures of perfection that are in any creature, and is • full of grace and truth, John i. 14, so doth the knowledge of Christ contain in it all the treasures of wisdom, and all that is worth knowing ; treasures which can never be drawn dry or exhausted, which the mind of man can never waste ; but bringing in new revenues of new notions daily, so as the more is spent, the more may be. Other knowledges being but of the creature, are but imperfect; for the things known are such, and cannot fill the mind with abundance of knowledge, for the things have not wherewithal to do it, though they be known to the utmost. • But in him all fulness dwells,' verse 19: fulness of truth to fill the mind, as well as fulness of grace to fill the will, John i. 14. And indeed, for abundance, unsearchable riches,' Eph. iii. 8.
(2.) Secondly, It is a rich mystery for the preciousness of it. The promises of it are exceeding precious,' 2 Pet. i. 4. Every truth in it is precious, so Paul tells us, 1 Cor. üi. 12. All truths of the gospel built
upon the foundation, Christ, he calls pearls, and gold, and silver; and all the enticing words of man's wisdom, hay and stubble. Yea, Prov. iii. 15, 16, Solomon says, wisdom and understanding is better than gold and silver, which yet commands all in the world. And if rubies and precious stones be more worth than gold, she is more precious than rubies. And what is it that makes things precious, that is not found in the saving truths and promises of the gospel ?
[1.] Antiquity makes things precious ; so small pieces of coin and medals, if ancient, are precious. And this was coined in heaven, and in God before all ages and generations, and bears the image of the great King. It is the everlasting gospel,' Rev. xiv. 6.
[2.] Things far fetched are precious. Not a word of this but fell from heaven. Christ came from heaven, where he heard and saw all the truths revealed in it, and so delivered them to us, John iii. 31, 32. And this difference is put between the law and the gospel, Heb. xii. 25. The law was spoken from the earth, the gospel from heaven.
[3.] Things dearly bought are precious. Every truth of the gospel cost Christ his blood to make it so ; the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.' As grace cost his blood, so truth also ; for both cost the same price. All the promises are yea and amen in him ;' they had all been blanks if he had not set his blood as a seal to them.
[4.] Things charily laid up are precious. The gospel hath had the richest cabinet in the world, God's breast; there is the original of it, Eph. ïïi. 9. The original copy lies there, the counterpart in the heart of God's elect, 2 Cor. iii. 3. • Ye are the epistle of Christ, written by the Spirit of the living God.' In whom therefore it is said to abide for ever,' 1 Pet. i. 25, locked up in the church, the pillar and ground of truth.
[5.] Things which perish not are precious, especially if still they preserve themselves from what attempts to corrupt them, 1 Pet. i. 7. Faith is therefore said to be precious, because it perisheth not, though • tried in the fire. Such are the truths of the gospel, which though men have endeavoured to corrupt it by a world of the dross of human errors and inventions, yet God hath still come with fire and tried it. And still the more men labour to mingle dross with God's truth, still it endures the fire, and comes out clearer and clearer in every age. Ps. xii. 6, The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.' There is no truth of God but hath been tried in one age or other. Heresies have been brought in, yet it remains pure, maintains itself. The truth was mingled with dross in Pelagius's time, and then purified. So in Bradwardine's* time, and then also it came out purer; and so now with fine dross,t but God will purify it.
(3.) A third thing in riches is profitableness ; and in that respect the gospel to the saints is a rich gospel. It talks not only of riches as stories do, as that of Solomon's time, when silver was as stones of the streets ; nor doth it open heaven's treasury gates, and shew them the riches of it only, as Hezekiah did the ambassadors that came to visit him—a man
# Bradwardine (Thomas), Archbishop of Canterbury about the middle of the fourteenth century, noted as a mathematician, and a defender of Christianity. Samuel Ward (Works, p. 142) calls him as thankful an English heart as ever wrote.'—ED.
† The nature of the dross with which Goodwin considered the truth to be mixed in his time may be gathered from his Exposition of the Revelation.- Works, vol. 111.-ED.
may thus hear and see the riches of another, and be a poor man still—but riches is · Christ in you,' saith the text. When he hears and receives the gospel aright, it fills his lap full, he carries Christ and all his riches home with him.
Well might Solomon say, as Prov. iii. 14, 15, Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and that gets understanding; for her merchandise is better than silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. And if anything in the world be better than these, which yet the world hath, as rubies and precious stones seem to be, . She is more precious (saith he) than rubies.' And if still the heart of man should enlarge its vast desires and wide gapings to some more conceived precious things than these, though unknown; do, says Solomon, stretch the compass of your desires to as great a wideness as you can ; desire what you can, and all you can desire is not to be compared to her.' It is not only exceeded, but there is no comparison. And this he speaks not of the preciousness, as in itself, but of the gain and profit it brings to the possessors. Their gain,' says he, &c.
But you will say, Wherein consists these riches of the gospel ?
Answer, · Which (riches) is Christ in you.' And can you make an inventory, and ever value and prize his goods ? Surely, No.
First, Christ is worth all God is worth, as he is the Son of God; for he is the only Son, the “ well-beloved Son, in whom God is so well pleased,' that he will not give a penny away from him ; he is the heir, and shall have all. And the gospel makes him yours, with all his riches, which riches is • Christ in you. Thus the apostle argues and pleads the evidence of the right a Christian hath to all things, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23, · All things are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.'
God himself can be worth but all things, Christ is worth what God is, for all things that are God's are Christ's. And you have as much as Christ hath.' What riches are here! All things are given to be inherited, Rev. xxi. 7, by the same. And as sure a title as Christ, Rom. viji. 17, we are put into God's will, joint heirs with Christ,' though not joint purchasers, for he purchased all, and all these gives freely; no debts are to be paid, nor legacies or portions out of them. Rom. viii. 32, If he hath given us Christ, shall not he with him give us all things freely?' Christ is not only worth all things as the heir, and we are worth so much because Christ is given to us, but he paid for all things dearly. And look what the revenues of Christ's blood come to; that and so much is a Christian worth,
For Christ paid ready down, at his death, an invaluable sum of merit into bis Father's hands (as feoffee in trust), as a common stock or bank, to be employed for the good and use of all his saints, who are to have the full worth of them out to eternity. You know,' says the apostle, 2 Cor. viii. 9, • the grace of Christ; how, when he was rich, he became poor' (mark it), . for your sakes,' to enrich you. Now what must these riches come to, think you, which are laid up for you; whenas Christ was as rich as God himself, thought it no robbery to be equal with God,' Phil. ii. 6, as good in estate every whit? Now of all these riches he emptied himself, ver. 8, left himself not worth one farthing, and became poor,' had not a hole left to hide himself in, 'made himself of no reputation,' of no account or reckoning, making over all for you. And what must this come to? The riches of God put out to use, to be received with advantage again, if possible, and put into sure hands, even God the Father's, who hath bid us . owe no man anything - but love. And surely he loves his own too well to owe them anything.
If they should doubt, he hath entered into bond, and the gospel is that bond, which is therefore called a "rich gospel,' because it is the promise of all these riches; Eph. iii. 6, partakers of the promise of the gospel.' It is the gospel that makes us partakers of the promise, that is, the things promised; and they are, ver. 8, “the unsearchable riches of Christ. So as if you desire particularly to have the value of them, or in gross, the total sum, they are unsearchable riches which cannot be told over to eternity, much less be spent. Riches in justification, to have all debts paid the first day, and that would enhance unsearchable riches. Set a price on all angels, all creatures, it would not pay one note, the least bill. All other things are not worth so much ; it cost more to redeem souls than so. And besides, to have still left so rich righteousness as purchased riches of grace,' to have the Spirit poured out richly, as Tit. iii. 6. The word in the original is
riches of glory,' Eph. i. 18. In respect of which all riches in the world are but as crumbs of the rich man's table, or relics given to the poor. The kingdom of Turkey (as one called it), but a crust thrown to a dog. And is it not a rich knowledge then, that' enriches the knowers of it, which should invite men to learn it ? For if men think other knowledge in itself so rich, as to be content to spend their estates, to attain but notions to fill their brains, not purses; then how much more for this, which as it is precious, so it brings in all these riches as the gain of it?
Angels are invited to search it for the preciousness of it, and yet these riches are not • Christ in them,' but • Christ in you. But then do but know and study your own riches and evidences for them; therefore in Eph. iii., where the end of revealing these riches is laid open, ver. 8, there are two sorts of creatures, says he, to whom God intended to reveal them, first, men, ver. 9 ; secondly, angels, ver. 10; but with this differing intent, that the angels might know the wisdom which was in the gospel, ver. 10. The harmony in the plot is what the angels are taken with; and this, though men may also see in the gospel, yet further the end was, that they might know the fellowship of the mystery,' that is, that they might be made partakers of it.
2. Secondly, glorious; as it is a rich mystery, so also glorious, · What is the riches of the glory,' &c., which words, as other Hebraisms, are convertible; rich glory,' or 'glorious riches,' so as no man can say whether the riches or the glory of it be greater.
Now this glorious title the apostle gives often unto the gospel, as 1 Tim. i. 11. And 2 Cor. iv. 4, · lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine into them. And in the third chapter of that epistle throughout, he fully displays the glory of it, which the apostle doth by comparing it with the law, or covenant of works, because there was no question of any other knowledge never so excellent, yet revealed, that could stand on terms of comparison with it.
The law indeed, says he, it was a glorious law, though written but in stones and dead letters, and therefore, when it was ministered, the glory of God appeared on the mount,' Exod. xxiv. 16, 17, to note out, that that law was the glorious image of his will. And therefore also even the face of Moses,' says that 7th verse, * by whose hands it was administered,
shining, so as the people could not behold it for the glory of his countenance.' And so terrible was the sight,' saith the author to the Hebrews, • that Moses said, I quake and tremble,' Heb. xii. 21.
But yet says Paul, ver. 8, 9, The gospel, it . exceeds in glory,' yea, and so far exceeds, as ver. 10, as the law which was thus made glorious, had
* That is, 2 Cor. iii. 7.-ED.
no glory in respect of this glory which excelleth ; but like as the sun, when it ariseth, puts out the lesser eyes of heaven, dims, yea clean obscures these otherwise glorious tapers, so as they have no glory in this respect, so the gospel exceeds the law. And if you ask wherein it exceeds in glory, the answer is, Because it is the ministration and discoverer of far more glorious things to the saints than ever the law could do.
If you ask, What glorious things are communicated and revealed therein ? I answer out of the 3d and 4th chapters, which explain the glorious work of the gospel on men's hearts, when they are brought to God. For when any man is converted at the preaching of the gospel, first, before the word works, the Holy Ghost falls on a man; as when Christ was baptized, heaven opened, and the Holy Ghost descended and rested on him :' so in Acts x. 44, when the gospel was preached by Peter, the Holy Ghost fell on them ;' and of the Spirit the gospel is the ministration, and not the law. Gal. iii. 2, ‘I would ask of you, received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or of the hearing of faith ? that is, the gospel, for so faith is taken for the doctrine of faith. And this ministration of the Spirit is by virtue of a covenant made (Isa. lix. 21) with Christ ; that Spirit that was in him, and word that was in his mouth, to wit, the gospel, should not depart out of the mouth of his seed's seed for ever, but it should accompany his elect.
And is not then the gospel a glorious gospel, that makes men partakers of the Holy Ghost, and that for ever? which Spirit is a Spirit of glory,' 1 Pet. iv. 14, which rests on his; the Spirit of glory,' because it fills the man it dwells in with glory. For look, as when God descended into the visible temple, it was filled with glory, 2 Chron. vii. 1; and by reason of that presence the ark itself was called the glory,' Rom. ix. 4: so when God fills the preaching of the gospel (whereof the ark was a type) with his glorious Spirit, and by it fills the heart of a man with that Spirit also, as Eph. V. 18, there is a new glory put upon that man.
But Secondly, This gospel is by the power of this Spirit the ministration of righteousness to the man God means to call, and therefore also glorious, as the apostle there argues ; that is, this gospel, by the help of the Spirit working faith in his heart, reveals the righteousness of Christ to be made his, and that exceeds in glory; for it is this righteousness' which in the last verse of that third chapter is called the glory of the Lord,' viz., Christ; who being the Lord of glory,' the King of glory,' 1 Cor. ii. 8, what a glorious righteousness must this be which the gospel thus discovers? And it discovers it not by engraving or dead colours, as the law did ; but as in a glass. And as that glass is glorious wherein the sun shines, the very image there puts down all the stars, so this glass, the gospel, must needs be glorious, wherein the Sun of righteousness' shines, as he is called, Mal. iv. 2. Neither doth it reveal it only, but dispenseth it, it is the ministration of righteousness; Christ's righteousness, which is the glory of the Sun, the King of glory, made ours to justify us. And therefore, Rev. xii. 1, the church appears clothed with the sun,' even with Christ himself and his glory, who is therefore said to be our righteousness,' Jer. xxiii. 6. Hereby, as Christ said of the lilies, Mat. vi. 29, that Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these ;' so may I say of all the angelswho yet are the bright morning-stars, that .sang when the world was made,' Job xxxviii. 7—that they are not clothed with such a glory as the gospel dispenseth to us; such a robe never came on their backs, nor never shall. And is not this a glorious gospel then ?