« AnteriorContinuar »
capcious intellect of the most exalted hiei-arch in the ranks of angelic intelligences to exhaust; yea, such is the profundity of its depth, that we must participate in the realization of " an eternal weight of glory," in order to appreciate one thousandth part of its divine origin and mighty design. Yet, notwithstanding its gigantic magnitude, it is the distinguished privilege of the saints of God to collect some of the celestial gems that float on the surface of this crystal sea, and communicate of the precious treasure to their fellow-heirs of the grace of life, as an earnest of4their inheritance, until the redemption (or manifestation) of the purchased possession, "to the praise and glory of his grace, who hath made them accepted in the Beloved."
In attempting to follow the subject through its various ramifications, we shall observe, that it is
I. Sovereign in its origin.
II. Perfect in its accomplishment.
III. Effectual in its application ; and
IV. Glorious in its consummation.
First.—This salvation is sovereign in its origin. Jehovah ever was, in himself, transcendantly glorious, and superlatively happy; and needed not, either to render him happy or glorious, the existence of this sublunary sphere, nor that of the creatures who inhabit it; nay, to this end he needed not the lofty hallelujahs of the " morning stars," nor the symphonious vvarblings of the " sons of God," at the manifestation of his creative fiat, when he caused streams of vivid light to emanate from the celestial throne, which discovered to the admiring view of attendant seraphs, the structure reared for the habitation of man; and the theatre upon which their Creator would display his perfections, and manifest attributes " terrible and glorious." Unknown to their happy sphere, whilst they gazed with strong immortal eyes upon the stately fabric, they wotted not that the same was destined to bondage and a curse, until He should come "whose right it is to reign," and "drive the old dragon from his seat, with all his hellish crew," and restore the work of his own hands to its primeval glory and paradisaical happiness.
But foreseeing the woful condition to which his creatures would be reduced, by the apostacy of their common head, and federal representative, Jehovah was pleased, out of the mere good pleasure of his will, to enter into covenant in his trinity of persons, to devise a plan consistent with his own perfections, for the redemption and salvation of the sinner. For the accomplishment of this great end, we find the Godhead manifesting itself in the relative titles of Father, Son, and Spirit; each divine person having a distinct, yet inseparable work assigned them in the great economy of salvation. Hence, in the revelation of this covenant, through the medium of the written word, we find the divine Father represented as choosing the objects of covenant favour and sovereign predestinating grace, and circumscribing the bounds of that special favour to the " election of grace," and adopting them into personal union with his Son, that henceforth they should be the adopted, the predestinated sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, constituting the mystical body of Christ: and the tender expressions of regard in which the Lord speaks of his church, and the endearing names by which she is recognized, fully demonstrate that she was betrothed in faithfulness and lovingkindness, and is indeed his " Hephzibah," in whom his soul delighteth. Hence, saith Zephaniah, iii. 17. "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy: he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."
We find, moreover, in this eternal compact, the divine Father demanding at the hand of Christ, as the voluntary Surety of the church, full satisfaction to the claims of eternal justice ; and a complete righteousness, commensurate with the demands of his holy law, in which the " banished ones" might return, and approach the Lord their God in a far more blessed and exalted relationship, than that in which they stood by virtue of their union to the first Adam, whilst in his unfallen estate. Not only so, but Gabriel is not so nearly related to God, nor so exalted a being, as an elect vessel of mercy. Nay, start not, reader! for "to which of the angels said he at any time thou art my son f" but " now are we the sons of God ;" but " it doth not yet appear what we shall be," inasmuch as " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." But to return; upon these conditions did the Son of the Highest undertake the desperate cause of an insolvent world, by engaging to take into union with his divine, the nature that sinned ; thereby to put himself into the very place, and come into the very circumstances of the sinner, that an atonement might be made, and a perfect righteousness wrought, in the very nature which made that atonement necessary, and such a righteousness requisite.
Herein, O believer! is a marvellous thing, that the Lord our God should, of his own sovereign good pleasure, have provided a remedy before the existence of the disease, and secured the sinner's salvation before he was actually lost. "Oh! the depth, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
Secondly.—This salvation is perfect in its accomplishment. After the fearful transgression of our first parents, it was Jehovah's good pleasure not to suffer them long to wander in painful uncertainty, as to the future destiny of their progeny; for, after denouncing the fearful sentence, that toil and weariness should be their lot, and pain and sorrow their intimate companions; that creation, animate and inanimate, should be heavily afflicted with bondage and a curse, in consequence of their sin; and that the earth, which (if man had not broken fealty with his Lord) would have spontaneously cast forth its luxurious and invigorating fruits for the use of man and beast, should, hereafter, only yield its increase by the sweat of the brow. After this denunciation, the Lord was pleased to reveal the remedy
Vol. VIII.—No. 92.] 2 C
he had provided, and to comfort their hearts, and buoy up their languishing energies with the assurance, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and become his salvation unto the ends of the earth. By them was seen the glimmering of that lamp, which Jehovah had " ordained for his anointed," and which should ultimately extend its fructifying eradiations from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the ends of the earth; that kings should come to its light, and Gentiles to the brightness of its/ising; and to them was made known (in part) the channel through which the great Deliverer should appear; and sacrifices and oblations were instituted to adumbrate the conditions upon which the great work of atonement and reconciliation was to be effected; and, by the frequent immolations of appointed victims, they were doubtless taught the important fact, " that without shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sin." These " shadows of good things to come," were continued, till revolving ages brought the appointed time for the ushering in of the " better hope," even the Son of God, manifest in flesh, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
From everlasting did the Son of God rejoice in the habitable parts of his earth, because from everlasting he was set up as their covenant Head and Kinsman-Redeemer, identified with them, as "the first-born among many brethren;" consequently, we find the blessedness of this union drawn in vivid colours throughout the word of God, where we find the church represented as being chosen in Christ, justified in and by Christ, crucified, buried, raised, and ascended with Christ, and sitting in heavenly places in him, heirs of God, and jointheirs with his only begotten Son.
In the work of creation there stood nothing to oppose the almighty fiat; " He spake and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast:" but in the recovery and restoration of many fallen men there stood every thing (out of God himself) opposed thereto. Hence it became a matter of necessity, (if we may use such a term in reference to the proceedings of Deity) we say, it became a matter of necessity for God to give his own Son as a ransom for a fallen world; for, "ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and enter into his glory?" Yes, verily, " it behoved him thus to suffer, that he might bring many sons unto glory;" nor does it appear, that this necessity arose merely from his being appointed the Mediator and Saviour of men, but from its being the only channel through which reconciliation could be made, God glorified, and the sinner saved. It is true, Jehovah is omnipotent in power, infinite in wisdom, and that his name and nature is love; it is also readily conceded, that he is merciful, gracious, and long-suffering: but it is equally true, that he is holy, just, and righteous; attributes, the whole of which must meet, and harmonize, ere the sinner could be saved. But it is evident, that the divine attributes could not meet in a mere creature without annihilating his creatureship, and investing him with the attributes of Deity; therefore, "such an High Priest
became us, who should be holy, harmless, and undefined, and separate from sinners;" yet, standing in the sinner's place, should be able to meet the claims of the divine attributes and perfections, with a price commensurate with the demand; and, where are we to Iool< for this ability but in Him, " in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily," even the man Christ Jesus, very God and very man? In him alone, as perfect man, was the power resident to meet law and justice upon their own ground; and in him alone, as very God, did the power centre to render an infinite satisfaction to inexorable justice for past transgressions, and satisfy the imperious demands of the divine law for the future; so that henceforth there should be "no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." If the law has no accusation, justice has no claim; therefore, against the accusation of the one, and the claim of the other, the Surety secured his church by his obedience and bloodshedding, whereby he for ever blotted out the handwriting that was against his bride, and broken down the middle wall of partition, that in him the offended and the offender might meet with honour to God, and safety to the sinner.
(To be concluded in our next.)
AN ESSAY TOWARDS AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PRO-
From hence he journeys towards his father's house; and on the road, Rachel, his beloved wife, fell into travail, and bare him a son, and died, and was buried near Ephrat/i, which was afterwards called Bethlehem-Ephralah, the place of the Lord's birth. See Micah v. 2. Jacob set up a pillar or sepulchral monument over the grave, and called the child Benjamin. And having stayed near Bethlehem as is conceived about two months, he journeyed, and spread his tent towards the tower of Edar, which was about a mile from Bethlehem to the south; and is supposed to be the place where the shepherds were watching their flocks when the angel reported to them the birth of Christ. Jacob, who is now for the first time by Moses called Israel after this name was given him, is exercised with increasing domestic trials. His eldest son, Reuben, committed incest on Bilhah, one of his wives, which gave him inexpressible sorrow.
The twelve sous of Jacob were the fathers of many families. They are called the twelve patriarchs, Acts vii. 8.; and the people, who came of them, are named the twelve tribes, Acts xxvi. 7. And although many great evils had, and did break forth, and appear in these sons of Jacob, or Israel; yet God, in his sovereign grace and rich abundant mercy pardoned them, and hath honoured them in the scriptures with great dignity. "Of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever. Amen." And, as Ainsworth observes, great dignity was done them, that their names should be graven on twelve stones, precious, and carried on the high-priest's heart, and that the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem should be called after their names. See Exod. xxviii. Ezek. xlviii. 31. Rev. xxi. 11. \
Jacob, having lived in the land of Canaan ten years since his return from Haran, visited his father at Mamre, which was distant from Bethlehem and the tower of Edar about twenty miles. Ainsworth observes, that Isaac lived forty years after he was blind, and he lived twelve years after the selling of Joseph into Egypt; he being twenty-nine years old when his grandfather died. And Esau and' Jacob were one hundred and twenty, they being born when Isaac was sixty. He being one hundred and eighty, which was five years beyond what his father Abraham attained, died in the year of the world, 2283, and was buried by his sons Esau and Jacob in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, where his parents and wife had been buried before.
A genealogical account of Esau's family is given, of his wives and sons, with whom he removed to Seir: of his sons' sons, or grandsons, who were dukes in the land of Edom, whereby the promise to Abraham concerning the numerous seed which should come from him, Gen. xxii: 17., and also the oracle given to Rebekah concerning the two nations that were in her womb, Gen. xxv, 23., and the blessing of Isaac bestowed on Esau, Gen. xxvii. 39, 40., may be seen to be in a great measure accomplished, with the different state of the children of the world from the children of God. The Edomites, or Idumeans, springing from Esau, whose name was Edom, is as a note fixing his profaneness on the memory. The family and race of Esau is now wholly extinct, though that of Jacob's is subsisting to this day. The descendants of Esau were seated next to those of their brother Jacob; the descendants of Ishmael next to Isaac; and those of Abraham, by Keturah, a little beyond all the rest to the east.
The scriptures being wrote by the inspiration of the eternal Spirit, to give us the history of God's dealings with men, so this should be kept by us in view in our perusal of them; which, when it is, will cast a lustre and stamp a dignity even upon what seems to be least worthy our notice and regard. It is a part of Christ's glory as revealed therein, that he, as God-man, is the upholder and governor of the world. He being Jehovah, the King Mediator, he entered visibly and openly upon the execution of his office immediately at the birth of time; and immediately upon the fall, he took the shattered condition of the world, as David his type did the shattered state and kingdom of Israel, and upheld the pillars of it, because he had an elect seed to be brought forth in their successions out of it: therefore, it is he vouchsafeth all those mercies which wicked men'