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in the flesh, Psal. cx. 4: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek," and his royal and kingly office is asserted by God the Father, before ever he appeared in the flesh, Psal. ii.: "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion:" I have done it; it is not a thing to do, but it is done already; I have set him King, &c. And he speaks to him as a person actually existing: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Thus you see him executing all his offices before he was incarnate.
But I need not stand upon this point, in opposition to the Socinians, seeing we have it from Christ's own mouth, who is the faithful witness. John viii. 58, says he there to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am," alluding probably to that same name he took to himself, when he appeared to Moses in the bush, and sent him to bring Israel out of Egypt: Go," says he," and tell them, I AM hath sent me unto you," Exod. iii. 14 a name equivalent to the name JEHOVAH, which signifies past, present, and to come, and distinguishes him from all the dunghill deities of the nations.
But then, secondly, let us go back farther, even to the creation of the world, and we shall find his existence and agency, in the production of all created beings, John i. 2, 3: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." He must needs be the everlasting God, who is the Creator of all the ends of the earth. Gen. i. 1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth;" hence, Psal. cii. 25: "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands," &c. Which words are applied to Christ, Heb. i. 10-12: "Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”
Again, thirdly, Let us [revert back] to the endless ages before the creation of the world, and we find him existing "or ever the earth was," John xvii. 5. He prays that he might be glorified with his Father, with the same glory that he had with him before the foundation of the world. Hence he is not only called the mighty God, but the everlasting Father, or the Father of eternity; and Micah v. 2: "His goings forth were from of old, from everlasting." But I need not stand
upon this, seeing the very words of the text are so clear as to this matter. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. If he were not the everlasting God, he could never have been set up from everlasting. So much for the first thing.
II. The second thing proposed was, to inquire what is imported in his being set up from everlasting:
And there are these few things that I take to be imported in this expression :
1st, It supposes the council of peace, or an eternal transaction between the Father and the Son, concerning the redemption of lost sinners; for this is the result of the council here declared by the Son, I was set up from everlasting. Zech. vi. 13: “ The council of peace shall be between them both.”
2dly, It implies the infinite complacency that the Father and Son had in each other from all eternity. This is more clearly expressed in the verse immediately preceding the text, “ The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old;" and yet more clearly, ver. 29, 30 : “When he appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” So Is. xlii. 1'; Matth. iii. 17; chap. xvii. 5.
3dly, It implies a divine ordination and decree, by which he was from eternity elected to the great service of man's redemption. Hence he is called his Father's Elect, Is. xlii. 1: “ Behold my Servant whom I behold, mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” So, Psal. Ixxxix. 19, says God the Father, “ I have laid help upon one that is mighty, I have exalted one chosen out of the people;" and, with an eye to this decree of the election of Christ is that forecited of the apostle, 1 Pet. i. 20: “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world,” &c. Though he be God coequal with the Father, yet he voluntarily came under a decree of election, that so he might be the head of the election among mankind sinners, in whom they are elected to everlasting life. Eph. i. 4: " He hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world.”
Athly, I was set up from everlasting, implies, that, in consequence of the decree, he was called of God to undertake the work of redemption, Is. xlii. 6: "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." Heb. v. 4,5: 6 No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he who is called of God, as was Aaron: so also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest,
but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
5thly, It implies his own voluntary consent to, and compliance with his Father's call. Of so great moment is this, that it is registered in the volume of the book of God, Psal. xl. 7, 8: “ Then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Upon which words the apostle Paul comments, Heb. x. 5—10, applying them to the purpose in hand.
And, upon this voluntary consent of the Son of God followed a multitude of great promises that the Father made to him. The Father promised to fit him with a human nature, to be personally united to his divine nature; “ A body hast thou prepared me;" a promise of all needful furniture and assistance in the undertaking, that an immeasurable fulness of the Spirit, and all his gifts, graces, and qualifications, should rest upon him, Is. xi. 2, 3, chap. xlii., liii. 10–12: “ The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong :" That he should see his seed; a seed should serve him, that should be accounted to him for a generation, Psal. xxii., at the close: That he would make his enemies his footstool, and greatly plague all that hated him: And that, when he had drunk of the brook that ran in the way, he should again lift up the head, and be repossessed, even in the human nature, of all “ that glory which he had with the Father before the world was.” Thus you see wbat is implied in his being set up from everlasting.
But now, before I go on to the third general head, I would here show, how (in consequence of all this, which was done before the foundation of the world was laid) he was actually set up in time on the view of lost sinners of Adam's family, whom he came to save and redeem. And,
1. His first appearance was in the promise made to our first parents, of his future incarnation, already mentioned, Gen. iii. 15, which was the only foundation of faith the church had, until the days of Abraham, to whom that promise was renewed, " In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," Gen. xxii. 18.
2. He was set up typically, in the view of the church, under the old Testament. What was the meaning of the tabernacle and temple, of all the sacrifices and ceremonies of that economy? They were all intended as shadowy representations of good things to come, apon the actual appearance of the Son of God in our nature.
3. He was set up prophetically, in the prophecies of the
prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest; for “ all the prophets prophesied of him.”. “ To him they all bore witness,” and every one of them successively spoke more clearly than another, till John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elias,” pointing him out with the finger, saying, “ Behold the Lamb of God."
4. He was set up personally and actually, in his incarnation, obedience, and death. His birth was celebrated and intimated by a company of angels, saying, “ Unto you is born, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” and that heavenly anthem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men." His inauguration to his mediatorial work, at his baptism, was celebrated by the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Spirit upon him in the likeness of a dove, and a voice coming from his Father, from heaven, saying, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;" which voice was again repeated at his transfiguration and his passion. His death was celebrated by the rending of the veil of the temple from top to bottom, a quaking of the earth, a rending of the rocks, and a darkening of the sun in the firmament; all importing, that now the finishing stroke was given to the head of the old serpent, and that principalities and powers were spoiled, and the prince of this world cast out of his usurped authority and government.
5. He was set up in a glorious and triumphant way and manner, in his resurrection and ascension; for then he was
declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead.” And when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high ;" and things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, being ordered to bow at the name of Jesus, and
every tongue to confess, that he is the Lord, to the praise and glory of his Father.
6. He was and is set up declaratively, in the preaching of the everlasting gospel; which is like the pole upon which the brazen serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, by looking to which the Israelites were cured of the sting of the fiery serpents. John iii. 14, 15, says Christ there, " And, as Moses lifted
up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted
that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
7. He is set up sacramentally, in the sacraments of baptism and of the supper, particularly in the last of these, which we are about this day to celebrate. In these symbols and sacramental acts of his own institution, he is evidently set
forth crucified before you; and in it we may, as in a glass, discern the Lord's body, which was broken for us, and his blood of the New Testament, which was shed for us. There he is present, though not in a corporeal and carnal manner, yet in a symbolical and spiritual manner, saying to his people, " Eat, o friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, Obeloved."
8. He is set up in an efficacious way and manner, in a day of conversion, and in the renewed manifestations of himself to the souls of his people, by the power of his word and Spirit. When he draws by the veil, and makes the light of the knowledge of his glory to shine into the heart, then, O then, Christ is set up in the heart of the sinner; he gets the throne of the heart, and every thought is brought into captivity to his obedience. What a pleasant upsetting of Christ and his kingdom would it be, to see him going forth, with his bow and sword, in the gospel, “ travelling in the greatness of his strength,” making all the inhabitants of the land to fall under him, every one. crying, “ The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our King, the Lord is our Lawgiver!” O then covenanting work would go on apace, and every one would say to another, “Come, and let us join ourselves unto the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten," Jer 1. 5.
9. Christ will be set up in a glorious and remarkable way and manner, at his second coming, " without sin, unto the salvation" of his people; for then he will descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the tru np of God, when he shall come with clouds, and every eye
shall see him.” Then shall he be “glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe," while all the wicked unbelieving world, and “ kindreds of the earth, shall wail because of him, crying to the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;" and the “heavens passing away with a mighty noise, the elements melting with fervent heat.” So much for the second thing proposed; for all these were in view, when Christ was set up from everlasting.
III. The third thing proposed in the method was, to show for what ends and purposes Christ was set up from eterlasting, from the beginning, ere ever the earth was. I answer in the following particulars:
1st, He was set up from everlasting, as a Sun to give light to this lower world, which (through the sin of man) was become like a dungeon of darkness. No sooner had man sinned, but his mind (which before was like a lamp of light, as to the knowledge of God, and of his mind and will,) became dark,