« VorigeDoorgaan »
when he maketh himself known in his glory to Moses, he sendeth him not to the creation, nor to Mount Sinai, but putteth him into a rock' (being a resemblance of Christ) and then maketh a proclamation of the gospel unto him. Moses' prayer was, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." How doth the Lord grant this prayer? "I will make all my goodness to pass before thee;"-and then revealeth himself unto him almost all by mercy:-"The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving ini. quity, transgression, and sin ;" to note unto us, that the glory of God is in nothing so much revealed, as in his goodness. Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his people d?"
Besides; Though the law be indeed from God, as from the author of it, so that, in that respect, there may seem to be no difference of excellency between that and the gospel; yet we must observe that, by the remainders of creation, though God should not have revealed his law again unto Moses in the Mount,-much of the law, and by consequence of God himself, might have been discovered by human industry, as we see by notable examples of the philosophers and grave heathens. But the gospel is such a mystery, as was for ever hidden from the reach and very suspicion of nature, and wholly of divine revelation. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the hearts of men, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him:"-the apostle speaketh it of the mystery of the gospel; noting, that it is above the observation, or learning, or comprehension, of nature, so much as to suspect it. Nay, the natural enquiry of the angels themselves could never have discovered it; even unto them it is made known by the church &;' that is, If it had not been for the church's sake, that God would reveal so glorious a mystery, the angels in Heaven must have been for ever ignorant of it. So extremely desperate was the fall of man, that it wanted the infinite and unsearchable wisdom of God himself to find out a
e Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19, and xxxiv. 6, 7. f 1 Cor. ii. 7,9. Ephes. iii. 9, 10,
d Mic. vii. 18.
Rom. xvi. 25.
remedy against it. If the Lord should have proceeded thus far in mercy towards man, and no farther,-Thou art a wretched creature, and I am a righteous God; yea, so heavy is my wrath, and so woful is thy condition, that I cannot choose but take compassion upon thee; and therefore I will put the matter into thine own hands; requisite it is, that my pity towards thee should not swallow up the respects to mine own justice and honour, that my mercy should be a righteous and a wise mercy. Consult therefore together, all ye children of men, and invent a way to reconcile my justice and mercy to one another; set me in a course to show you mercy, without parting from mine own right, and denying the righteous demands of mine offended justice, and I will promise you to observe it;-I say, if the mercy of the Lord should have confined itself within these bounds, and referred the method of our redemption unto human discovery, we should for ever have continued in a desperate estate, everlastingly unable to conceive, or so much as in fancy to frame unto ourselves, a way of escape. As the creatures, before their being, could have no thought or notion of their being educed out of that nothing which they were before; so man, fallen, could not have the smallest conjecture or suspicion of any feasible way to deliver himself out of that misery into which he fell. If all the learning in the world were gathered into one man, and that man should employ all his time and study to frame unto himself the notions of a sixth or seventh sense, which yet are as expressly fashioned amongst those infinite ideas of God's power and omniscience, as these five which are already created, he would be as totally ignorant of the conclusion he sought at last, as he was at first. For all human knowledge of natural things is wrought by a reflection upon those phantasms or ideas, which are impressions made from those senses we already use; and are indeed nothing else but a kind of notional existence of things in the memory of man, wrought by an external and sensible perception of that real existence, which they have in themselves. And yet, in this case, a sixth or a seventh sense would agree 'in genere proximo,' and so have some kind of cognation with those we already enjoy. But a new covenant, a new life, a new faith, a new salvation, are things,
'toto genere,' beyond the strain and sphere of nature. That two should become one, and yet remain two still, as God and man do in one Christ; that he who maketh, should be one with the thing which himself hath made; that he who is above all, should humble himself; that he who filleth all, should empty himself; that he who blesseth all, should be himself a curse; that he who ruleth all, should be himself a servant; that he who was the 'Prince of life,' and 'by whom all things in the world do consist,' should himself be dissolved and die; that mercy and justice should meet together, and kiss each other; that the debt should be paid, and yet pardoned; that the fault should be punished, and yet remitted; that death, like Sampson's lion, should have life and sweetness in it, and be used as an instrument to destroy itself; these and the like evangelical truths are mysteries which surpass the reach of all the princes of learning in the world. It is to be believed by a spiritual light, which was not so much as possible to a human reason. We may observe, that every person in the Trinity, setteth himself to teach the mystery of the gospel. The Father revealeth it unto men: "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.-It is written in the prophets, They shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”—The Son likewise teacheth it unto men: therefore he is called the "angel of God's covenant and counsel1," that is, the revealer thereof, because unto the world he made known that deep project of his Father's counsel, touching the restoring of mankind. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him "," He only it is who openeth the bosom of his Father, that is, who revealeth the secret and mysterious counsels, and the tender and compassionate affections (for the bosom is the seat of secrets of love) of his Father unto the world. And there he is said to be a "teacher sent from God "," and to be "the Lord which speaketh from Heaven" in the ministry of his gospel; and
certum, quia impossibile. Tertul.
h Non humana ratione possibile, sed spiritus efficacia credibile. Ambros. Ideo
the doctrine which he teacheth, is called "a heavenly doctrine P," and "a heavenly calling "," and "a high calling"," and oft by the apostle to the Hebrews, τà èπoupávia, "heavenly things;"-to note, that they are not of a natural or earthly condition, and therefore not within the comprehension of an earthly understanding. It is "a wisdom which is from above." The Holy Ghost likewise is a revealer of the gospel unto the faithful. He was sent that he might "convince the world, not only of sin, but of righteousness and judgement too "," which are evangelical things. "The Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God," that is, his unsearchable love, wisdom, and counsel, in the gospel. Therefore the gospel is called "the law of the Spirit of life"," and "The ministration of the Spirit "," and "The revelation of the Spirit ;" and "No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Spirit ;" that is, though men may, out of external conformity to the discipline and profession under which they live, with their mouths acknowledge him to be the Lord; yet their hearts will never tremble, nor willingly submit themselves to his obedience; their conscience will never set to its seal to the spiritual power of Christ over the thoughts, desires, and secrets of the soul, but by the overruling direction of the Holy Ghost. Nature taught the Pharisees to call him Beelzebub and Samaritan ; but it is the Spirit only, which teacheth men to acknowledge him a Lord. Christ is not "the power nor the wisdom of God to any, but to those who are called ";" that is, to those unto whose consciences the Spirit witnesseth the righteousness, which is to be found in him. So then the publication of the gospel belongeth unto men; but the effectual teaching and revelation thereof unto the soul, is the joint work of the Holy Trinity, opening the heart to attend, and persuading the heart to believe the gospel, as a thing worthy of all acceptation. Thus the gospel is a glorious thing, in regard of the original and author of it.
s Heb. viii. 5. ix. 23.
x 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, 12. y Rom.
z 2 Cor. iii. 8.
a Ephes. i. 17. and iii. 16, 19. 1 Pet. i. 11, 12.
c Matth. xii. 24. John viii. 44. d 1 Cor. i. 24. • 2 Thes.
P John iii. 12.
t James iii. 17.
ii. 13, 14. Acts xvi. 14.-Deus nos adjuvat et ut sciamus, et ut amemus. Aug.
q Heb. iii. 1.
u John xvi. 8. 11.
r Phil. iii. 14.
From whence we may infer,-That whatever men think of the ministry and dispensation of the Word, yet undoubtedly the neglect and scorn which is showed it, is done unto Christ himself, and that in his glory. He that receiveth not his word, rejecteth his person f; and the sin of a man against the Word, which we speak in the name and authority of Christ, and in the dispensation of that office wherewith he hath entrusted us, is the same with the sins of those men, who despised him in his own person. You will say,-Christ. is in Heaven; how can any injuries of ours reach unto him? -Surely though he be in Heaven, (which is now the court of his royal residence) yet he hath to do upon earth, as one of the chief territories of his dominion; and, in the ministry of his Word, he speaketh from Heaven stills. He it was, who, by his ambassador St. Paul, "came and preached peace to the Ephesians, who were afar off." His Spirit it was, which "in the prophets did testify of his sufferings and glory." He it was, who gave manifest proof of his own power, speaking in his apostles. He then who refuseth to obey the words of a minister in the execution of his office, when he forewarneth him of the wrath to come, and doth not discern the Lord's voice therein,-but in despite of this ministerial citation unto the tribunal of Christ, will still persist in the way of his own heart, and as he hath been, so resolveth to continue, a swearing, blasphemous, luxurious, proud, revengeful, and riotous person, thinking it baseness to mourn for sin, and unnecessary strictness to humble himself to walk with God; and yet because all men else do so, will profess his faith in the Lord Jesus;-that man is a notorious liar; yea (as the apostle speaketh) " he maketh God a liar" too, in not believing the record which he giveth of his Son, which is that he should "wash away the filth, and purge out the blood of his people with a spirit of judgement, and a spirit of burning ":" that "he should sit as a refiner and purifier of silver", purging his priests that they might offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." He walketh contrary to that covenant of mercy which he professeth to lay hold on; for this is one of the great promises of the covenant,-" I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean
h Eph. ii. 17.
f John xii. 48. 8 Heb. xii. 25.
i 1 Pet. i. 11. * 2 Cor.
• Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 27.