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holiness, but not a mere dependence on the arbitrary and sovereign grace of God; that own a dependence on the free grace of God for a reception into his favor, so far that it is without any proper merit, but not as it is without being attracted, or moved with any excellency; that own a partial dependence on Christ, as be through whom we have life, as having purchased new terms of life, but still hold that the righteousness through which we have life is inherent in ourselves, as it was under the first covenant; and whatever other way any scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and in each of those ways, of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its lustre and glory.
3. Hence we may learn a reason why faith is that by which we come to have an interest in this redemption ; for there is included in the nature of faith, a sensibleness and acknowledgment of this absolute dependence on God in this affair. It is very fit that it should be required of all, in order to their having the benefit of this redemption, that they should be sensible of, and acknowledge their dependence on God for it. It is by this means that God hath contrived to glorify himself in redemption ; and it is fit that God should at least have this glory of those that are the subjects of this redemption, and have the benefit of it.
Faith is a sensibleness of what is real in the work of redemption ; and as we do really wholly depend on God, so the soul that believes doth entirely depend on God for all salvation in its own sense and act. Faith abases men, and exalts God, it gives all the glory of redemption to God alone. It is necessary in order to saving faith, that man should be emptied of himself, that he should be sensible that he is “ wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Humility is a great ingredient of true faith : he that truly receives redemption, receives it as a little child. Mark x. 15, “ Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child, he shall not enter therein." It is the delight of a believing soul to abase itself and exalt God alone : that is the language of it, Psalm cxv. 1, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory.”
4. Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavor to obtain, and increase in a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent, and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to be exalting himself and depending on his own power or goodness, as though he were he from whom he must expect happiness, and to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found.
And this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone, as by trust and reliance, so by praise. Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.' Hath any man hope that he is converted, and sanctified, and that his mind is endowed with true excellency and spiritual beauty, and his sins forgiven, and he received into rod's favor, and exalted to the honor and blessedness of being his child, ani an heir of eternal life; let him give God all the glory; who alone makes him to differ from the worst of men in this world, or the miserablest of the damned in hell. Hath any man much comfort and strong hope of eternal life, let not his hope lift him up, but dispose him the more to abase himself, and reflect on his own exceeding unworthiness of such a favor, and to exalt God alone. Is any man eminent in holiness, and abundant in good works, let him take nothing of the glory of it to himself, but ascribe it to him whose "workmanship we are, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”
THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRIST.
REVELATION v. 5, 6.—And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of
Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain
The visions and revelations that the Apostle John had of the future events of God's providence are here introduced with a vision of the book of God's decrees, by which those events were foreordained; which is represented in the first verse of this chapter, as a book in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, “ written within and on the back side, and sealed with seven seals.” Books in the form in which they were wont of old to be made, were broad leaves of parchment or paper, or something of that nature, joined together at one edge, and so rolled up together, and then sealed, or some way fastened together, to prevent their unfolding and opening. Hence we read of the roll of å book, Jer. xxxvi. 2. It seems to have been such a book that John had the vision of here; and therefore it is said to be “ written within and on the back side,” i. e., on the inside pages, and also on one of the outside pages, viz., that that was rolled in, in the rolling of the book up together. And it is said to be “ sealed with seven seals,” to signify that what was written in it was perfectly hidden and secret; or that God's decrees of future events are sealed, and shut up from all possibility of being discovered by creatures, till God is pleased to make them known. We find that seven is often used in Scripture as the number of perfection, to signify the superlative or most perfect degree of any thing ; which probably came from that, that on the seventh day God beheld the works of the creation finished, and rested and rejoiced in them, as being complete and perfect.
When John saw this book, he tells us, he “saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals there of? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” And that he wept much, because" no man was found worthy to open the book, neither to look thereon.” And then he tells us how his tears were dried up, viz., that “one of the elders said unto him, Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed,” &c., as in the text. Though no man nor angel, nor any mere creature, was found either able to loose the seals, or worthy to be admitted to the privilege of reading the book; yet this was declared, for the comfort of this beloved disciple, that Christ was found both able and worthy. And we have an account in the succeeding chapters how he actually did it, opening the seals in order, first one, and then another, revealing what God had decreed should come to pass hereafter. And we have an account in this chapter, of his coming and taking the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne, and of the joyful praises that were sung to him in heaven and earth on that occasion.
Many things might be observed in the words of the text; but it is to my present purpose only to take notice of the two distinct appellations here given to Christ.
1. He is called a Lion. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He seems to be called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in allusion to what Jacob said in
his blessing of the tribes on his death-bed; who, when he came to bless Judah, compares him to a lion, Gen. xlix. 9: “ Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an oid lion; who shall rouse him up ?" And also to the standard of the camp of Judah in the wilderness, on which was displayed a lion, according to the ancient tradition of the Jews. It is much on account of the valiant acts of David, that the tribe of Judah, of which David was, is in Jacob's prophetical blessing compared to a lion ; but more especially with an eye to Jesus Christ, who also was of that tribe, and was descended of David, and is in our text called “the root of David ;" and therefore Christ is here called “the lion of the tribe of Judah.”
2. He is called a Lamb. John was told of a lion that had prevailed to open the book, and probably expected to see a lion in his vision; but while he is expecting, behold a Lamb appears to open the book, an exceeding diverse kind of creature from a lion. A lion is a devourer, one that is wont to make terrible slaughter of others; and no creature more easily falls a prey to him than a lamb. And Christ is here represented not only as a lamb, a creature very liable to be slain, but a "Lamb as he had been slain," that is, with the marks of its deadly wounds appearing on it.
That wbich I would observe from the words, for the subject of my present discourse, is this, viz., There is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ.
The lion and the lamb, though very diverse kinds of creatures, yet have each their peculiar excellencies. The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his voice: the lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing, and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But we see that Christ is in the text compared to both; because the diverse excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.
In handling this subject, I would,
First, Show wherein there is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ.
Secondly, How this admirable conjunction of excellencies appears in Christ's acts.
And then make application.
First, I would show wherein there is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ. Which appears in three things.
I. There is a conjunction of such excellencies in Christ, as, in our manner of conceiving, are very diverse one from another.
II. There is in hiin a conjunction of such really diverse excellencies, as otherwise would have seemed to us utterly incompatible in the same subject.
III. Such diverse excellencies are exercised in him towards men, that otherwise would have seemed impossible to be exercised towards the same object
I. There is a conjunction of such excellencies in Christ, as, in our manner of conceiving, are very diverse one from another. Such are the various divine perfections and excellencies that Christ is possessed of. Christ is a divine person, or one that is God; and therefore has all the attributes of God. The difference there is between these is chiefly relative, and in our manner of conceiving of them. And those that in this sense are most diverse, do meet in the person of Christ.
I shall mention two instances. 1. There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension
Christ, as he is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth : for he is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than the highest angels of heaven. So great is he, that all men, all kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before him; all nations are as the drop of the bucket, and the light dust of the balance; yea, and angels themselves are as nothing before him. He is so high, that he is infinitely above any need of us; above our reach, that we cannot be profitable to him; and above our conceptions, that we cannot comprehend him. Prov. XXX. 4, “ What is his name, or what is his son's name, if thou canst tell ?" Our understandings, if we stretch them never so far, cannot reach up to his divine glory. Job xi. 8, " It is high as heaven, what canst thou do ?” Christ is the Creator and great possessor of heaven and earth: he is sovereign Lord of all: he rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him: his knowledge is without bound : his wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent: his power is infinite, and none can resist him : his riches are immense and inexhaustible: his majesty is infinitely awful.
And yet he is one of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Christ's condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them. He condescends not only to the angels, bumbling himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but he also condescends to such poor creatures as men ; and that not only so as to take notice of princes and great men, but of those that are of meanest rank and degree, the “poor of the world,” James ii. 5. Such as are commonly despised by their fellow creatures, Christ does not despise. 1 Cor. 1. 28,“ Base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen.” Christ condescends to take notice of beggars, Luke xvi. 22, and of servants, and people of the most despised nations : in Christ Jesus is neither“ Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,” Col. iii. 11. He that is thus high, condescends tó take a gracious notice of little children. Matt. xix. 14, “Suffer little children to come unto me.” Yea, which is much more, his condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of the most unworthy, sinful creatures, those that have infinite ill deservings.
Yea, so great is bis condescension, that it is not only sufficient to take some gracious notice of such as these, but sufficient for every thing that is an act of condescension. His condescension is great enough to become their friend: it is great enough to become their companion, to unite their souls to him in spiritual narriage: it is great enough to take their nature upon him, to become one of them, that he may be one with them: yea, it is great enough to abase himself yet lower for them, even to expose himself to shame and spitting ; yea, to yield up himself to an ignominious death for them. And what act of condescension can be conceived of greater? Yet such an act as this, has his condescension yielded to, for those that are so low and mean, despicable and unworthy !
Such a conjunction of such infinite highness and low condescension, in the same person, is admirable. We see, by manifold instances, what a tendency a high station has in men, to make them to be of a quite a contrary disposition. If one worm be a little exalted above another, by having more dust, or a bigger Junghill, how much does he make of himself! What a distance does he keep from those that are below him! And a little condescension is what he expects should be made much of, and greatly acknowledged. Christ condescends to wash our feet; but how would great men (or rather the bigger worms) account themselves debased by acts of far less condescension !
2. There meet in Jesus Christ, infinite justice and infinite grace. As Christ is a divine person he is infinitely holy and just, infinitely hating sin, and disposed
to execute condign punishment for sin. He is the Judge of the world, and is the infinitely just judge of it, and will not at all acquit the wicked, or by any means clear the guilty.
And yet he is one that is infinitely gracious and merciful. Though his justice be so strict with respect to all sin, and every breach of the law, yet he has grace sufficient for every sinner, and even the chief of sinners. And it is not only sufficient for the most unworthy to show them mercy, and bestow some good upon them, but to bestow the greatest good; yea, it is sufficient to bestow all good upon them, and to do all things for them. There is no benefit or blessing that they can receive so great, but the grace of Christ is sufficient to bestow it on the greatest sinner that ever lived. And not only so, but so great is his grace, that nothing is too much as the means of this good: it is sufficient not only to do great things, but also to suffer in order to it, and not only to suffer, but to suffer most extremely even unto death, the most terrible of natural evils ; and not only death, but the most ignominious and tormenting, and every way the most terrible death that men could inflict; yea, and greater sufferings than men could inflict, who could only torment the body, but also those sufferings in his soul, that were the more immediate fruits of the wrath of God against the șins of those he undertakes for.
II. There do meet in the person of Christ such really diverse excellencies, which otherwise would have been thought utterly incompatible in the same subject; such as are conjoined in no other person whatever, either divine, human, or angelical ; and such as neither men nor angels would ever have imagined could have met together in the same person, had it not been seen in the person of Christ. I would give some instances.
1. In the person of Christ do meet together infinite glory, and the lowest humility. _Infinite glory and the virtue of humility, meet in no other person but Christ. They meet in no created person; for no created person has infinite glory: and they meet in no other divine person but Christ. For though the divine nature be infinitely abhorrent to pride, yet humility is not properly predicable of God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, that exist only in the divine nature; because it is a proper excellency only of a created nature; for it consists radically in a sense of a comparative lowness and littleness before God, or the great distance between God and the subject of this virtue ; but it would be a contradiction to suppose any such thing in God.
But in Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, these two diverse excellencies are sweetly united. He is a person infinitely exalted in glory and dignity. Phil. i. 6, “ Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” There is equal honor due to him with the Father. John v. 25, “ That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” God himself says so to him: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,” Heb. i. 8. And there is the same supreme respect and divine worship paid to him by the angels of heaven, as to God the Father ; as there, verse 6, “ Let all the angels of God worship him."
But however he is thus above all, yet he is lowest of all in humility. There never was so great an instance of this virtue among either men or angels, as Jesus. None ever was so sensible of the distance between God and him, or had a heart so lowly before God, as the man Christ Jesus, Matt. xi. 29. What a wonderful spirit of humility appeared in him, when he was here upon earth in all his behavior! In his contentment, in his mean outward condition, contentedly living in the family of Joseph the carpenter, and Mary his mother, for 'thirty years together and afterwards choosing outward meanness, poverty and