« PreviousContinue »
great changes, all her tossings to and fro, all her storms and tempests through the many ages of the world. We have seen her enter the harbour, and landed in the highest heavens, in complete and eternal glory. We have gone through the several ages of time, as the providence and word of God have led us. We have seen all the church's enemies fixed in endless misery, and have seen the church presented in her perfect redemption before the Father in heaven, there to enjoy this most unspeakable and inconceivable glory and blessedness ; and there we leave her to enjoy this glory throughout the never-ending ages of eternity.
Now all Christ's enemies will be perfectly put under his feet, and he shall have his most perfect triumph over sin and Satan, and all his instruments, and death, and hell. Now shall all the promises made to Christ by God the Father before the foundation of the world, the promises of the covenant of redemption, be fully accomplished. Christ shall now perfectly have obtained the joy set before him, for which he undertook those great sufferings in his state of humiliation. Now shall all the hopes and expectations of the saints be fulfilled. The state of the church before, was progressive and preparatory: but now she is arrived to her most perfect state of glory. All the glory of the church on earth is but a faint shadow of this her consummate glory in heaven.
Now Christ the great Redeemer shall be most perfectly glorified, God the Father shall be glorified in him, and the Holy Ghost shall be most fully glorified in the perfection of his work on the hearts of all the church.--And now shall that new heaven and new earth, or the renewed state of things, be completely finished, after the material frame of the old heavens and old earth is destroyed : Rev. xxi. I. And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.--And now will the great Redeemer have perfected every thing that appertains to the work of redemption, which he began so soon after the fall of man. And who can conceive of the triumph of those praises which shall be sung in heaven on this great occasion, so much greater than that on the fall of Antichrist! The beloved disciple John (Rev. xix.) seems to want expressions to describe those praises, and says, It was as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia ; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. But much more inexpressible will those praises be, which will be sung in heaven after the final consummation of all things. How shall the paises of that vast and glorious inultitude be as mighty thunderings indeed !
How are all the former things passed away, and what a glorious state are things fixed in to remain to all eternity!-And as Christ, when he first entered upon the work of redemp
tion, had the kingdom committed to him of the Father, and as he took on himself the administration of the affairs of the universe, to marage all so as to subserve the purposes of this affair; so now, the work being finished, he will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father. I Cor. xv. 24.“ Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.” Not that Christ shall cease to reign after this; for it is said, Luke i. 33, “ He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end ;” and Dan. vii. 14, “ His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” But the meaning is, that Christ shall deliver up that kingdom or dominion which he has over the world, as the Father's delegate or vicegerent, which the Father committed to him, to be managed in subserviency to this great design of redemption. The end of this commission, or delegation, which he had from the Father, seems to be to subserve this particular design of redemption; and therefore, when that design is fully accomplished, the commission will cease, and Christ will deliver it up to the Father, from whom he received it.
Improvement of the Whole.
I proceed now to enter upon some improvement of the whole that has been said from this doctrine.
I. Hence we may learn how great a work is this of redemption. We have now had it, though in a very imperfect manner, set forth, in its whole progress, from its first beginning after the fall, to its consummation. We have seen how God has carried on this building, by a long succession of wonderful works, advancing it higher and higher from one age to another, till the top-stone is laid. And now let us consider how great a work this is. Do men, when they behold some great edifices, admire their magnificence; how well may we admire the greatness of this building of God, which he builds up age after age? There are three things exhibited to us in what has been said, which especially show the greatness of the work of redemption.
1. The greatness of those particular events, and dispensafions of providence, by which it is accomplished. How great are those things which God has done, which are but so many parts of this great work! What great things were done in the world to prepare the way for Christ's coming to purchase, and what great things were done in the actual purchase of redemption! What a wonderful thing was accomplished to put Christ in an immediate capacity for this purchase, riz. his incarnation, that God should become man! And what great things were done in that purchase, that a person, who is the eternal Jehovah, should live upon earth for four or five and thirty years together, in a mean, despised condition, that he should spend his life in such labours and sufferings, and that at last he should die upon the cross! And what great things have been done to accomplish the success of Christ's redemption! what great things to put him into a capacity to accomplish this success! For this purpose be rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and all things were made subject to him. How many miracles have been wrought, what mighty revolutions have been brought to pass in the world already, and how much greater shall be brought to pass, in order to it!
2. The number of those great events by which God carries on this work, shows the greatness of the work. Those mighty revolutions are so many as to fill up many ages.
The particular wonderful events by which the work of creation was carried on filled up six days; but the great dispensations by which the work of redemption is carried on, are so many, that they fill up six or seven thousand years at least, as we have reason to conclude from the word of God. - There were great things wrought in this affair before the flood, and in the flood the world was once destroyed by water, and God's church was so wonderfully preserved from it in order to carry on this work. And after the food, what great things did God work relating to the resettling of the world, to the building of Babel, the dispersing of the nations, the shortening of the days of man's life, the calling of Abraham, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that long series of wonderful providences relating to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph; and those wonders in Egypt, and at the Red sea, in the wilderness, and in Canaan, in Joshua's time, and by a long succession of wonderful providences from age to age towards the nation of the Jews,
What great things were wrought by God, in so often overturning the world before Christ came, to make way for his coming! What great things were done also in Christ's time, and after that in overturning Satan's kingdom in the Heathen empire, and in so preserving his church in the dark times of Popery, and in bringing about the Reformation!
How many great and wonderful things will be effected in accomplishing the glorious times of the church, and at Christ's last coining on the day of judgment, in the destruction of the world, and in carrying the whole church into heaven!
3. The glorious issue of this whole affair, in the perfect and eternal destruction of the wicked, and in the consummate glory of the righteous. And now let us once more take a view of this building, now all is finished and the top-stone laid. It appeared in a glorious height in the apostles' time, and much more glorious in the time of Constantine, and will appear much more glorious still after the fall of Antichrist; but at the consummation of all things, it appears in an immensely more glorious height than ever before. Now it appears in its greatest magnificence, as a complete lofty structure, whose top reaches to the heaven of heavens; a building worthy of the great God, the King of kings.
And from what has been said, one may argue, that the work of redemption is the greatest of all God's works of which we bave any notice, and it is the end of all his other works.--It appears plainly from what has been said, that this is the principal of all God's works of providence, and that all are subordinate to the great affair of redemption. We see that all the revolutions in the world are to subserve this grand design. This shows how much greater the work of redemption is, than the work of creation; because it is the end of it, as the use of a house is the end of the building it. But the work of redemption is the sum of all God's works of providence; all are subordinate to it: so the work of the new creation is more excellent than the old. So it ever is, that when one thing is removed by God to make way for another, the new one excels the old. Thus the temple excelled the tabernacle; the new covenant the old; the new dispensation of the gospel the dispensation of Moses; the throne of David the throne of Saul: the priesthood of Christ the priesthood of Aaron ; the new Jerusalem the old ; and so the new crcation far excels the old.
God has used the creation for no other pyrpose, but to subserye the designs of this affair. To answer this end, be • hath created and disposed of mankind; to this the angels,
to this the earth, to this the highest heavens. God created the world to provide a spouse and a kingdom for bis Son; and the setting up of the kingdom of Christ, and the spiritual marriage of the spouse to him, is what the whole creation labours and travails in pain to bring to pass. This work of redemption is so much the greatest of all the works of God, that all other works are to be looked upon either as parts of it, or appendages to it, or are some way reducible to it; and so all the decrees of God some way or other belong to that eternal covenant of
redemption which was between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world, Every decree of God is some way or other reducible to that covenant. And seeing this work of redemption is so great, we need not wonder that the angels desire to look into it. And we need not wonder that so much is made of it in scripture, that it is so much insisted on in the histories, and prophecies, and songs of the Bible; for the work of redemption is the great subject of the whole, its doctrines, its promises, its types, its songs, its histories, and its prophecies.
II. Hence we may learn how God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending of all things. Such are the characters and titles we find often ascribed to him in scripture. Isa. xli, 4. “ Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last, I am he.” And particularly does the scripture ascribe such titles to God, where it speaks of providence, as it relates to, and is summed up in the great work of redemption; (as Isa. xliv. 6, 7, and xlviii. 9–12.) Therefore, when Christ reveals the future great events of providence relating to his church and people, to his disciple John, he often reveals himself under this character. Rev. i. 8. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” So again, verse 10, 11. " I heard bebind me a great voice as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." Alpha and Omega being the names of the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, it signifies the same as his being the first and the last, and the beginning and the ending : as Rev. xxi. 6. “ And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” And so chapter xxii. 12, 13, “ And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
We have seen on what design God began the course of his providence in the beginning of the generations of men; and how he has all along carried things on agreeably to the same design without ever failing ; and how at last the conclusion and final issue of things are to God; and therefore may well now cry out with the apostle, Rom. xi. 33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are bis judgments, and bis ways past finding out!" and verse 36, “ For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things : to whom be glory for ever.
We have seen how other things came to an end one after another; how states, and kingdoms, and empires, fell, and