Page images
PDF
EPUB

provision therefore made for both in the work of redemption. There are greater manifestations of the love of God to us, than there would have been if man had not fallen, and also there are greater motives to love him than otherwise there would have been. · There are greater obligations to love him, for God bas done ore for us to win our love. Christ hath died for us.

Again, man is now brought to a more universal and immediate and sensible dependence on God, than otherwise he would have been. All his happiness is now of him, through him, in him. If man had not fallen, he would have had all bis happiness of God, by his own righteousness; but now it is by the righteousness of Christ. He would have had all his holiness of God, but not so sensibly ; because then he would have been holy from the beginning, as soon as he received his being; but now, he is first sinful and universally corrupt, and afterwards is made holy. If man had held his integrity, misery would have been a stranger to him ; and therefore bappiness would not have been so sensible a derivation from God, as it is now, when man looks to God from the deeps of distress, cries repeatedly to him, and waits upon him. He is convinced by abundant experience, that he has no place of resort but God, who is graciously pleased, in consequence of man's earnest and persevering suit, to appear to his relief, to take him out of the miry clay and horrible pit, set him upon a rock, establish his goings, and put a new song into his mouth. By man's having thus a more immediate, universal, and sensible dependence, God doth more entirely secure man's undivided respect. There is a greater motive for inan to make God his all in all, --to love bim and rejoice in him as his only portion.

4thly. By the contrivance for our salvation, man's sin and misery are but an occasion of his being brought to a more full and free converse with, and enjoyment of God than otherwise would have been. For as we have observed already, the union is greater; and the greater the union, the more full the communion, and intimpate the intercourse. —Christ is come down to man in his own nature ; and hereby he may converse with Christ more intimately, than the infinite distance of the divine nature would allow. This advantage is more than what the angels have. For Christ is not only in a created nature, but he is in man's own nature. We have also advantages for a more full enjoyment of God. By Christ's incarnation, the saints may see God with their bodily eyes, as well as by an intellectual view. The saints, after the day of judgment, will consist of both body and soul; they will have outward as well as spiritual sight. It is now ordered by divine wisdom, that God himself, or a divine person, should be the principal enter: tainment of both these kinds of sight, spiritual and corporeal; and the saints in heaven shall not only have an intellectual sight of God, but they shall see a divine person as they see one another; not only spiritually, but outwardly. The body of Jesus Christ will appear with that transcendent visible majesty and beauty, which is exceedingly expressive of the divine majesty, beauty, and glory. The body of Christ shall appear with the glory of God upon it, as Christ tells us, Matt. xvi. 27. The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father. Thus to see God will be a great happiness to the saints. Job comforted bimself that he should see God with his bodily eyes, Job xix. 26. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

5thly. Man's sin and misery is made an occasion of his greater bappiness, as he has now a greater relish of happiness, by reason of his knowledge of both. In order to happiness, there must be two things, viz. union to a proper object—and a relish of the object. Man's misery is made an occasion of increasing both these by the work of redemption. We have shewn already, that the union is increased; and so is the relish too, by the knowledge man now has of evil. These contraries, good and evil, heighten the sense of one another. The forbidden tree was called the tree of knowledge of good and eyil; of evil, because by it we came to the experience of evil; of good, because we should never have known so well what good was, if it had not been for that tree. We are taught the value of good, by our knowledge of its contrary, evil. This teaches us to prize good, and makes us the more to relish and rejoice in it. The saints know something what a state of sin and alienation from God is. They know something what the anger of God is, and wbat it is to be in danger of hell. And this makes them the more exceedingly to rejoice in the favour and in the enjoyment of God.

Take two persons; one who never knew what evil was, but was happy from the first moment of his being, having the favour of God, and numerous tokens of it; another who is in a very doleful and undone condition. Let there be bestowed upon these two persons the same blessings (subjectively,] the same good things; and let them be objectively in the same glorious circumstances,_and which will rejoice most ?-Doubt. less he that was brought to this happiness out of a miserable and doleful state. So the saints in heaven will for ever the more rejoice in God, and in the enjoyment of his love, for their being brought to it out of a most lamentable state and condition,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The wisdom of God greatly and remarkably appears in so exceedingly baffling and contounding all the subtilty of the old serpent. Power never appears so conspicuous as wben opposed and conquering opposition. The same may be said of wisdom; it never appears so brightly, and with such advantage, as when opposed by the subtilty of some very crafty enemy; and in baffling and confounding that subtilty. The devil is exceeding subtile. The subtilty of the serpent is emblematical of his, Gen. iii. 1. He was once one of the bright intelligences of heaven, and one of the brightest, if not the very brightest of all. And all the devils were once morning stars, of a glorious brightness of understanding. They still have the same faculties, though they ceased to be influenced and guided by the holy Spirit of God; and so their heavenly wisdom is turned into hellish craft and subtilty.God in the work of redemption hath wondrously baffled the utmost craft of the devils, and though they are all combined to frustrate God's designs of glory to himself, and goodness to men.—The wisdom of God appears very glorious herein. For,

1. Consider the weak and seemingly despicable means and weapons that God employs to overthrow Satan. Christ poured the greater contempt upon Satan in the victory that he obtained over bim, by reason of the means of his preparing himself for it, and the weapons he hath used. Christ chooses to encounter Satan in the human nature, in a poor, frail, afflicted state. He did as David did. David, when going against the Philistine, refused Saul's armour, a helmet of brass, a coat of mail, and his sword. No, he puts them all off. Goliath comes mightily armed against David, with a belmet of brass upon his head, a coat of mail weighing five thousand shekels of brass, greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders ; a spear, whose staff was like a weaver's beam; and the spear's head weighing six hundred shekels of iron. And besides all this, he had one bearing a shield before him. But David takes nothing but a staff in his hand, and a shepherd's bag and a sling; and he goes against the Philistine. So the weapons that Christ made use of were his poverty, afflictions and reproaches, sufferings and death. His principal weapon was his cross, the instrument of his own reproachful death. These were seemingly weak and despicable instruments, to wield against such a giant as Satan. And doubtless the deyil disdained them as much as Goliath did David's staves

and sling. But with such weapons as these has Christ, human, weak, mortal nature, overthrown and baffled all craft of hell.

Such disgrace and contempt bas Christ poured upon Satan. David bad a more glorious victory over Goliath for conquering bim with such mean instruments: and Samson over the Philistines for killing so many of them with such a despicable weapon as the jaw-bone of an ass. It is spoken of in scripture as a glorious triumph of Christ over the devil, that he should overcome him by such a despicable weapon as his cross. Col. ii. 14, 15. Blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross : and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.—God shews his great and infinite wisdom in taking this method, to confound the wisdom and subtilty of his enemies. He hereby shews how easily he can do it, and that he is infinitely wiser than they. 1 Cor. i. 27–29. God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things that are mighty: and the base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen ; yea, and things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are.

2. God has hereby confounded Satan with his own weapons. It is so contrived in the work of redemption, that our grand enemy should be made a means of his own confusion : and that, by those very things whereby he endeavours to rob God of his glory, and to destroy mankind, he is made an instrument of frustrating his own designs. His most subtile and powerful endeavours for accomplishing his designs are made a means of confounding them, and of promoting the contrary. Of this, I will mention but two instances. First. His procuring man's fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he designed. Indeed he has hereby procured the ruin of multitudes of mankind, wbich he aimed at. But in this he does not frustrate God's design from all eternity to glorify himself; and the misery of multitudes of mankind will prove no content to him, but will enhance his own misery.

What Satan did in tempting man to fall, is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended, in that it gave occasion for God to glorify himself the more; and giveth occasion for the elect being brought to bigher bappiness.

The happy state of man was envied by Satan. That man who was of earthly original should be advanced to such honours, when he who was originally of a so much more noble nature should be cast down to such disgrace, his pride could not bear. How then would Satan triumph, when he had brought him down!

The devil tempted our first parents with this, that if they would eat of the forbidden fruit, they should be as gods.It was a lie in Satan's mouth; for he aimed at nothing else but to fool man out of his happiness, and make him his own slave and vassal, with a blinded expectation of being like a god.But little did Satan think that God would turn it so, as to make man's fall an occasion of God's becoming man: and so an occasion of our nature being advanced to a state of closer union to God.

By this means it comes to pass, that one in man's nature now sits at the right hand of God, invested with divine power and glory, and reigns over heaven and earth with a god-like power and dominion. Thus is Satan disappointed in his subtilty. As he intended that saying, Ye shall be as gods, it was a lie, to decoy and befool man. Little did he think, that it would be in such manner verified, by the incarnation of the Son of God. And this is the occasion also of all the elect being united to this divine person, so that they become one with Christ. Believers are as members and parts of Christ.

Yea the church is called Christ. Little did Satan think, that his telling that lie to our first parents, “ Ye shall be as gods," would be the occasion of their being members of Christ the Son of God.

Again, Satan is made a means of his own confusion in this :- It was Satan's design, in tempting man to sin, to make man his captive and slave for ever; to have plagued, and triumphed over him. And this very thing is a means to bring it about,

that man instead of being his vassal should be his judge. The elect, instead of being his captiyes, to be for ever tormented and triumphed over by him, shall sit as judges to sentence him to everlasting torment. It has been the means, that one in man's nature, should be his supreme judge. It was man's nature that Satan so envied, and sought to make a prey of. But Jesus Christ at the last day shall come in man's pature, and the devils shall be all brought to stand trembling at his bar : and he shall judge and condemn them, and execute the wrath of God upon them. And not only shall Christ in the human nature judge the devils, but all the saints shall judge them with Christ as assessors with him in judgment. I Cor. vi. 3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?

Secondly. In another instance Satan is made a means of his own confusion; that is, in his procuring the death of Christ. Satan set himself to oppose Christ as soon as he appeared.--He sought, by all means, to procure his ruin. He set the Jews against him. He filled the minds of the scribes and Pharisees with the most bitter persecuting malice against Christ. He sought by all means to procure his death; and that he might be put to the most ignominious death. We read

« PreviousContinue »