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JOHN xvii. 24.
Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me
where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the
world. THE last clause of this verse only now remains to be spoken to. And it is, as you have heard, the fourth and last thing I took
up in the matter of Christ's prayer here. The argument which Christ useth to back his desire of having his peopl with him: it is in these words, For thuu lovedst me before the foundation of the world. This I would briefly speak to, and at this time conclude this text. And this argument of Christ I would speak unto two ways:
I. Unto the words in themselves; and,
I. As these words are in themselves. They contain Christ's asserting of the eternal love of the Father unto the Son. For this word, before the foundation of the world, and another, before the world was, and before the world began, are all to the same purpose, and are the Holy Ghost's expressing of eternity prior to time: for before the world began, there was nothing but eternity; and God inhabiting it, as the prophet speaks, Isa. Ivii. 15. Of this eternal love of the Father to the Son, I would speak briefly.
1. Consider this eternal love in the Father to the person his Son. This, I own, is too deep for us to fathom; but it is a blessed deep to swim in. The manner of the everlasting begetting of the person of the Son by the Father, is une searchable by all creatures, and, it may be, will be so eternally. The state of glory was not designed for satisfying curiosity, and instructing men in points of mere speculation, or in things beyond all created reach. So it passeth our understanding to know how the Father loveth his only begotten
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able, 1 Cor. x. 13. ; much more was it so in his dealing with Christ, Psal. Ixxx. 17. and lxxxix. 19. He knew (what we cannot conceive) what a vast load of wrath this strong one could bear. None but Christ could stand before an angry God, could bear his wrath, and satisfy justice. If I may use such a similitude, when the sword of justice was drawn against Christ, and pierced through his soul and body, the Father knew well that his Son was so armed, that he could not be hurt thereby. His divine nature, and his Father's presence with him, John xvi. 32. and the ineffable union betwixt the Father and the Son, were as armour of proof about the man Christ; that though justice slew him, it did him neither any wrong, nor real hurt, whatever smart was in the stroke.
5. The Father knew the glorious victory that his Son would obtain in, and by, and over all his sufferings; that for the suffering of death, he should be crowned with glory and honour, Heb. ii. 9. ; that he should be highly exalted, Phil. ii. 9. So that what Christ was put to, was but like a father's sending his son to a stormy sea, and a dangerous voyage, from which he knew he should return safe and rich; or like a king's sending his son to war, wherein he was sure he should conquer, and return in triumph. Divine prescience is another thing in God's eye, than angel or man can possibly think. And this was eminently in Christ's sufferings, Acts ii. 23. and iv. 28.
6. There were great and glorious ends God had before him, in all the sufferings that Christ was put to endure ; great glory to his grace, great glory to his Son, and a great salvation to his people; of which the word is full. And all that read, or hear, or think of Christ's death and sufferings, with out regard to the ends thereof, they mind only a bare history and matter of fact, without any fruit thereby.
7. Lastly, The Father loved the Son in dying and for dying, as in John X. 17, 18. For Christ in dying offered up
the highest and most acceptable worship and service to God that ever was offered : Eph. v. 2. Christ loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. And it is the sweet smell of this sacrifice that drowns, as it were, the stink of all the sins and sinners it was offered for. His death could not be a propitiation, if
it were not so. The two greatest sins that ever were, were, the first Adam's first sinning. All mens sins since, and Adam's own sinning after, (as doubtless he did for nine hundred and thirty years), were all the sinning of sinners : but his first sin was a sinless man's sinning; besides, it was the most damning sin that ever was, or can be. The other great sin, was the crucifying the second Adam, the Prince of life, and the Lord of glory. It is not only charitably believed by the church of God in all ages, that Adam obtained mercy; but hath been proved by some hints in the word, that both Adam and Eve were believers. But for the other great sin, the murdering of the Son of God, it is past doubt, that many guilty of his blood were forgiven in the virtue of it. A singular case were they in. The
of Christ's blood disturbed and defiled their consciences, (and most justly); and the voice of this blood sprinkling their consciences, purged and pacified them. Now, if to these great sins you add all the sins of all the sinners that were ever forgiven, (and no man can count them, or weigh them),.conclude, that there was somewhat offered to God, more pleasing to him than all sin was displeasing; and this was only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Abraham's offering up of his son at God's command, was highly pleasing to God; but it was but a type and shadow of Christ's offering up of himself without spot unto God, Heb. ix. 14. Abraham in that action on the mount was to be a priest, and his son the sacrifice; but he only did offer to be so, and the Lord did accept the will for the deed. But when Christ came to offer himself, for all the perfect will he had to do it, the sacrifice must be offered, and was; and therein was performed the greatest, highest, and most acceptable worship to God. None was ever like it before; and none comparable to it, will, or can ever be. The praises of the glorified in heaven will be high and acceptable worship; but no way to be compared with that worship Christ paid, and God accepted in Christ's death.
And thus much to these words in themselves, as they assert the eternal love of the Father to the Son.
II. I would now speak to them, with respect to Christ's scope in using them; and therein would observe three things. VOL. II,
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ was now near to his lowest: and he comforts himself with the faith of his Father's eternal love. So must Christians do. Whatever the Lord brings you to, if it were to the brink of death, you must study to imitate Jesus Christ, and take in the comfort of his everlasting love. For though the love the Father hath to the Son, and that love he hath to believers, do differ vastly, yet they agree in this, that they are both eternal; and in this also, that the faith of this love is supporting to his people, as it was to Christ himself. It is no wonder that believers have so little comfort; even because they do not by faith seek out and dig up the right springs and wells of consolation, and are so little exercised in drawing and drinking out of them. I say not, that this spring of consolation, eternal love, is the first, and plainest, and easiest to come at; but only that it is the strongest, when a believer can find it out, and use it.
2. Consider this' word of Christ, as it is an argument backing his prayer, and every petition in it. He calls God Father; and rightly, because thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. “ Glorify thy Son, for thou lovedst me. I pray for thine and mine, for thou lovedst me.” How boldly may a believer pray, when he hath this argument in the hand of his faith to pray upon: “Lord, hear me; for thou hast loved me in thy « Son before the foundation of the world?"
3. The main thing in the scope of these words of Christ is this, that the Father's love to Christ is the fountain of all good to his people. Christ is praying in this verse for the greatest good to his people, even for heaven; and this suit he urgeth on this argument, For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. You would think, that the argument would have run more plainly, (but it would not have run so sweetly, and so strongly), if it had been thus: “I will that " they may be with me where I am ; that they may behold " my glory : for thou hast loved them, and I have loved them, « before the foundation of the world." But it is best as Christ useth it, For thou hast loved me.
On this truth, That the Father's love to Christ is the fountain of all good to his people, I would give a few instances of it, and conclude this text with a few words of Application.
Instances are, 1. Election, that sovereign purpose and grace of God, is given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began, 2 Tim. i. 9. We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, Eph. i. 4. Christ did not purchase the grace of election for us; yet there is no election but in Christ, and únto the sprinkling of his blood, i Peter i. 2. The end, salvation ; the way and means reaching to this end, faith and sanctification, are joined in this purpose, 2 Thess. ii. 13, and Christ's interest in it, 1 Thess. v. 9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, and this salvation in Jesus Christ, with eternal glory, is obtained by the elect, 2 Tim. ii. 10.
2. The grace of redemption comes to us from the Father's love to his Son. This love sent him to be Redeemer, and accepted the price of his life for his flock. Abstracting from his eternal counsel and covenant, God was at liberty to have left man in the pit he had thrown himself. in, and to appoint no Redeemer. But, not to trouble our heads with such unprofitable speculations, it is plain, that the whole business of redemption by Christ was transacted before time, promised in time, and dispatched in the fulness of time, in love to Christ the Redeemer, as well as in love to the redeemed. 3. Christ's intercession in heaven.
Whence is it so prevalent, but from that great favour Christ stands in heaven in ? It is from the love the Father hath to the Son, that Christ's desires for his people are so successful. It is upon this love that Christ
for heaven to his people in this text. And this whole prayer in this chapter, was a mediatory prayer of Christ when on earth, and the best copy we have of his intercession in heaven.
More particularly, 1. The quickening of a sinner dead in sins and trespasses, is from the Father's love to his Son. All the dispensations of converting grace on sinners, are acts and fruits of the Father's love to Christ: John vi. 44, 45. No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him. “And when he is drawn, and cometh, I will “ welcome him, and give a good account of him one day.” And I will raise him up at the last day. But how doth the Father draw men to Christ ? By his way of teaching. It is