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causes of God's decrees without himself, is neither agreeable with the primitive being of the nature of God, nor with the doctrine of the scriptures; this is sure that God is not bound to give us further account of these things, and we are bound not to ask it. Let these two words (as St. Augustin says) answer all, What art thou o mank? And the depthi!
Our only sure way to know that our names are not in that black line, and to be persuaded, that he hath chosen us to be saved by his Son, is this, to find that we have chosen him, and are built on him by faith, which is the fruit of his love, that first chooseth us. And that we may read in our esteem of him.
He is precious.] or your honour. The difference is small; you account him your glory, and your gain; he is not only precious to you, but preciousness itself. He is the thing that you may account of, your jewel, which if you keep, though you be robbed of all besides, you know yourselves to be rich enough.
To you that believe.] Faith is absolutely necessary to make this due estimate of Christ.
i. The most excellent things, while their worth is undiscerned and unknown, affect us not : now, faith is the proper seeing faculty of the soul, in relation to Christ; that inward light must be infused from above, to make Christ visible to us; without it, though he is beautiful, yet we are blind, and therefore cannot love him for that beauty. But by faith we are enabled to see him that is fairer than the children of men", yea to see in him the glory of the only begotten Son of God", and then it is not possible but to account him precious, and to bestow the entire affection of our hearts upon him. And if any say to the soul, What is thy beloved more than another°? it willingly lays hold on the question, and is glad of an opportunity to extol him. k Rom. ix. 20. Rom. xi, 33. m Psal. xlv. 2. n John i. 14.
• Cant, iii. 9.
2. Faith, as it is that which discerns Christ, so it alone appropriates, or makes him our own. These are the two reasons of esteeming and affecting any thing, its own worth and our interest in it; and faith begets this esteem of Christ by both; first, It discovers to us his excellencies, that we could not see before; and then it makes him ours, gives us possession of whole Christ, all that he hath, and is As it is faith that commends Christ so much, and describes his comeliness in that song, that word is the voice of faith, that expresses propriety, My well-beloved is mine, and I am his, and these together make him most precious to the soul. Having once possession of him, then it looks upon all his sufferings as endured particularly for it, and the benefit of them all as belonging to itself. Sure it
“ Can I choose but account him precious, “that suffered shame, that I might not be ashamed; and suffered death that I might not die; that “ took that bitter cup of the Fathers's wrath, and “ drunk it out, that I might be free from it?”
Think not that you believe, if your hearts be not taken up with Christ, if his love do not possess your soul, so that nothing is precious to you in respect of him; if you cannot despise and trample upon all'advantages that either you have or would have, for Christ, and count them with the great apostle, Loss and dung in comparison of him?. And if you
do esteem him, labour for increase of faith, that you may esteem him more; for as faith grows, so will he still be more precious to you. And if you would have it grow, turn that spiritual eye frequently to him that is the proper object of it; for even they that are believers may possibly abate of their love and esteem of Christ, by suffering faith to lie dead within thein, and not using it in beholding and applying of Christ. And the world, or some particular vanities may insensibly creep in, and get into the heart, and cost them, much pains ere they can be thrust out again. But when they are daily reviewP Cart. ii. 16.
9 Philip. iii. 8.
ing those excellencies that are in Christ, which first persuaded their hearts to love him, and discovering still more and more of them, his love will certainly grow, and will chase away those follies that the world doats
upon, as unworthy to be taken notice of by such a soul.
Ver. 9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priest-hood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
It is a matter of very much consolation and in-. struction to christians to know their own estate, what they are, as they are christians. This epistte is much and often upon this point for both those ends; that the reflecting on their dignities in Christ, may uphold them with comfort under suffering for him; and also that it may lead them in doing and walking as becomes such a condition. Here it hath been represented to us by a building, a spiritual temple, and by a priesthood conformable to it.
The former is confirmed and illustrated by testimonies of scripture in the preceding verses; the latter in this verse, in which, though it is not expressly cited, yet it is clear that the apostle hath reference to', where this dignity of priesthood, together with the other titles here expressed, is ascribed to all the chosen people of God. It is there a promise made to the nation of the Jews, but under the condition of obedience; and therefore is most fitly here applied by the apostle to the believing Jews, to whom particularly he writes.
It is true, that the external priesthood of the law is abolished by the coming of this great high priest; Jesus Christ being the body of all those shadows: But this promised dignity of spiritual priesthood, is so far from being annulled by Christ, that it is altogether dependent on him; and therefore fails in those that reject Christ, although they be of that nation
Exod. xix. 5, 6.
to which this promise was made. But it holds good in all, of all nations that believe, and particularly, says the apostle, it is verified in you. You that are believing Jews, by receiving Christ, do also receive this dignity.
As the legal priesthood was removed by Christ's fulfilling all that it prefigured, so he was rejected by them that were at his coming in possession of that office; as the standing of that their priesthood was inconsistent with the revealing of Jesus Christ; so they that were then in it, being ungodly men, their carnal minds had a kind of antipathy against him. Though they pretended themselves builders of the church, and by their calling ought to have been so, yet they threw away the foundation stone that God had chosen and designed; and in rejecting it, manifested that they themselves were rejected of God: but on the contrary, you that have laid your
souls on Christ by believing, have this your chusing him as a certain evidence, that God hath chosen you to be his peculiar people, yea to be so dignified, as to be a kingly priesthood, through Christ.
We have here to consider, i. The estate of christians, in the words that here describe it; 2. The opposition of it to the state of unbelievers ; 3. The end of it.
1. The state of christians, a chosen generation'.] The Psalmist there speaks first of God's universal sovereignty, then of his peculiar choice; The earth is the Lord's : but there is a select company, appointed for this holy mountain, described ; and the description is closed thus, This is the generation of them that seek him. Thus, whence this is taken"; for all the earth is mine, and that nation, which is a figure of the elect of all nations, God's peculiar, beyond all others in the world. As men that have great variety of possessions, yet have usually their special delight in some one beyond all the rest, and choose to reside most in it, and bestow most expence on it to make it pleasant: thus doth the Lord
s Psal. xxiv. + Deut. x. 14, 15. so Exod. xix, 5.
of the whole earth choose out to himself from the rest of the world, a number that are a chosen generation.
Chusing here, is the work of effectual calling, or severing of believers from the rest; for it signifies a difference in their present estate, as do likewise the other words joined with it. But this election is altogether conformable to that of God's eternal decree, and is no other but the execution or performance of it; God's framing of this his building, just according to the idea of it, which was in his mind and purpose before all tiine; the drawing forth and investing of such into this christian, this kingly priesthood, whose names were expressly written up for it in the book of life.
Generation.] This imports them to be of one race or stock, as the Israelites, who were by outward calling the chosen of God, were all the seed of Abraham according to the flesh: So they that believe in the Lord Jesus, are children of the promisex; and all of them by their new birth, one people or generation. They are of one nation, belonging to the same blessed land of promise, all citizens of the new Jerusalem, yea all children of the same family, whereof Jesus Christ, the root of Jesse, is the stock, who is the great king, and the great high priest. And thus they are a royal priesthood. There is no devolving of his royalty or priesthood on any other, as it is in himself; for his proper dignity is supreme and incommunicable, and there is no succession in his order, he lives for ever, and is priest for ever', and king for ever too'; but they that are descended from him, do derive from him by that new original this double dignity, in that way that they are capable of it, to be likewise kings and priests, as he is both. They are of the seedroyal, and of the holy seed of the priesthood, in as much as they partake of a new life from Christ; first there is his own dignity expressed, then his dignifying us, who is himself the first begotten among x Gal. iv. 28. y Psal. cx. 4.
z Psal xlv. 6.