« PoprzedniaDalej »
sion was wrought in him by the eternal Spirit, and therefore, by him,' he offered himself to God.
(4.) To this also belongs that faith which he now acted on God and his promises. And this respected (1) Himself; that he should be supported, and carried through his work to a blessed issue: I will put my trust in him.' Heb. ii. 13. Herein, indeed, he was horribly assaulted, till he cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' But after all, his faith was victorious. Psal. xxii. 9-11. (2.) This faith of his respected the Covenant. The blood that he now shed was the blood of the covenant; and it was shed for the Church, that the blessings of the covenant might be communicated to them, with respect to which he exercised faith, as fully appears from his prayer. John xvii.
These gracious actings of the soul of Christ were the means whereby in his death, which was violent as to the instruments of it, and penal as to the sentence of the law, he voluntarily offered himself up as a sacrifice for sin; and these were the things which, from the dignity, of his person, became efficacious and victorious; and without them his death had been no oblation. These rendered his offering a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour to God. God was so absolutely delighted with these glorious acts of grace and obedience, that he smelt a savour of rest' towards mankind. He was more pleased with the obedience of Christ than he was displeased with the sin of Adam.
Eighthly. There was a peculiar work of the Spirit towards Christ, while he was in the state of the dead. His holy Spirit he committed into the hands of his Father, who had engaged to preserve him in death, and to shew him again the path of life.' His holy body in the grave continued under the special care of the Spirit of God; and hereby that great promise was accomplished, that his soul should not be left in Hell (the unseen state) nor the Holy One see corruption.' It is the body of Christ that is here called the Holy One; it was made an holy thing by the conception of it in the womb by the power of the Holy Ghost; and is distinguished from his soul; and opposed by Peter (Acts ii. 29.) to the dead body of David, which saw corruptton." This holy substance was preserved in its integrity by the power of the
Spirit, without any of those accidents of change which attend the dead bodies of others.
Ninthly. There was a peculiar work of the Holy Spirit in his resurrection; he was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit, restored to life by the Spirit. Pet. iii. 18, &c. To the same purpose we are instructed by our apostle : But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies.' Rom. viii. 11. And in another place he prays that, by the work of the Spirit in the Ephesians, they might experience the greatness of that power which he exerted in raising Christ from the dead. Eph. i. 17. And the evidence given to his being the Son of God by his resurrection, is said to be according to the Spirit of holiness,' or the Holy Spirit. Rom. i. 4. This also is the meaning of that expression, Justified-in the Spirit.' 1 Tim. iii. 16. God was manifest in the flesh, by his incarnation; and justified in the Spirit, by a declaration of his acquital from the sentence of death, by his resurrection from the dead, through the mighty working of the Spirit of God.
Tenthly. The Holy Spirit glorified the Human nature, and made it every way meet for its eternal residence at the right hand of God, and a pattern of the glorification of the bodies of all believers. He who first made his nature holy, now made it glorious and as we are made conformable to him in our souls here, so he is in his glorified body, the pattern of that glory which in our mortal bodies we shall receive by the same Spirit. Phil. iii. 21.
There is yet another work of the Spirit, not immediately on the person of Christ, but on his behalf; and this is his witness-bearing to him that he is the Son of God. It is well known how our Lord was reproached in this world; and how ignominiously he was sent out of it by death. Hence a great contest ensued, in which Hell and Heaven were deeply engaged. The world in general affirmed that he was an impostor, justly punished for his evil deeds he, on the other side, chose twelve apostles to testify the holiness of his life, the purity of his doctrine, and the accomplishment of the prophecies concerning him but what could the testimony of twelve poor
though honest men, prevail against the confronting suffrage of the world? Wherefore this work of bearing witness to Christ, was committed to him who is above all, and who is able to make his testimony prevalent. But when the Comforter is come, he shall testify of me.' John xv. 26. Accordingly the apostles plead his concurring testimony: We are his witnesses-and so also is the Holy Spirit;' and the manner of his bearing witness was, with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles and gifts.' The great design of which was to bear witness to the person of Jesus, that he was indeed the Son of God; owned and exalted by him. And thus, together with the effectual power which accompanied the gospel, the generality of mankind were subdued to the obedience of the faith.
By these considerations we may be led into that knowledge of Jesus Christ which is so necessary, so useful, and so much recommended to us in the Scripture. And the utter neglect of this knowledge is not more pernicious to the souls of men, than the learning of it by undue means, such as the use of images among the Papists; for, besides that they are forbidden of God for any such purposes, and cursed with barrenness as to any useful ends, they are in themselves suited only to ingenerate low and carnal thoughts in superstitious minds. This is at best to know Christ only after the flesh;' but the glory of his human nature consists alone in these eminent, peculiar, ineffable communications of the Spirit of God to him, and his powerful operations in him. This is represented in the glass of the Gospel, which we beholding by faith, are changed into the same image, by the same Spirit.
But the considerations we have insisted on, if duly regarded, will guide us into a spiritual knowledge of Christ; and we are thus to know him: (1.) That we may love him with a pure unmixed love. It is true that the person of Christ, as God-man, is the proper and ultimate object of our love: but a distinct consideration of his natures and their excellencies, is effectual to draw forth our love towards him. He is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand,'-that is, perfect in the beauty of the graces of the Holy Spirit, which render him exceedingly amiable. Would you therefore propose
Christ to your affections, so that your love may be sincere, and not lavished away on a false object, the creature of your own imaginations?-Consider what has been said concerning him :-the blessed union of his two natures in the same person,-the uncreated glories of his divine nature, and the perfection of grace which dwelt in his human nature; and if you can and do delight in him, and love him on these accounts, your love is genuine and spiritual. (2.) We are to know Christ, so as to labour after conformity to him; and this conformity consists in a participation of the graces whose fulness dwells in him. And we cannot regularly press after this, but by an acquaintance with the work of the Spirit on his human nature. And thus we have given a brief delineation of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in and towards the person of Christ, the head of the church his preparation of a mystical body for him, in his gracious optrations on the elect of God, must be next considered.
The General Work of the Spirit with respect to the Members of that Body whereof Christ is the Head.
E have considered the work of the Spirit in laying the foundation of the New Testament Church, by his dispensations towards Christ the head of it. He is the foundation-stone of this building, with seven eyes engraven on him, or filled with an absolute perfection of all the gifts and graces of the Spirit. Zech. iii. 9. The same hand that laid this foundation, doth also finish the building. The same Spirit which was given to him, 'not by measure,' giveth grace to every one of us,' according to the measure of the gift of Christ.' He who prepared, sanctified, and glorified the human nature of the head of the church, has undertaken to prepare, sanctify, and glorify his mystical body, or all the elect given to him by the Father. Concerning which, the following things may be premised:
This work of the Spirit being not an original, but a perfecting work, it supposes the love, grace, and eternal purpose of the Father, and the whole mediation of Jesus Christ; for it is his peculiar work to make these effectual to the souls of the elect, to the praise of the glory of the grace of God. In the first creation, God seemed chiefly to intend to glorify the essential properties of his nature, his power, goodness, and wisdom. But in the new creation, God intends the special revelation of each person distinctly, in his peculiar operations; a full discovery of the economy of the Holy Trinity, with superior light to what was afforded under the Old Testament. We find in the saints of old, vigorous actings of faith in their approaches to God: but as to a clear access to the Father, through the Son,-by the Spirit (Eph. ii. 18.) (wherein the life of our communion with God consists) we hear nothing of it. Herein therefore God plainly declares, that the foundation of the whole was laid in the counsel of the Father; the accomplishment of that counsel is by the mediation of the Son; God intending that all men should honour him, even as they honour the Father: and the actual application of all to the souls of men is by the Spirit, that they may be partakers of the grace designed in the counsel of the Father, and prepared in the mediation of the Son. And herein is the Holy Ghost to be glorified, that he, together with the Father and Son, may be known, adored, and worshipped.
2. From the nature and order of this work of God, it is that, after the Son was actually incarnate,' and had fulfilled what he had undertaken to do in his own person, the great promise of finishing the work of salvation concerns the sending the Holy Spirit to perform what he also had undertaken. When our Lord had ascended into Heaven, the apostle Peter tells us, that being exalted by the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Ghost; that is, he received the thing promised The promise itself was not then first given to him, for he received it in the covenant, when he undertook the redemption of man; nor did he receive it for himself, for he had the fulness of the Spirit from his incarnation; but he received the blessing promised, that he might pour forth his Spirit on his disciples, as the apostle speaks: Having received the promise, he hath shed