« PreviousContinue »
tion. For here you see that the things he now asks of his Father, are the very same which his Father promised him, and covenanted to give him, before this world was. So that, besides the interest of the person, the very equity of the matter speaks its success, and requires performance. Whatever he asks for us, is as due to him as the wages of the hireling, when the work is ended. If the work be done, and done faithfully, as the Father hath acknowledged it is, then the reward is due, and due immediately; and no doubt but he shall receive it from the hands of a righteous God.
3. Hence, in like manner, you may be informed of the consistency of grace with full satisfaction to the justice of God. The apostle tells us, we are saved "according to his own purpose
and grace, which was given us in Jesus Christ before the world began,” 2 Tim. 1:9, that is, according to the gracious terms of this covenant of redemption; and yet you see, notwithstanding, how strictly God claims satisfaction from Christ. So then, grace to us, and satisfaction to justice, are not so inconsistent as some adversaries of the truth would make them: what was debt to Christ, is grace to us. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 3:24.
4. Hence judge of the antiquity of the love of God to believers; what an ancient Friend he hath been to us; who loved us, provided for us, and contrived all our happiness, before we were, yea, before the world was. We reap the fruits of this covenant now, the seed whereof was sown from eternity; yea, it is not only ancient, but also most free: no excellences of ours could engage the love of God; for as yet we were not.
5. Hence judge how reasonable it is that believers should embrace the hardest terms of obedience unto Christ, who complied with such hard terms for their salvation. They were hard and difficult terms indeed,
on which Christ received you from the Father's hand; it was, as you have heard, to pour out his soul unto death ; " Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.” 2 Cor. 8:9. Blush, ungrateful believers; oh, let shame cover your faces; judge in yourselves now, hath Christ deserved that you should hesitate at trifles, that you should shrink at a few petty difficulties, and complain, this is hard, and that is severe? Oh, if you knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in this his wonderful condescension for you, you could not do it.
6. How greatly are we all concerned to make it sure to ourselves, that we are of this number which the Father and the Son agreed for before the world was; that we were comprehended in Christ's engagement and compact with the Father! But some one will
say, who can know that? I answer, you may know, without ascending into heaven, or prying into unrevealed secrets, that your names were in that covenant, if, (1.) You are believers indeed; for all such the Father then gave to Christ: " The men that thou gavest me, (for of them he spake immediately before,) they have believed that thou didst send me.” John, 17:6, 8. (2.) If you savingly know God in Jesus Christ. Such were given him by the Father: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me.
." Verse 6. By this they are discriminated from the rest : The world hath not known thee, but these have known.” Verse 25. (3.) If you are men of another world : " They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Verse 16. May it be said of you, as of dying men, that you are not men for this world, that you are crucified and dead to it, Gal. 6:14, that you are strangers in it! Heb. 11:13, 14. (4.) If you keep Christ's word: " Thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” John, 17:6. By keeping his word, understand the re
ceiving of the word, in its sanctifying effects and influences, into your hearts, and your perseverance in the profession and practice of it to the end : "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” Verse 17. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will." John, 15:7. Blessed and happy is that soul upon which these blessed characters appear, which our Lord Jesus has laid so close together, within the compass of a few verses, in the 17th chapter of John. These are the persons the Father delivered unto Christ, and Christ accepted from the Father, in this blessed covenant.
THE ADMIRABLE LOVE OF GOD IN GIVING HIS OWN SON FOR US.
" For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son.” John, 3:16.
In these words are to be considered,
1. The original spring or fountain of our best mercies—The love of God.
2. The mercy flowing out of this fountain, and that is Christ, The Mercy, as he is emphatically called, Luke, 1:72; the marrow, kernel, and substance of all other mercies. "He gave his only begotten Son.”
3. The objects of this love, or the persons for whom the eternal Lord delivered Christ, namely, "the world." This must respect the elect of God in the world; such as do, or shall actually believe, as it is exegetically expressed in the next words, " That whosoever believeth
in him should not perish.” Those whom he calls the world in that, he styles believers in this expression; these are the objects of this love. It is not angels, but men, that were so loved.
4. The manner in which this never-enough celebrated mercy flows to us, from the fountain of Divine love, and that is most freely and spontaneously. "He gave, not he sold, or barely parted with, but gave. Nor yet doth the Father's giving imply Christ to be merely passive; for as the Father is here said to give him, so the apostle tells us, that he gave himself: "Who loved me, and gave
himself for me.” Gal. 2 : 20. The Father gave him out of good will to men, and he as willingly bestowed himself on that service. Hence we learn, that The gift of Christ is the highest and fullest manifestation
of the love of God to sinners, ever made from eternity.
How is this gift of God to sinners signalized in that sentence of the apostle, "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins!” 1 John, 4:10. Why doth the apostle so magnify this gift in saying, "Herein is love,” as if there were love in nothing else? May we not say, that to have a being, a being among rational creatures, therein is love ? To have our life carried so many years, like a taper in the hand of Providence, through so many dangers, and not yet put out in obscurity, therein is love? To have food and raiment convenient for us, beds to lie on, relations to comfort us, in all these is love? Yea; but in all these there is no love, in comparison with the love in sending or giving Christ for us: these are great mercies in themselves; but compared to this mercy, they are all swal . lowed up, as the light of candles when brought out to the sun. No, no, herein is love, that God
Christ for us. When the apostle would show, Rom. 5: 8, what is the noblest fruit, that most commends to men the
root of Divine love that bears it, he shows us this very fruit of it," God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us :" this is the very essence of that love.
In expounding this precious point, we will show,
1. How Jesus Christ was given by the Father, and what is implied therein.
1. His designation and appointment unto death for us; for you read that it was done "according to the determinate counsel of God.” Acts, 2 : 23. As the lamb under the law was separated from the flock, and set apart for a sacrifice; and though still living, was intentionally and preparatively given, and consecrated to the Lord; so Jesus Christ was, by the counsel and purpose of God, thus chosen, and set apart for his service: and therefore, in Isa. 42:1, God calls him his Elect, or chosen One.
2. His giving Christ, implies a parting with him, or setting him (as the French version hath it) at some distance from himself for a time. There was a kind of parting between the Father and the Son, when he came to tabernacle in our flesh: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world ; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” John, 16:28. This distance, occasioned by his incarnation and humiliation, was properly as to his humanity, which was really distant from the glory into which it is now taken up; and in withholding the manifestation of delight and love, the Lord seemed to treat him as one at a distance from him. Oh! this was it that so deeply pierced and wounded his soul, as is evident from that complaint, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from the words of my roaring ? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not,” &c. Psa. 22 : 1, 2.
3. God's giving of Christ, implies his delivering him into the hands of justice; even as condemned persons