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The uncondemned man asketh not for grace; the righteous man asketh only for justice. Friends ask - not for peace, because they have it already. The continual use of these words, Grace and Peace, in the mouth of Christ and his church, do bespeak the world to be by God's appointment in a state of condeinnation and alienation from himself; and by that same appointment brought back and restored unto a state of reconciliation and pacification. When I say by God's appointment, I do not mean an arbitrary act of will, but a necessary law of being, an unchangeable attribute of his essence; whereof it is as true that he is just, as that he is the justifier of him that believeth ; as true that he is holy, as that he is gracious; as true that he can punish, as that he can forgive. And when the Apostles do in their benedictions to the churches say, “Grace and peace be unto you," they not only declare the forgiveness and favour of God to sinful men, but likewise communicate these gifts unto those who have faith in their office. And herein lieth the chief dignity of the ministerial office, that we do bless the people, in the full assurance, that, wherever faith is, our blessing will there rest ; and only where faith is not will it return to us again: for neither are the ordinances, nor the persons appointed to minister them, empty things, but full of the spiritual substances signified therein. It was no vain wish of John when he said, “Grace and peace be unto you ;” nor is it an empty wish at this far distance of time and place from its utterance; but upon him who readeth and upon him who heareth with faith, these words of benediction shall in the
substance of the thing arise within his heart. The more may God endow us with faith in every jot and tittle of his holy word! But this certainty of blessing to him that believeth will the more appear, when we consider next the unchangeableness of the persons in whom it is contained inexhaustible, and from whom it floweth everlastingly.
3. “From Him which was, and which is, and which is to come ; and from the seven Spirits whic
are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the Firstbegotten from the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.” The style of the persons of the blessed Godhead is grand and sublime, like every thing else in this book : that of the Father, whose prerogative it is to be
self-originated, whose name is Jehovah, I Am that I Am, expressive of unchangeableness and identity in all times and places, is, as here given, expressive of the same truth of his underived and unchangeable being; "from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” This some have thought to be a translation into the Greek of the Hebrew word Jehovah; and in the 8th verse, where the same style is used of Christ, they suppose the word Almighty, which is added, to be equivalent to the Hebrew word Elohim or God, so as to make up for Christ that most frequent name of God in the Old Testament, Jehovah Elohim, or the Lord God. However this may be, there can be no doubt that this is the style appropriated to the Father in the passage before us, which is, and which was, and which is to come.” And the question ariseth, -What is its precise import, and what is the propriety of its use in this place? With respect to its import, we observe, that it denotes freedom from all change, independence upon all time, and place; à Being with whom past, present, and to come,
one and the same. creature whatsoever hath a beginning, and therefore is under the conditions of time; and every form of being hath fallen, and is therefore under the condition of change. Wherefore it seems to me that this style doth best express the condition of Him who is not a creature, but the Creator,
all, blessed for ever. When this same style of Godhead is applied unto Christ in the 8th verse, there is added to it “the Almighty," or the Governor of all; by which addition the absolute style of the Father is linked, and as it were limited to the created universe ; declaring to us, that in Christ there is the same Godhead as in the Father, yet not in the same absolute state, but in the state of being applied to the government of all things. The addition of the word Almighty, or all-Governor, in the 8th verse, doth not add unto, but detract from, the awful abysmal depth of the absolute Being expressed by the words 6 which was, and which is, and which is to come ;" and doth in fact represent the Godhead acting with powers defined and limited unto the end of governing the world. The one being the Godhead unknown, and unknowable, in the person of the Father subsisting, and worshipped of every creature : the other being that same Godhead manj
fested within the limits of reason in the person of the Word made Aesh, who can be known, and ought to be known; and for no other end than to be known, did so bound and limit himself. This is a point which requireth some little explanation ; and as it concerneth man above all things to know God, and not to be ignorant of him, I count no labour SƠ well bestowed as that which I give to unfold and glorify the name of my Father which is in heaven. The Godhead being purposed to manifest itself in the person of the Son, by exhibiting him under conditions of change, born, humbled, slain; and afterwards in the person of the Holy Ghost, by bringing the world under the Son incarnate, it became necessary for expressing the true character of Godhead and preventing all misunderstanding, that its essential, unrevealed, unlimited, unsearchable properties, should remain hidden in the person of the Father, and there abiding, be worshipped by the Son incarnate, and by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of regenerate men.Godhead, in its incomprehensibility, standeth therefore in the person of the Father; in its comprehensibility, in the person of the Son ; and in its communicableness, in the person of the Holy Ghost. All that can be felt of God, is in the Holy Ghost all that can be known of God, is in the Son; and all that is of God, is in the Father. Yet there are not three Godheads, but one Godhead: and therefore that Godhead which is worshipped in the Father, is the Godhead of Fa. ther, Son, and Holy Ghost : and so, also, is that Godhead which is known in the Son, and which is possessed in the Spirit. The Godhead changeth not, but existeth in three subsistencies; the one for worship of the creature, the other for knowledge of the creature, the other for inhabitation of the creature. And all in-working of the Spirit referreth unto Christ, as its origin and end ; and all manifestation in Christ, referreth to the Father, as its origin and end: so that absolute Godhead, essential and incomprehensible Godhead, is glorified in all our knowledge, and in all our experience. Christ glorifies God, and every member of Christ glorifies the Son and the Father; whom in the Son they ever behold, but cannot altogether behold. And wherein they cannot know him, and wherein they cannot contain him, they worship him, believe in him, and trust upon him. So that all experience and all knowledge is
unto worship; and worship begins where knowledge and experience end: and knowledge and experience are but the footing upon which worship stands, to minister unto God the acceptable offering of entire trust and complete dependance: and because this care and guardianship, so to speak, of Godhead's unrevealed and worshipped fulness belongeth to the Father, he bath, in the passage before us, the style of the absolute one.
We come now to the style in which the Holy Ghost is spoken of in this benediction : “And from the seven Spirits which are before his throne :" upon which we observe, in general, that it carrieth a distinct reference to the vision of the iv th chapter, where we have the throne of God represented to us, and before that throne the seven Spirits : as it is written, ver. 5, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices; and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." Now whereas it is said in our text, that the seven Spirits are before the throne of Him which was, and is, and which is to come; and in the text just quoted, that they are before the throne of Him which was to look upon like a sardine and a jasper stone, we certainly conclude, that it is the person of the eternal Father, which is there represented unto us, but with the limitation of the all-Governor ; not in the absoluteness of the Father, which cannot be represented by any vision, nor seen by any eye, nor comprehended by any mind, but within the limits assumed by the Son, for the end of shewing forth the Father's glory. And in that same vision of the ivth and v th chapters, we have likewise the person of the Son representing
own assumed character, by a Lamb which had been slain, and lived still; that is, as the first-begotten from the dead : who likewise there receiveth his other dignity of the Prince of the kings of the earth; for into his hand is given that sevensealed book, which possesseth the mysterious power, as it is unrolled, of chastising, afflicting, and finally dethroning them all. So that we may in general assert, that in the vision of the iv th and vth chapters, which in our former lecture we have observed is the master vision of all which follows, we have embodied by symbols, that style of the Godhead which in the benediction is expressed by words: teaching us this lesson, that the Apostle John, when he had received the further insight given in this book, into the being and operation of God, did straightway begin to make his use of it, in speaking to the churches; and preferreth to preface his book with that style rather than with the ordinary style of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He learned from his vision; and what he learned, he instantly used for the profit of the church.
Having observed this in general, we now proceed in particular to open the mystery which is revealed in the words, “ The seven Spirits which are before his throne." That this denominates the Holy Ghost, will, I think, hardly be doubted by any one who observeth the place where it occurs between the Father upon the one hand, and our Lord Jesus Christ upon the other. It is not to be believed that in a benediction proceeding from three persons, of whom two are assuredly the person of the Father, and the
person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the third should not be the person of the Holy Ghost. But this is put beyond all doubt, from what is written of the Lamb (ver. 6), that it had seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. Now, who but the Holy Spirit thus inhereth in the Lamb, as his power and his vision, and from him proceedeth over all the earth? Who is Christ's power but the Holy Ghost? And as we have already seen the absolute name of the Godhead applied to, and made to inhere in, the name of Christ, so have we, in the text just quoted, the name of the Holy Ghost likewise made in him to adhere ; shewing us this great point of doctrine, that though the person of Christ is the person of the Son, yet in Christ, and in him only, is the knowledge of the Father, and the knowledge of the Holy Ghost to be apprehended : as it is written, “ in him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily."--How this is, it is not difficult to perceive. The human will in Christ is actuated by the person of the Son; and that to which it ever conformeth itself, is the will of the Father : “ Not my will, but thine be done.” He that conformeth it, is the Son; he to whom it is conformed, is the Father; and the power operating to resist the devil, the world, and the flesh, is the Holy Ghost; and so, in Christ the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily. If I want to know what the Father's