Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

was

say :

Grace hath its print from God, and is conformity to the holiness of God, as appearing in his law. It is the image of God, there is a harmony and proportion of all graces in the soul to those perfections of holiness which are in God, as there is of the members of the body of a child to its father ; in respect of this likeness men are said to be the children of God. It might better be said of grace, than it was said of the soul by the heathen, that it

a spark of the Divine essence, or as the Jews

“ Souls were the shavings or chips of the throne of glory.” Graces are the drops of God's perfections, they are so exact an image of him. In respect of this likeness to God's holiness, gracious souls that have escaped the corruptions of the world through lust, do partake of the Divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. It is called a bearing the image of the heavenly, 1 Cor. xv. 48. Not that God bestows any thing of the Divine essence upon the soul, but an image and representation of himself, just as a golden seal conveys to the wax the image engraven on it, but not the least particle of its matter, the wax remaining wax, though under another form and figure. This likeness is a likeness to God in his highest perfection, namely his holiness, which runs through all, and may be applied to all the attributes, as holy power, &c. and herein grace excels the perfections of the wliole creation put together, for all the creatures are not so like to God as grace makes the soul. And how can we imagine any thing, wherein we can be more like to God, than in that which is the highest excellency, and perfection of God ? Now, seeing grace hath so near a relation to God, and God doth so delight to see this in his people, that all his end is to make

SO

basest enemy

them like him, in a completing of holiness in them in heaven, and that this is that which Christ must do at the last, present them holy and blameless without any spot; will he neglect that which dear and like to him ? and suffer his own image to be wholly crushed under feet by corruption, his

? 4. The wisdom of God. The weakest grace is the birth of his eternal counsel : He has chosen us that we might be holy, Eph. i. 4. If thou hast any grace, though ever so mean, thou wert from eternity given by God to Christ, and Christ purchased this grace for thee, else the Spirit would never have infused it into thee, for the Spirit receives of Christ and shows it unto you; there was a decree passed in heaven for all that grace thou hast. Therefore that which made God at first resolve upon it, and made him send such a force and brigade into thy soul, will cause him to perfect it to a complete victory : “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, ,” Phil. i. 6. The apostle was confident that because God had begun it, he would perfect it; what ground should he have for this confidence, if weak grace could be totally overcome ? God being unchangeable in his counsels and decrees, if any saint whom he hath purposed to save, should be totally drawn from him, it would argue God changeable, that his will was altered, or weak, that his power was extinguished, or unwise, that his counsel was rashly undertaken. But surely his love being founded upon his counsel, admits of no change. Besides, God doth infuse grace into those souls which are naturally and morally most

incapable of it. The most rugged pieces he smooths, the darkest souls he enlightens, the greatest evemies he makes friends, and would he begin this work to have it presently spoiled ? God before he meddled with any soul, foresaw what contests and conflicts of sin and the devil there would be against him ; he counted all the cost and charges, and all the pains he was to take. And it doth not consist with the wisdom of God to lay aside his undertaking, nor with the patience of God not to endure the brunt, when he foresaw every stratagem of the devil against such a soul when he first set up the standard in it. The gospel is called the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10. And surely all the effects of it, and this of grace in the heart, which is the chief effect and design of it, is an act of God's wisdom; and should this which is the birth of his manifold wisdom be suppressed ? 5. The glory of God. God's end in

every thing is his glory, and that which grace aims at is the glory of God. As God minds himself and wills himself the chief good, so doth grace mind and will God as the choicest and supreme happiness. Those graces which maintain the hottest fight against corruption, and are the strongest and most active legion, have a peculiar objective relation to God, as love to him, faith in him, desire for him ; those graces which are exercised about man, and the duties of the second table, have not so great an interest in this quarrel. Now is it for the honour of God, to let that which is his best friend in the world be totally suppressed? Would not his honour suffer in it ? The two sisters thought it a good argument to prevail with Christ to come and help Lazarus when they sent him word, “ He whom thou lovest is sick ;” and Christ himself took an argument from his friendship to raise him : “Our friend Lazarus sleeps.” And is it not as good an argument with God to come in for relief of languishing grace, when you send him word how hard it is beset ?

II. Christ is engaged in this work. The promise in the text manifests that Christ was engaged by his Father to it, his Father having promised it upon his proclaiming him his chosen Servant.

Christ is engaged as,

1. A purchaser. He died to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Inward works as well as outward, Tit. ii. 14. He gave himself that we might be without filth, and at last without spot, wrinkle, or blemish : “ Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify, and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church,” Eph. v. 25—27, not an imperfect church; not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; any thing like them ; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. To sanctify or cleanse by degrees, to perfect it by wiping out all the spots, and smoothing the wrinkles, and making it highly beautiful, fit to be presented to himself as his eternal spouse.

If these spots and blemishes should keep their standing, it would argue, that it was not Christ's purpose in the giving himself to remove them ; or that this gift was not equivalent to so great an end, and sufficient to attain it; or else that he hath since repented of his intent; but none of those will hold; this scripture assures us,

gave himself for this purpose ; the Father hath

he

[ocr errors]

exalted him at his right hand for it, and his compassions work powerfully in his bowels even in heaven ; he was of the same mind after his ascension, when Paul wrote this epistle. Therefore he is said, by one offering, to perfect for ever them that are sanctified, Heb. x. 14; that is, that one offering was of such infinite value, that it perfectly purchased the taking away of sin, both in the guilt, filth, and power, and was a sufficient price for all the grace believers should need for their perfect sanctification to the end of the world. There was the satisfaction of his blood for the removal of our guilt, and a treasure of merit for the supply of our grace. Though glory was due to him, even from the moment of his incarnation, as he was the Son of God, yet he would not enter into it, and sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, till he had purchased grace and all the measures of it for his people, and that by himself, by the laying down his life as the price for it: “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Heb. i. 3. Sat downwhen ? Not till he had purged, that is, made atonement for our sins, and paid for whatsoever holiness or purging grace his people should want. His blood was so valuable, that the treasures of God were dealt out to believers, before his coming, upon the credit of his bond; much more will they be so after his coming, upon God's actual receipt of the price, and our Saviour's sitting down at the right hand of God, to see the grace he purchased given out. Upon this account Christ hath a care of the weakest saint as well as of the most glorious angel, because he died to purchase the weakest believer, not the highest angel, who stood in no need of it; if Christ

« AnteriorContinuar »