« ZurückWeiter »
it were for joy, at the voice of the salutation of Mary. Elisabeth and Mary most joyfully praise God together, with Christ and his forerunner in their wombs, and the Holy Spirit in their souls. And afterwards what joyful notice is taken of this event by the shepherds, and by those holy persons Zacharias, and Simeon, and Anna! How do they praise God on the occasion! Thus the inhabitants of heaven, and the church on earth, unite in their joy and praise on this occasion.
Great part of the universe takes joyful notice of the incarnation of Christ. Heaven takes notice of it, and the inbabitants sing for joy. This lower world of mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, take notice of it. It pleased God to put honour on his Son, by wonderfully stirring up some of the wisest of the Gentiles to come a long journey to see and worship him at his birth. They were led by a miraculous star, signifying the birth of that glorious person who is the bright and morning-star, going before, and leading them to the very place where the young child was. Some think they were instructed by the prophecy of Balaam, who dwelt in the eastern parts, and who foretold Christ's coming as a star that 'should rise out of Jacob. Or they might be instructed by that general expectation there was of the Messiah's coming about that time, from the prophecies the Jews bad of him in their dispersions in all parts of the world.
3. The next concomitant of the birth of Christ was his circumcision. But this may more properly be spoken of under another head, and so I will not insist upon it now.
4. The next concomitant was his first coming into the second temple, when an infant, on occasion of the purification of the blessed Virgin. We read, Hagg. ii. 7. The desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house (or temple) with glory. And in Mal. iii. 1. The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenanti And now was the first instance of the fulfilment of these prophecies.
5. The last concomitant I shall mention is the sceptre's departing from Judah, in the death of Herod the Great. "The sceptre had never totally departed from Judah till now. Judah's sceptre was greatly diminished in the revolt of the ten tribes in Jeroboam's time; and the sceptre departed from Israel or Ephraim at the time of the captivity of the ten tribes by Shalmaneser. But it remained in the tribe of Judah, under the kings of the house of David. And when the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, the sceptre of Judah ceased for a little while, till the return from the captivity under Cyrus: and then, though they were not an independent government, as they had been before, but owed fealty to the kings of Persia ; yet their governor was of
themselves, who had the power of life and death, and they were governed by their own laws; and so Judah had a law. giver from between bis feet during the Persian and Grecian monarchies. Towards the latter part of the Grecian monarchy, the people were governed by kings of their own, of the race of the Maccabees, for near a hundred years; and after that they were subdued by the Romans. But yet the Romans suffered them to be governed by their own laws, and to have a king of their own, Herod the Great, who reigned about forty years, and governed with proper kingly authority, only paying homage to the Romans. But presently after Christ, was born he died, as we have an account, (Matt. ii. 19.) and Archelaus succeeded bim; but was soon put down by the Roman Emperor; and then the sceptre departed from Judah. There were no more temporal kings of Judah after that, neither had that people their governors from the midst of themselves, but were ruled by a Roman governor sent among them; and they ceased to have the power of life and death among themselves. Hence the Jews say to Pilate, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, John xviii. 31. Thus the sceptre departed from Judah when Shiloh camne.
The Purchase of Redemption.
Having thus considered Christ's coming into the world, and his taking on him our nature, to put himself in a capacity for the purchase of redemption, I come now to shew what is intended by the purchase of redemption—to make some general observations concerning those things by which this purchase was made and then to consider those things more particularly which Christ did and suffered, by which that purchase was made.
The Purchase itself, what? By Cbrist purchasing redemption, two things are intended, his satisfaction, and his merit. All is done by the price that Christ lays down, which does two things: it pays our debt, and so it satisfies; it procures our' title to happiness, and so it
merits. The satisfaction of Christ is to free us from misery, and the merit of Christ is to purchase happiness for us.
The word purchase, in this connection, is taken either more strictly or more largely. It is oftentimes used more strictly, to signify only the merit of Christ ; and sometimes more largely, to signify both bis satisfaction and merit. Indeed most of the words used in this affair have various significations. Thus sometimes divines use merit for the whole price that Christ offered, both satisfactorily, and positively meritorious. And so the word satisfaction is sometimes used, not only for bis propitiation, but also for his meritorious obedience. For in some sense, not only suffering the penalty, but positively obeying, is needful to satisfy the law. The reason of this various use of these terms seems to be, that satisfaction and merit do not differ so much really as relatively. They both consist in paying a valuable price, a price of infinite value: but only that price as it respects a debt to be paid, is called satisfaction ; and as it respects a positive good to be obtained, is called merit. The difference between paying a debt and making a positive purchase is more relative than essential. He who lays down a price to pay a debt, does in some sense make a purchase : he purchases liberty from the obligation. And he who lays down a price to purchase a good, does as it were make satisfaction: he satisfies the conditional demands of him to whom he pays it. This may suffice concerning what is meant by the purchase of Christ.
Some general Observations concerning those things by which
this Purchase was made.
1. And here observe, That whatever in Christ had the nature of satisfaction, was by virtue of the suffering or humiliation that was in it; but whatever had the nature of merit, was by virtue of the obedience or righteousness there was in it. The satisfaction of Christ consists in his answering the demands of the law on man, which were consequent on the breach of the law. These were answered by suffering the penalty of the law. The merit of Christ consists in what he did to answer the demands, which were prior to man's breach of the law, or to fulfil what the law demanded before man sinned, which was obedience.
The satisfaction or propitiation of Christ çortsists either in his suffering evil, or his being subject to abasement. Christ did not only maké satisfaction by proper suffering, but by whatever had the nature of humiliation, and abasement of
circumstances. Thus he made satisfaction by continuing under the power of death, while he lay buried in the grave; though neither his body nor soul properly endured any suffering after he was dead. Whatever Christ was subject to that was the judicial fruit of sin, bad the nature of satisfaction for sin. But not only proper suffering, but all abasement and depression of the state and circumstances of mankind below its primitive honour and dignity, such as his body remaining under death, bis body and soul remaining separate, &c. are the judicial fruits of sin. And all that Christ did in his state of humiliation, that had the nature of obedience, moral virtue, or goodness, bad the nature of merit, in it, and was part of the price with which he purchased happiness for the elect.
2. Both Christ's satisfaction for sin, and also his meriting happiness by his righteousness, were carried on through the whole time of his humiliation. Christ's satisfaction for sin was not by his last sufferings only, though it was principally by them; but all his sufferings, and all his humiliation, from the first moment of his incarnation to his resurrection, were propitiatory or satisfactory. Christ's satisfaction was chiefly by his death, because his sufferings and humiliation in that was greatest. But all his other sufferings, and all his other humi. liation, all along had the nature of satisfaction: the mean circumstances in which he was born; his being born of a poor virgin, in a stable, and laid in a manger ; his taking the human nature upon him in its low state, and under those infirmities brought upon it by the fall; his being born in the form of sinful flesh, &c. And so all his sufferings in his infancy and childhood, and all that labour, contempt, reproach, templation, and difliculty of any kind which he suffered through the whole course of his life, was of a propitiatory and satisfactory nature.—And so his purchase of happiness by his righteousness was also carried on through the whole time of his humiliation till his resurrection : not only in that obedience he performed through the course of his life, but also in the obedience he performed in laying down his life.
3. It was by the same things that Christ hath satisfied God's justice, and also purchased eternal happiness. He did not make satisfaction by some things, and then work out righteousness by other different things; but in the same acts by which he wrought out righteousness, he also made satisfaction, but only taken in a different relation. One and the same act of Christ, considered with respect to the obedience there was in it, was part of his righteousness, and purchased heaven: but considered with respect to the self-denial, and difficulty, and humiliation, with wbich he performed it, had the nature of satisfaction for sin, and procured our pardon, Thus his
going about doing good, preaching the gospel, and teaching his disciples, was a part of his righteousness, and the purchase of heaven, as it was done in obedience to the Father; and the same was a part of his satisfaction, as he did it with great labour, trouble, and weariness, and under great temptations, exposing himself hereby to reproach and contempt. So his laying down his life had the nature of satisfaction to God's offended justice, considered as his bearing punishment in our stead : but considered as an act of obedience to God, who had given bim this command, that he should lay down his life for sinners, it was a part of his righteousness and purchase, and as much the principal part of his righteousness as it was the principal part of his satisfaction. And to instance in his circumcision, what he suffered in it, had the nature of satisfaction : the blood that was shed therein was propitiatory blood; but as it was a conformity to the law of Moses, it was part of his meritorious righteousness. Though it was not properly the act of buman nature, be being an infant; yet the human nature being the subject of it, and being the act of his person, it was accepted as an act of his obedience, as our mediator. And even his being born in such a low condition, has the nature of satisfaction by reason of the humiliation that was in it; and of righteousness, as it was the act of his person in obedience to the Father, what the will of the human nature did acquiesce in, though there was no act of the will of the human nature prior to it. These things may suffice to have been observed in general, concerning the purchase Christ made of redemption.
Those things in particular by which the Purchase was made.
Christ's Obedience and Righteousness.
I now proceed to consider the things that passed during the time of Christ's humiliation, and first, with respect to his obedience and righteousness. And this is subject to a threefold distribution. I shall therefore consider his obedience, with respect to the laws which he obeyed—the different stages of his life in which he performed it—and the virtues he evercised in his obedience.
I. The first distribution of the acts of Christ's righteousness is with respect to the laws which he obeyed. But here it must be observed in general, that all the precepts which Christ obeyed may be reduced to one law, and that is what the apostle