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xxvi Of the Honours and Privileges of Christians.
is their shepherd, and they his flock, his sheep. John x. 11, I am the good shepherd—Ver. 16, And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. Actsxx. 28, 29. Heb. xiii. 20. 1 Pet. ii. 25, For ye were as sheep going astray ,• but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop, (overseer,) of your souls—v. 2, 3, 4, Feed the flock of God, &c.
95. XI. Nearly on the same account, as God, by Christ, has established the Christian church, and provided all means for our happiness and improvement in knowledge and virtue, we are compared to a vine, and a vineyard, and God to the husbandman, who planted and dresses it; and particular members of the community are compared to branches. John xv. 1, 2, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bearelh not fruit, he taketh away,- and every branch that beareth fruit he purge th it, &c. Ver. 5, lam the vine, yc are the branches. Matt. xv. 13, Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Rom. vi. 5, If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death; we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Matt. xx. 1, The vineyard into which labourers were hired is the Christian as well as the Jewish church: and so chap. xxi. 33. Mark xii. 1. JLuke xx. 9. 1 Cor. iii. 9, Ye are God's husbandry. Rom. xi. 17, And if some of the branches, (Jews,) be broken off, and thou being a zcild olive-tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree, &c.—See also ver. 24.
96. XII. As Christians are, by the will of God, set apart and appropriated in a special manner to bis honour, service, and obedience, and furnished with extraordinary means and motives to holiness, so they are said to be sanctified. 1 Cor. i. 2, Unto the church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus— vi. II, And such were some of you; but ye are washed; but ye are sanctified; but ye are justified in the name of the lard Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Heb. ii. 11, For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, x. 9.
97. XIII. Further; by the presence of God in the Christian church, and our being by profession consecrated to him, we, as well as the antient Jews, are made his house, or temple, which God has built, and in which he dwells, or walks. 1 Pet. ii. 5, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, &c. 1 Cor. iii. 9, Ye are God's building—Ver. 16, 17, Know ye not that ye, (Christians,) arethe temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you; if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy : for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 2 Cor. vi. 16, And what agreement hath the temple of God, (the Christian church,) with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said J will dwell in them, and walk in them. Eph. ii. 20, 21, 22, And are built upon the foundation of the Apostles, &c. Christ Jesus being the chiefcornerstone; in whom all the building filly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together, for a habitation of God through the Spirit. 2 Thess. ii. 4, So that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, Shewixg Himself that he is God.
98. XIV. And not only does God, as our King, dwell in the Christian church, as in his house or temple; but he has also conferred on Christians the honours of kings; as he has redeemed us from the servitude of sin, made tis lords of ourselves, and raised us above others, to sit on thrones, and to judge and reign over them. And he has made us priests too, as we are peculiarly consecrated to God, and obliged to attend upon him, from time to time continually, in the solemn offices of religion, which lie has appointed. 1 Pet. ii. 4, 1 e also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. Ver. 9, But ye (Gentile Christians,) are a chosen generation, a royal, (or kingly,) priesthood. Rev. i. 5,6, Unto him, that loved us, and waslicd us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, &c.
99. XV. Thus the whole body of the Christian church is separated unto God from the rest of the world. And, whereas before, the Gentile believers were afar off, lying out of the commonwealth of Israel,- new, they are nigh, as they are joined to God in covenant, have full access to him in the ordinances of worship; and, in virtue of his promise, a particular title to his regards and blessing. 2 Cor. vi. 17, Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and J will receive you. Eph; iiJ 3, But now in Christ Jesus yc, who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh, by the blood of Christ.
Obsnt'utions on the foregoing Privileges of the Christian Church. xxvii
100. XVI. And, as God, in all these respects, has distinguished the Christian church, and sequestered them unto himself, they are stilcd his peculiar people. Tit. ii. 14, Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us
from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 1 Pet. ii. 9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, &c.
101. XVII. As Christians are a body of men, particularly related to God, instructed by him in the rules of wisdom, devoted to his service, and employed in his true worship; they are called his church or congregation. Acts xx. 28, Feed the church of God. 1 Cor. x. 32, Giving none offence to the church of God. xv. 9. Gal. i. 13, and elsewhere. Eph. i. 22, Head over all things to the church:—and particular societies are churches. Rom. xvi. 16, The churches of Christ salute you—and so in several other places.
102. XVIII. For the same reason, they are considered as God's possession, or heritage. 1 Pet. v. 3, Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamplcs to the flock. The reader cannot well avoid observing, that the words and phrases, by which our Christian privileges are exprest in the New Testament, are the very same with the words and phrases by which the privileges of the Jewish church are expressed in the Old Testament: which makes good what St. Paul says concerning the language in which the Apostles declared the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 Cor. ii. 12, 13, We, Apostles, have received, not the spirit of the World, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are given to us of God; namely, the fore-recited privileges and blessings. Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, not in philosophic terms of human invention, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth in the writings of the Old Testament, the only Scriptures from which they took their ideas and arguments, comparing spiritual things under the Gospel.
Whence we may conclude—1. That the Holy Scriptures are admirably calculated to be understood in those things, which we are most of all concerned to understand. Seeing the same language runs through the whole, and is set in such a variety of lights, that one part is well adapted to illustrate another. An advantage I reckon peculiar to the sacred writings above all others—2. It follows, that to understand the sense of the Spirit in the New, it is essentially necessary that we understand its sense in the Old Testament.
% VII. Jieflections on the foregoing Honours and Privileges of the Christian Church.
From what has been said it appears—
103. I. That the believing Gentiles are taken into that kingdom and covenant, in which the Jews once stood, and out of which they were cast for their unbelief, and rejection of the Son of God: and that we Christians ought to have the same general ideas of our present religious state, membership, privileges, honours and relations to God, as the Jews had, while they were in possession of the kingdom. Only in some tilings the kingdom of God, under the Gospel dispensation, differs much from the kingdom of God, under the Mosaical—As, 1. For, that it is now so constituted, that it admits, and is adapted to, men of all nations upon the earth, who believe in Christ—2. That the laze, as a ministration of condemnation, which was an appendage to the Jewish dispensation, is removed and annulled under the Gospel, [but the moral law, as a rule of life, is still in force.]—3. And so is the polity, or civil state of the Jews, which was interwoven with their religion; but has no connection with the Christian religion—4. The ceremonial part of the Jewish constitution, is likewise abolished, for we are taught the spirit and duties of religion, not by figures and symbols, as sacrifices, offerings, watchings, &c. but by express and clear precepts—5. The kingdom of God is now put under the special government of the Son of God, who is the head and king of the church, to whom we owe faith and allegiance.*
104. II. From the above-recited particulars, it appears that the Christian church is happy, and highly honoured with privileges of the most excellent nature; of which the Apostles, who well understood this new
"Add to this, that all the privileges under the Gospel are abundantly more spiritual than they were under the law—That being the shadow, This the substance. Hence, while we consider these privileges, the same in kind, we must view them as differing widely Hi degree. A. C.
xxviii Observations on the foregoing Privileges of the Christian Church.
constitution, were deeply sensible. Horn. i. 16, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Clirist, for it is the poiztrof God unto salvation to every one that believes, v. 1, 2, 3, &c. Therefore, bi ing justified by faith, zee have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access, by faith, into this grace wherein zee stand, and rejoice (glory) in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but zee glory in tribulation also, &c. Ver 11, And not only so, but we also joy (glory) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. chap. viii. 91. £c. It'hat Shall zee then say to these things / if God be for us, zeho can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up fir-us all, bote should he not, with him, also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? teho is he that coudc-mneth? Who shall separate us from the. love of Christ / Chap, ix. 23, 21, He has made known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he hud afire prepared unto glory, even on us whom he has called, not of Uie Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. 2 Cor. iii. 18, But zee tdl, with open face, beholding, as in n glass, the glory of the lA>rd, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Epli. i. 3, 4,<$ic. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in luuvenly places in Christ, according as he luis chosen us in him, 6,c.&c.
105. And it is the duty of.the-whole body of Christians to rejoice in the goodness of God, to thank and praise ■■him for all the benefits conferred upon them in the (J-ospel. Rom. xv. 10., Rejoice ye Gentiles, with Mis people. 'Phil. iii. ], JVTyBrethren, rejoice'.-in the fjord, iv. 4, Rejoice in the Lord ahcay; again I say rejoice. I Thes.
v. 16,'Rejoice evermore. Jam. i.-fl, l Pet. i. G, 8. Col. i. 12, Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the iidtcritaiice of the saints in light, ii. 7, Hooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 1 Thes. v. 18. lleb. xiii. 15, By him, therefore, let us offer the 'sacrifice .of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. Kph. i. 6, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the Beloved. Ver. 12, 14.
106. Further, it is to be observed, that all the foregoing privileges, benefits, relations, and honours, belong to all professed Christians without exception. God is the God, King, Saviour, Father, Husband, Shepherd. &c. to them all. He created, saved, bought, redeemed, he begot, he made, he planted, &c. them nil. And they are all as created, redeemed, and begotten by him; his people, nation, heritage; his children, spouse, flock, vineyard, &c. We are all enriched with the blessings of the gospel. Rom. xi. 12, 13, 11, all reconciled to God. Ver. 13, all the seed of Abraham, and heirs according .to the promise; Gal. iii. 29, all partake of the rool and fitness of the good olive, the Jewish church/ all the brethren of Christ and members of his body, all arc under grace, «//havc a right to the ordinances of worship, all are golden candlesticks in the temple of God, Rev. i. 12, 13, 20; even-those who by reason of their misimprovement of their privileges, are. threatened with having the candlestick removed out of its place, ii. 5; either every professed Christian is not in the church, or all the foremen tioned privileges-belong to every professed Christian; which will appear more evidently if.ice consider,
107. ill. That all the aforementioned privileges, honours, and advantages are.the effects of God's free grace, without regard to any prior righteousness, which deserved or procured the-donation ofthcin. It was not for
ianv goodness or worthiness which God found in the heathen world, when the gospel was first preached to them: not tor any works of obedience or righteousness which we, in our Gentile state, had performed ; . wkerebv we had rendered ourselves deserving of the blessings of the Gpspel, namely, to be taken uito the.family, kingdom, or church of God; by no means. It was not thus of ourselves that we are saved, justified, &c. So far from
'that, that the Gospel, when first preached to us Gentiles, found us sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, enemies through nicked works, disobedient; therefore, I say, all the fore-mentioned privileges, blessings, honours, Secure the effects of God's free grace or favour, without regard to any prior works, or righteousness in the Gentile world, which procured the-donation of them. Accordingly, they are always in Scripture assigiuxl to throve, -"•race, and mercy of fiod, as the sole spring from, whence they.flow. John iii. lb", For Gad so lovi0lihqlzcofid', that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Uom. v. 8, Bui God commendith his love to us, in that while we were sinners Christ died for us. • Eph. ii. 4—9, 10, But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he has loved us, even when we were dead in sins,
All the Blessings of the Gospel are by and through Christ Jesus. xxix
hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up together, apd ntade us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in ages to come he might shew the exceeding- riches of his grace in his kindness towards us, through Jesus Christ. For hy grace are ye saved, through faith, and that (salvation is) not of i/oursclves, it is the (rift of God; not of works, so that* no man, (nor Gentile nor Jew,) can boast. For we, (Christians converted from heathenism,) are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, rcA/c/< GW Aoi// before ordained, that we should walk in them.
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10S. It is on account of this general love that Christians are.honoured with the title of beloved. Rom. i.7, To all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called Saints, ix. 25, / will call her, (the Gentile church,) beloved, zehich was not beloved. Col. iii.. 12, Put on, Jhrrefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels, of mercies, 6,c. .. •,.■...
109. Rom. iii. 23, 24, For all have sinnefl, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redumption iMch is inrChrist Jesus, v. 2. 1 Cor. i. 4, / thank my God for the grace of God which is given you by J(sus Christ. Eph. i. Q, 7, /To the praise of the glory-of his grace, whereby he has made us accepted in-the beloved, in whom wc.have redemption through his blood, Uie forgiveness of sins, etccqrding to the riches of his grace. Col. i. 6. 2 Thes. i. 12. 2 Tim. i. 9, Who has saved us, and called us with a hoi Ij calling, not according to our works, but according Jo his own purpose,and grace,, whicfi was given us in Jesus Christ before the zcorfd began. Tit. ii. 11. Ileb. xii. 1.5. (Hence grace and the grace of God, is sometimes put for the whole gospel,anil all its blessings, as Acts xiii.43, Paul and Barnabas persuaded them to continue in the grace
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of God. 2 Cor. vi. 1. 1 Pet. v. 12, Testify that this is the true grace of God in which we stand. 1 Cor. i. 4.
Rom. v. 2. 2 Cor. vi. 1. Tit. ii. 11. Jude 4. Rom. xii. 1, ,1 beseech you, therefore, brethren, bu the mercies
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of God, that ye present your,bodies, Sfc. \v.;9,/lnd that the GeniiUs might glorify God Jar his mercy. 1 Pet. i.
3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, eiccording to his abundant jinercy hath begotten
us again to a lively hopcy &c.
110. In these texts, and others of the same kind, it is evident that the love, grace, and mercy of God hath respect, npt toparticular persons in the Christian church, but to the whole body or whole societies; and therefore are to be understood of^that general love, grace, and mercy, whereby the whole body of Christians is separated unto God, to be his peculiarjDeople, favoured wijth extraordinary blessings. And it is with regard to this sentiment
and mode of speech, that the Gentiles, who before lay out of the church, and had not obtained mercy, are said
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now to have obtamtd mere//. Rom. xi. M.
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111. Hence also we may conclude that all the privileges and blessings of, the Gospel, even the whole of our redemption and salvation,, are the effect of God's pure, free, original love and grace, to which he was inclined of his own motion, without any other motive besides his own goodness, in mere kindness and good will to a sinful,, perishing world. These are the thi/igs that are Freely given to us of God, 1 Cor. ii. 12.
%l\l\\.yJ[ll the grace of the Gospel is dispensed to us by, in, or through Christ Jesus.
. 112. Nevertheless, all the fore-mentioned love, grace, and mercy, is dispensed, or conveyed to us in, by, or through the, Son,©,!" God,. Jesus Christ, our Lord.. To (juote all the places to this purpose, would be to transcribe a
• Iwc u.n -r'l x«»£»i«iT«u, hit any man should boast. So we render it; as if the Gospel salvation were appointed to be not qf Works, to prevent our boasting; which s'npposc», we miglit Have boasted, had not God taken this 'method to preclude it. Whereas, in truthj'vve had nothing to bnast of. Neither Jw nor UcntiU could put nd to any prior righieousucss, which might make them worthy1 to- b»» taken into the hcu-t and kingddm of God under his Son; therefore the Apostle's meaning is, "We arc not saved from heatlienism, and translated into the church and kingdom of Christ, for any prior goodness, obedknee, or righteousness we had performed. For which reason, no man can boast, as if he had merited the blessing, ic." .This is the Apostle's sense; and the ph.ee should have been translated, so that no man can boast'-For Ik signifies so that. *"' See'lftm1.1 iii.' b. i tor. vll.' 29^2 Cor. i'. 17. vit. 9. Gal. v. 17.' Heb. ii. 17. vi. 18l k ark iv. 12.
xxx All the Blessings of the Gospel are by and through Christ Jesus.
great part of the New Testament. But it may suffice, at present, to review the texts under the numbers 107 and 109. From which texts it is evident, that the grace, or favour of God is given unto us By Jesus Christ: that he has shewn the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us, Through Jesus Christ: that he has sent his Son into the world that zee might live Tit Rough him; to he the propitiation, (or mercy seat,) for our sins: that he died for us r that we who were afar off are made nigh By his blood: that God has made us accepted In the Beloved, (in his beloved Son,) In whom we have redemption Through his blood, the forgiveness of sins: that xce are his workmanship created In Christ Jesus: that before the world began, the purpose and grace of God, relating to our calling and salvation, was given us In Christ Jesus: before the foundation of the world God chose us ix Christ, Eph. i. 4. We have peace with God Through our Lord Jesus Christ, By whom also we have access into this grace xcherein we stand, Rom. v. 1,2. God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is In his Son, 1 John v. 11. Nothing is clearer from the whole current of Scripture, than that all the mercy and love of God, and all the blessings of the Gospel, from first to last, from the original purpose and grace of God, to our final salvation in the possession of eternal life, is In, By, or Through Christ; and particularly By His Blood, by the redemption which is in him, as he is the propitiation, or atonement, for the sins of the whole world, 1 John ii. 2. This can bear no dispute among Christians. The only difference that can be must relate to the manner, how these blessings are conveyed to us in, by, or through Christ. Doubtless they are conveyed through his hand-. as he is the minister, or agent, appointed of God to put us in possession of them. But his blood, death, cross, could be no ministring cause of blessings assigned to his blood, &c. before we were put in possession of them— See Rom. v. 6, 8, 10, 19. Eph. ii. 13, 16. Col. i. 20, 21, 22. Nor truly can his blood be possibly considered as a ministring or instrumental cause in any sense at all; for it is not an agent, but an object, and therefore, though it may be a moving cause, or a reason for bestowing blessings, yet it can be no active, or instrumental cause, in conferring them. His blood and death is indeed to us an assurance of pardon: but it is evidently something more; for it is also considered as an offering and sacrifice to God, highly pleasing to him, to put away our sin, and to obtain eternal redemption, Heb. ix. 12, 14, 26. Eph. v. 2.
113. But why should God choose to communicate his grace in this mediate way, by the interposition, obedience, and agency, of his Son, who again employs subordinate agents and instruments under him? I answer; for the display of the glory of his nature and perfections. The sovereign Disposer of all things may communicate his blessings by what means, and in any way, he thinks fit. But whatever He effects by the interposition of means, and a train of intermediate causes, He could produce by his own immediate power. He wants not clouds to distil rain; nor rain nor human industry to make the earth fruitful; nor the fruitfulness of the earth to supply food; nor food to sustain our life. He could do this by his own immediate power; but He chooses to manifest histprovidence, power, wisdom, and goodness, in a variety of ways and dispositions, and yet his power and goodness are not only as much concerned and exercised in this way, as if he produced the end without the intervention of means; but even much more, because his power, wisdom, and goodness, are as much exerted aHd illustrated in every single intermediate step, as if he had done the thing at once, without any intermediate step at all. There is as much power and wisdom exercised in producing rain, or in making the earth fruitful, or in adapting food to the nourishment of our bodies; I say there is as much power in any one of these steps, as there would be in nourishing our bodies by one immediate act without those intermediate means. Therefore, in this method of procedure, the displays of the Divine providence and perfections are multiplied and beautifully diversified, to arrest our attention, exercise our contemplation, and excite our admiration and thankfulness; for thus we see God, in a surprising variety of instances. Nor, indeed, can we turn our eyes to any part of the visible creation, but we see His power, wisdom, and goodness in perpetual exercise, every where. In like manner, in the moral world, he chooses to work by means, the mediation of the Son, the influences of his Spirit, the teachings of his word, the endeavours of Apostles and ministers; not to supply any defects of his power, wisdom, or goodness; but to multiply the instances of them; to shew himself to us in a various display of his glorious dispensations; to exercise the moral powers and virtues of all the subordinate agents employed in carrying on