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and at large vindicated, I shall now briefly inquire into the sense and meaning of the words themselves.
It was before observed, that they are not produced by the apostle to prove the natural sonship of Jesus Christ, nor do they signify it ; nor were they urged by him to confirm directly and immediately this truth, that be is more excellent than the angels; of whom there is nothing spoken in them, nor in the place from whence they are taken. But the apostle insists on this testimony, merely in confirmation of his former argument, for the pre-eminence of the Son above angels, taken from that more excellent name which he obtained by inheritance; which being the name of the Son of God, he hereby proves that indeed he was so called by God himself.
Thus then do these words confirm the intention of the apostle. For to which of the angels said God at any time, “ I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son.” The words contain a great and signal privilege : they are spoken unto and concerning the Messiah, and neither they, nor any thing equivalent unto them, were ever spoken of any angel ; especially the name of the Son of God, so emphatically, and in way of distinction from all others, was never assigned unto any of them. And this, as hath been already shewed, proves an eminency and preeminence in him, above all that the angels attain unto. All this, I say, follows from the peculiar signal appropriation of the name of the Son of God unto him; and his especial relation unto God therein expressed. . We may briefly adjoin the intention of the words as in them
God promiseth in them to be unto the Lord Christ as exalted into his throne, a Father, in love, care, and power, to protect and carry him on in his rule unto the end of the world. And therefore upon his ascension he says, that he went unto his God and Father, John xx. 17. and he rules in the name and majesty of God, Mic. v. 4. This is the import of the words : they intend not the eternal and natural relation that is between the Father and Son, which neither is, nor can be the subject of any promise, but the paternal care of God over Christ in his kingdom, and the dearness of Christ himself unto him.
If it be asked on what account God would thus be a Father unto Jesus Christ, in this peculiar manner, it must be answered, that the radical fundamental cause of it lay in the relation that was between them from his eternal generation ; but he manifested himself to be his Father, and engaged to deal with him in the love and care of a Father, as he had accomplished his work of mediation on the earth, and was exalted unto his throne and rule in heaven,
And this is the first argument of the apostle, whereby he proves that the Son, as the revealer of the mind and will of God in the gospel, is made more excellent than the angels, whose glory was a refuge to the Jews in their adherence to legal rites and administrations, even because they were given unto them by the disposition of angels.
According unto our proposed method, we must in our progress draw hence also some instructions for our own use and edification. As,
First, Every thing in the Scripture is instructive. The apostle's arguing in this place is not so much from the thing spoken, as from the manner wherein it is spoken; even that also is highly mysterious. So are all the concerninents of it. Nothing in it is needless, nothing useless Men sometimes perplex themselves to find out the suitableness of some testimonies produced out of the Old Testament, unto the confirmation of things and doctrines in the New, by the penmen of the Holy Ghost; when all the difficulty ariseth from a fond conceit, that they can apprehend the depth and breadth of the wisdom that is laid up in any one text of Scripture, when the Holy Ghost may have a principal aim at those things which they are not able to dive into. Every letter and tittle of it is teaching, and every thing that relates unto it is instructive in the mind of God. And it must be so, because,
1. It proceeds from infinite Wisdon, which hath put an im. pression of itself upon it, and filled all its capacity with its blessed effects. In the whole frame, structure and order of it, in the sense, words, coherence, expression, it is filled with wisdom, which makes the commandment exceeding broad and large, so that there is no absolute comprehension of it in this life. We cannot perfectly trace the footsteps of infinite Wisdom, nor find out all the effects and characters of itself, which it hath left upon the word. The whole Scripture is full of wisdom, as the sea is of water, which fills and covers all the parts of it. And,
2. Because it was to be very comprehensive. It was to con. tain directly or hy consequence, one way or other, the whole revelation of God unto us, and all our duty unto him, both which are marvellous, great, large and various. Now this could not have been done in so narrow a room, unless every part of it, and all the concerns of it, with its whole order, had been filled with mysteries, and expressions or intimations of the mind and will of God. It could not hence be, that any thing superfluous should be put into it, or any thing be in it, that should not relate to teaching and instruction.
3. It is that which God hath given unto his servants, for their continual exercise day and night in this world. And in their in. quiry into it, he requires of them their utmost diligence and endeavours. This being assigned for their duty, it was convenient unto divine Wisdom and Goodness to find them blessed and useful work in the whole Scripture, to exercise themselves about, that every where they might meet with that which miglit satisfy their inquiry, and answer their industry. There shall never be any time or strength lost or mispent, that is laid out according to the mind of God in and about his word. The matter, the words, the order, the contexture of them, the scope, design and aim of the Holy Ghost in them, all and every one of them, may well take up the utmost of our diligence : all are divine. Nothing is empty, unfurnished, or unprepared for our spiritual use, advantage and benefit. Let us then learn hence,
1. To admire, and as one said of old, to adore the fulness of the Scripture, or of the wisdom of God in it. It is all full of divine wisdom, and calls for our reverence in the consideration of it. And indeed a constant awe of the majesty, authority and holi. ness of God in his word, is the only teachable frame. Proud and careless spirits see nothing of heaven or divinity in the word ; but the humble are made wise in it.
2. To stir up and exercise our faith and diligence to the ut. most in our study and search of the Scripture. It is an endless store-house, a bottomless treasure of divine truth. Gold is in every sand. All the wise men in the world may every one for himself learn somewhat out of every word of it, and yet leave enough still behind them for the instruction of all those that shall come after them. The fountains and springs of wisdom in it are endless, and will never be dry. We may have much truth and power out of a word, sometimes enough, but never all that is in it. There will still be enough remaining to exercise and refresh us anew for ever. So that we may attain a true sense, but we can never attain the full sense of any place : we can never exhaust the whole impression of infinite wisdom that is on the word. And how should this stir us up to be meditating in it day and night ; and many the like inferences may hence be taken. Learn also,
Secondly, That it is lawful to draw consequences from Scripture assertions, and such consequences rightly deduced are infallibly true, and de fide. Thus, from the name given uuto Christ, the apostle deduceth by just consequence his exaltation and preeminence above angels. Nothing will rightly follow from truth, but what is so also ; and that of the same nature with the truth from whence it is derived. So that whatever by just consequence is drawn from the word of God, is itself also the word of God, and of truth infallible. And to deprive the church of this liberty in the interpretation of the word, is to deprive it of the chief be
nefit intended by it. This is that on which the whole ordinance of preaching is founded, which makes that which is derived out of the word, to have the power, authority and efficacy of the word accompanying it. Thus though it be the proper work and effect of the word of God to quicken, regenerate, sanctify and purify the elect, and the word primarily and directly is only that which is written in the Scriptures, yet we find all these effects produced in and by the preaching of the word, when perhaps not one sentence of the Scripture is verbatim repeated. And the reason hereof is, because whatsoever is directly deduced, and delivered according to the mind and appointment of God from the word, is the word of God, and hath the power, authority and efficacy of the word accompanying it.
Thirdly, The declaration of Christ to be the Son of God, is the care and work of the Father.--He said it, he recorded it, he revealed it. This indeed is to be made known by the preaching of the gospel ; but that it shall be done, the Father hath taken the care upon himself. It is the design of the Father in all things to glorify the Son, that all men may honour him, even as they honour the Father. This cannot be done, without the declara. tion of that glory which he had with him before the world was, that is the glory of his eternal sonship. This he will therefore make known and maintain in the world.
Fourthly, God the Father is perpetually present with the Lord Christ in love, care and power, in the administration of his office, as he is Mediator, Head and King of the church --He hath taken upon himself to stand by him, to own him, to effect every thing that is needful unto the establishment of his throne, the enlargement of his kingdom, and the ruin and destruction of his enemies. And this he will assuredly do to the end of the world.
1. Because he hath promised so to do. Innumerable, are the .. promises on record that are made unto Jesus Christ to this purpose. God hath engaged to hold hiin in his hand, and to hide : him as a polished shaft in his quiver, to give him a throne, a glorious kingdom, an everlasting rule and government, and the like. Now what he hath promised in love and grace, he will make good with care and power. See Isa, xlix. 5—9. ch. 1. 7-9.
2. All these promises have respect unto the obedience of the Lord Christ in the work of mediation, which being performed by him rightly, and to the utmost, gives him a peculiar right to them, and makes that just and righteous in the performance, which was mere sovereign grace in the promise. The condition being absolutely performed on the part of Christ, the promise shall be certainly accomplished on the part of the Father. By this is the covenant of the Redeemer completed, ratified and established ; the condition of it on his part being performed unto
the uttermost, there shall be no failure iu the promises, Isa. liii. ll, 12.
3. The Lord Christ makes it his request, that he may enjoy the presence and power of his Father with him in his work, and the adıninistration of his mediation; and the Father always hears him. Part of his covenant with his Father, was like that of Barak who was a type of him, with Deborahi the prophetess, who spake in the name of the Lord, Judges iv. 8. “ If thou wilt go with me, I will go,” against all the enemies of the church, Isa. I. 8, 9. And accordingly upon his engagement to go with him, he requests his presence; and in the assurance of it, professeth that he is not alone, but that his father is with him, John viii. 16. To this purpose, see his requests, John xvii.
4. The nature of his work and kingdom require it. God hath appointed him to reign in the midst of his enemies; and mighty opposition is made on all hands to his whole design, and to every particular act of it. The whole work of Satan, sin and the world, is both to obstruct in general the progress of his kingdom, and to ruin and destroy every particular subject of it. And this is carried on continually with unspeakable violence and unsearchable stratagems. This makes the presence of the authority and power of the Father necessary to him in his work. This he asserts as a great ground of consolation to his disciples, John x. 28, 29. There will be great plucking, great contending to take believers out of the hand of Christ, one way or other, to make themi come short of eternal life; and though his own power be such as is able to preserve them, yet he lets them know also for their greater assurance and consolation, that his Father, who is over all, is greater, more powerful than all, 'greater than he himself in the work of mediation, John xiv. 28. is also engaged with him in their defence and preservation. So also is he as to the destruction of his adversaries, all opposing power whatever, Psal. cx. 5, 6. The Lord stands by him, on his right hand, to smite and tread down his enemies; and all that arise against his design, interest and kingdom, be they never so many, never so great, he will ruin, and make every one of them his footstool. See Micah v. 4.
Ver. 6.-The apostle proceeds to the confirmation of the same important truth, by another testimony; wherein we shall meet with some difficulty, both in the manner of the citation, and in the import of the testimony itself.