صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

did prolow this is tain us. Fgenons

count of his work and office, as Mediator and King of his church.

3. It remaineth only that we shew, that this testimony thus explained was suitable unto the apostle's design and purpose, and did prove the assertion in the confirmation whereof it is produced. Now this is a matter of so full and clear an evidence, that it will not at all detain us. For it is impossible that there should be any more clear or full demonstration of this truth, that the Lord Christ hath an unspeakable pre-eminence above the angels, than this, that they are all appointed and commanded by God himself to adore him with divine and religious worship. We may now therefore consider what observations the words will af. ford us for our own instruction. It appears then from hence,

I. That the authority of God speaking in the Scripture, is that alone which divine faith rests upon, and is to be resolved into, he saith._ It was the begetting of faith in some of the Hebrews, and the increase or establishment of it in others, that the apostle aimed at. That which he proposeth to them as the object of their faith, that which they were to believe, was that excellency of the person and kingly authority of the Messiah, wherein they had not as yet been instructed. And hereof he endeavours not to be. get an opinion in them, but that faith which cannot deceive, or be deceived. To this end he proposeth that unto them, which they ought to submit to, and which they may safely rest in. For as faith is an act of religious obedience, it respects the authority of God requiring it, and as it is a religious infallible assent of the mind, it regards the truth and veracity of God as its object. On this alone it rests, God saith. And in whatever God speaks in the Scripture, his truth and authority manifest themselves to the satisfaction of faith, and no where else doth it find rest.

II. That for the begetting, increasing, and strengthening of faith, it is useful to have important fundamental truths confirmed by many testimonies of Scripture: Again he saith.Any one word of God is sufficient to establish the most important truth to eternity, so as to hang the salvation of all mankind thereon ; neither can any thing impeach or weaken what is so confirmed. No more is required in any case to make faith necessary on our part as a duty of obedience, and infallible as to the event, but that God hath by any means, by any one word, revealed that to which he requires our assent. But God dealeth not upon strict terms. Infinite condescension lies at the bottom of all wherein he hath to deal with us. He respects not what the nature of the thing strictly requires, but what is needful to our infirmity and weakness. Hence he multiplies his commands and promises, and confirms all by his oath, swearing to his truth by himself, to take away all pretence of distrust and unbelief. For this cause he multiplies testimonies to the truths wherein the concerps of his glory and our obedience do lie; as might be manifested by the consideration of instances innumerable. Thus in his name deals the apostle in this place, And this is useful to faith. For,

1. What it may be is obscure in one, is cleared in another ; and so what doubts and fears remain on the consideration of one testimony, are removed by another, whereby the souls of believers are carried on unto a full assurance. And therefore because such is our weakness that there is need hereof in ourselves, such is the goodness of God that there is no want of it in the word.

2. Faith discerns hereby the weight that God lays upon its embracing of the truth so testified unto. He knows our concern in it, and thereon urgeth us with its acceptance. This awakens and excites faith to attention and consideration, the eminent means of its growth and increase. It knows that it is not for nothing that the Holy Ghost thus presseth his truth upon it, and attends the more diligently upon his urgency.

3. Every testimony hath something single in it, and peculiar to it. Though many bear witness to the same truth, yet such is the fulness of the Scripture, and such the wisdom of God laid up therein, that every one of them hath also somewhat of its own, somewhat singular, tending to the enlightening and establishment of our minds. This faith makes a discovery of, and so receives peculiar profit and advantage thereby

And this should teach us to abound in the study and search of the Scriptures, that we may thereby come to establishment in the truth. God hath thus left us many testimonies to each important truth, and he hath not done it in vain : he knows our need of it; and his condescension in so doing, when he might have bound us up to the strictest terms, of closing with the least intimation of his will, is for ever to be admired. For us to neglect this great effect and product of the wisdom, grace, and love of God, is unspeakable folly. If we think we need it not, we make ourselves wiser than God; if we think we do, and neglect our duty herein, we are really as unwise as the beasts that perish. Want of this fortifying of faith, by a diligent search after the testimonies given unto the truth proposed unto it to be believed, is the cause that so many every day turn away from it, and therewithal make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Let us then never think ourselves safe in the knowledge and profession of any truth, but while we continue sincerely in the investigation of all the confirmation that God hatlı given it in his word. The opposition made to every truth is so various, and from so many hands, that not the least contribution of evidence unto it can be neglected with safety.

III. The whole creation of God hath a great concern in God's

bringing forth Christ into the world, and his exaltation in his kingdom.-Hence in the Psalm from whence these words are taken, all the principal parts of it are called on to triumph and rejoice therein : the earth and the multitude of the isles, the heaven, and all people, are invited to this congratulation ; neither is any thing excluded but idols and idolaters, whose ruin God intends in the erection of the kingdom of Christ. And this they have ground for.

1. Because in that work consisted the principal manifestation of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. The whole creation is concerned in the glory of the Creator. In his cxaltation doth their honour, interest and blessedness consist. For this end were they made, that God might be glorified. The more that is done by any means, the more is their end attained.

Hence the very inanimate parts of it are introduced by a ageria 0707956, rejoicing, exulting, shouting, and clapping their hands,' when the glory of God is manifested ; in all which, their suitableness and propensity to their proper end is declared ; as also by their being burdened and groaning under such an estate and condition of things, as doth any way eclipse the glory of their Maker. Now in this work of bringing forth the first-born, is the glory of God principally and eminently exalted. For the Lord Christ is the brightness of his glory, and in him all the treasures of wisdom, grace and goodness, are laid up and hid. Whatever God had any other ways before parcelled out, of and concerning his glory by the works of his hands, is all, and altogether, and with an unspeakable addition of beauty and excellency, repeated in Christ.

2. The whole creation receiveth a real advancement and honour in the Son's being made the first-born of every creaturc, that is the especial Heir and Lord of them all. Their being brought into a new dependance on the Lord Christ, is their honour, and tirey are exalted by becoming his possession. For af. ter that they had lost their first original dependance on God, and their respect unto him grounded on his pronouncing of them exceeding good, that is, such as became his wisdom and power to have made, they fell under the power of the devil, who became prince of this world by sin. Herein consisted the vanity and debasement of the creature, to which it was never willingly, or of its own accord subject. But God setting up the kingdom of Christ, and making him the first-born, the whole creation hath a right to a new glorious Lord and Master. And however any part of it may be violently for a season detained under its old bondage, yet it hath grounds of an earnest expectation of a full and total deliverance into liberty by virtue of this primogeniture of Christ Jesus.

whole gospel in a way of estimable "bes

3. Angels and men the inhabitants of heaven and earth, the principal parts of the creation, on whom God hath in an especial manner stamped his own likeness and image, are hereby made partakers of such inestimable benefits, as indispensably call for rejoicing in a way of thankfulness and gratitude. This the whole gospel declares, and therefore it needs not our particular improvement in this place.

And if this be the duty of the whole creation, it is easy to discern in what a special manner it is incuinbent on them that believe, whose benefit, advantage and glory was principally intended in this whole work of God. Should they be found wanting in this duty, God might as of old call heaven and earth to witness against them. Yea, thankfulness to God, for the bringing forth of the first born into the world, is the sum and substance of all that obedience, which God requires at the hands of believers.

IV. The command of God is the ground and reason of all religious worship. The angels are to worship the Lord Christ the Mediator, and the ground of their so doing is God's command; he saith, “ Worship him ali ye angels.”

Now the command of God is two fold: 1. Formal and vocal; when God gives out a law or precept unto any creature superadded to the law of its creation : such was the command given unto our first parents in the garden, concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and such were all the laws, precepts, and institutions, which he afterwards gave unto his church, with those which to this day continue as the rule and reason of their obedience. 2. Real and interpretative, consisting in an impression of the mind and will of God upon the nature of his creatures, with respect unto that obedience which their state, condition and dependance on him requireth. The very nature of an intellectual creature made for the glory of God, and place ed in a moral dependance upon hin, and subjection unto him, hath in it the force of a command, as to the worship and service that God requireth at their hands. But this law in man, being blotted, weakened, impaired through sin, God hath in mercy unto us collected, drawn forth, and disposed all the directions and commands of it in vocal formal precepts recorded in his word ; whereunto he hath superadded sundry new commands in the institutions of his worship. With angels it is otherwise. The ingrafted law of their creation requiring of them the worship of God and obedience to his whole will, is kept and preserved entire ; so that they have no need to have it repeated and expressed in vocal formal commands. And by virtue of this law, they were obliged to constant and everlasting worship of the eternal Son of God, as being created and upheld in an universal dependance upon him. But now when God brings forth his Son in- , to the world, and placeth him in a new condition of being incarnate, and becoming so the head of his church, there is a new modification of the worship that is due to him brought in, and a new 'respect of things not considered in the first creation. With reference hereunto, God gives a new command unto the angels, for that peculiar kind of worship and honour, which is due unto him in that state and condition which he had taken upon himself.

This the law of their creation in general directed them unto; but in particular required not of them. It enjoined the wors ship of the Son of God in every condition, but that condition was not expressed. This God supplies by a new command, that is such an intimation of his mind and will unto them, as answers unto a vocal command given unto men, who by that means only may come to know the will of God. Thus in one way or other, command is the ground and cause of all worship. For,

1. All worship is obedience; obedience respects authority, and authority exerts itself in commands. And if this authority be not the authority of God, the worship performed in obedience unto it, is not the worship of God, but of him or them whose commands and authority are the reason and cause of it. It is the authority of God alone that can make any worship to be religious, or the performance of it to be an act of obedience unto him.

2. God would never allow that the will and wisdom of any of his creatures should be the rise, rule or measure of his worship, or any part of it, or any thing that belongs unto it. This honour he hath reserved unto himself, neither will he part with it unto any other. He alone knows what becomes his own greatness and holiness, and what tends to the advancement of his glory. Hence the Scripture abounds with severe interdictions and comminations against them, who shall presume to do or appoint any thing in his worship besides or beyond his own institu

tion.

3. All prescriptions of worship are vain, where men have not strength to perform it in a due manner, nor assurance of acceptance when it is performed. Now both these are, and must be from God alone, nor doth he give strength and ability for any thing in his worship but what himself commands; nor doch he promise to accept any thing but what is of his own appointment, so that it is the greatest folly imaginable to undertake any thing in his worship and service, but what his appointment gives warrant for.

And this should teach us in all that we have to do in the worship of God, carefully to look after his word of command and

« السابقةمتابعة »