« السابقةمتابعة »
cised in the word of truth, when without the advice, assistance, or directions of others who are able to guide them, and instruct their inquiry after the mind of God, they hastily embrace opi. nions, which it may be some one text or other of Scripture doth seemingly give countenance unto. By this means do men run themselves into the fore-mentioned danger every day; especially where any seducing spirit applies himself unto them, with swelling words of vanity, boasting of some misunderstood word or other. Thus have we seen multitudes led by some general expressions in two or three particular places of Scripture, into an opinion about a general redemption of all mankind, and of every individual thereof; when if they had been wise, and able to have searched those other Scriptures innumerable, setting forth the eternal love of God to his elect, his purpose to save them by Jesus Christ, the nature and end of his oblation and ransom, and compared them with others, they would have understood the vanity of their hasty conceptions.
3. From these things, it appears, what diligence, patience, waiting, wisdom in searching the Scriptures, is required of all men, who intend to come unto the acknowledgment of the truth thereby. And unto this end, and because of the greatness of our concern therein, doth the Scripture itself abound with precepts, rules, directions, to enable us to a right and profitable discharge of our duty. They are too many here to be inserteil. I shall only add, that the diligence of heathens will rise up in judgment, and condemn the sloth of many that are called Chri. stians in this matter. For whereas they had no certain rule, way, or means to come to the knowledge of the truth, yet they ceased not with indefatigable diligence and industry to inquire after it, and to trace the obscure footsteps of what was left in their own natures, or implanted on the works of creation. But many, the most of those to whom God hath granted the inestimable benefit and privilege of his word, as a sure and infallible guide, to lead them into the knowledge of all useful and saving truth, do openly neglect it, not accounting it worthy their searching, study, and diligent examination. How wofully this will rise up in judgment against them at the last day, it is not difficult to conceive. And how much greater will be their mi. sery, who under various pretences for their own corrupt ends, do deter, yea and drive others from the study of it.
II. It is the duty of all believers to rejoice in the glory, bonour and dominion of Jesus Christ.-The church in the Psalm takes by faith a prospect at a great distance of his coming and glory; and thereon breaks out in a way of exultation and tri. umph into those words, “ Thy throne, () God, is for ever.” And if this were a matter of such joy to them, who had only an obscure vision and representation of the glory which many ages after was to follow, 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. what ought the full accomplishment and manifestation of it to be unto them that believe now in the days of the gospel. This made them of old rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, even because they saw and beard the things which kings, wise men, and prophets, desired to see, and saw them not, God having prepared some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect, ch. xi. 40. For,
1. Herein God is glorified.—The kingdom of Christ is the glory of God; thereby is his name and praise exalted in the world; and therefore upon the erection and setting of it up, are all his people so earnestly invited to rejoice and triumph therein, Psal. xcv. 1-3. xcvi. 1-4. xcvii. 1, 2. &c. This I say is the cause of eternal joy unto all his saints, that God is pleased to glorify himself, and all the infinite excellencies of his nature, in the kingdom and rule of Jesus Christ.
2. Herein doth the lionour and glory of Christ as Mediator consist, which is a matter of great rejoicing unto all that love him in sincerity. He tells his disciples, John xiv. 28. that if they loved him, they would rejoice, because (said he) he went unto the Father. They considered only their own present condition and distress, being filled with sorrow, because he had told them of his departure from them; but saith he, Where is your love to me? Ought you not to have that in your hearts, as well as care of yourselves ? For your condition I shall take care, and provide for your security; and if you love me, you cannot but rejoice, because I go to my Father, to receive my kingdom. That he who loved us, that gave himself for us, that underwent every thing that is reproachful or miserable for our sakes, is now exalted, glorified, enthroned in an everlasting immoveable kingdom, above all his enemies, secure from all opposition, is a matter of inexpressible joy, if we have any love unto him.
3. Our own concern, security, safety, present and future happiness, lie herein: our all depends upon the kingdom and throne of Christ. He is our King, if we are believers ; our King to rule, govern, protect and save us; to uphold us against opposition, to supply us with strength, to guide us with counsel, to subdue our enemies, to give us our inheritance and reward, and therefore our principal interest lies in his throne, and in the glory and stability thereof. While he reigneth, we are safe, and in our way to glory. To see by faith this King in his beauty, upon his throne, high and lifted up, and his train filling the temple, to see all power committed unto him, all things given into his hands, and herein disposing of all, and ruling all things for the advantage of his church, must needs cause them to rejoice, whose whole interest and concern lies therein.
4. The whole world, all the creation of God, are concerned
in this kingdom of Christ. Except his cursed enemies in hell, the whole creation is benefited by bis rule and dominion ; for as some men are made partakers of saving grace and salvation thereby, so the residue of that race by and with them, do receive unspeakable advantages in the patience and forbearance of God; and the very creature itself is raised, as it were, into a hope and expectation thereby of deliverance from that state of vanity whereunto now it is subjected, Rom. viii, 20, 21. So that it we are moved with the glory of God, the honour of Jesus Christ, our own and only eternal interest, with the advantage of the whole creation, we have cause to rejoice in this throne and kingdom of the son.
III. It is the divine nature of the Lord Christ, that gives eternity, stability and unchangeableness to his throne and king. dom. " Thy throne, () God, is for ever.”—Concerning this, see what hath formerly been delivered about the kingdom of Christ.
IV. All the laws, and the whole administration of the king. dom of Christ by his Word and Spirit, are all equal, righteous and holy. “ His sceptre is a sceptre of righteousness.”—The world indeed likes then not; all things in his rule seem to it weak, absurd and foolish, 1 Cor. i. 20—23. but they are otherwise, the Holy Ghost being judge, and such they appear unto them that do believe ; yea, whatever is requisite to make lai's and adininistrations righteous, it doth all concur in those of the Lord Jesus Christ. As,
1. Authority-a just and full authority for enacting is requi. site to make laws righteous. Without this, rules and precepts may be good materially, but they cannot have the forniality of law, which depends on the just authority of the Legislator, without which nothing can become a righteous law. Now the Lord Christ is vested with sufficient authority for the enacting of laws and rules of adıninistration in his kingdom. All authority, all power in heaven and earth, is committed to him, as we have before proved at large. And hence those that will not see the equity of his rule, shall be forced at last to bow under the excellency of his authority. And it were to be wished, that those who undertake to make laws and constitutions in the kingdom of Christ, would look well to their warrant. For it seems that the Lord Christ, unto whom all power is committed, hath not delegated any to the sons of men, but only that whereby they may teach others to do and observe what he hath commanded, Matt. xxviii. 20. If moreover they shall command or appoint aught of their own, they may do well to consider by what authority they do so, seeing that is of indispensable neces, sity unto the righteousness of any law whatever...
2. Wisdom is required to the making of righteous laws. This
heil theyChrist the found.ji.?:being
is the eye of authority, without which it can act nothing rightly or equally. Effects of power without wisdom, are commonly unjust and tyrannical, always useless and burdensome. The wisdom of law-makers is that which hath principally given them their renown. So Moses tells the Israelites, that all nations would adınire them, when they perceived the wisdom of their laws, Deut. iv. Now the Lord Christ is abundantly furnished with wisdom for this purpose. He is the foundation-stone of the church, that hath seven eyes upon him, Zech. iii. 9. A perfection of wisdom and understanding in all affairs of it; being anointed with the Spirit unto that purpose, Isa. xi. 3, 4. Yea, in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. ii. 3. it having pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell, Col. i. 19. so that there can be no defect in his laws and administrations on this account. He is wise of heart, and knows perfectly what rules and actings are suited to the glory of God, and to the condition of the subjects of his kingdom ; and what tendeth to their spiritual and eternal advantage. He knows how to order all things unto the great end, which in his government he aimeth at. And thence do all his laws and administrations become righteous. And this also well deserves their consideration, who take upon them to appoint laws and rules within his dominion unto his subjects, for the ends of his rule, and substance of his worship. Have they wisdom sufficient to enable them so to do? Doth the Spirit of the Lord Christ rest upon them, to make them of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord ? Are they acquainted with the state and condition, the weakness, temptations, graces of all the people of Christ? If they are not, how know they but that they may command and appoint things greatly to their disadvantage, when they think to profit them? It seems a great self-assuming for men to suppose themselves wise enough to give laws to the subjects of Christ, in things directly appertaining to his king
3. They are righteous, because they are easy, gentle, and not burdensome. The righteousness and uprightness here mentioned, doth not denote strict, rigid, severe justice, extending itself unto the utmost of what can be required of the subjects to be ruled; but equity mixed with gentleness, tenderness and condescension, which if it be absent from laws, and they breathe nothing but severity, rigour and arbitrary impositions, though they may not be absolutely unjust, yet they are grievous and burdensome. Thus Peter calls the law of commandments contained in the ordinances of old, “ a yoke which neither their fathers nor themselves were able to bear," Acts xv. 10. that is, could never obtain rest or peace in the precise rigid observance required of them. But now for the rule of Christ, he tells us, that his yoke is easy, and his burden light, Matt. xi. 30. and that his commandments are not grievous, 1 John v. 3. And this gentleness and easiness of the rule of Christ consisteth in these three things :
1. That his commands are all of them reasonable, and suited unto the principles of that natural obedience we owe to God; and so not grievous unto any thing in us, but that principle of sin and darkness which is to be destroyed. He hath not multi. plied precepts merely arbitrary, and to express his authority; but given us only such as are in themselves good, and suitable unto the principles of reason, as might be evinced by the particular consideration of his institutions. Hence our obedience unto them is called our reasonable service, Rom. xii. 1.
2. His commands are easy, because all of them are suited to that principle of the new nature, or new creature, which he worketh in the hearts of all his disciples. It likes them, loves them, delights in them, which makes them easy unto it. The Lord Christ rules, as we said, by his word and Spirit: these go together in the covenant of the Redeemer, Isa. lix. 20, 21. And their work is suited and conimensurate one to the other.
to the Word; and the Word gives out laws and precepts suited unto the inclination and disposition of that nature, and in these two consist the sceptre and rule of Christ. This suitableness of principle and rule one to the other, makes his government easy, upright and righteous.
3. His commands are easy, because he continually gives out supplies of his Spirit, to make his subjects to yield obedience to them. This is that which above all other things sets a lustre upon his rule. The law was holy, just and good of old; but whereas it exhibited not strength unto men to enable them to obedience, it became unto them altogether useless and unprofitable, as to the end they aimed at in its observance. It is otherwise in the kingdom of Christ. Whatever he requires to be done by his subjects, he gives them strength by his Spirit and grace to perforin it; which makes his rule easy, righteous, equal, and altogether lovely. Neither can any of the sons of men pretend to the least share or interest in this privilege. · 4. This rule and administration of Christ's kingdom is righ.. teous, because useful and profitable. Then are laws good, wholesome and equal, when they lead unto the benefit and ad. vantage of them that do observe them. Laws about slight and trivial things, or such as men have no benefit or advantage by observing, are justly esteemed grievous and burdensome. But now all the laws, and whole rule of the Lord Christ, are every way useful and advantageous to his subjects. They make them holy, righteous, such as pleases God and are useful to mankind.