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Secondly, Had not God been thus mindful of man, and vi. sited him in the person of his Son incarnate, every one partaker of that nature must have utterly perished in their lost condition. And this also renders the grace of it an object of admiration. We are not only to consider what God takes us unto by this visitation, but also what he delivers us from. Now this is a great part of that vile and base condition, which the Psalmist wonders that God should have regard to; namely, that we had sinned and come short of his glory, and thereby exposed ourselves unto eternal misery. In that condition we must have perished for ever, had not God freed us by this visitation. It had been great grace to have taken an innocent, a sinless man, into glory; great grace to have freed a sinner from misery, though he should never be brought to the enjoyment of the least positive good. But to free a sinner from the utmost and most inconceivable misery, in eternal ruin, and to bring him unto the highest happiness, in eternal glory, and all this in a way of mere gracethis is to be admired.
Thirdly, Because it appeareth that God is more glorified in the humiliation and exaltation of the Lord Christ, and the salvation of mankind thereby, than in any of, or all the works of the first creation. How glorious those works are, and how mightily they set forth the glory of God, we have before declared. But as the psalmist intimates, God rested not in them, He had yet a farther design, to manifest bis glory in a more eminent and singular manner, and this he did, by minding and visiting of man in Christ Jesus. None almost is so stupid, but on the first view of the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, but he will confess that their fabric, beauty and order, is wonderful, and that the glory of their Framer and Builder is for ever to be admired in them; but all this comes short of that glory which ariseth unto God from this condescension and grace. And therefore, it may be, the day will come, and that speedily, wherein these heavens, and this whole old creation, shall be utterly dissolved and brought to nothing. For why should they abide as a monument of his power unto them, who enjoying the blessed via sion of him, shall see and know it far more evidently and eminently in himself ? However, they shall undoubtedly in a short time cease as to their use, wherein at present they are principally subservient unto the manifestation of the glory of God. But the effects of this regard of God to man, shall abide unto eternity, and the glory of God therein. This is the foundation of heaven, as it is a state and condition; as it denotes the glorious presence of God among his saints and holy ones. Without this, there would be no such heaven; all that is there, and all the glory of it, depends thereon. Take away this foundation, and all that beauty and glory disappears. Nothing indeed would
be taken from God, who ever was, and ever will be, eternally blessed in his own self-sufficiency. But the whole theatre which he hatlı erected for the manifestation of his glory unto eternity, depends on this his holy condescension and grace, which assuredly render them meet for ever to be admired and adored.
This then let us exercise ourselves unto. Faith having infinite, eternal, incomprehensible things proposed unto it, acts itself greatly in this admiration. We are every where taught, that we now know but imperfectly, in part, and that we see darkly as in a glass ; not that the revelation of these things in the word is dark and obscure, for they are fully and clearly proposed, but that such is the nature of the things themselves, that we are not in this life able to comprehend them; and therefore faith doth principally exercise itself in a holy admiration of them. And indeed no love or grace will suit our condition, but that which is incomprehensible. We find ourselves by experience to stand in need of more grace, goodness, love and mercy, than we can look into, search to the bottom of, or fully understand. But when that which is infinite and incomprehensible is proposed unto us, there all fears are overwhelmed, and faith finds rest with assurance. And if our admiration of these things be an act, an effect, a fruit of faith, it will be of singular use to endear our hearts unto God, and to excite them unto thankful obedience. For who would not love and delight in the eternal fountain of this inconceivable grace ? And what shall we render unto him, who hath done more for us than we are any way able to think or conceive ?
II. Observe also, that such was the inconceivable love of Je. sus Christ, the Son of God, unto the souls of men, that he was free and willing to condescend unto any condition for their good and salvation. That was the end of all this dispensation. And the Lord Christ was not humbled and made less than the angels, without his own vill and consent. His will and good liking concurred unto this work. Hence, when the eternal counsel of this whole matter is mentioned, it is said of him as the Wisdom of the Father, that he “ rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights were with the sons of men,” Prov. viii. 31. He delighted in the counsel of redeeming and saving them, by his own humiliation and suffering. And the Scripture makes it evident upon these two considerations ;
First, In that it shews, that what he was to do, and what he was to undergo in this work was proposed unto him, and that he willingly accepted of the terms and conditions of it, Psal. xl. 6. God says unto him, that sacrifice and offering would not do this great work, burnt-offering and sin-offering would not effect it; that is, no kind of offerings or sacrifices instituted by the law were available to take away sin, and to save sin. ners, as our apostle expounds that place at large, Heb. x. 1-9. confirming his exposition with sundry arguments taken from their nature and effects. What then doth God require of him, that this great design of the salvation of sinners may be accomplished? even that he himselt sliould make “his own soul an offering for sin, pour out his soul unto death, and thereby bear the sin of many,” Isa liii. 10. 12.; that, “ seeing the law was weak through the flesh,” that is, by reason of our sins in the flesh, that he himself should take upon him the “ likeness of sinful flesh and become an offering for sin in the flesh," Rom. viii. 3. ; that he should be " made of a woman, made under the law,” it he would " redeem them that were under the law,” Gal. iv. 4,5. ; that he “ should make himself of no reputation," but “ take upon him the form of a servant, and be made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man, to humble himself, and to become obedient unto death, the death of the cross,” Phil. ii. 7,8. These things were proposed unto him, which he was to undergo, if he would deliver and save mankind. And how did he entertain this proposal ? how did he like these conditions ? 6 I was not,” saith he, “ rebellious, I turned not away back," Isa. 1. 5. He declined them not, lie refused none of the terms that were proposed unto him, but underwent them in a way of obedience, and that with willingness, alacrity and delight, Psal. xl. 6, 7, 8. “ Thou,” saith he, “ hast opened my ears,” or “ prepared a body for me,” wherein I may yield this obedience; (that the apostle declares to be the sense of the expression, Heb. x. 5.) This obedience could not be yielded without a body, wherein it was performed; and whereas to hear or to have the car opened, is in the Scripture to be prepared unto obedience, the psalmist in that one expres. sion, " Mine ear hast thou opened,” compriseth both these, even that Christ had a body prepared, by a synecdoche, of a part for the whole; and also in that body he was ready to yield obedience unto God in this great work, which could not be accomplished by sacrifices and burnt-offerings. And this readia ness and willingness of Christ unto this work is set out under three heads in the ensuing words. 1. Iis tender of himself unto this work; then said he, “ Lo, I come, in the volume of thy book it is written of me." This thou hast promised, this is recorded in the head, beginning of thy book, namely, in that great promise, Gen. iii. 15. “ That the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent;" and now thou hast given me, and prepared me in the fulness of time, a body for that purpose, i Lo, I come,” willing and ready to undertake it. 2. In the frame of his mind in this engagement; he entered into it with great delight, “ I delight to do thy will O my God.” He did not delight in the thoughts of it only of old, as before, and then grew heavy and sorrowful when it was to be undertaken, but he went into it with cheerfulness and delight, although he knew what sorrow and grief it would cost him before it was brought unto perfection. 3. From the principle whence this obedience and delight did spring, which was an universal conformity of his soul, mind and will, unto the law, will and mind of God: “ Thy law is in my heart, in the midst of my bowels;" every thing in me is compliant with thy will and law, there is in me an universal conformity thereunto. Being thus prepared, thus principled, he considered the glory that was set before him, the glory that would redound unto God, by his becoming a captain of salvation, and that would ensue unto himself: “ He endured the cross and despised the shame,” Heb. xii. 2. He armed himself with those considerations, against the hardships and sufferings that he was to meet withal; as the apostle adviseth us to arm ourselves with the like mind when we are to suffer, 1 Pet. iv. 1. By all which it appears, that the good will and love of Jesus Christ was in this matter of being “ humbled and made less than angels," as the apostle says expressly, “ that he humbled himself and made himself of no reputation,” Phil. ii. 7, 8., as well as it is here said, that “ God humbled him," or made him less than angels.
Secondly, The Scripture peculiarly assigns this work unto the love and condescension of Christ himself. For although it abounds in setting forth the love of the Father in the designing and contriving this work, and sending his Son into the world, yet it directs us unto the Lord Christ himself, as the next immediate cause of his engaging into it, and performance of it. So saith the apostle, Gal. ii. 20. “ I live by the faith of the Son of God,” that is, by faith in him “ who loved me, and gave himself for me." It was the love of Christ that moved him to give himself for us, which is excellently expressed in that doxology, Rev. i. 5, 6. « To him that loved us and washed us in his own blood from our sins, and bath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, unto him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen." All this was the fruit of his love, and therefore unto him is all praise and honour to be given and ascribed. And so great was this love of Christ, that he declined nothing that was proposed unto him. This the apostle calls his grace, 2 Cor. viii. 9. “ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” He condescended unto a poor and low condition, and to suffer therein for our good, that we might be made partakers of the riches of the grace of God. And this was the love of the person of Christ, because it was in, and wrought equally in him, both before and after his assumption of our nature.
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Now the Holy Ghost makes an especial application of this truth unto us, as unto one part of our obedienke, Phil. ii. 5. 6. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;" and what that mind was, he declares in the ensuing verses, laying out his intinite condescension in taking our nature upon him, and submitting to all misery, reproach and death itself for our sakes. If this mind were in Christ, should not we endeavour after a readiness and willingness to submit ourselves unto any condition for his glory." Forasmuch,” saith Peter, 6 as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind," 1 Pet. iv. 1. Many difficulties will lie in our way, many reasonings will rise up against it, if we consult with flesh and blood; but, saith he, “ Arm yourselves with the same mind that was in Christ,” get your souls strengthened and fenced by grace against all oppositions, that you may follow him, and imitate him. Some that profess his name will suffer nothing for him: if they may enjoy him or his ways in peace and quietness, well and good; but if persecution arise for the gospel, immediately they fall away. These have neither lot nor portion in this matter. Others, the most, the best, have a secret loathness and unwillingness to condescend unto a condition of trouble and distress for the gospel. Well, if we are unwilling hereunto, what doth the Lord Christ lose by it? Will it be any real abatement of his honour or glory? Will he lose his crown or kingdom thereby? So far as suffering in this world is needful for any of his blessed ends and purposes, he will not want them who shall be ready even to die for his name sake. But what if he had been unwilling to be humbled and to suffer for us? If the same mind had been in Christ, as was in us, what had been our state and condition unto eternity ? In this grace, love and willingness of Christ lies the foundation of all our happiness, of all our deliverance from misery and ruin ; and shall we reckon ourselves to have an interest therein, and yet find ourselves altogether unready to a conformity unto him? Besides, the Lord Christ was really rich when he made himself poor for our sakes; he was " in the form of God,” when he took upon him the “ form of a servant," and became for us of no reputation, nothing of this was due to bin, or belonged unto him, but merely on our account. But we are in ourselves really poor, and obnoxious unto infinitely more miseries for our own sins, than what he calls us unto for his name. Are we unwilling to suffer a little light transitory trouble in this world for him, without whose sufferings for us, we must have suffered misery, and that eternal, whether we would or not? And I speak not so much about suffering itself, as about the mind and frame of spirit wherewith we undergo it. Some will suffer when they cannot avoid it, but so unwillingly, so wi..