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iv. 1. “ full of the Holy Ghost," and sealed to this work by the sign foretold of God, John i. 33.
"This was the foundation of the Father's speaking in the Son as incarnate. He spake in him by his Spirit, so he did in the prophets of old, 2 Pet. i. 21. And herein in general the prophecy of Christ, and theirs did agree. It remaineth then to shew wherein his pre-eminence above them did consist, so that the word spoken by him is principally and eminently to be attended to, which is the argument of that which the apostle hath in hand in this place.
8. The pre-eminencies of the prophecy of Christ, above that af Moses, and all other prophets, were of two sorts, 1. Such as arose from his person who was the prophet. 2. Such as accompanied the nature and manner of the revelation made to him.
1. They arise from the infinite excellency of his person above theirs. This is that which the apostle from the close of this verse insists upon to the very end of the chapter, making his discourse upon it the basis of his ensuing exhortations. I shall therefore remit the consideration of it, unto its proper place.
2. There were sundry excellencies that attended the very revelation itself, made unto him, or his prophecy as such. F'or,
1. « Receiving the Spirit not by measure,” John iii. 34. as they all did, he had given unto hiin altogether, a comprehension of the whole will and mind of God, as to whatever he would have revealed of himself, with the mystery ot' our salvation, and all that obedience and worship which in this world he would require of his church. " It pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should dwell,” Col. i. 19. that is, “ of grace and truth," Johın i. 17. not granting him a transient irradiation by them, but a permanence and a constant abode of them with him in their fulness; all “ treasures of wisdom and knowledge being bid in him," Col. ii. 3. as their home and proper abiding place; which made him of " quick understanding in the fear of the Lord," Isa. xi. 3. All the mysteries of the counsel between the Father and the eternal Word for the salvation of the elect, with all the ways whereby it was to be accomplished through his own blood, were known unto him; as also were all the bounds, the whole extent of that worship which his church was to render unto God, with the assistance of the Spirit that was to be afforded unto them for that end and purpose. Hence the only reason why he did not at once reveal unto his disciples the wliole counsel of God, was not because all the treasures of it were not committed unto him, but because they could bear no other but that gradual communication of it, which he used towards them, John xvi. 12. But he himself dwelt in the midst of those treasures, seeing to the bottom of them. AN
other prophets, even Moses himself, receiving their revelation by transient irradiations of their minds, had no treasure of truth dwelling in them, but apprehended only that particular wherein they were enlightened, and even that not clearly in its fulness and perfection, but in a measure of light accommodated unto the age wherein they lived, 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. Hence the Spirit is said to rest on him, Isa. xi. 2, 3. and to abide on him, Matt. iij. 16. who did only in a transient act affect the minds of other prophets; and by an actual motion, which had not an habitual spring in themselves, cause them to speak or write the will of God; as an instrument of music gives forth a sound according to the skill of him that strikes it, and that only when it is so stricken or used. Hence, • 2. The prophets receiving their revelations, as it were, by number and tale from the Holy Ghost, when they had spoken or written what in particular at any season they had received from him, could not add one word or syllable of the same infallibility and authority with what they had so received. But the Lord Christ having all the treasures of wisdom, knowledge and truth hid and laid up in hin, did at all times, in all places, with equal infallibility and authority give forth the mind and will of God, even as he would; what he so spake, having its whole authority from his speaking of it, and not from its consonancy unto any thing otherwise revealed.
3. The prophets of old were so barely instrumental in receiving and revealing the will of God, being only servants in the house, Heb. iii. 4. for the good of others, 1 Pet. i. 11. that they saw not to the bottom of the things by themselves revealed; and did therefore both diligently read and study the books of them that wrote before their time, Dan. ix. 2. and meditated upon the things which the Spirit uttered by themselves, to obtain an understanding in them, 1 Pet. i. 10-12. But the Lord Jesus, the Lord over his own house, had an absolutely perfect comprehension of all the mysteries revealed to him and by him, by that divine wisdom which always dwelt in him. :
4. The difference was no less between them in respect of the revelations themselves made to them, and by them. For although the substance of the will and mind of God concerning salvation by the, Messiah was made known unto them all, yet it was done so obscurely to Moses and the prophets that ensued, that they all came short in the light of that mystery of John the baptist; and he did not rise up in a clear and distinct apprehension of it, unto the least of the true disciples of Christ, Matt. xi. 11. whence the giving of the law by Moses to instruct the church in that mystery, by its types and shadows, is opposed to that grace and truth which were brought by Jesus Christ, John i. 17, 18. See Ephes. iii. 811. Col. i. 26, 27. Tit. ï. 11. 2 Tim. i. 10.
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In these and sundry other things of the like importance, had the Father's speaking in the Son, the pre-eminence above his speaking in Moses and the prophets ; for which cause the apo. sile placeth this consideration in the head of his reasonings and arguments, for attendance unto and observance of the things revealed by him. For even all these things have influence into his present argument, though the main stress of it be laid on the excellency of his person, of which at large afterwards.
6. We must yet further observe, that the Jews, with whom the apostle had to do, had all of them an expectation of a new signal and final revelation of the will of God, to be made by thie Messiah in the last days, that is, of their church-state, and not, as they now fondly imagine, of the world. Some of them indeed imagined that great prophet promised Deut. xviii. to have been one distinct from the Messiah, John i. 21. but the general expectation of the church for the full revelation of the will of God, was upon the Messiah, John iv. 25. Of the same mind were their more ancient doctors, that retained any thing of the tradition of their fathers; asserting that the law of Moses was alterable by the Messiah, and that in some things it should be so. Maimonides is the leader in the opinion of the eternity of the law : whose arguments are answered by the author of Sepher Ikkarim, lib. iii. cap. 13. and some of them by Nachmanides. Hence it is laid down, as a principle in Neve
Onun · Messiah the king shall be exalted above Abraham, be bigh above Moses, yea and the ministering angels.' And it is for the excellency of the revelation made by him, that he is so exalted above Moses. Whence Maimonides himself acknowledgeth, Tractat, de Regibus, that at the coming of the Messiah, 123 Suba1p179771 Donnent "72707 170 hidden and deep things (i. e. of the counsel of God) shull be revealed or laid open unto all. And this persuasion they built on the promises a new covenant to be made with them, not “ like the covenant made with their fathers," Jerem. xxxi. 32, 33. Whence the author before mentioned concludes, that it was the judgment of the ancient doctors, that they should receive a new covenant from the mouth of God himself; and all their worship being annexed and subservient unto the covenant that was made with them in Horeb, upon the removal of that covenant, there was of necessity a new kind of worship, subservient thereunto, to ensue.
From all these observations, we may evidently perceive wherein the force of the apostle's argument.doth lie, which he insists upon in this very entrance of his discourse : rather insinuating it from their own principles, than openly pressing them with its reason, which he doth afterwards. They acknows ledged that the Messiah was to come; that he was to be in a special manner the Son of God, (as we shall shew;) that in him God would ultimately reveal his mind and will unto them ; and that this revelation on many accounts would be far more excellent, than that of old made to and by Moses. And that this was all accomplished in the ministry of Jesus Christ, and that unto themselves in the latter days of their church, according to what was long before foretold, he asserts and proves; whence it was easy for them to gather, what a necessity of adhering to his doctrine and institutions, notwithstanding any contrary pleas or arguings, was incumbent on them.
But moreover, the apostle in these words hath opened the spring from whence all his ensuing arguments do flow; in fixing on him who brought life and immortality to light by the gospel. And from thence takes occasion to enter upon the dog matical part of the epistle, in the description of the person of Christ, the Son of God, and his excellency, in whom God spake unto them, that they might consider with whom they had to do; wherein he proceeds to the end of this chapter.
But before we proceed, we shall stay here a little to consider some things that may be a refreshment to believers in their passage, in the consideration of those spiritual truths, which for the use of the church in general are exhibited to us, in the words which we have considered,
And the first is this.
1. The revelation of the will of God, as to all things which concern his worship and our faith and obedience, is peculiarly and in a way of eminence from the Father.
This is that which the apostle partly asserts, and partly takes for granted, as the head and spring of his whole ensuing discourse. And this shall now be a little further cleared and confirmed: to which end we may observe,
1. That the whole mystery of his will antecedently to the revelation of it, is said to be hid in God, that is, the Father, Ephes. iri. 9. it lay wrapt up from the eyes of men and angels, in his eternal wisdom and counsel, Col. i. 26, 27. The Son in deed, who is, and from eternity was in the bosom of the Father, John i. 18. as one brought up with him, his eternal delight and wisdom, Prov, viii. 29, 30. was partaker with him in this coupsel, ver. 31. as was also his eternal Spirit, who search. es and knows all the deep things of God, `1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. But yet the rise and spring of this mystery, was in the Father. For the order of acting in the blessed Trinity, follows the order of subsistence. As the Father, therefore, is the fountain of the Trinity, as to subsistence, so also as to operation. He bath life in himself, and he gives to the Son to have life in himself, John v. 26. And he doth it by communicating unto him his subsistence by eternal generation. And thence saith the Son, $ As my Father worketh, so I work,” John v. 17. And what he seeth the Father do, that doth the Son likewise, ver. 19. not by imitation or repetition of the like works ; but in the same works, in order of nature the will and wisdom of the Father, doth proceed; so also is it in respect of the Holy Ghost, whose order of subsistence denotes that of his operation.
2. That the revelation of the mystery of the will of God, so hidden in the counsel of his will from eternity, was always made and given out in the pursuit, and for the accomplishment of the purpose of the Father; or of that eternal purpose of the will of God, which is by the way of eminence ascribed unto the Father, Eph. i. 6, 9.“ He hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself." It is the Father of whom he speaks, ver. 3. « Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now he abounds to usward in wisdom and prudence, or abun. dantly manifests his infinite wisdom in his dealing with us, by the revelation of the mystery of his will; and this he doth in pursuit of his good pleasure, which he purposed in himself; or that purpose of his will which had its foundation solely in his good pleasure. This is the purpose of election, as is declared, ver. 3—5. And this purpose is peculiarly assigned unto him, John xvii. 6. 2 Thess. ii. 13. For the accomplishment of this purpose, or the bringing of those predestinated thereby, to the end purposed for them by the means ordained, for the praise of God's glorious grace, is the whole revelation of the will of God, first and last, made. He spake in his Son, and he spake in him, that he might manifest his name (himself and will) to the men whom he gave him : for, saith the Son, Thine they were," set apart for thee in thy eternal purpose, and a thou gavest them unto me,” Jolin xvii. 6. And therefore Paul tells us, that in preaching of the gospel, he endured all things for the elect's sake, 2 Tim. ii. 10. knowing that it was for their salvation, that the mystery of it was revealed from the bosom of the Father, as God also had before taught him, Acts xviii. 10, see Rom. xi. 7. viii. 28, &c.
3. This purpose of God being communicated with, and unto the Lord Christ, or the Son, became the counsel of peace between them both, Zech. vi. 13. The Son, rejoicing to do the work that was incumbent on him for the accomplishment of it, Prov. viii. 30-32. Psal. xl. 7, 8. it became peculiarly the care and work of the Father, to see that the inheritance promised him upon his undertaking, (Isa. liii. 10-12.) should be given unto him. This is done by the revelation of the will of God unto men, concerning their obedience and salvation, whereby