Page images

still remain corrupt and rotten at the core. Now to render us freely and willingly obedient, what more effectual method could God have taken than this, of governing us by his own Son in our nature? For in this our nature he was our Priest; and, as I shewed before, it was infinitely reasonable he should be so; and by what more endearing motive can we be obliged to obey him than this, that now he is in heaven he rules and governs us in that very nature which he sacrificed for us when he was upon the earth; and that it is in that individual humanity, which as our Priest he offered up for us on the cross, that he now reigns over us at the right hand of God; so that he who is now our King was once our sacrifice, and that not by constraint, but by his own free offer and consent! For to redeem the lives of our souls, which by a thousand guilts were forfeited to the vengeance of God, he freely chose to assume our nature, and therein to undergo our punishment, that so we might escape, and be happy for ever: and being governed, as we are, by a King that died for us, that willingly died a woful, shameful death, to ransom our lives from death eternal, what monsters of ingratitude must we be, if we still persist in our rebellions against him! When I consider that he who exacts my obedience hath spent his own heart's blood for me, that he who requires me to sacrifice my lusts to him did cheerfully sacrifice his own life for me; how can I grudge to comply with his demands, without blushing and confusion ? O ungrateful! had he been as backward to die for thee as thou art to submit to him, thou hadst been a wretch, a miserable desperate wretch, for ever. With what face then canst thou pretend to any thing that is modest or ingenuous, tender or apprehensive in human nature, that thinkest it much to render him those duties which he demands of thee, and which he demands for no other reason, but because they are necessary to thy happiness, when thou knowest he never thought it much to pour out his soul for thee in the bitterest agonies and torments that ever human nature endured? If therefore it be possible to work up our degenerate natures into a free and cheerful obedience to God, one would think this consideration should do it, that he whom God hath constituted our King, to demand our obedience, demands it in our own nature, which he assumed that he might die for us, and thereby release us from that dreadful obligation we were under to have died for ever. So that now, while his authority bespeaks our awe and reverence, his blood bespeaks our gratitude and ingenuity, and that in such language, and with such powerful rhetoric and persuasion, as is impossible for us to resist, unless we are resolved to outvie the devils themselves in ingratitude, who, though they have been audacious enough to outface the authority of their Maker, were never so much devils yet as to turn a deaf ear to the vocal blood and wounds of a Redeemer.

V. And lastly, God governs us by his own eternal Son in our own natures, that thereby he may give us the more ample assurance of our future reward. Had he continued to govern us by himself immediately, we had wanted one of the most encouraging instances of his immense bounty in rewarding obedience that ever was given to the world; and that is his advancement of our Saviour to that mediatorial royalty which he now exercises at the right hand of the Majesty on high. For had our Saviour been God only, he had been incapable of reward, his happiness, as such, being so immense, as that it can admit of no addition : but being man as well as God, he is thereby capacitated for all that vast reward which the possession of his mediatorial kingdom, together with an everlasting heaven, includes: and all this reward is the product of that perfect and profound obedience which he rendered to his Father whilst he was in this world. So that now in him, by whom God hath promised to reward our obedience, we have an illustrious instance of God's liberality in rewarding obedience; by his happy fate, we may be fully assured, that we shall not serve God for nought, but that the reward of our obedience shall ten thousand fold exceed the labour and difficulty of it:, for he is a man as well as we, though he be hypostatically united to God; and this man, for some few years' faithful service upon earth, for revealing God's will to men, and exhibiting a perfect example of obedience to it, for exposing himself to some temporal calamities, and finally for offering up himself a spotless victim for the sins of the world, is now advanced to the utmost height of bliss and glory that it is possible for a creature to arrive to; he is set far above all principality and power, he is served and adored as the only potentate under God the Father throughout all the heavenly world; he is worshipped and celebrated by cherubim and seraphim, by archangels and angels; he is extolled in the songs of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and evangelists, the confessors and martyrs; and his name is resounded with everlasting praises and thanksgivings throughout all the vast choir of the spirits of just men made perfect; and, in a word, he hath all power given him both in heaven and earth, and to his all commanding will the whole creation is subjected. In this ever blessed King, therefore, by whom God now rules us, we have for the assurance of our hope of a future reward the most stupendous instance of it that ever was given to the world. And indeed, since the great end of Christ's mediation was to reduce men to their duty; by giving them a sure and certain hope of the remission of their sins at present, and of a glorious reward hereafter, it was highly convenient that itself should be an example of its own design, and that the glorious part of it should be made the reward of the more painful and difficult; that so, having in the mediation itself a signal instance of God's immense liberality in rewarding obedience, we might thereupon the more confidently expect that glorious recompense of reward which God hath promised to those that obey him, and be thereby the more vigorously excited to our duty. And hence our Saviour proposes himself to us as an instance of the reward of obedience, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I have overcome, and am sat down with my Father on his throne : as much as if he should have said, That upon your overcoming the difficulties of your duty you shall receive a most glorious reward, you need not at all doubt, having so illustrious an example of it in myself, who, having conquered the difficult parts of my mediation, which was to teach you as a Prophet, and to expiate for you as a Priest, am now crowned with the reward of transacting the glorious part of it; i. e. sitting with my Father on his throne, and there reigning with him in unspeakable glory and beatitude : and accordingly the apostle bids us look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despised the shame, and is sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high, Heb. xii. 2.


That Jesus Christ is the Mediator, of whom we have been treating. HAVING in the foregoing sections explained at large the nature and offices of the Mediator between God and men, all that now remains is to prove that Jesus Christ, the author of our religion, is the person whom God hath ordained and constituted this mediator between him and us. And that he is so, he himself openly averred whilst he was upon earth, and afterwards proclaimed it to the world by the mouth of his apostles. But this singly by itself is no argument at all of the truth of the thing, because a deceiver might have averred the same thing: and since there were sundry pretenders to this office as well as he, it was necessary there should be some other evidence of his being invested with it, besides his pretending to it; otherwise it would have been impossible for us to distinguish him from those that falsely pretended to it: and accordingly he himself tells us, John v. 31. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true ; i.e. If I can produce no other testimony of my being the Mediator than my own bare word, you have no reason at all to believe me; and therefore he tells us, that he had not only John's witness to it, who was his forerunner,

« PreviousContinue »