Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

ever.

the Book of Ruth seems to be penned on purpose to Chap. 8. shew forth his Genealogy. The Tribe of Judah was carried to Babylon; the Family of David was brought into a very low mean condition : but Judah must return again, the withered ftem of David must bud and bring forth the Meffiah, and that when it was in the lowest ebb. The Lamp of David was almost quite extinct; but at the coming of the Messiah it was turned into a glorions Sun, which should reign for

When Christ was to come, Providence took order that it should be in due circumstances; a long train of

types and facrifices, such as filled many ages, paffed before his appearance. There was Gallicinium Prophetarum, the Cock-crowing of the Prophets, before the rising of this Sun. John Baptist came a little before, to prepare the way of the Lord by Sermons of Repentance. At last he came in the fulness of time, in the præ-appointed hour. When the Gentiles were desperately corrupted when the Jews were borribly degenerate, then he came to heal the world. He was born in the right place. Augustus's Tax calls up Jofeph and Mary to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, that there our Saviour, the true Bread from Heaven, might be born. He being God and Man in one perfon, Providence took order, that all along there should be an appearance of Majesty and Meanness: At his birth there was a Star directing to him, wise men worshipping him, an Host of Angels congratulating the good tydings ; yet himself an Infant,wrapped in poor clouts, and laid in a Manger. In his life he cast out Devils, yet was tempted; he healed infirmities, yet was weary. The glory of Myfteries and Miracles brake forth from him, yet he was in the faY 2

shion

Chap. 8. fhion and frailty of a man. The Officers a little be

fore his death, went backward and fell to the ground; yet he was apprehended : He was crucified through weakness, but liveth by the power of God. He hung upon a Cross, but even there triumphed over all the powers of darkness. All which fuits to God in the Hesh. Nothing more sublime than God , nothing more vile than Flesh. Accordingly in our Saviour there appeared a mixture of glory and weakness. To add but one thing more ; Providence would have the righteousness of his life, and the sufferings of his death, to be such as might be a full and ample Satif faction for the fin of the world; and so it was. The righteousness of his life highly honoured the rule of the Law ; the sufferings of his death were accommodated, as much as could be, to the curse of the Law. Here the two great things, in which the Law hath as high a completure as could possibly be in a Sponfor on our behalf, that is, fulfilling the righteousness, and bearing the curse of the Law, were both eminently comprised. Here the two great Attributes of God which called for a Satisfaction, that is, his Holiness, which perfectly hates sin; and his Justice, which punisheth it ; were both gratified to the full. This Satisfaction, as obediential, pleased Gods Holiness; as penal,satisfied his Justice; in both there was oorail luasies; a sweet-smelling favour unto God. He was, at least

, as highly, if not more, pleased in it, as he was displeased at the sin of a world. Thus there was, as Providence would have it, a very full and just compensation for sin, and withal a redundancy of Merit to procure all good things for us.

2. There that.

2. There was a great Providence over the fruit of Chap. 8. his Satisfaction, in raising up a Church to God. The Son of God assuming our nature, and in it making so glorious a satisfaction for us, Providence would not, I may say (without disparagement to its own perfection) could not, suffer so great a thing to be vain, or to no purpose ; no, it therein aimed at a Church : Two things will make this appear.

The one is the Promises of God. He did not only say, That Christ should be a light to the Gentiles, and his salvation to the ends of the earth, Isa. 49. 6; but in express terms, That he should see his seed, Isa. 53. 10: Which Promise having no other condition but his death only, did thereby become absolute ; it was as sure as the Truth of God could make it, that there should be a seed, a progeny of believers: And for the continuance of this seed successively, remarkable is that promise 713', filiabitur, nomen ejus, His name shall be sonned, or childed, from generation to generation, Plal. 72. 17: There shall from time to time be a company of believers coming forth as the genuine off-spring of Christ. Thus run the Promises ; and if God take care of any thing, he will take care to be true. If Providence (which without án aim is not it self ) aim at any thing in all the world, it will aim at the performance of the Promises; the keeping of Gods word being more precious to him than the preserving of a World.

The other thing to clear this point, is the End of Christs death, which is signally set down in Scripture. Christ-loved his church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctifie and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Eph. 5.25, 26. - He gave himself' for us,"

Chap. 8. that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purifie

unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Tit. 2. 14. He died that he might gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad, John 11. 52. Here the end of his death is plainly expressed; and if Providence did not aim at the same thing, how should the wills of God and Christ stand in harmony, whilst Providence neglects what Christ designs?Or how should Christ, after so vast an expence as his own blood, ever arrive at the intended end? To arrive at that by Providence, which Providence never aimed at, was impossible: to hit it by chance, was uncertain, and infinitely below such an Agent as Christ, and such a work as his Satisfa&ion. It was therefore the aim of Providence that there should be a Church..

Further, Providence doth not only intentionally aim at it, but actually procure it. And here two -things are to be noted. 1. Providence directs the outward means of

grace: These (which are things so great, that the Kingdom of God is said to come nigh unto men in them) go not forth by chance, but by the Divine pleasure; they are not hits of Fortune, but blessings of Providence, and that in a choice special manner: Evangelical light doth not,as the corporeal Sun, shine everywhere: Supernatural dews do not, as the common rain, fall in every place : Providence directs whither they shall go. Hence the Apostles did not, at least for fome time, let out their light, or drop their heavenly Doctrine in Afia or Bithynia, AF. 16.6, 7, but pafs into other parts. Their Commission was general, to preach to every creature ; but they followed the duct

of

of Providence in the executing of it. When Paul Chap. 8. was at Corinth, his stay there was proportioned to his work, God had much people in that city, A&t. 18. 10. There was a great draught of believers to be made, therefore the Evangelical Net was long, and aften cast in that place, as Providence would have it: So the holy light was spread abroad in the World.

2. Providence takes order that the Holy Spirit in the use of the means, should so effectually operate, as might infallibly secure a Church unto God." Hence, besides the light in the means, there is an in-shining into the heart ; besides the outward hearing, there is an hearing and learning of the Father: Cathedram in Epift. Joko in cælo habet, qui corda docet: He hath a Chair of Tra&. 3. State in Heaven, who teaches hearts, faith St. Austin. There is not only a proposal of objects, but an infusion of principles, to assimilate the heart thereunto. The Gospel doth not come in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, i Thes. 1.5. A Divine power opens the heart, unlocks every faculty, dissolves the stone which is in it, imprints the Holy Law there, and frames and new-moulds it into the image of God;and thus there comes forth a Church of Believers, or as the Apostle speaks, a church of the first-born which are written in heaven, Heb. 12. 23, and all this is from the Providence and good pleasure of God. Hence Saint Paul faith, That they are called according to his pur. pose and grace, 2 Tim. 1.9. Saint James faith, That they are begotten of his own will, James 1. 18. Saint John saith, That they are born not of the will of man, but of God, John 1. 13. all is from the sudoxies, the good-will and pleafure of God. This Providence which watches over the Church, though it be a very

signal

« AnteriorContinua »