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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 dogmatical 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.
I. 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. iii. 9. it lay wrapt up from the eyes of men and angels, in his eternal wisdom and counsel, Col. i. 26, 27. The Son indeed, 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 counsel, ver. 31. as was also his eternal Spirit, who searches 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 hath 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. 1. 8, 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 abundantly 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 " thou gavest them unto me," John xvii. 6. And therefore Paul tells us, that in preaching of the gospel, he endured all things for the elect's sake, 2 l'im. 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, &e.
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. yi. 13. The Son, rejoicing to do the work that was incumbent on him for the accomplishment of it, Prov. viii. 30_38. Psal. xl. 7, 8. it became peculiarly the cart 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
they are made the lot, the seed, the portion and inheritance of Christ. To this end doth the Lord, that is the Father, who said unto the Lord the Son, “ Sit thou on my right hand," (Psal cx. 2.) send the “ rod of his power out of Sion,” ver. 2. by it to declare his rule even over his enemies, and to make his people, those given unto him, willing and obedient, ver. 3. The inheritance given by the Father unto Christ, being wholly in the possession of another, it became him to take it out of the usurper's hand, and deliver it up to him, whose right it was; and this he did, and doth by the revelation of his mind in the preaching of the word, Col. i. 12, 13. And from these considerations it is, that
4. The whole revelation and dispensation of the will of God in and by the word, is (as was said) eminently appropriated unto the Father. “ Eternal life (the counsel, the purpose, ways, means, and procurer of it) was with the Father, and was manifested to us by the word of truth,” 1 John i. 1, 2. And it is the Father, that is, his will, mind, purpose, grace, lové, tat the Son declares, John i. 18. in which work he speaks nothing, but what he heard from, and was taught by the Father, John viii. 28. And thence he says, “the doctrine is not mine. (that is, principally and originally) but his that sent me,” Jobn vii. 16. And the gospel is called the “ gospel of the glory of the blessed God," 1 Tim. i. 11. which is a periphrasis of the per-. son of the Father, who is the “ Father of glory,” Eph. i. 17. And we might also declare, that the great work of making this gospel effectual on the minds of men, doth peculiarly belong unto the Father, which he accomplisheth by his Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 18. ch. iv, 6. But that is not our present business. Thus the revelation of events that should befal the church to the end of the world, that Christ signified by his angel unto John, was first given him of the Father, Rev. i. 1. And therefore, though all declarations of God and his will, from the foundation of the world, were made by the Son, the second person of the Trinity, ·and by his Spirit speaking in the prophets, 1 Pet. i. 11–13. yet 'as it was not by him immediately, no more was it as absolutely so, but as the great angel and messenger of the covenant, hy the will and appointment of the Father. And therefore, the very dispensers of the gospel are said, πρεσβευειν υπες Xριστε, to treat as ambassadors about the business of Christ with men in the name of God the Father; ώς το Θια παρακαλαντος δι ήμων, , şaith the apostle; as if God the Father 6 exhorted in and by us,” 2 Cor. v. 20. For to him doth this whole work principally relate,
And from the appropriating of this work originally and principally to the Father, there are three things that are particularly intimated unto us.
1. The authority that is to be considered in it: the Father is the original of all power and authority; of him the whole family of heaven and earth is named, Eph. iii. 15. He is the Father of the whole family, from whom Christ himself receives all his power and authority as Mediator, Matt. xxviii. 18. which when his work is accomplished, he shall give up again into his hand, 1 Cor. xv. 28. He sent him into the world, set him over his house, gave him command unto his work. The very name and title of Father, carries authority along with it, Mal. i. 6. And in the disposal of the church, in respect of this paternal power doth the Son affirm, that the Father is greater than he, John xiv. 28. and runis up the contempt of the word in the preaching of it by his messengers, into a contempt of this authority of the Father: he that “refuseth you, retuseth me; he that refuseth me, refuseth him that sent me.
The revelation then and dispensation of the mind and will of God in the word, is to be considered as an act of supreme sovereign authority, requiring all subjection of soul and conscience in the receiving of it
. It is the Father of the family that speaks in this word; he that hath all power and authority essentially in him, over the souls and eternal conditions of them to whom he speaks. And what holy reverence, humility and universal subjection of soul to the word this in a particular manner requires, it is easy to apprehend.
2. There is also love. In the economy of the blessed Trini. ty about the work of our salvation, that which is eminently and in an especial manner ascribed unto the Father, is love, as hath been at large elsewhere shewed, 1 John iv. 9, 10. 16. God, that is the Father, saith he, is love. And how he exerts that property of his nature in the work of our salvation by Christ, be there shews at large: so John iii. 16. Rom. v. 7, 8. To be love, full of love, to be the especial spring of all fruits of love, is peculiar to him as the Father; and from love it is that he makes the revelation of his will whereof we speak, Deut. vii. 8. chap. xxxiii. 3. Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. 2. Cor. v. 18, 19. It was out of infinite love, mercy and compassion, that God would at all reveal his mind and will unto sinners. He might for ever have locked up the treasures of his wisdom and prudence, wherein he abounds towards us in his word, in his own eternal breast. He might have left all the sons of men unto that woful darkness, whereinto by sin they had cast themselves, and kept them, with the angels who sinned before them, under the chains and power of it, unto the judgment of the great day. But it was from infinite love that he condescended to reveal himself and his will unto us. This mixture of authority and love, which is the spring of the revelation of the will of God unto us, requires all readiness, willingness, and cheerfulness in the receipt of it, and submission unto it. Besides these also,
3. There is care eminently seen in it. The great care of the church is in, and on the Father. He is the husbandman that takes care of the vine and vineyard, John xv. 1, 2. And thence our Saviour, who had a delegated care of his people, commends them to the Father, John xvii. as to him to whom the care of them did principally and originally belong. Care is proper to a father, as such ; to God as a father. Care is inseparable from paternal love. And this also is to be considered in the revelation of the will of God.
What directions from these considerations may be taken for the use both of them that dispense the word, and of those whose duty it is to attend unto the dispensation of it, shall only be marked in our passage.
For the dispensers of the word, let them,
1. Take heed of pursuing that work negligently, which hath its spring in the authority, love, and care of God; see 1 Tim. iv. 13-16.
2. Know to whom to look for support, help, ability, and encouragement in their work, Eph. vi. 19, 20. And,
3. Not to be discouraged, whatever opposition they meet with in the discharge of their duty, considering whose work they have in hand, 2 Cor. iv. 15, 16.
4. Know how they ought to dispense the word, so as to answer the spring from whence it comes; namely, with authority, love to, and care for the souls of men. And,
5. Consider to whom they are to give an account of the work they are called to the discharge of, and entrusted with, Heb. xiii. 7.
And for them to whom the word is preached, let them consider,
1. With what reverence and godly fear they ought to attend to the dispensation of it, seeing, it is a proper effect and issue of the authority of God, Heb, xii. 25. And,
2. How they will escape if they neglect so great salvation declared unto them from the love and care of God, Heb. ii. 3. And,
3. With what holiness and spiritual subjection of soul unto God, they ought to be conversant in and with all the ordinances of worship, that are appointed by him, Heb. xii. 28, 29.
Other observations I shall more briefly pass over. spake in them."
II. The authority of God speaking in and by the penmen of the Scriptures, is the sole bottom and foundation of our assenting to them, and what is contained in them, with faith divine and supernatural.