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in all their connexions and consequences. “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired, and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.' The sovereignty of Jehovah, in passing by the nobler nature of angels, and determining the recovery of man; his wisdom in concerting a scheme, by which the honors of his government are secured, and our perishing race restored; his love in procuring our reconciliation at an expense so great as the death of an ONLY SON; the restoration of the sinner to spiritual life, and his perseverance in grace, amidst legions of adversaries more powerful than himself, were to these inspired men sources of sublime astonishment and praise.
The author of this epistle, although the chief of the apostles, although enlightened beyond any by an abundant unction of the Holy Ghost, is frequently lost in attempting to explore this fathomless depth: he acknowledges that these mysteries of godliness surpass all expression and comprehension. Which none of the princes of this world knen; as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man to conceive them. But was he afraid or ashamed to announce what he was unable fully to understand ? Did he esteem it any reproach to confess that the movements of the INFINITE, ETERNAL MIND lay beyond the reach of the finite, contracted conceptions of mortals ? No: the consideration that his message was mysterious served only to render him more confident and zealous in proclaiming it. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.
By this wisdom of God in a mystery, some understand the introduction of the Gentiles to the privileges of the gospel.-It was a mystery to the Jews that the nations of the world, who had been long and deeply sunk in idolatry; who had been permitted, during the period of several thousand years, to continue aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, should now be brought within the pale of the church, placed in all respects on a level with the offspring of Abraham, and become equal sharers with them in all the privileges of grace and glory.—The apostle thus addresses himself to the Ephesian church, “ He made known to me the mystery ; That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.
Others, by this wisdom of God in a mystery, understand the incarnation of the Son of God, and our reconciliation to the divine favor, by the blood of his cross. This view of the passage is supported by the verse immediately following: Which, mystery, none of the princes of this world knew ; for
had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Although neither of these significations is altogether rejected, yet this wisdom of God may be considered in a sense more extensive, and as comprehending the whole counsel of God; all those treasures of wisdom and knowledge which were first committed to the apostles as stewards in the spiritual family, and through them to the ministers of reconciliation in different ages. The gospel with its doctrines is emphatically called the wisdom of God, as it affords to all rational worlds the most astonishing display of his prudence and knowledge : there he appears bringing the greatest good outof the greatest evil-perfect order out of the darkest confusion, and overruling the sin of man to issue in a more abundant revenue of glory to himself, and happiness to his redeemed. It is called the wisdom of God in a mystery, because the truths therein revealed are beyond the comprehension of the most enlarged mind. The reason of mortals could never have discovered these truths unless revealed, and even after they are revealed, it is insufficient fully to comprehend them. However unmeaning or uninteresting these doctrines may appear to some, who are either too ignorant to understand, or too obstinate to acknowledge their excellence, yet by these are made known to principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God; these exalted spirits have been long and ardently
searching into the mysteries of Godliness, but have been unable to explore them: the line of their created intellect is too short to fathom this profound : although nearly six thousand years have elapsed since these higher orders of being commenced their research into the wonders of redemption, yet upon each new contemplation they are constrained to exclaim with greater transports of admiration and joy: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out; for who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor; for of him, and through him, and to him are all things : to whom be glory for ever.—Amen.
The meaning of this passage appears evidently to be the following ; that in the everlasting gospel, there are doctrines profoundły mysterious, utterly beyond our comprehension; yet these doctrines, however mysterious, ought to be openly and boldly proclaimed by the ministers of Jesus.
Without pursuing any formal division of this subject, I shall aim at enumerating some parts of this wisdom of God, which it is our duty as ambassadors of Christ to announce, although they may be truly mysterious and incomprehensible.
1. The existence of three Persons in the same Essence constitutes a part of this wisdom or counsel which is revealed in the gospel. The being of a God is evident from VOL. 2.
the light of nature. There is perhaps not a nation under heaven, however rude and idolatrous, without some form of worship expressing their dependence upon him. Reason, even unenlightened by revelation, suggests that there must be some “first cause” which produced all other causes; some uncreated, eternal BEING which
gave existence to all other beings; yet reason ascends no higher; although she may infer that there must be a God, it is peculiar to revelation to teach the manner of his existence ; that in Jehovah there are three Persons, all distinct from each other, and yet essentially and indivisibly one; each sustaining his peculiar office both in creation and redemption, and yet concurring and cooperating with the others. “ There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost."
This part of the wisdom of God is, without controversy, an unsearchable mystery; that there should be three Persons existing in one Jehovah; each subsisting distinct from the other, and yet one in essence, and perfection, and glory; so really one, that in holding fellowship with either, we hold fellowship with the other two; in ascribing worship to one, we offer worship to all ; and in despising either, we pour contempt upon all; and yet these adorable Persons are so perfectly distinct, that they assume different names, and sustain different offices: this doctrine although infinitely mysterious must