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promise. The plain meaning of Christ's words is this : « As you have partook of my temptations and trials, and have been stedfast, and have overcome, I promise to make you partakers of my reward, and to give you a kingdom; as the Father has promised me a kingdom for continuing stedfast, and overcoming in those trials.” And the words are well explained by those in Rev. iii. 21. 6 To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne ; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” And Christ had not only promises of glorious success and rewards made to his obedience and sufferings, but the Scriptures plainly represent him as using these promises for motives and inducements to obey and suffer; and particularly that promise of a kingdom which the Father had appointed Him, or sitting with the Father in his throne ; as in Heb. xii. 1, 2. “ Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And how strange would it be to hear any Christian assert, that the holy and excellent temper and behavior' of Jesus Christ, and that obedience which he performed under such great trials, was not virtuous or praiseworthy ; because his Will was not free ad utrumque, to either holiness or sin, but was unalterably determined to one ; that upon this account, there is no virtue at all, in all Christ's humility, meekness, patience, charity, forgiveness of enemies, contempt of the world, heavenly mindedness, submission to the will of God, perfect obedience to his commands, (though he was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross) his great compassion to the afflicted, his unparalleled love to mankind, his faithfulness to God and man, under such great trials ; his praying for his enemies, even when nailing him to the cross; that virtue, when applied to these things, is but an empty name ; that there was no merit in any of these things ; that is, that Christ was worthy of nothing at all on account of them, wor• . thy of no reward, no praise, no honor or respect from God or man ; because his Will was not indifferent, and free, either to these things, or the contrary ; but under such a strong inclination or bias to the things that were excellent, as made it imp108sible that he should choose the contrary ; that upon this account (to use Dr. Whitby's language) it would be sensibly unreasonable that the human nature should be rewarded for any of these things.
According to this doctrine, that creature who is evidently set forth in scripture as the first born of every creature, as hav. ing in all things the preeminence, and as the highest of all creatures in virtue, honor, and worthiness of esteem, praise and glory, on the account of his virtue, is less worthy of reward or praise, than the very least of saints; yea, no more worthy, than a clock or mere machine, that is purely passive, and moved by natural necessity. • If we judge by scriptural representations of things, we have reason to suppose, that Christ took upon him our nature, and dwelt with us in this world, in a suffering state, not only to satisfy for our sins, but that He, being in our nature and cir. cumstances, and under our trials, might be our most fit and proper example, leader and captain, in the exercise of glorious and victorious virtue, and might be a visible instance of the glorious end and reward of it ; that we might see in Him the beauty, amiableness, and true honor and glory, and exceeding benefit, of that virtue, which it is proper for us human beings to practise ; and might thereby learn, and be animated, to seek the like glory and honor, and to obtain the like glorious reward. See Heb. ii. 9....14, with v. 8, 9, and xii. 1, 2, 3. John xv. 10. Rom. viii. 17. 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. 1 Pet. ii. 19, 20, and iv. 13. But if there was nothing of any virtue or merit, or worthiness of any reward, glory, praise or commendation at all, in all that he did, because it was all necessary, and he could not help it; then how is here any thing so proper to animate and excite us, free creatures, by patient continuance in well doing, to seek for honor, glory, and immortality?
God speaks of Himself as peculiarly well pleased with the righteousness of this servant of his. Isą. xlii. 21. “ The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake.” The sacrifices of old are spoken of as a sweet savour to God, but the obedience of Christ as far more acceptable than they. Psal. xl. 6,7. “ Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire : Mine ear hast Thou opened,” (as thy servant performing willing obedience ;] « burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required: Then said I, Lo, I come,” (as a servant that cheerfully answers the calls of his master :] «I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea, thy law is within mine heart.” Matth. xvii. 5. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And Christ tells us expressly, that the Father loves him for that wonderful instance of his obedience, his voluntary yielding himself to death, in compliance with the Father's command, John X. 17, 18. “ Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life: No man taketh it from me ; but I lay it down of myself.... This commandment received I my Father.
And if there was no merit in Christ's obedience unto death, if it was not worthy of praise, and of the most glorious rewards, the heavenly hosts were exceedingly mistaken, by the account that is given of them, in Rev. V. 8.... 12. “ The four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors; and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art WORTHY to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain.... And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, WORTHY is the lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
Christ speaks of the eternal life which he was to receive, as the reward of his obedience to the Father's commandments. John xii. 49, 50. “ I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandinent what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that his commandment is life everlasting : Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” God promises to divide him a portion with the great, &c. for his being his righteous servant, for his glorious virtue under such great trials and sufferings. Isa. liii. 11, 12. “ He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied : By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many ; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” The scriptures represent God as rewarding him far above all his other servants. Phil. ii. 7, 8, 9. “ He took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men : And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ;. wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.” Psal. xlv. 7. “ Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.. • There is no room to pretend, that the glorious benefits bestowed in consequence of Christ's obedience, are not properly of the nature of a reward. What is a reward, in the most proper sense, but a benefit bestowed in consequence of something morally excellent in quality or behavior, in testimony of well pleasedness in that moral excellency, and respect and favor on that account? If we consider the nature of a reward most strictly, and make the utmost of it, and add to the things contained in this description, proper merit or worthiness, and the bestowment of the benefit in consequence of a promise ; still it will be found, there is nothing belonging to it, but that the scripture is most express as to its belonging to the glory bestowed on Christ, after his sufferings ; as appears from what has been already observed : There was a glorious benefit bestowed in consequence of something morally excellent, being called Righteousness and Obedience ; there was great favor, love and well pleasedness, for this righteousness and obedience, in the bestower ; there was proper merit, or worthiness
of the benefit, in the obedience ; it was bestowed in fulfilment of promises made to that obedience ; and was bestowed therefore, or because he had performed that obedience.
I may add to all these things, that Jesus Christ, while here in the flesh, was manifestly in a state of trial. The last Adam, as Christ is called, Rom. v. 14. 1 Cor. xv. 45, taking on Him the human nature, and so the form of a servant, and being under the law, to stand and act for us, was put into a state of trial, as the first Adam was....Dr. Whitby mentions these three things as evidences of persons being in a state of trial (on the five Points, p. 298, 299) namely, their afflictions being spoken of as their trials or temptations, their being the subjects of promises, and their being exposed to Satan's temptations. But Christ was apparently the subject of each of these. Concerning promises made to him, I have spoken already. The difficulties and aflictions he met with in the course of his obedience, are called his temptations or trials." Luke xxii. 28. “ Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations or trials." Heb. ii. 18. “ For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, for tried] He is able to succor them that are tempted.” And chap. iv. 15. “We have not an high priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And as to his being tempted by Satan it is what none will dispute.