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merits. The satisfaction of Christ is to free us from misery, and the merit of Christ is to purchase happiness for us.
The word purchase, in this connection, is taken either more strictly or more largely. It is oftentimes used more strictly, to signify only the merit of Christ; and sometimes more largely, to signify both his satisfaction and merit. Indeed most of the words used in this affair have various significations. Thus sometimes divines use merit for the whole price that Christ offered, both satisfactorily, and positively meritorious. And so the word satisfaction is sometimes used, not only for his propitiation, but also for his meritorious obedience. For in some sense, not only suffering the penalty, but positively obeying, is needful to satisfy the law. The reason of this various use of these terms seems to be, that satisfaction and merit do not differ so much really as relatively. They both consist in paying a valuable price, a price of infinite value: but only that price as it respects a debt to be paid, is called satisfaction; and as it respects a positive good to be obtained, is called merit. The difference between paying a debt and making a positive purchase, is more relative than essential. He who lays down a price to pay a debt, does in some sense make a purchase; he purchases liberty from the obligation. And he who lays down a price to purchase a good, does as it were make satisfaction: he satisfies the conditional demands of him to whom he pays it. This may suffice concerning what is meant by the purchase of Christ.
Some general Observations concerning those things by which this Purchase was made.
1. AND here observe, That whatever in Christ had the nature of satisfaction, was by virtue of the suffering or humiliation that was in it; but whatever had the nature of merit, was by virtue of the obedience or righteousness there was in it. The satisfaction of Christ consists in his answering the demands of the law on man, which were consequent on the breach of the law. These were answered by suffering the penalty of the law. The merit of Christ consists in what he did to answer the demands, which were prior to man's breach of the law, or to fulfil what the law demanded before man sinned, which was obedience.
The satisfaction or propitiation of Christ consists either in his suffering evil, or his being subject to abasement. Christ did not only make satisfaction by proper suffering, but by whatever had the nature of humiliation, and abasement of
circumstances. Thus he made satisfaction by continuing under the power of death, while he lay buried in the grave; though neither his body nor soul properly endured any suffering after he was dead. Whatever Christ was subject to that was the judicial fruit of sin, had the nature of satisfaction for sin. But not only proper suffering, but all abasement and depression of the state and circumstances of mankind below its primitive honour and dignity, such as his body remaining under death, his body and soul remaining separate, &c. are the judicial fruits of sin. And all that Christ did in his state of humiliation, that had the nature of obedience, moral virtue, or goodness, had the nature of merit in it, and was part of the price with which he purchased happiness for the elect.
2. Both Christ's satisfaction for sin, and also his meriting happiness by his righteousness, were carried on through the whole time of his humiliation. Christ's satisfaction for sin was not by his last sufferings only, though it was principally by them; but all his sufferings, and all his humiliation, from the first moment of his incarnation to his resurrection, were propitiatory or satisfactory. Christ's satisfaction was chiefly by his death, because his sufferings and humiliation in that was greatest. But all his other sufferings, and all his other humiliation, all along had the nature of satisfaction: the mean circumstances in which he was born: his being born of a poor virgin, in a stable, and laid in a manger; his taking the human nature upon him in its low estate, and under those infirmities brought upon it by the fall; his being born in the form of sinful flesh, &c. And so all his sufferings in his infancy and childhood, and all that labour, contempt, reproach, temptation, and difficulty of any kind which he suffered through the whole course of his life, was of a propitiatory and satisfactory nature.— And so his purchase of happiness by his righteousness was also carried on through the whole time of his humiliation till his resurrection: not only in that obedience he performed through the course of his life, but also in the obedience he performed in laying down his life.
3. It was by the same things that Christ hath satisfied God's justice, and also purchased eternal happiness. He did not make satisfaction by some things, and then work out righteousness by other different things; but in the same acts by which he wrought out righteousness, he also made satisfaction, but only taken in a different relation. One and the same act of Christ, considered with respect to the obedience there was in it, was part of his righteousness, and purchased heaven: but considered with respect to the self-denial, and difficulty, and humiliation, with which he performed it, had the nature of satisfaction for sin, and procured our pardon. Thus his
going about doing good, preaching the gospel, and teaching his disciples, was a part of his righteousness, and the purchase of heaven, as it was done in obedience to the Father; and the same was a part of his satisfaction, as he did it with great labour, trouble, and weariness, and under great temptations, exposing himself hereby to reproach and contempt. So his laying down his life had the nature of satisfaction to God's offended justice, considered as his bearing punishment in our stead: but considered as an act of obedience to God, who had given him this command, that he should lay down his life for sinners, it was a part of his righteousness and purchase, and as much the principal part of his righteousness as it was the principal part of his satisfaction. And to instance in his circumcision, what he suffered in it, had the nature of satisfaction: the blood that was shed therein was propitiatory blood; but as it was a conformity to the law of Moses, it was part of his meritorious righteousness. Though it was not properly the act of human nature, he being an infant; yet the human nature being the subject of it, and being the act of his person, it was accepted as an act of his obedience, as our mediator.And even his being born in such a low condition, has the nature of satisfaction by reason of the humiliation that was in it; and of righteousness, as it was the act of his person in obedience to the Father, what the will of the human nature did acquiesce in, though there was no act of the will of the human nature prior to it.-These things may suffice to have been observed in general, concerning the purchase Christ made of redemption.
Those things in particular by which the Purchase was made.-Christ's Obedience and Righteousness.
I Now proceed to consider the things that passed during the time of Christ's humiliation, and first, with respect to his obedience and righteousness. And this is subject to a threefold distribution. I shall therefore consider his obedience with respect to the laws which he obeyed-the different stages of his life in which he performed it-and the virtues he exercised in his obedience.
I. THE first distribution of the acts of Christ's righteousness is with respect to the laws which he obeyed. But here it must be observed in general, that all the precepts which Christ obeyed may be reduced to one law, and that is what the apostle 38
calls the law of works, Rom. iii. 27. Every command that Christ obeyed may be reduced to that great and everlasting law of God that is contained in the covenant of works, that eternal rule of right which God had established between himself and mankind. Christ came into the world to fulfil and answer the covenant of works, that is, the covenant that is to stand for ever as a rule of judgment. The covenant that we had broken, was the covenant that must be fulfilled.
This law of works indeed includes all the laws of God that ever have been given to mankind; for it is a general rule of the law of works, and indeed of the law of nature, That God is to be obeyed, and that he must be submitted to in whatever positive precept he is pleased to give. It is a rule of the law of works, That men should obey their earthly parents: and it is certainly as much a rule of the same law, That we should obey our heavenly Father; and so the law of works requires obedience to all the positive commands of God. It required Adam's obedience to that positive command, Not to eat of the forbidden fruit; and it required obedience of the Jews to all the positive commands of their institution. When God commanded Jonah to arise and go to Nineveh, the law of works required him to obey and so it required Christ's obedience to all the positive commands which God gave him. But, more particularly, the commands of God which Christ obeyed, were of three kinds; they were such as he was subject to, either merely as man, or as he was a Jew, or purely as Mediator.
1. He obeyed those commands which he was subject to merely as man. These were the commands of the moral law, which was the same with that which was given at Mount Sinai, written in two tables of stone, which are obligatory on mankind of all nations and all ages of the world.
2. He obeyed all those laws he was subject to as he was a Jew. Thus he was subject to the ceremonial law, and was conformed to it. He was conformed to it in his being circumcised the eighth day; and he strictly obeyed it in going up to Jerusalem to the temple three times a year; at least after he was come to the age of twelve years, which sems to have been the age when the males began to go up to the temple. And so Christ constantly attended the service of the temple, and of the synagogues.
To this head of his obedience may be reduced his submission to John's baptism. For it was a special command to the Jews, to go forth to John the Baptist, and be baptized of him; and therefore Christ, being a Jew, was subject to this command: and therefore, when he came to be baptized of John, and John objected, that he had more need to come to
him to be baptized of him, he gives this reason for it, That it was needful that he should do it, that he might fulfil all righteousness. (See Matt. iii. 13-15.)
3. Christ was subject to the mediatorial law; or that which related purely to his mediatorial office. Such were the commands which the Father gave him to teach such doctrines, to preach the gospel, to work such miracles, to call such disciples, to appoint such ordinances, and finally to lay down his life for he did all these things in obedience to the commands he had received of the Father, as he often tells us. (John x. 18. xiv. 31.) These commands he was not subject to merely as man; for they did not belong to other men: nor yet was he subject to them as a Jew; for they were no part of the Mosaic law: but they were commands he had received of the Father, that purely respected his mediatorial office.
Christ's righteousness, by which he merited heaven for himself, and all who believe in him, consists principally in his obedience to this mediatorial law: for in fulfilling this law consisted his chief work and business in the world. The history of the evangelists is chiefly taken up in giving an account of his obedience to this law. This part of his obedience was attended with the greatest difficulty; and therefore his obedience in it was most meritorious. What Christ had to do in the world by virtue of his being Mediator, was infinitely more difficult than what he had to do merely as a man or as a Jew. To his obedience to this mediatorial law belongs his going through his last sufferings, beginning with his agony in the garden, and ending with his resurrection.
As the obedience of the first Adam, wherein his righteousness would have consisted, if he had stood, would have mainly consisted in his obedience to that special law to which he was subject as moral head and surety of mankind, even the command of abstaining from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; so the obedience of the second Adam, wherein his righteousness consists, lies mainly in his obedience to that special law to which he was subject as mediator and surety for
Before I proceed to the next distribution of Christ's righteousness, I would observe three things concerning his obedience to these laws.
1. He performed that obedience to them which was in every respect perfect. It was perfect with respect to the work commanded; and the principle from which he obeyed. It was perfect with respect to the ends he acted for; he never had any by-ends, but aimed perfectly at such as the law of God required. It was perfect with respect to the manner of perfor