Page images
PDF
EPUB

cessive works and dispensations of God, all tending to one great end and effect, all united as the several parts of a scheme, and all together making up one great work. Like an house or temple that is building ; first, the workmen are sent forth, then the materials are gathered, then the ground fitted, then the foundation is laid, then the superstructure is erected, one part after another, till at length the top stone is laid, and all is finished. Now the work of redemption in that large sense that has been explained, may be compared to such a building, that is carrying on from the fall of man to the end of the world. God went about it immediately after the fall of man. Some things were done towards it immediately, as may be shown hereafter ; and so God has proceeded, as it were, getting materials and building, ever since ; and so will proceed to the end of the world ; and then the time will come when the top stone shall be brought forth, and all will appear complete and consummate. The glorious structure will then stand forth in its proper perfection. . This work is carried on in the former respect that has been mentioned, viz. as to the effect on the souls of particular persons that are redeemed, by its being an effect that is common to all ages. The work is carried on in this latter respect, viz. as it respects the church of God, and the grand design in general, it is carried on, not only by that which is common to all ages, but by successive works wrought in different ages, all parts of one whole, or one great scheme, whereby one work is brought about by various steps, one step in one age, and another in another. It is this carrying on of the work of redemption that I shall chiefly insist upon, though not excluding the former ; for one necessarily supposes the other. Having thus explained what I mean by the terms of the doctrine 3. that you may the more clearly see how the great design and work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world ; I say, in order to this, I now proceed, in the second place, to show what is the design of this great work, or what things are designed to be done by it. In order to see how a design is carried on, we must first know what the design is. To know how a workman proceeds, and to understand the various steps he takes, in order to accomplish a piece of work, we need to be informed what he is about, or what the thing is that he intends to accomplish: ; otherwise we may stand by, and see him do one thing after another, and be quite puzzled and in the dark, seeing nothing of his scheme, and understanding nothing of what he neans by it. If an architect, with a great number of hands, were a building some great palace, and one that was a stranger to such things should stand by, and see some men digging in the earth, others bringing timber, others hewing stones, and the like, he might see that there was a great deal done ; but if he knew not the design, it would all appear to him confusion. And therefore, that the great works and dispensations of God that belong to this great affair of redemption may not appear like confusion to you, I would set before you briefly the main things designed to be accomplished in this great work, to accomplish which God began to work presently after the fall of man, and will continue working to the end of the world, when the whole work will appear completely finished. And the main things designed to be done by it are these that follow. I. It is to put all God's enemies under his feet, and that the goodness of God should finally appear triumphing over all evil. Soon after the world was created, evil entered into the world in the fall of the angels and man. Presently after God had made rational creatures, there were enemies who rose up against him from among them ; and in the fall of man evil entered into this lower world, and Gel’s enemies rose up against him here. Satan rose up against God, endeavouring to frustrate his design in the creation of this lower world, to destroy his workmanship here, and to wrest the government of this lower world out of his hands, and usurp the throne himself, and set up himself as god of this world instead of the God that made it. And to these ends he introduced sin into the world ; and having made man God’s enemy, he brought guilt on man, and brought death and the most extreme and dreadful misery into the world. - - - - - Now one great design of God in the affair of redemption was, to reduce and subdue those enemies of God, till they should all be put under God's feet : 1 Cor. xv. 25. “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Things were originally so planned and designed, that he might disappoint and confound, and triumph over Satan, and that he might be bruised under Christ's feet, Gen. iii. 15. The promise was given, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. It was a part of God's original design in this work, to destroy the works of the devil, and confound him in all his purposes : 1 John iii. 8. “For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” It was a part of his design, to triumph over sin, and over the corruptions of men, and to root them out of the hearts of his people, by conforming them to himself. He designed also, that his grace should triumph over man's guilt, and that infinite demerit that there is in sin. Again, it was a part of his design, to triumph over death ; and however this is the last enemy that shall be destroyed, yet that shall finally be vanquished and destroyed. God thus appears gloriously above all evil; and triumphing over all his enemies, was one great thing that God intended by the work of redemption ; and the work by which this was to be done, God immediately went about as soon as man fell ; and so goes on till he fully accomplishes it in the end of the world. - II. In doing this, God’s design was perfectly to restore all the ruins of the fall, so far as concerns the elect part of the world, by his Son ; and therefore we read of the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21. “Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things ;” and of the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord Jesus, Acts iii. 19. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Man's soul was ruined by the fall; the image of God was ruined ; man's nature was corrupted and destroyed, and man became dead in sin. The design of God was, to restore the soul of man ; to restore life to it, and the image of God, in conversion, and to carry on the restoration in sanctification, and to perfect it in glory. Man's body was ruined ; by the fall it became subject to death. The design of God was, to restore it from this ruin, and not only to deliver it from death in the resurrection, but to deliver it from mortality itself, in making it like unto Christ's glorious body. The world was ruined, as to man, as effectually as if it had been reduced to chaos again ; all heaven and earth were overthrown. But the design of God was, to restore all, and as it were to create a new heaven and a new earth : Isaiah lxv. 17. “Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth ; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” 2 Pet. iii. 13. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” The work by which this was to be done, was begun immediately after the fall, and so is carried on till all is finished at the end, when the whole world, heaven and earth, shall be restored ; and there shall be, as it were, new heavens, and a new earth, in a spiritual sense, at the end of the world. Thus it is represented, Rev. xxi. 1. “And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth ; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” III. Another great design of God in the work of redemption, was, to gather together in one all things in Christ, in heaven and in earth, i. e. all elect creatures ; to bring all elect creatures, in heaven and in earth, to an union one to another in one body, under one head, and to unite all together in one body to God the Father. This was begun soon after the fall, and is carried on through all ages of the world, and finished at the end of the world. IV. God designed by this work to perfect and complete the glory of all the elect by Christ. It was a design of God to advance the elect to an exceeding pitch of glory, “ such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ever entered into the heart of man.” He intended to bring them to perfect excellency and beauty in his image, and in holiness, which is the proper beauty of spiritual beings; and to advance them to a glorious degree of honor, and also to an ineffable pitch of pleasure and joy; and thus to glorify the whole church of elect men in soul and body, and with them to bring the glory of the elect angels to its highest pitch under one head. The work which tends to this, God began immediately after the fall, and carries on through all ages, and will have perfected at the end of the world.

V. In all this God designed to accomplish the glory of the blessed Trinity in an exceeding degree. God had a design of glorifying himself from eternity ; to glorify each person in the Godhead. The end must be considered as first in the order of nature, and then the means ; and therefore we must conceive, that God having professed this end, had then as it were the means to choose ; and the principal mean that he pitched upon was this great work of redemption that we are speaking of. It was his design in this work to glorify his only begotten son, Jesus Christ; and it was his design, by the son to glorify the Father: John, xiii. 31, 32. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also shall glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” It was his design that the Son should thus be glorified, and should glorify the Father by what should be accomplished by the Spirit to the glory of the Spirit, that the whole Trinity, conjunctly, and each person singly, might be exceedingly glorified. The work that was the appointed means of this, was begun immediately after the fall, and is carried on till, and finished at the end of the world, when all this intended glory shall be fully accomplished in all things.

HAv1NG thus explained the terms made use of in the doctrine, and shown what the things are which are to be accomplished by this great work of God, I proceed now to the proposed History ; that is, to show how what was designed by the work of redemption is accomplished, in the various steps of this work, from the fall of man to the end of the world.

In order to this, I would divide this whole space of time into three periods : — The

« PreviousContinue »