Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors]

saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ, to THE INTENT that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known BY THE Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord*.” This is a clear, distinct, and undeniable revelation of the purpose for which the church is built together : and as we have seen that the church is the fulness of Him who filleth all in all, we learn that he perfects this fulness for an ulterior purpose,

to make known the manifold wisdom of God.” That Christ Jesus is the manifestation of the invisible Father, is declared by him to his Apostles: “ If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also t:” “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” That the manifestation of God was his purpose in coming into the world, he declares also: I have

« Ι manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world #.” He also explicitly sets forth the purpose to be accomplished by the gathering all believers unto him: praying for his disciples, and all who should believe through their word, he says, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me :” and again, “ I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one ; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” The meaning attached to the word "world,” in the preceding part of the chapter, and the context itself, clearly shews that the belief and knowledge here ascribed to the world is not a saving knowledge, but is the same conviction as is mentioned concerning Pharaoh,—that it may “be known that the Lord is God;" and as is ascribed by St.James to the devils, to “believe and tremble.” Here is a confirmation, from the mouth of Christ, that he came to manifest God; that all shall be gathered together in one, in Him, to the intent that it may be known God sent him : which is, in effect, that it may be known God has manifested Himself, which is truly the purpose of God's manifestation. Thus, what the Apostle declares, setting forth the mystical person of Christ. Christ himself declares namely, that it is all to one intent, to make known the eternal invisible Jehovah.

The same testimony is again borne by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. Speaking of the election of God, and shewing the absolute freeness of it, so that “God hath mercy on whom

* Eph. iii. 10, 11.

+ John xiv.

I John xvii. 6.

§ John xvii. 21, 22.



he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth ;" he answers an objector (who urges, that, if so, God cannot justly punish), by an interrogation “ Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles ?” This interrogation, which is of exactly the same force and precision with an assertion, distinctly states, that the purpose of God to be answered by " the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,” is to make known his wrath and power; and his purpose by

" the vessels of mercy,” is to make known the riches of his glory ;-a declaration exactly parallel to those which have been before alluded to: and, remembering that Christ is the life of those who are saved, and the condemnation of those who perish, it amounts to a setting forth of the ultimate purpose of God's manifestation.

The intent of gathering his people in Christ, is again set forth in the Epistle to the Ephesians, in these words: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus t."

17. This is the summing up of all our evidence. We have before seen, in God's dealings with Abraham ; with Jacob; with his people Israel, in various

distinct acts, and in all the leading subjects—the bringing out of Egypt, the overthrow of Pharaoh, the giving of the law, the building of the tabernacle, the entering into the promised land, the slaying of Goliath, the bringing up of the ark to Zion, and the building of the templethe intent of each subject has been declared to be,“ to make known the Lord Jehovah.” We are taught in the New Testament the typical expression of Christ and his church, which is embodied in many of those subjects; and have thence declared, that the same purpose which the types subserved would be answered, and in a more perfect manner, by the antitype. But here we have a literal declaration concerning the great Antitype, which corresponds with the figurative testimony, and more than fully confirms it: the same proof which might be gathered from the distinct members, is directly borne by the whole body : and who shall dare to doubt ?

18. This would amply suffice for proof; but as the great and momentous truth meets us in every page, and sheds its clear and connected light upon every part of Scripture, it will be

[ocr errors]

* Rom. ix. 22, 23.

+ Eph. ii. 7.



well for us a little further to pursue its ramifications, and open the paths which lie around it. The Apostle says, “Whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God;" and a short consideration of the meaning of glory, as applied to the infinite Jehovah, will lead us to much confirmation of the great truth we have followed, and shew the connection which, throughout the New Testament, is marked between the several acts recorded, and the Lord Jesus as the great end. It is said of him, he is “ the Brightness of his Father's glory:” he says of himself, “ I have glorified thee on the earth.” Now, to glorify, in an earthly sense, is to add to the subject glorified something that is honourable and glorious. But to the all-perfect God nothing honourable or glorious can be added : he has in himself all perfection. Glory, as applied to him, cannot mean the adding any thing, but must intend the shewing forth the essential excellency of His Being. This consideration is of very momentous importance; as the misunderstanding of it leads to degrading and erroneous views of the all-perfect Jehovah, whilst the true reading leads to a recognition of the great purpose of " selfmanifestation :” and as the Lord Jesus is the Brightness of the Father's glory, he is thus seen to be the excellency and perfection of God-manifestation. The same testimony is borne by the Apostle, saying, “ In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Every thing which is done to the glory of God, is done to the manifestation of Immanuel, as "the Brightness of the Father's glory, the express Image of his person."

19. The commandment which is given to us is, “ to believe on him whom the Father hath sent;” and, “ He who believeth shall be saved ; he who believeth not, shall be damned.” Our Lord says, “ This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” The judgment is more fully set forth “ when he shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel.” Thus God calls on all to believe, and denounces judgment on them who believe not. He will manifest himself to them who believe, in blessing; and he will manifest himself through those that believe not, in visiting his terrible judgments upon them. This is exactly parallel to his dealings with his people Israel and to Pharaoh. It is a direct revelation of one purpose in blessing and in cursing ; blessing those who perform his law, and cursing those who despise it; but both unto the manifestation of his own excellency. This is the shewing forth of his power and wrath through the wicked, and the riches of his glory through his saints. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, is to know him as God manifest in the flesh to our salvation. Christ says, “ He who receiveth me, receiveth

VOL. 1.-NO. III.


[ocr errors]


Him that sent me :"

ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” So that belief implies necessarily a recognition of the purpose of God-manifestation, and of Christ as its perfected accomplishment.

Many other are the texts and expositions which might be brought forward to establish this truth; but as it is a truth which only needs opening in order to lead to its own strengthening and improvement, and will be found to apply constantly in theological meditations, one text will be sufficient authority for its reception.

By those who are unused to the deeper parts of Revelation, I doubt not this subject will be assailed with a host of questions and deplorable difficulties; but to meet these neither space nor opportunity can be afforded in a preliminary treatise. I would simply suggest, that humble and earnest meditation on God's word, and prayer for the light and guidance of the Spirit of truth, will do more, for every sincere inquirer, than any lengthened explanation ; and to inquirers not sincerely desirous of the truth from the love of it, we profess no regard.

20. I cannot, however, refrain from a short allusion to the mystery of the Trinity, in reference to God's purpose of selfmanifestation. The manifestation which is effected by means of the God-Man Christ Jesus, who is the Second Person in the adorable Trinity, is of the Trinity in Unity,-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To those not accustomed to dwell upon the inestimable truth contained in the revelation of Trinity in Unity, it may never have been made matter of consideration how the Eternal Trinity, as One God, is unitedly, and yet separately as to persons, acting and concurring in every of those acts which are ascribed to God. A little reflection will convince us that there can be no act of any of the Divine Persons in which the other Divine Persons do not concur. This would be inconsistent with the Unity of God: there would be three Gods, not one God. In every of God's acts, the Trinity of Persons act: an act which was not the act the three God-Persons could not be an act of God. This is abundantly obvious, flowing necessarily from the idea of Trinity in Unity. When, therefore, in Scripture we find certain things specified as done by the Father, certain others by the Son, and others again by the Holy Ghost, we must remember the Trinity in the Unity, and that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in their due order, concur equally in all. That three Persons can and do always concur in the same act, arises from the Unity of the Godhead ; and the Godhead is a whole made up of three Persons, who have each a personal distinctness, and yet are Unity of Godhead. As the personal distinctness is expressed by the distinct names" Father,"

Son,” and “Holy Ghost,” and the Unity by the one name


“God;" so we find from Scripture the distinct operation of each God-Person unto one act is, as to the Father“ the willing," as to the Son “the subject or object," and as to the Holy Ghost "the means or proceeding." Defining this, then, as the order or method of Trinity acting in Unity, we may with propriety say, the order of all God's acts is, According to the will of the Father, in the person of the Son, through the operation of the Holy Ghost. So that in every distinct act the Trinity in Unity thus proceeds : Nothing is done by the Father but in the person of the Son, and through the Holy Ghost; nothing by the Son but according to the will of the Father, through the Holy Ghost; nothing by the Holy Ghost, but according to the Father's will, and in the person of the Son. Every act of each Person is in the Son as the subject. He (the Son) is properly the subject of all God's acts : “ In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” He is properly the subject, as well of gathering, as into which all shall be gathered. He is properly the subject of the manifestation of God.

20. a. As his works are not necessarily a part of his being, the essential being of God is wholly distinct from created things. God was when he alone was : he was before he conceived the purpose of creation. It is, then, the essential Being of God which was before and which is distinct from creation, which by creation is to be manifested.

As all God's works are perfect, the form of creation, the subsistence, and end of it, are such as will best manifest God : any other form, manner of subsistence, or end, would not so perfectly have manifested him. Every variety of creation is therefore to be traced to the immeasurable and incomprehensible Being of God, which requires such a variety to manifest it. . 21. The Second Person in the Eternal Trinity having become flesh, and thus joined himself to the works of creation; having gone under death, and been raised again in the glory of the Father; certain relations have been assumed by the Second Person towards the works of creation, and certain relations to the Second Person, thus related, have been assumed by the other God-Persons in the Eternal Trinity. These assumed relations springing out of the purpose of creation, which was no part of the essential Being of God, are distinct from the essential relations which are in the essential Being of God. These assumed relations manifest the essential relations of the Eternal Trinity, but the essential relations are alone the subject of the ultimate purpose of self-manifestation. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are terms primarily applicable to the assumed relations, although accurately defining the essential relations, so far as a finite mind can conceive.

22. The precise nature and the form and relations which will

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »