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ing the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.” The Lord's blessing accompany his word.
Let it be remembered, as we enter upon the subject, that in it is proposed to our meditation one of the most sublime, and at the same time one of the most simple and important doctrines of holy Scripture. It is of all others the most sublime : and no less when the minds of the Lord's regenerated ones are brought more immediately under the Lord's enlightenings, the most simple. And I should not have ventured upon it, but under the clearest scriptural conviction, that while to men of unrenewed nature (be their faculties of mere reason untaught of God what they may) this whole subject must ever be a stumbling block, and perfectly unintelligible—to the soul born of God the whole is clear, and rendered blessed. And even the humblest of the Lord's
people, however in natural things unable to reason, yet in spiritual apprehension he can, and doth“ receive with meekness the ingrafted word which is able to save his soul.” Like the infant of nature, at his mother's breast, unable to reason on the properties of his food, but by life and growth proves the wholesomeness of it: so the child in grace, having "tasted that the Lord is gracious,” manifests the reality of his spiritual state and health in receiving; and as a new born babe, “ desires the sincere milk of the word that he may grow thereby.”
And I would desire to add to the observation I have now made, one remark more, for the better entering upon the subject; namely, that the spiritual apprehension of it is wholly from the Lord. The apostle in the passage from whence the text is taken saith, that the proclamation of the unsearchable riches of Christ was to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” Hence we learn, that this spiritual sight is given to the Lord's people,
and doth not arise from their study. No worth, nor application on their part: for the preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord." (Prov. xvi. 1.) Hence also we hear the Lord Jesus in his divine statement concerning spiritual knowledge, thus comforted his disciples : « Unto you (said Jesus) it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to them (speaking of the unregenerate) it is not given.” (Matt. xiii. 11.) And very blessed is it to know this, and to connect with it the assurance that this gracious gift is given to the whole family of grace alike. It is not in spiritual things, as by the Lord's appointment and ordination it is in natural. - In the faculties of nature, some greater, some less. But there needs neither capaciousness, nor larger apprehension, in one, more than another, for the enjoyment of spiritual life in Christ. As the glorious head of his body the church, the whole members have alike their being, and well being in him. But in respect to the common principles of natural knowledge, there is, as we know, great diversity. This consideration, when opened to the spiritual church by divine teaching, becomes a subject of very great comfort to the humble ones of the Lord.
And suffer me to say this one word more. As this “ fellowship of the mystery," in all its fulness, blessedness, and eternal properties are wholly of the Lord, and from the Lord, and to the Lord; so doth “the manifold wisdom of God” become strikingly manifest and conspicuous, in that it is displayed, and hath in all ages been displayed, as suited to any, and to every circumstance, yea, and among the most desperate cases of the church, under the Adam-fall transgression. The fellowship of the mystery is never more graciously shewn, than when by the secret workings of the Lord in the instance of such as have lived without God, and without Christ in the world, they
are brought into an acquaintance with the plague of their own hearts; and are led in a way they know not how, to state a of self-abhorrence and self-loathing. This is among the clearest evidences, however the persons
themselves at the time are unconscious of it, in confirmation of “the fellowship of the mystery." I would desire that these observations might be in our remembrance, as we prosecute the subject. And under such impressions, I would pray, that both preacher, and hearer, may have our minds exercised to the spiritual attention of it; and that “we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost ! »
I begin as I proposed, with the first branch of our present subject; namely, to bring before you, some some few outlines of the mystery itself, before that we consider the very great blessedness of “the fellowship of his mystery.”
In this vast scheme of grace, the Scriptures of God teach us, that the whole persons in the GODHEAD took an equal part, and thereby each glorious person comes home endeared to our spiritual and intellectual faculties, to whom is due equal adoration, love, and praise to all eternity. There is somewhat very blessed, as well as gracious, in this wonderful condescension of Jehovah, to make himself known, (as far as our apprehensions are capable of knowing) the nature and essence of God. From hence, under divine teaching, we are led to discover, that Jehovah hath being in a way and manner peculiarly his own: that is to say, that in the unity of the GODHEAD there is a trinity of persons. And in consequence is separated at an infinite distance from the mode both of nature and being of all creatures which he hath been pleased to call into existence. How beautiful and sublime are those words of the Lord, on this subject, by his servant the prophet; as if challenging the church to the contemplation of his transcendant and undescribable greatness : “Behold! the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. Behold! he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. All nations before him are as nothing: and they are counted unto him less than nothing and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him ?” (Isaiah xl. 15–18.) How very blessed is it thus to contemplate his infinite majesty! For observe, this contemplation is not for what God hath done for his church; or for what God is now doing, or will do for his church ; but it is for what God is in himself, and his own eternal greatness, abstracted from all his works or his creatures. And let us not dismiss this view of our God, before that we have considered yet once again his infinite condescension, that so great and glorious a being to whom nothing can be added, and from whom nothing can be taken, should come forth from his invisibility to reveal himself to his creatures : and by such a marvellous
grace as he hath done by this mystery. And let me desire you to pause a moment longer, over this stupendous contemplation ; and to ask your own heart, whether such apprehensions of Jehovah doth not excite in you the most profound humiliation, reverence, and godly fear ? and if so, I would say, is not this a token of grace, when we can, and do, adore God, for what he is in himself, independent of his goodness towards the children of men ?
But we must not stop here. Our next view of this sublime contemplation will be to consider what the Scriptures have stated, that though Jehovah in himself in his trinity of persons is so infinitely great and glorious, eternal, immortal, invisible, yet hath he been pleased to make such a manifestation of him
self, under the endearing names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in covenant transactions of grace, as enables the church to enter into a clear, scriptural apprehension of this divine mystery. God the Father is revealed, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family, the whole election of grace, in heaven and earth is named. God the Son, by assuming that holy portion of our nature, both married our nature, and in the obedience and sacrifice he offered, did away the whole penal effects of the fall. And God the Holy Ghost, by his anointing the church in Christ before all worlds, and during the time state, undertook to regenerate, and hath in every member of Christ's mystical body regenerated, and renewed all, and every one, in the spirit of their mind; these distinct acts, and yet all resulting from the one undivided Jehovah, have made manifest“ the mystery of godliness;” and brought the church into a blessed frame of apprehension, concerning the manifold wisdom of God;" and of those “ eternal purposes” which Jehovah, in his trinity of persons, “purposed before all worlds, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is very blessed to be enabled to trace our mercies to their source, and to see that however mysterious the subject is to the unregenerate, to the Lord's people there is a revelation of it. All is centered in the person and salvation, completely and wholly finished in the blood and righteousness, of our most glorious Christ. “ In him dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily: and the church of God is complete in him.” (Coloss. ii. 9, 10.)
Let us now proceed to what was proposed under the second branch of our subject, namely, to consider “what is the fellowship of the mystery," which, as the apostle saith, hath been hid from ages and generations, but is now made known to the church to shew the “manifold wisdom of God."