« 이전계속 »
mystical body, when called by sovereign grace, to keep up and preserve from day to day, unceasing intercourse and communion at the heavenly court. Every regenerated child of God, should accustom himself to connect in one, (as so many links in the same chain) present mercies with everlasting love. For as there is not a single instance of the Lord's manifestations here below to any of his chosen, but what brings with it the Lord's token as coming from his original purpose from above, it would always tend to enhance the blessing when the Lord's sign manual was seen on the cover.
I should lose the sweetest part of every gift of my Lord, were I to lose sight of the Lord himself in the mercy. Whereas, when I am enabled to behold the several streams of favour which flow in upon my soul, as issuing from the fountain of his everlasting love, I find a tenfold blessedness in every one.
All the comforts of the present time-state, are heightened by this connection. They afford a joy unspeakable, and full of glory, when known and received as the result of divine purpose and
grace, given to the church in Christ before the world began. And in my apprehension, it forms the choicest of all memorandums in the diary of life, when we can, and do, mark down every renewed manifestation of the present, with the date of the past; and in the mercies of time, behold the Lord's unchanging covenant promises from all eternity.
And what tends to magnify yet more such marvellous grace, is the freeness and the distinguishing nature of it. The Lord's love to his church, and the Lord's choice of his church, hath no one cause whatever but his own sovereign will and pleasure. There could be nothing out of God to prompt to such acts of marked favour: and there could be nothing in man to merit it. The Lord is in himself an ocean of blessedness, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken. The Lord hath indeed expressed this great truth himself, in language so infinitely sublime and decisive, as must challenge everlasting silence in the hearing of it from all his creatures. “ 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 to him less than nothing, and vanity.” Isa. xl. 15.
But we must not stop here. For in our contemplation of this unparalleled condescension in God, who needed nothing from his creatures, and to whom nothing could be given by any of his creatures, we must further add, what the scriptures have revealed in relation to himself. He is said to be," the King eternal, immortal, invisible. He only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see.” 1 Tim. i. 17. and vi. 16. And elsewhere we find the Lord making proclamation of himself. “ Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy.” Isa. lvü. 15. And again : “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off ? Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him, saith the Lord ? Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?” Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. We read, or hear of those wonderful perfections in Jehovah, and they impress a certain somewhat on the mind of his infinite greatness. But what created powers can be competent to conceive, much less declare what is contained in such attributes ? Surely none less than God himself can explain, what eternity, immortality, invisibility, and an immensity which fills all space, mean? I pause for the moment in this view of God's glory as in himself, to observe, how very blessed it is, and what a sure evidence of grace, when we can and do adore him for the possession of such perfections as we cannot apprehend, nor ever shall apprehend to all eternity. For this is not barely blessing God for the exercise of his goodness to his church, but for what he is in his own nature, and being, and essence. We glorify the Lord that he is so great a Lord, and so greatly to be praised ; and of whom it may, and must be said according to holy scripture, and without an hyperbole,“ his greatness is unsearchable,” Ps. cxlv. 3. And hath this great God, this Almighty God, this high and lofty One, who only hath immortality, and inhabiteth eternity, condescended to choose to himself a church from his creatures, and to put himself into covenant relations concerning them ? I would ponder the thought for awhile in silence.
But neither must we stop here. For our astonishment is yet further excited, when we go on to the contemplation of what the scripture hath both graciously and clearly revealed, namely, that as this high and lofty One, which is, and which was, and which is to come, hath his being distinguished from all his creatures in a Trinity of Persons, so hath he as graciously made himself known to his church by special acts of love, which clearly define each person in the unity of the divine essence. Here opens to the spiritual apprehension of every redeemed and regenerated child of God, in the church of our most glorious Christ, such views of divine love as passeth knowledge. The personal acts of God the Father of love to the church in Christ, are stated in all the parts of scripture. The church not only originated before all time in his choice of the church in Christ, but the Father gave her to Christ, gifted her with eternal life in Christ, with grace in Christ, and with all spiritual blessings in Christ. The personal acts of God the Son in his love to his church, not only testified equal grace, but equally defined distinction in person. For he betrothed her to himself for
And hence the prophet in after ages sung that love song to the church, “ for thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called,” Isa. liv. 5. And the personal acts of God the Holy Ghost in his love to the church, gave equal proof both of affection and power, and no less of his own eternal Person and Godhead. For in the benignity of his grace he made the church his temple, and undertook to dwell there, and to walk there. And what hath not been so generally attended to, as the infinite importance of the subject demands, but which, upon the present occasion, I very earnestly would recommend to be noticed, is this, namely, that these distinct acts of the Holy Three in One, do necessarily prove the glorious doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, and that this Trinity of Persons is essential to the very nature and being of a God. Let this point be duly considered, and its weighty nature will be as duly appreciated.
And what endears the whole to the church of our most glorious Christ, in the instance of every individual of Christ's mystical body when regenerated and brought into spiritual apprehensions of what the apostle calls, “ the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ,” is this delightful consideration, namely, that it is in his person, “ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;" all manifestations of Jehovah are made. He is both the covenant and the messenger of the covenant, to reveal and to accomplish all the vast designs which relate to the church. By virtue of his compound nature, God and man in one, he and he alone is competent to the infinite work. And while both reason and revelation concur in the scripture testimony, “ that no man hath seen God at any time,” from the same assurance, we learn that “ the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him,” John i. 18. And the Holy Ghost
by his servants, hath shewn the competency of our inost glorious Christ in his double nature thus to do. For as "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” all manifestations include both. Hence, the apostle John speaking of "that eternal life which was with the Father, and was now manifested to the church," prefaceth the account with saying, “ it was that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life.” 1 John i. 12. The Son of God by the assumption of manhood becomes the visible Jehovah. He is tangible, touchable, and capable of being looked upon. And thus that blessed scripture which folds in its bosom, and in a single verse, the account of the whole Persons in the Godhead, is fully proved: “for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. iv. 6.
From these preliminary observations, which are the statement of scripture, concerning the origin of things, on which all is bottomed of revelation; it will be no difficult matter to give the portrait of the church taken from life, according to this standard. And which in the first compartment of the picture, will present a lovely form indeed, when, (as the word of God expresses it) she came up to the divine view, “ chosen in Christ, holy and without blame before him in love." Eph. i. 4.
The Holy Ghost hath pencilled some of the more prominent features of the church, in that epithalamium, or love-song, in which the espousals of Christ with his bride are figuratively, but elegantly set forth, Ps. xlv. She is described as “all glorious within ;" her clothing is said to be of" wrought gold.” The meaning is, that she was all pure, all holy, all spotless. She was such