« PreviousContinue »
Corol. Ill. From this we may see that the angels are interested in Jesus Christ God man, as well as elect men, and that the incarnation of Christ was not only for our sakes, (though chiefly for ours,) but also for the sake of the angels. For God having from eternity, from his infinite goodness, designed to communicate himsell to creatures, the way in which he designed to communic te himself to elect beloved creatures, all of them was to unite himself to a created nature, and to become one of the creatures, and to gather together in one all elect creatures in that creature, whom he assumed into a personal union with himself, and to manifest to them, and maintain intercourse with them through him. All creatures having this benefit by Christ's incarnation, that God thereby is, as it were, come down to them from his infinite height above them, and is become a fellow-creature, and all elect creatures hereby have opportunity for a more free and intimate converse with God, and full enjoyment of him than otherwise could be. And though Christ is not the Mediator of the angels in the same sense that he is of men, yet he is a middle person between God and them, through whom is all their intercourse with God, and derivations from him.
Corol. IV. That the person who is the head of all elect creatures, in whom all are gathered together in one, by whom they all have their eternal fullness and glory, and who is the common fountain of all their good, and the common medium through whom God communicates bimself to all, is so much bearer to men than to the angels, confirms it, that the saints are higher in glory than the angels.
Corol. V. This confirms it that the church, or blessed assembly in heaven, is in a like progressive state, with the church on earth; for, at the same time ihat the church in this world was advanced to a state of new light and glory by the dawning of the gospel day, the angels in heaven were advanced to a new state of glory and happiness; and not only so, but the souls of the saints that died under the Ou Testament were aılvanced much higher in glory, at Christ's resurrection and ascension, for the text in Eph. iv. 10, teaches that at that time of the manifestation of Christ God man in this universe, each of those three were advanced to a state of new blessedness, viz. the church on earth, and departed souls of saints whose bodies were in the lower parts of the earth, and also the angels in heaven. He came and dwelt upon earth among us, and we beheld his glory, and received of his fulluess. When he rose from the dead he begat the church again to a living hope, as it were, raised the church from the dead with him, and the church here was advanced to so much higher glory that her former glory was no glory in this respect by reason of the glory that excelleth; and then descended into
the lower parts of the earth, and filled those that were there--advanced the souls of departed saints in glory, in becoming Lord of the dead ; and in token of it, and one instance of it then, was his granting a resurrection to many of them, whereby the future glory of the resurrection was in a measure anticipated. Doubtless those saints, that rose with Christ, ascended triumphing with him into heaven, into new glory and blessedness. These things confirm that the assembly in beaven has all along been in a like progressive state with the church on earth, and is in a preparatory state; and that things there, from the beginning of the world hitherto have been working towards a great end, and glorious issue, and consummation at the end of the world, as it is here.
The church of angels and saints there at first was in a state of ivfancy to what it is now, as it was with the church on earth, and bave been brought forward to greater fullness and perfection by great events of providence, as it bas been with the church bere; and things there will arrive at a consummation at the same time, and in the same great event at the end of the world, that they will here. The church in heaven was greatly advanced in happiness at Christ's exaltation, whence commenced the gospel day to the church in this world; and so again the church in heaven will receive another still much higher advancement in glory at the time of the fall of Antichrist, as appears by several passages in the book of Revelations, as abundantly appears, Rev. xviii. 20, and the nine first verses of the xix. chap., and xx. chap. ver 4.' And both that part of the church that is on earth, and that which is in heaven, shall at the same time receive their highest advancement in glory, together with the consummation of Christ's exaltation at the day of judgment. See No. 777, Corol. 3.
 Confirmation of the Angels. Before that the angels were.confirmed in holiness judicially, so that they were sure of never falling away, they were first greatly prepared for it by having their hearts greatly confirmed in holiness, naturally in some respect so: i. e, holiness was greatly confirmed by the tendency and influence of the ineans (od used with them to that end. They were first greatly confirmed by what they saw of evil, the knowledge they gained of the evil of sin and its punishment in the fall of the angels, the dreadful ruin that sin brought, and also by what they saw of their own weakness, and mutability, and insufficiency for themselves, and also the distinguishing grace of Christ to them in preserving them when others fell; and afterwards by what they saw in that fall of man, and its consequences, and the grace of God to man, and what they saw in God's dispensations of providence, in behalf of his church, and against his enemies from age to age, and by the many trials they had of their obedience through
of the Old Testament. But their natural confirmation,
and so their preparation for a judicial confirmation, had its finishing stroke by what they saw and did in the time of Christ's humiliation, and above all at the time of his last sufferings. What came to pass then, did above all other things confirm their hearts in holiness and ripen their preparation for a judicial confirmation, which then was completed, and crowned their preparation. Their hearts were then confirmed by what they saw then of God's glory, which had its chief manifestation then, and what they then saw of the evil and dreadful nature of sin, which had a much greater manifestation in what Christ did and suffered for sin, and sinners, than in the sin and punishment of fallen angels; and in the honour that they saw one so infinitely great and glorious as Jesus Christ, put upon God's authority and law, and the hatred he manifested of sin, and his willingly abasing himself so infinitely to honour God, and promote the happiness of his little unworthy sinful creatures, and by their own steadfast, universal, and perfect obedience to God, and thorough subjection to Christ under such a trial, and in seeing Christ's exaltation, and the success of such humiliation and obedience as Christ performed, and the infinite benefit of thorough obedience to God, in great humiliation, and self-denial in what they saw in Christ.
This confirmation of the hearts of the elect angels, that prepared them for a judical confirmation consisted in the following things:
1. In the warning they had, or what they saw, to make them sensible, of the evil nature and dreadful consequences of sin, and so to cause them to fear God.
2. In their humiliation, by what they saw to make them sensible of their own emptiness, and insufficiency for themselves, and dependence on the grace of Christ.
3. In what they saw more of God in the manifestations of his glorious excellency, and goodness, and grace to them, to increase their love to God and Christ.
4. In the example they had set thein of obedience by Christ, whose obedience was performed by a person infinitely greater than they, and was performed with such infinite abasement, and an abasement of a like kind with what was required of them, (only infinitely greater) viz. abasement in ministering to so mean and despicable a creature as man; and in the infinite love to God, and regard to his authority that was manifested by that obedience.
5. They had their hearts confirmed in obedience by habit and custom, having long persevered in perfect obedience, and having often overcome under trials which they had. And then besides the natural tendency and influence to confirm their
hearts in holiness that those things had, which came to pass while they were yet in a state of preparation for their judicial confirmation. That judicial confirmation itself had also a great natural tendency to confirm them, as the bestowment of this infinite reward upon them made manifest God's eternal, electing, distinguishing love, and sovereign and infinite grace to them; and as they hereby receive the sweet and infinitely precious fruit of that grace and love, which tendency for ever must strongly engage iheir hearts to God in love, and to move thein with great devotedness now to make an everlasting dedication of themselves to God and Christ.
 Confirmation of the angels at Christ's ascension-Progress of the work of redemption. The service of the angels of heaven was altered after Christ's ascension from what it had been before, in some analogy to the alteration that was made in the service of the church on earth. The service of the church on eartl: before Christ's ascension, and that establishment of the evangelical dispensation consequent thereupon, was more legal and mercenary, more from a spirit of bondage, not so free and ingenuous; but afterwards when faith as the great condition was more fully revealed, and God here more clearly revealed the saints' ipfallible perseverance, the service of the church is more the service of those that are not under the law, but under grace, from a free spirit, a spirit of adoption, which is a spirit of love. So the angels till they were confirmed at Christ's ascension served God more from a spirit of fear, being yet in probation, and their eternal happiness or eternal damnation being yet suspended on their perfect obedience not yet completed, their service was more mercenary, but when Christ ascended, and they were confirmed, thenceforward their service became more disinterested, and merely the service of love; being now no longer in a state of probation, but sure of eternal life by the infallible promise of God.
 Confirmation of the angels. The service of the angels will not be at an end till the end of the world, when the work of redemption shall be finished; and Christ, whose servants they are, shall have finished his work as Mediator, having fully brought home and glorified all his elect, to whom the angels are ministering spirits, and therefore their most solemn judgment and reward shall be then ; but God is pleased to confirm them before the last judgment, and grants them an anticipation of their reward, and deals with them in this respect as he deals withi mankind. Man is confirmed when he first believes in Christ, but his work is not done till death, and the reward not bestowed till then; and therefore let the saint be never so fully confirmed and assured before, yet it is proper that judgment should succeed the finishing of his POL, VIII.
work. The bestowment of reward for a work done is by an act of judgment.
(994] Confirmation of the angels. One trial of the obedience of the angels before Christ's exaltation was, that till then they were in a great measure kept in the dark as to God's drift and aim in those great works of God in which they were employed as his ministers from age to age. The grand design and scheme of infinite wisdom in the successive operations of his hands and dispensations of his providence from one age to another, was not opened to them till Christ's exaltation, as appears by Eph. iii. 9, 10. So the obedience of God's church, which in its minority was tried by prescribing to them a manifold and burdensome ceremonial service, of which they did not know the meaning or design.
 Confirmation of the angels. It is an argument that the angels were not confirmed till Christ ascended into heaven, that Jesus Christ God man is risen and ascended, is appointed the head of the new creation, which only is that which cannot be shaken. As to the old creation, it is all that which is liable to pass away. Christ himself, wbile in the flesh, did in some respects belong to the old creation that passed away, but in his rising again to a glorious immortal life, and so being the first-born from the dead, he is the beginning of the creation of God, the first-born of every creature; the Beginning and Head of the new creation.
h Death of a Saint.--When a saint dies, he has no cause at all to grieve because he leaves his friends and relations whom he dearly loves; for he doth not properly leave thein, he enjoys them still in Christ, because every thing that they love in them, and love them for, is in Christ in an infinite degree, whether it be nearness of relation, or any perfection and good received, or love in us, or a likeness in dispositions, or whatever is a rational ground of love.
ff Union with Christ. By virtue of the believer's union with Christ, he doth really possess all things. That we know plainly from scripture; but it may be asked, How he possesses all things; what is he the better for it; how is a true Christian so much richer than other men? To answer this, I will tell you what I mean by possessing all things. I mean that God, three in one, all that he is, and all that he has, and all that he does, all that he has made or done, tbe whole universe, bodies and spirits, light, heaven, angels, men, and devils, sun, moon, stars, land, and sea, fish, and