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IV. 18. So2 Thess. ii. 13. God hath from the beginning chosen, or taken, you from amongst the other Gentiles, unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. And to this he called you by our gospel. There was a book of life written before the foundation of the world; Rev. xiii. 18. All that dwell upon the earth, that is, all this part of the world to which the prophecy refers, shall worship the beast, or follow after antichrist, except those whose names are written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain; for that I take to be a much more proper translation of the original. In this book of life were written the names of those persons, who should not yield to antichristian idolatry, and should be preserved from the general corruption that came upon the christian world.
Upon the whole it appears from the language of scripture, that those who are sanctified and saved by divine grace, were before chosen of God, to be made holy and happy.
I proceed now to the second general head of my discourse, tiz. That God from the beginning appointed his Son Jesus Christ to be the medium of exercising all this grace, and gave his chosen people to the care of his Son, to make them partakers of this salvation. This seems to be the meaning of my text.
Are we blessed with all spiritual blessings? It is as the members of one body, in Jesus Christ, as our common head. Are we chosen? It is still in Christ the Son of God. In all things he must have the pre-eminence: He is the head of the body, the church; Col. i. 18. He was first chosen by the Father to be the glorious head of a holy and happy number of mankind, and we are chosen in him that we might become his holy and happy members. He is called "The elect of God, in whom his soul delighteth; Is. xlii. 1. "The mighty One on whom God has laid our help, who was exalted and chosen out of the people;" Ps. lxxxix. 19. You may observe he is represented here to be chosen, as a man from among the people of Israel to be their Lord and Saviour; but that he might be equal to this work, and and mighty to save, he was one with God, all the fulness of the godhead dwelt in him bodily; Col. ii. 9. He is the Word who was with God, and who was God; John. i. 1. And in due time this Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; verse 14.Are we chosen that we might be saved? It is in and through Christ, who was chosen to be our Saviour.
Are we predestinated to the adoption of children? It is still in Christ, who is the original Son, the "brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his person, and who was appointed to be heir of all things;" Heb. i. 2, 3." And we
are appointed to be conformable to his image, to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and possessors of the inheritance; Rom. viii. 17-29.
Is there a book of life written? It is the Lamb's book of life: The names of all the chosen sons and daughters of God were written down in this book, but his name stands first there in divine characters, as the first chosen, and the head of all the rest; for before the foundation of the world, God gave the care of all these persons to his best beloved Son.
Hence it is you find our Saviour so often speaking of those who were given him by the Father, out of this world; John xvii. 2. "Thou hast given thy Son power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him;" which the twentieth verse of this chapter teaches us to apply to all who should believe on him, through the word of the apostles, as well as to the apostles themselves. And in verse 24. "All that the Father hath given me, must be with me where I am." And John vi. 37. "All that the Father hath given me, shall come unto me, that they may have life." Hence also arise those glorious expressions of St. Paul; 2 Tim. i. 9. "God hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began ;" Tit. i. 1, 2. St. Paul speaking of the faith of God's elect, he adds, " in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, hath promised before the world began:" Here is grace given to men, before the beginning of the world; but it is given more immediately to Christ their head, in trust for them: Here is a promise of eternal life made before the creation; but it was made to Christ, for them, before they had a being. Examples of this kind are common among men, when one person is made trustee of an estate for many children, or heirs that are yet unborn, and he stands engaged to make them possessors of it in successive seasons.
I have put all these texts together, that we may observe the whole current of scripture running this way, and leading our thoughts to this great doctrine, viz. that as God has chosen his people before the foundation of the world to holiness and salvation, so he has given them for this purpose into the hands of his Son. Nor did the Son of God refuse this glorious trust, but chearfully undertook the work: So he is represented in the Old Testament; Ps. xl. 7. "Lo, I come in the volume; or rather in the beginning of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God. Whether this book be the secret book of life, or the public book of scripture, I will not here determine; both are true. And so it is written also, in the history of the life of Christ; for he speaks often with sacred pleasure, that he came to do his Fa
ther's will, and to take care of those whom the Father had given him, to keep them from perishing, and to raise them up at the last day.
Now this is what our divines generally call the covenant of redemption, even these sacred transactions between God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ; before the foundation of the world; and I think the scripture calls it the covenant; Ps. lxxxix. 28. When the Psalmist has represented Christ, under the character of David, as chosen of God from among the people, to lay our help upon him, he adds, my covenant shall stand fast with him, saith the Lord, his seed will I make to endure for ever; and though they may sometimes fall into sin, yet I will not suffer my faithfulness to fail: my covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once, have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David, that is, I will fulfil the promises that I have made to my Son, the true David, the king of Israel, or the head of my chosen people; for I have confirmed this covenant with him, by divine solemnities. And I am sure, the five first verses of the seventeenth of John, wherein our Saviour pleads with his Father, carry in them the plain language of a Covenant as every reader may observe.
The only thing which remains on this head, is briefly to run over the articles of this covenant, or the mutual engagements between God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ.
First then, let us consider what it was Christ undertook, as the chosen Saviour of his people. The only begotten Son of God, who lay in the bosom of his Father, and had glory with him before the world was; John 1. 18. and xvii. 5. agreed to come forth from the Father, and to come into the world, and to be emptied of that glory for a season; John xvi. 28. Phil. ii. 7. to take flesh and blood upon him; Heb. ii. 14. to be born of a woman; Gal. iv. 4. and to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh; Rom. viii. 3. and in the fashion of a man, that he might be bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and become a proper head for such members as we are; Eph. v. 30. and that he might be our brother, and kinsman, who should have a right to redeem our lost inheritance. He who was in the form of God, consented to take upon him the form of a servant; Phil. ii. 7. and past through a life of various labour, reproach, and suffering, as well as performed the duties of the moral and ceremonial law, not only that he might become a pattern to us, of patience and universal holiness, but that he might do all the will of God, and fulfil the righteousness of that law which mankind had broken; Ps. 7, 8. He undertook also to become a preacher of righteousness and of grace, and to explain the law of God, and proclaim the gospel of salvation among men; Ps. xl. 9. Is. lxi. 1.
And besides all this, he consented to take upon him the sins of men, that is, by way of imputation, as a sacrifice, to bear our sins in his body, on the cursed tree, to be made a sin-offering for us, and to expose himself to painful sufferings, and a bloody death on that account, that he might make a proper atonement for sin; 2 Cor. v. 21. 1 Pet. ii. 24. Heb. x. 5-12. Rom. iii. 25. The good Shepherd came to lay down his life for his sheep; John x. 15. And in John xiv. 16. when he was about to leave this world, he promised to intercede or pray for them. And when the Father should exalt him to the kingdom, and put all power into his hand, he engaged to call them by his word, to bestow on them repentance, and forgiveness, to send down the sanctifying Spirit upon them, and in general to rescue them from every evil; to bear them through all the difficulties and dangers of life, and to convey them safe to the possession of the appointed inheritance. It would not be possible, in this short discourse, to cite at large all the scriptures that reveal and support these truths. Whatsoever our blessed Saviour performed in the execution of his mediatorial office, we may justly suppose it was an article and agreement in that original covenant made betwixt him and his Father: And in many of the instances which I have mentioned the scripture expressly teaches us, that he performed them as the appointment of his Father.
In the next place, let us take a brief survey of the articles of this covenant on God the Father's side. Whatsoever powers, or honours, or employments he bestowed on his Son, we have reason to suppose, it was in pursuance of this original covenant of grace and salvation.
First then, we may justly conclude, that God engaged to employ bim in the work of creation, as a foundation of his future kingdom among men; by him God made angels, and they shall be his ministering spirits, for the men who shall be heirs of his salvation; by him God created mankind, and he shall be Lord of them all; by him the blessed God made his own people, and he shall save them. He spread abroad the heavens, and he laid the foundations of this earth; even all the provinces of his future vast dominion, with all their inhabitants, are of his own making; for without him was nothing made that was made; John i. 3. and Col. i. 14, 15.
Again, we may suppose it was agreed by the Father, that he should be the king of Israel, which was the visible church of God as a type of his kingdom, and the government of his invisible church; that he should fix his dwelling in a cloud of glory in his holy hill of Sion; Ps. ii. 6, 7. and should govern the Jewish nation by judges, or priests, or kings, as his deputies till he himself should appear in the flesh.
God the Father undertook also to furnish him with every thing necessary for his appearance and his ministry here upon earth, to prepare a body for him; Heb. x. 5. to give him the Spirit without measure; John iii. 34. 1s. xi. 2. to bear him up through all his sufferings, to accept his sacrifice and atonement for sin, to raise him up from the dead, to exalt him not only to the former glory which he had with him, before the world was, which he asks for as a matter of agreement: John xvii. 4, 5. but to hon our him at his right-hand with superior powers. He gave him the assurance of a people to obey him, or a seed to serve him; he promised the Gentile nations for his inheritance, and to make him the Lord of all things in heaven and earth, that he might govern all for the good of his church. He gave him also the promise of the Holy Spirit; Luke xxiv. 49. that he might send down in a variety of gifts and graces, upon his apostles at first, to begin his gospel-church on earth, and upon all his chosen people for their sanctification through all ages, to the end of the world. He appointed him of old to be the judge of men and angels; and all this authority and glory was promised him in that early cove nant, partly as a proper recompence for his sufferings, and partly as a means to enable him to fulfil all the articles of his engagement to God, his Father. Father said he, glorify thy Son, for he hath finished the work thou gavest him to do on earth; and thou hast given him, that is, promised to give him, power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him; John xvii. 1-4.
These things are recorded in a variety of scriptures, which it would be too large at present to rehearse. A glorious covenant! with sacred and divine engagements, which are fulfilled on both sides, with perfect honour and faithfulness! What an effectual security is derived hence, for the salvation of all that believe in Christ! What an assurance is hereby given, that none of his chosen ones should perish! What matter of delightful meditation, of holy wonder, and devout thankfulness, may the saints of God derive from this blessed covenant, which reaches beyond the limits of this world and time, and extends from one eternity to another! In condescension to our understandings, the holy prophets compare the firmness of this covenant to the ordinances of heaven, to the foundations of the earth, to the certain periods of the moon, and the established course of nature: But by the light of the New Testament, we may venture boldly to rise higher,. and say, that when these heavens shall be folded up as a curtain, when the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon be deprived of her light, when the foundations of the earth shall totter, and all things in it be burned up, this covenant shall remain in its VOL. II. D