Page images
PDF
EPUB

mean those words, “When thou shalt make," or rather, shalt have made, “his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand ? He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” (Isaiah liji. 10, 11.) Unquestionably, they imply that the Father would give great glory to the Son as the reward of his sufferings. We have no authority to infer from this decree, that Christ had no glory until after his sufferings. For he had glory with the Father, not only before his own existence in the flesh, but even before the being of the world itself. “And now, O Father,”. (said Jesus Christ, when claiming the glory covenanted to him by the Father,) "glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory I had with thee before the world was.” (John xvii. 5.) Nor was he destitute of glory even at the time when he disrobed himself, and “laid his glory by." For then, men “beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John i. 14.) But if he possessed, such glory during all the time in which he tabernacled with men, he enjoyed an unusual degree of it in the Holy Mount, where he was transfigured. For then “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” And then it was that “ he received honour and glory from God the Father, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'” (2 Pet. ii. 17.) But all the glory which he ever had on earth, before his sufferings, was greatly to be surpassed by that which was to “ follow" them. But if asked, how any glory could exceed that which he received when he was sent forth from the bosom of the Father, as perfectly qualified and authorized to reveal his character, and his purposes of mercy to mankind, or that which he had, when, by the finger of God, he wrought the most stupendous miracles, in confirmation of his mission, and furnished other such tokens of his Father's favour as were perfectly unprecedented,—to these questions we reply, that after he had actually offered up his life for the world, he had more striking marks of the approbation and delight of his Father afforded to him than ever he had before, and was placed in a condition to furnish the most astonishing and triumphant displays of wisdom, mercy, love, and power. The glory which was to recompense his cross and passion, was not the glory of worldly heroes, such as that of acquiring the dominion of this world by artifice, aggression, and every other species of political injustice; nor yet that of enslaving the world by cruelty and bloodshed. Such glory he leaves to your Nimrods, your Nebuchadnezzars, your Alexanders, your Cæsars, your Mahommeds, or your Napoleons! Such glory may be, and certainly is, well calculated to suit their grovelling and infernal taste. But by an understanding, a benevolence, and a moral excellence so perfect as his, no glory save that which “God the Father almighty,” all gracious and all

m I amehad on earthich was to “ follo We received wher

perfect, hath stipulated to secure for him, can be held in any estimation whatever. This is the glory to which his undivided attention is turned. On this his holy heart is fixed :-and for this he is looking, or, as the Holy Spirit phrases it, “is henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” (Heb. x. 12, 13.)

Having said thus much, were this branch of our subject one of minor interest, or one on which bare hints would yield sufficient satisfaction, we might close our remarks upon it. But as it is a topic of pre-eminent importance, we must therefore dwell on it more at large. And we observe,

1. That the Glory which the Holy Ghost predicted, as following the Saviour's sufferings, was that of a most triumphant vindication of his character from those vile aspersions which his rejection and crucifixion by the Jews had brought upon it. To that people were committed those divine writings, the end of whose inspiration was to testify of Christ, and to prepare the world for his reception in the flesh. Of course, the world was naturally led to expect that the first manifestation of the Messiah would be made unto the Jews, and that they would most joyfully receive him. Judge, then, what must have been the public disappointment, when, instead of giving him this kind and hearty reception, the Jews rejected and crucified him. Having sunk in the opinion of his own people, it was to be expected that he would sink in the opinion of others; and nothing but a solemn vindication of his character could have preserved his cause from total ruin. Nor was it more necessary to vindicate his character, than to foretell that vindication; that the faith of his people, at the time of his death, might be preserved from utterly failing, and that the public attention might be directed to his resurrection, as an event which was to form the most important sanction of his mission and labours that had ever been given to the world. For these reasons, the Spirit of Prophecy, in David, when speaking in the person of Messiah, said, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life : in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm xvi. 10, 11.) How much Jesus Christ felt at the prospect of this stain "upon his character, and of this successful vindication from it, may be gathered from his own words in his valedictory address to his disciples. For, after promising to send the Comforter to them, he adds, (John xvi. 8-11,) “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me," which they are required to do; " of righteousness,” that is, of my rectitude, “because I go to my Father,” who certainly would not give me any countenance, were I a sinner, “and ye see me no more; of judgment," that is, of my victory and power to judge, “because the prince of this world is judged," and his authority is falling.–And how complete this

they had And wins Godsesurrectiliness, by some of sures

vindication proved, we are informed by St. Paul, who assures us, (Rom. i. 4,) that he “was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by his resurrection' from the dead.” Thus his resurrection from the dead by the Spirit of Holiness, was God's voice to those who rejected and crucified him. And what said that voice unto them? Why, that though they had condemned him as an impostor, and put him to death as such; yet was he Jehovah's favourite, and would be upheld by him in his glorious undertaking. But while his resurrec- . tion greatly added to his glory, it was not intended to be the limit of it. For,

2. The Glory which was to follow his sufferings, was to embrace his elevation to the throne of Glory by the right hand of God. That he was to attain to the throne, the Holy Ghost predicted by David, when he said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Ps. cx. 1.) And that this was not to be a merely temporary piece of pageantry, but a substantial and a perpetual elevation to the dignities of the throne of glory, we learn from the same Spirit of Prophecy, who, when congratulating the Messiah on his ascent to the throne, saith by David, (Ps. xlv. 6,7,) “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever : the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." This rite of anointing was always used at the inauguration of the Kings of Israel and of Judah, and was used as an emblem of joy and prosperity: Hence resulted the propriety of its peculiar application to the Messiah, on his exaltation to the throne. This advancement to the splendour of Jehovah's throne, was a boon placed directly in the view of the Saviour, as a part of the joy which was covenanted to him. And, as such, he expected it to be the immediate result and recompense of his completed labours. We therefore hear him saying, (John xiii. 31, 32,) just as his work was drawing to a close, “Now is the Son of Man glorified; and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.". Nor was he in any wise disappointed. For, within seven weeks after his resurrection, we find Peter affirming, “ that God had made that same Jesus, whom the Jews had crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts ii. 36.) This was what St. Paul phrases "highly exalting," him, (Phil. ii. 9,) and “giving him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And what we are to understand by this peerless name which he has received, and by his being made both Lord and Christ, we learn from Peter, who, when defending himself before the great Council of the Jew

ected it to be thwas covenanted to him of the Savi

het in a man of sins semicur, for

ish nation, said, “ Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts v. 31.) And that he might be able to act in a manner corresponding to these titles, it was requisite that he should possess unlimited power. Accordingly we hear him saying, “Thou hast given him (the Son of Man) power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” (John xvii. 2.) Nor was this power limited to his control over men; but extended to every intelligent being, whether man or angel, and to every event, circumstance, and thing, whether on earth or in heaven. Hence Jesus said, “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. xxviii. 18.) Seeing, then, that he occupies the most dignified station in the universe, being seated at the right hand of God, that all power is vested in him, and all judgment committed to him, and that he is appointed to be the sole arbiter of salvation and eternal life, it might well be said, that “Glory” was to follow his sufferings. But even this was not all the Glory. For,

3. He was to have the Glory of vanquishing and spoiling the powers of hell, who, for a short season, apparently prevailed over him, and of manumitting those whom they had carried captive. This part of his glory was acquired on his re-entering the celestial world. It was customary for the ancients to lead their military conquerors into their native cities in triumph, attended by their friends, and followed by the conquered, who were sometimes chained to, and dragged at, the wheels of the victor's chariot. It was, we think, with this image in his mind that the Psalmist said, (Psal. lxviii. 17, 18,) when referring to this branch of Messiah's glory, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them as in Sinai, as in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive. Thou hast received gifts for men,” (to be distributed among thine attendants, as the ancient conquerors did, “yea, for the rebellious also," (for the vanquished also, a thing never done by the ancievts,) " that the Lord God might dwell among them;" that mankind, perceiving that this triumph was not intended solely for the advancement of the Victor's honour, but also, and especially, for the benefit of the conquered, might yield him their hearts, being conquered by his love as well as by his arms. From St. Paul, we learn, that this prediction has been fulfilled; for he says, (Col. i. 15,) “Christ having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it,” that is, in his Cross. So intent was the Son of God on totally overthrowing the powers of darkness, that when that eventful hour arrived in which they put forth all their energies, to ensure to themselves the victory, (significantly designated “the hour and the power of darkness,") being strengthened of the Father, he met them with the greatest resolution and firmness, saying to his at

tendants, “Rise, let us go hence," (let us instantly meet them, and then added, " For this cause came I unto this hour.” This was no merely momentary feeling of courage, but one that ran through his whole life, particularly that part of it in which he exercised his public ministry. During this latter period, he more than once had his imagination so completely filled with this subject, as openly to anticipate the joys of conquest. "I beheld," said he, “Satan as lightning fail from heaven.” (Luke x. 18.) This we call the joy of anticipation, as he did not actually vanquish his foes until he expired on the Cross; and, consequently, did not actually lead captivity captive, until he ascended into heaven. Then it was, that as the mightiest conqueror, he re-entered his glorious abode, dragging the conquered at his chariot-wheels in triumph, and distributing his inestimable gifts on all around. Then was sung that song of exultation, (Ps. xxiv. 7-10) “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of Glory." And then it was that the Father said to him, (Ps. cx. 1-3, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning : thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Having now assumed the royal vesture, and being placed in circumstances to prosecute with vigour his redeeming plan, he lost no time in sending down the promised Spirit on his servants, in the fulness of his gifts and graces, making them partakers of a discriminating knowledge, a constraining love, an invincible courage, a miraculous energy, and every qualification requisite to undertake and execute the arduous services entrusted to them. And being thus equipped, they heroically rushed on the insulting foe, valorously assaulted his strong holds, and nobly determined not to sheath the sword, until every captive of sin and death should be perfectly emancipated. In this unparalleled and glorious conflict they still are pressing onwards with unabated ardour and success. And what shall be able to withstand them? Shall ignorance and error? Shall superstition, marshalled in all its terrors? Shall infidelity, with all its petulance and obstinacy? Shall iniquity, arrayed in all its impudence and hardihood? Shall earth and hell, leagued in the most formidable phalanx ? Answer, ye who have been delivered by the victorious arms of our Immanuel !-Answer, ye disappointed, confounded, vexed, and trembling Devils !--Answer, blessed Jesus, for thyself! Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, mighty Conqueror; go forth with thy victorious legions; turn the battle to the

my thou hast the being placed in circuime in send

d in all it all iniquity, hell, league delis

« PreviousContinue »