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sense the work of redemption is carried on in all ages, from the fall of man to the end of the world. The work of God in converting souls, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, raising dead souls to life, and rescuing the miserable captives out of the hands of Satan, was begun soon after the fall of man, has been carried on in the world ever since, to this day, and will be to the end of the world, God has always had such a church in the world. Though oftentimes it has been reduced to a very narrow compass, and to low circumstances; yet it has never wholly failed.
And as God carries on the work of converting the souls of fallen men through all ages, so he goes on to justify them, to blot out all their sins, and to accept them as righteous in his sight, through the righteousness of Christ.
He goes on to adopt and receive them from being the children of Satan, to be his own children, to carry on the work of his grace which he has begun in them, to comfort them with the consolations of his Spirit, and to bestow upon them, when their bodies die, that eternal glory which is the fruit of Christ's purchase. What is said, Rom. viii. 30. “ Whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; and whom he called, them he also justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glorified;"—is applicable to all ages, from the fall to the end of the world.
And the way of effecting this, is carried on by repeating continually the same work over again, though in different persons, from age to age. But,
2. The work of redemption with respect to the grand design in general, as it respects the universal subject and end, is carried on-not merely by repeating or renewing the same effect in the different subjects of it, but-by many successive works and dispensations of God, all tending to one great effect, united as the several parts of a scheme, and altogether making up one great work. Like a temple that is building ; first the workmen are sent forth, then the materials are gathered, the ground is fitted, and the foundation laid ; then the superstructure is erected, one part after another, till at length the top-stone is laid, and all is finished. Now the work of redemption in this large sense, may be compared to such a building. God began it immediately after the fall, and will proceed to the end of the world. Then shall the top-stone be brought forth, and all will appear complete and glorious.
This work is carried on in the former respect as being an effect common to all ages; and in the latter respect the grand design in general, not only by that which is common to all ages, but by successive works wrought in different ages. All are parts of one great scheme, whereby one work is brought about by various steps, one step in one age, and another in another. It is this last that I shall chiefly insist upon, though
not excluding the former; for one necessarily supposes the other.
Having thus explained what I mean by the terms of the doctrine; I now proceed,
SECONDLY, to show what is the design of this great work, or what things are designed to be accomplished by it
. In order to see how any design is carried on, we must first know what it is. To know, for instance, how a workman proceeds, and to understand the various steps he takes in order to accomplish a piece of work, we need to be informed what he intends to accomplish ; otherwise we may stand by, seeing him do one thing after another, and be quite puzzled, because we see nothing of his scheme. Suppose an architect, with a great number of hands, were building some great palace; and one that was a stranger to such things should stand by, and see some men digging in the earth, others bringing timber, others hewing stones, and the like; he might see that there was a great deal done, but if he knew not the design, it would all appear to him confusion. And therefore, that the great works and dispensations of God which belong to this great affair of redemption may not appear like confusion to you, I would set before you briefly the main things designed to be accomplished.
I. It is to put all God's enemies under his feet, and that his goodness may finally appear triumphant over all evil. Soon after the world was created, evil entered into the world in the fall of the angels and man. Presently after God had made rational creatures, there were enemies who rose up against him from among them; and in the fall of man evil entered into this lower world ; where also God's enemies rose up against him. Satan endeavoured to frustrate his design in the creation of this lower world, to destroy his workmanship, to wrest the government of it out of his hands, to usurp the throne, and set up himself as the God of this world, instead of him who made it. To these ends he introduced sin into the world, and having made man God's enemy, he introduced guilt, and death, and the most dreadful misery.
Now one great design of God, in the affair of redemption, was to subdue those enemies. 1 Cor. xv, 25. “ He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Things were originally so planned, that he might disappoint, confound, and triumph over Satan; and that he might be bruised under Christ's feet, Gen. iii. 15. The promise was given, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. part of God's original design in this work, to destroy the works of the devil, and confound him in all his purposes : 1 John. iii. 8. “For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” It was a part of his design to triumph over sin, and over the corruptions
It was a
of men, and to root them out of the hearts of his people, by conforming them to himself. He designed also that his grace should triumph over man's guilt, and sin's infinite demerit. Again, it was a part of his design to triumph over death ; and however this is the last enemy that shall be destroyed, yet that shall finally be vanquished and destroyed. Thus God appears glorious above all evil, and triumphant over all his enemies by the work of redemption.
II. God's design was perfectly to restore all the ruins of the fall, so far as concerns the elect part of the world, by his Son; and therefore we read of the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21. “Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things; and of the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord Jesus.” Acts i. 19. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
Man's soul was ruined by the fall; the image of God was defaced ; man's nature was corrupted, and he became dead in sin. The design of God was to restore the soul of man to life, and the divine image in conversion, to carry on the change in sanctification, and to perfect it in glory. Man's body was ruined; by the fall it became subject to death. The design of God was to restore it from this ruin, and not only to deliver it from death in the resurrection, but to deliver it from mortality itself, in making it like unto Christ's glorious body. The world was ruined, as to man, as effectually as if it had been reduced to chaos again; all heaven and earth were overthrown. But the design of God was to restore all, and as it were to create a new heaven and a new earth : Is. Ixv. 17. Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth ; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” 2 Pet. iii, 13. - Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new carth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
The work by which this was to be done was begun imme. diately after the fall, and so is carried on till all is finished, when the whole world, heaven and earth, shall be restored. There shall be, as it were, new heavens, and a new earth, in a spiritual sense, at the end of the world. Thus it is represented, Rev. xxi. 1. " And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away."
III. Another great design of God in the work of redemption, was to gather together in one all things in Christ, in heaven and in earth, i. e. all elect creatures; to bring all elect creatures, in heaven and in earth, to an union one to another in one body, under one head, and to unite all together in one body to God the Father. This was begun soon after the fall, and is carried on through all ages, and shall be finished at the end of the world.
IV. God designed by this work to perfect and complete the glory of all the elect by Christ-glory, “such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ever entered into the heart of man.” He intended to bring them to perfect excellency and beauty in his holy image, which is the proper beauty of spiritual beings; and to advance them to a glorious degree of honour, and raise them to an ineffable height of pleasure and joy. Thus he designed to glorify the whole church of elect men in soul and body, and with them to bring the glory of the elect angels to its highest elevation under one head.
V. In all this God designed to accomplish the glory of the blessed Trinity in an eminent degree. God had a design of glorifying himself from eternity; yea, to glorify each person in the Godhead. The end must be considered as first in order of nature, and then the means; and therefore we must conceive, that God having professed this end, had then as it were the means to choose ; and the principal mean that he adopted was this great work of redemption. It was his design in this work to glorify his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; and by the Son to glorify the Father : John xiii
. 31, 32. “ 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.” It was his design that the Son should thus be glorified, and should glorify the Father by what should be accomplished by the Spirit to the glory of the Spirit that the whole Trinity conjunctly, and each person singly, might be exceedingly glorified. The work that was the appointed means of this, was begun immediately after the fall, and is carried on till, and finished at the end of the world, when all this intended glory shall be fully accomplished in all things.
Having thus explained the terms in the doctrine, and shown what things are to be accomplished by this great work of God, I proceed now to the proposed History ; that is, to show how what was designed by the work of redemption has been accomplished, in the various steps of this work, from the fall of man to the end of the world.
In order to this, I would divide this whole space of time into three periods :-the
Ist, reaching from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ the
2d, from Christ's incarnation till his resurrection; or the whole time of Christ's humiliation ;-the
3d, from thence to the end of the world.
Some may be ready to think this a very unequal division ; and so indeed it is in some respects, because the second period, although so much shorter than either of the other
being but between thirty and forty years, whereas both the other contain thousands
in this affair is more than both the others,- I would therefore proceed to show distinctly how the work of redemption is carried on through each of these periods in their order, under three propositions.
I. That from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, God was doing those things which were preparatory to his coming, as forerunners and earnests of it.
II. That the time from Christ's incarnation to his resurrection, was spent in procuring and purchasing redemption.
III. That the space of time from the resurrection of Christ to the end of the world, is all taken up in bringing about or accomplishing the great effect or success of that purpose.
In a particular consideration of these three propositions, the great truth taught in the doctrine may perhaps appear in a clear light.
From the Fall to the Incarnation.
The great works of God in the world, during this whole space of time, were all preparatory. There were many great changes and revolutions in the world, and they were all only the turning of the wheels of providence to make way for the coming of Christ, and what he was to do in the world.' Hither tended especially all God's great works towards his church. The church was under various dispensations of providence, and in very various circumstances, before Christ came; but all these dispensations were to prepare the way for his coming. God wrought salvation for the souls of men through all that space of time, though the number was very small to what it was afterwards; and all this was by way of anticipation. All the souls that were saved before Christ came, were only the earnests of the future harvest.
God wrought many deliverances for his church and people before Christ came; but these were only so many images and forerunners of the great salvation. The church during that space of time enjoyed the light of divine revelation. They had in a degree the light of the gospel. But all these revelations were only so many earnests of the great light that he should bring who came to be the light of the world. That whole space of time was the time of night, wherein the church of God was not indeed wholly without light; but it was like the light of the moon and stars; a dim light in comparison of