HAVING thus considered Christ’s coming into the world, and his taking on him our nature, to put himself in a capacity for the purchase of redemption, I come now, secondly, to speak of the purchase itself. — And in speaking of this, I would,
1. Show what is intended by the purchase of redemption.
2 Observe some things in general concerning those things by which this purchase was made.
3. I would orderly consider those things which Christ did and suffered, by which that purchase was made.
What is intended by Christ’s purchasing redemption.
I WOULD show what is here intended by Christ’s purchasing redemption. And there are two things that are intended by it, viz. his satisfaction, and his merit. All is done by the price that Christ lays down. But the price that Christ laid down does two things. It pays our debt, and so it satisfies. By its intrinsic value, and by the agreement between the Father and the Son, it procures a title for us to happiness, and so it merits. The satisfaction of Christ is to free us from misery, and the merit of Christ is to purchase happiness for us.
The word purchase, as it is used with respect to the purchase of Christ, is taken either more strictly or more largely. It is oftentimes used more strictly, to signify only the merit of Christ. And sometimes more largely, to signify both his satisfaction and merit. Indeed most of the words which are used in this affair have various significations. Thus sometimes divines use merit in this affair for the whole price that Christ offered, both satisfactory, and also positively meritorious. And so the word satisfaction is sometimes used, not only for his propitiation, but also for his meritorious obedience. For in some sense, not only suffering the penalty, but positively obeying, is needful to satisfy the law. The reason of this various use of these terms seems to be, that satisfaction and merit do not differ so much really as relatively. They both consist in paying a valuable price, a price of infinite value. But only that price, as it respects a debt to be paid, is called satisfaction. And as it respects a positive good to be obtained, is called merit. The difference between paying a debt, and making a positive purchase is more relative than it is essential. He who lays down a price to pay a debt, does in some sense make a purchase. He purchases liberty from the obligation. And he who lays down a price to purchase a good, does as it were make satisfaction. He satisfies the conditional demands of him to whom he pays it. This may suffice concerning what is meant by the purchase of Christ.
General Observations concerning those things by which this purchase was made
I NOW proceed to some general observations concerning those things by which this purchase was made. — And here,
I. I would observe, that whatever in Christ had the nature of satisfaction it was by virtue of the suffering or humiliation that was in it. But whatever had the nature of merit, it was by virtue of the obedience or righteousness there was in it. The satisfaction of Christ consists in his answering the demands of the law on man, which were consequent on the breach of the law. These were answered by suffering the penalty of the law. The merit of Christ consists in what he did to answer the demands of the law, which were prior to man’s breach of the law, or to fulfill what the law demanded before man sinned, which was obedience.
The satisfaction or propitiation of Christ consists either in his suffering evil, or his being subject to abasement. For Christ did not only make satisfaction by proper suffering, but by whatever had the nature of humiliation, and abasement of circumstances. Thus Christ made satisfaction for sin, by continuing under the power of death, while he lay buried in the grave, though neither his body nor soul properly endured any suffering after he was dead. Whatever Christ was subject to that was the judicial fruit of sin, had the nature of satisfaction for sin. But not only proper suffering, but all abasement and depression of the state and circumstances of mankind below its primitive honor and dignity, such as his body’s remaining under death, and body and soul remaining separate, and other things that might be mentioned, are the judicial fruits of sin. And all that Christ did in his state of humiliation, that had the nature of obedience or moral virtue or goodness in it, in one respect or another had the nature of merit in it, and was part of the price with which he purchased happiness for the elect.
2. I would observe, that both Christ’s satisfaction for sin, and also his meriting happiness by his righteousness, were carried on through the whole time of his humiliation. Christ’s satisfaction for sin was not only by his last sufferings, though it was principally by them. But all his sufferings, and all the humiliation that he was subject to from the first moment of his incarnation to his resurrection, were propitiatory or satisfactory. Christ’s satisfaction was chiefly by his death, because his sufferings and humiliation in that were greatest. But all his other sufferings, and all his other humiliation, all along had the nature of satisfaction. So had the mean circumstances in which he was born. His being born in such a low condition, was to make satisfaction for sin. His being born of a poor virgin, in a stable, and his being laid in a manger, his taking the human nature upon him in its low state, and under those infirmities brought upon it by the fall, his being born in the form of sinful flesh, had the nature of satisfaction. And so all his sufferings in his infancy and childhood, and all that labor, and contempt, and reproach, and temptation, and difficulty of any kind, or that he suffered through the whole course of his life, was of a propitiatory and satisfactory nature.
And so his purchase of happiness by his righteousness was also carried on through the whole time of his humiliation until his resurrection, not only in that obedience he performed through the course of his life, but also in the obedience he performed in laying down his life.
3. It was by the same things that Christ both satisfied God’s justice, and also purchased eternal happiness. This satisfaction and purchase of Christ were not only both carried on through the whole time of Christ’s humiliation, but they were both carried on by the same things. He did not make satisfaction by some things that he did, and then work out a righteousness by other different things. But in the same acts by which he wrought out righteousness, he also made satisfaction, but only taken in a different relation. One and the same act of Christ, considered with respect to the obedience there was in it, was part of his righteousness, and purchased heaven, but considered with respect to the self-denial, and difficulty, and humiliation, with which he performed it, had the nature of satisfaction for sin, and procured our pardon. Thus his going about doing good, preaching the gospel, and teaching his disciples, was a part of his righteousness, and purchase of heaven, as it was done in obedience to the Father. And the same was a part of his satisfaction, as he did it with great labor, trouble, and weariness, and under great temptations, exposing himself hereby to reproach and contempt. So his laying down his life had the nature of satisfaction to God’s offended justice, considered as his bearing our punishment in our stead: but considered as an act of obedience to God, who had given him this command, that he should lay down his life for sinners, it was a part of his righteousness, and purchase of heaven, and as much the principal part of his righteousness as it was the principal part of his satisfaction. And so to instance in his circumcision, what he suffered in that, had the nature of satisfaction. The blood that was shed in his circumcision was propitiatory blood. But as it was a conformity to the law of Moses, it was part of his meritorious righteousness. Though it was not properly the act of his human nature, he being an infant. Yet it being what the human nature was the subject of, and being the act of that person, it was accepted as an act of his obedience, as our Mediator.
And so even his being born in such a low condition, had the nature of satisfaction, by reason of the humiliation that was in it, and also of righteousness, as it was the act of his person in obedience to the Father, and what the human nature was the subject of, and what the will of the human nature did acquiesce in, though there was no act of the will of the human nature prior to it.
These things may suffice to have observed in the general concerning the purchase Christ made of redemption.
The obedience and sufferings by which Christ purchased redemption particularly considered.
I NOW proceed to speak more particularly of those things which Christ did, and was the subject of, during the time of his humiliation, whereby this purchase was made. — And the nature of the purchase of Christ, as it has been explained, leads us to consider these things under a two-fold view, viz.
1. With respect to his righteousness, which appeared in them.
2 With respect to the sufferings and humiliation that he was subject to in them in our stead.
§ I. I will consider the things that passed during the time of Christ’s humiliation, with respect to the obedience and righteousness that he exercised in them. And this is subject to a threefold distribution. I shall therefore consider his obedience,
1. With respect to the laws which he obeyed.
2. With respect to the different stages of his life in which he performed it.
3. With respect to the virtues he exercised in his obedience.
I. The first distribution of the acts of Christ’s righteousness is with respect to the laws which Christ obeyed in that righteousness which he performed. But here it must be observed in general, that all the precepts which Christ obeyed may be reduced to one law, and that is that which the apostle calls the law of works, Rom. 3:27. Every command that Christ obeyed may be reduced to that great and everlasting law of God that is contained in the covenant of works, that eternal rule of right which God had established between himself and mankind. Christ came into the world to fulfill and answer the covenant of works, that is, the covenant that is to stand forever as a rule of judgment. And that is the covenant that we had broken, and that was the covenant that must be fulfilled.
This law of works indeed includes all the laws of God which ever have been given to mankind. For it is a general rule of the law of works, and indeed of the law of nature, that God is to be obeyed, and that he must be submitted to in whatever positive precept he is pleased to give us. It is a rule of the law of works, that men should obey their earthly parents. And it is certainly as much a rule of the same law, that we should obey our heavenly Father. And so the law of works requires obedience to all positive commands of God. It required Adam’s obedience to that positive command, not to eat of the forbidden fruit. And it required obedience of the Jews to all the positive commands of their institution When God commanded Jonah to arise and go to Nineveh, the law of works required him to obey. And so it required Christ’s obedience to all the positive commands which God gave him.
But, more particularly, the commands of God which Christ obeyed, were of three kinds. They were either such as he was subject to merely as man, or such as he was subject to as he was a Jew, or such as he was subject to purely as Mediator.
1. He obeyed those commands which he was subject to merely as man. And they were the commands of the moral law, which was the same with that which was given at Mount Sinai, written in two tables of stone, which are obligatory on mankind of all nations and all ages of the world.
2. He obeyed all those laws he was subject to as he was a Jew. Thus he was subject to the ceremonial law, and was conformed to it. He was conformed to it in his being circumcised the eighth day. And he strictly obeyed it in going up to Jerusalem to the temple three times a year. At least after he was come to the age of twelve years, which seems to have been the age when the males began to go up to the temple. And so Christ constantly attended the service of the temple, and of the synagogues.
To this head of his obedience to the law that he was subject to as a Jew, may be reduced his submission to John’s baptism. For it was a special command to the Jews, to go forth to John the Baptist, and be baptized of him. And therefore Christ being a Jew, was subject to this command. And therefore, when he came to be baptized of John, and John objected, that he had more need to come to him to be baptized of him, he gives this reason for it, that it was needful that he should do it, that he might fulfill all righteousness. See Mat. 3:13, 14, 15.
3. Another law that Christ was subject to was the mediatorial law, which contained those commands of God to which he was subject, not merely as man, nor yet as a Jew, but which related purely to his mediatorial office. Such were the commands which the Father gave him, to teach such doctrines, to preach the gospel, to work such miracles, to call such disciples, to appoint such ordinances, and finally to lay down his life. For he did all these things in obedience to commands he had received of the Father, as he often tells us. And these commands he was not subject to merely as man, for they did not belong to other men. Nor yet was he subject to them as a Jew. For they were no part of the Mosaic law; but they were commands that he had received of the Father, that purely respected the work he was to do in the world in his mediatorial office.
And it is to be observed, that Christ’s righteousness, by which he merited heaven for himself, and all who believe in him, consists principally in his obedience to this mediatorial law. For in fulfilling this law consisted his chief work and business in the world. The history of the evangelists is chiefly taken up in giving an account of his obedience to this law. And this part of his obedience was that which was attended with the greatest difficulty of all. And therefore his obedience in it was most meritorious. What Christ had to do in the world by virtue of his being Mediator, was infinitely more difficult than what he had to do merely as a man, or as a Jew. To his obedience to this mediatorial law belongs his going through his last sufferings, beginning with his agony in the garden, and ending with his resurrection.
As the obedience of the first Adam, wherein his righteousness would have consisted, if he had stood, would have mainly consisted, not in his obedience to the moral law, to which he was subject merely as man, but in his obedience to that special law that he was subject to as moral head and surety of mankind, even the command of abstaining from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So the obedience of the second Adam, wherein his righteousness consists, lies mainly, not in his obedience to the law that he was subject to merely as man, but to that special law which he was subject to in his office as Mediator and surety for man.
Before I proceed to the next distribution of Christ’s righteousness, I would observe three things concerning Christ’s obedience to these laws.
(1.) He performed that obedience to them which was in every respect perfect. It was universal as to the kinds of laws that he was subject to. He obeyed each of these three laws. And it was universal with respect to every individual precept contained in these laws, and it was perfect as to each command. It was perfect as to positive transgressions avoided. For he never transgressed in one instance. He was guilty of no sin of commission. And it was perfect with respect to the work commanded. He perfected the whole work that each command required, and never was guilty of any sin of omission. And it was perfect with respect to the principle from which he obeyed. His heart was perfect. His principles were wholly right. There was no corruption in his heart. And it was perfect with respect to the ends he acted for. For he never had any by ends, but aimed perfectly at such ends as the law of God required. And it was perfect with respect to the manner of performance. Every circumstance of each act was perfectly conformed to the command. And it was perfect with respect to the degree of the performance. He acted wholly up to the rule. And it was perfect with respect to the constancy of obedience. He did not only perfectly obey sometimes, but constantly without any interruption. And it was perfect with respect to perseverance. He held out in perfect obedience to the very end, through all the changes he passed through, and all the trials that were before him.
The meritoriousness of Christ’s obedience, depends on the perfection of it. If it had failed in any instance of perfection, it could not have been meritorious. For imperfect obedience is not accepted as any obedience at all in the sight of the law of works, which was that law that Christ was subject to. For that is not accepted as an obedience to a law that does not answer that law.
(2.) The next thing I would observe of Christ’s obedience is, that it was performed through the greatest trials and temptations that ever any obedience was. His obedience was attended with the greatest difficulties, and most extreme abasement and sufferings that ever any obedience was, which was another thing that rendered it more meritorious and thank worthy. To obey another when his commands are easy, is not so worthy, as it is to obey when it cannot be done without great difficulty.
(3.) He performed this obedience with infinite respect to God, and the honor of his law. The obedience he performed was with infinitely greater love to God, and regard to his authority, than the angels perform their obedience with. The angels perform their obedience with that love which is perfect, with sinless perfection. But Christ did not do so, but he performed his obedience with much greater love than the angels do theirs, even infinite love. For though the human nature of Christ was not capable of love absolutely infinite, yet Christ’s obedience that was performed in that human nature, is not to be looked upon as merely the obedience of the human nature, but the obedience of his person, as God-man. And there was infinite love of the person of Christ manifest in that obedience. And this, together with the infinite dignity of the person that obeyed, rendered his obedience infinitely meritorious.
II. The second distribution of the acts of Christ’s obedience, is with respect to the different parts of his life, wherein they were performed. And in this respect they may be divided into those which were performed in private life, and those which were performed in his public ministry.
First. Those acts he performed during his private life. He was perfectly obedient in his childhood. He infinitely differed from other children, who as soon as they begin to act, begin to sin and rebel. He was subject to his earthly parents, though he was Lord of all, Luke 2:51. He was found about his Father’s business at twelve years of age in the temple, Luke 2:42. He then began that work that he had to do in fulfillment of the mediatorial law, which the Father had given him. He continued his private life for about thirty years, dwelling at Nazareth in the house of his reputed father Joseph, where he served God in a private capacity, and in following a mechanical trade, the business of a carpenter.
Second. Those acts which he performed during his public ministry, which began when he was about thirty years of age, and continued for the three last years and an half of his life. Most of the history of the evangelists is taken up in giving an account of what passed during these three years and an half. So is all the history of the Evangelist Matthew, excepting the first two chapters. So is the whole of the history of the Evangelist Mark. It begins and ends with it. And so also is all the gospel of John, and all the gospel of Luke, excepting the two first chapters, excepting also what we find in the evangelists concerning the ministry of John the Baptist. Christ’s first appearing in his public is what is often called his coming in Scripture. Thus John speaks of Christ’s coming as what is yet to be, though he had been born long before.
Concerning the public ministry of Christ, I would observe the following things. 1. The forerunner of it. 2. The manner of his first entering upon it. 3. The works in which he was employed during the course of it, and, 4. The manner of his finishing it.
1. The forerunner of Christ’s coming in his public ministry was John the Baptist. He came preaching repentance for the remission of sins, to make way for Christ’s coming, agreeable to the prophecies of him, Isa. 40:3, 4, 5, and Mat. 4:5, 6. It is supposed that John the Baptist began his ministry about three years and an half before Christ, so that John’s ministry and Christ’s put together, made seven years, which was the last of Daniel’s weeks. And this time is intended in Dan. 9:27, “He will confirm the covenant with many for one week.” Christ came in the midst of this week, viz. in the beginning of the last half of it, or the last three years and an half, as Daniel foretold, as in the verse just now quoted, “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”
John Baptist’s ministry consisted principally in preaching the law, to awaken men and convince them of sin, to prepare men for the coming of Christ, to comfort them, as the law is to prepare the heart for the entertainment of the gospel.
A very remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God attended John’s ministry. And the effect of it was that Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, were awakened, convinced, went out to him, and submitted to his baptism, confessing their sins. John is spoken of as the greatest of all the prophets who came before Christ, Mat. 11:11, “Among those that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist,” i.e. he had the most honorable office. He was as the morning star, which is the harbinger of the approaching day, and forerunner of the rising sun. The other prophets were stars that were to give light in the night. But we have heard how those stars went out on the approach of the gospel day. But now the coming of Christ being very nigh, the morning star comes before him, the brightest of all the stars, as John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets.
And when Christ came in his public ministry, the light of that morning star decreased too. As we see, when the sun rises, it diminishes the light of the morning star. So John the Baptist says of himself, John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” And soon after Christ began his public ministry, John the Baptist was put to death. As the morning star is visible a little while after the sun is risen, yet soon goes out.
2. The next thing to be taken notice of is Christ’s entrance on his public ministry, which was by baptism, followed with the temptation in the wilderness. His baptism was as it were his solemn inauguration, by which he entered on his ministry, and was attended with his being anointed with the Holy Ghost, in a solemn and visible manner, the Holy Ghost descending upon him in a visible shape like a dove, attended with a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Mat. 3:16, 17.
After this he was led by the devil into the wilderness. Satan made a violent onset upon him at his first entrance on his work. And now he had a remarkable trial of his obedience, but he got the victory. He who had such success with the first Adam, had none with the second.
3. I would take notice of the work in which Christ was employed during his ministry. And here are three things chiefly to be taken notice of, viz. his preaching, his working miracles, and his calling and appointing disciples and ministers of his kingdom.
(1.) His preaching the gospel. Great part of the work of his public ministry consisted in this. And much of that obedience by which he purchased salvation for us, was in his speaking those things which the Father commanded him. He more clearly and abundantly revealed the mind and will of God, than ever it had been revealed before. He came from the bosom of the Father, and perfectly knew his mind, and was in the best capacity to reveal it. As the sun, as soon as it is risen, begins to shine. So Christ, as soon as he came into his public ministry, began to enlighten the world with his doctrine. As the law was given at Mount Sinai, so Christ delivered his evangelical doctrine, full of blessings, and not curses, to a multitude on a mountain, as we have an account in Matthew, chap. 5, 6 and 7.
When he preached, he did not teach as the scribes, but he taught as one having authority, so that his hearers were astonished at his doctrine. He did not reveal the mind and will of God in the style which the prophets used to preach, as not speaking their own words, but the words of another, and used to speak in such a style as this, “Thus saith the Lord,” but Christ, in such a style as this, “I say unto you,” thus or thus, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He delivered his doctrines, not only as the doctrines of God the Father, but as his own doctrines. He gave forth his commands, not as the prophets were wont to do, as God’s commands, but as his own commands. He spoke in such a style as this, “This is my commandment,” John 15:12. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14.
(2.) Another thing that Christ was employed in during the course of his ministry, was working miracles. Concerning which we may observe several things.
Their multitude. Besides particular instances, we often have an account of multitudes coming at once with diseases, and his healing them.
They were works of mercy. In them were displayed not only his infinite power and greatness, but his infinite mercy and goodness. He went about doing good, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and the proper use of their limbs to the lame and halt, feeding the hungry, cleansing the leprous, and raising the dead.
They were almost all of them such as had been spoken of as the peculiar works of God, in the Old Testament. So with respect to stilling the sea, Psa. 107:29, “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” So as to walking on the sea in a storm, Job 9:8, “Which alone treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” So as to casting out devils, Psa. 74:14, “Thou breakest the heads of leviathan in pieces.” So as to feeding a multitude in a wilderness, Deu. 8:16, “Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna.” So as to telling man’s thoughts, Amos 4:13, “Lo, he that declareth unto man what is his thought — the Lord, the God of hosts is his name.” So as to raising the dead, Psa. 68:20, “Unto God the Lord belong the issues from death.” So as to opening the eyes of the blind, Psa. 146:8, “The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind.” So as to healing the sick, Psa. 103:3, “Who healeth all thy diseases.” So as to lifting up those who are bowed together, Psa. 146:8, “The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down.”
They were in general such works as were images of the great work which he came to work on man’s heart, representing that inward, spiritual cleansing, healing, renovation, and resurrection, which all his redeemed are the subjects of.
He wrought them in such a manner as to show, that he did them by his own power, and not by the power of another, as the other prophets did. They were wont to work all their miracles in the name of the Lord, but Christ wrought in his own name. Moses was forbidden to enter into Canaan, because he seemed by his speech to assume the honor of working only one miracle to himself. Nor did Christ work miracles as the apostles did, who wrought them all in the name of Christ, but he wrought them in his own name, and by his own authority and will. Thus, saith he, “I will, be thou clean,” Mat. 8:3. And in the same strain he put the question, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” Mat. 9:28.
(3.) Another thing that Christ did in the course of his ministry, was to call his disciples. He called many disciples. There were many that he employed as ministers. He sent seventy disciples at one time in this work:
But there were twelve that he set apart as apostles, who were the grand ministers of his kingdom, and as it were the twelve foundations of his church. See Rev. 21:14. These were the main instruments of setting up his kingdom in the world, and therefore shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
4. I would observe how he finished his ministry. — And this was,
(1.) In giving his dying counsels to his disciples, and all that should be his disciples, which we have recorded particularly in John’s gospel (John 14, 15, 16).
(2.) In instituting a solemn memorial of his death. This he did in instituting the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, wherein we have a representation of his body broken, and of his blood shed.
(3.) In offering up himself, as God’s high priest, a sacrifice to God, which he did in his last sufferings. This act he did as God’s minister, as God’s anointed priest. And it was the greatest act of his public ministry, the greatest act of his obedience, by which he purchased heaven for believers. The priests of old used to do many other things as God’s ministers. But then were they in the highest execution of their office when they were actually offering sacrifice on the altar. So the greatest thing that Christ did in the execution of his priestly office, and the greatest thing that he ever did, and the greatest thing that ever was done, was the offering up himself a sacrifice to God. Herein he was the anti-type of all that had been done by all the priests, and in all their sacrifices and offerings, from the beginning of the world.
III. The third distribution of the acts by which Christ purchased redemption, regards the virtues that Christ exercised and manifested in them. And here I would observe that Christ, in doing the work that he had to do here in the world for our redemption, exercised every possible virtue and grace. Indeed there are some particular virtues that sinful man may have, that were not in Christ, not from any want or defect of virtue, but because his virtue was perfect and without defect. Such is the virtue of repentance, and brokenness of heart for sin, and mortification, and denying of lust. Those virtues were not in Christ, because he had no sin of his own to repent of, nor any lust to deny. But all virtues which do not presuppose sin, were in him, and that in a higher degree than ever they were in any other man, or any mere creature. Every virtue in him was perfect. Virtue itself was greater in him than in any other. And it was under greater advantages to shine in him than in any other. Strict virtue shines most when most tried. But never any virtue had such trials as Christ’s had.
The virtue that Christ exercised in the work he did, may be divided into three sorts, viz. the virtues which more immediately respect God, those which immediately respect himself, and those which immediately respect men.
1. Those virtues which more immediately respect God, appeared in Christ in the work that he did for our redemption. There appeared in him an holy fear and reverence towards God the Father. Christ had a greater trial of his virtue in this respect than any other had, from the honorableness of his person. This was the temptation of the angels that fell, to cast off their worship of God, and reverence of his majesty, that they were beings of such exalted dignity and worthiness themselves. But Christ was infinitely more worthy and honorable than they. For he was the eternal Son of God, and his person was equal to the person of God the Father. And yet, as he had taken on him the office of Mediator, and the nature of man, he was full of reverence towards God. He had ordered him in the most reverential manner time after time. So he manifested a wonderful love towards God. The angels give great testimonies of their love towards God, in their constancy and agility in doing the will of God. And many saints have given great testimonies of their love, who from love to God, have endured great labors and sufferings. But none ever gave such testimonies of love to God as Christ has given. None ever performed such a labor of love as he, and suffered so much from love to God. So he manifested the most wonderful submission to the will of God. Never was anyone’s submission so tried as his was. So he manifested the most wonderful spirit of obedience that ever was manifested.
2. In this work he most wonderfully manifested those virtues which more immediately respected himself, as particularly humility, patience, and contempt of the world. Christ, though he was the most excellent and honorable of all men, yet was the most humble. Yea, he was the most humble of all creatures. No angel or man ever equaled him in humility, though he was the highest of all creatures in dignity and honorableness. Christ would have been under the greatest temptations to pride, if it had been possible for anything to be a temptation to him. The temptation of the angels that fell was the dignity of their nature, and the honorableness of their circumstances. But Christ was infinitely more honorable than they. The human nature of Christ was so honored as to be in the same person with the eternal Son of God, who was equal with God. And yet that human nature was not at afflicted up with pride. Nor was the man Christ Jesus at all lifted up with pride with all those wonderful works which he wrought, of healing the sick, curing the blind, lame, and maimed, and raising the dead. And though he knew that God had appointed him to be the king over heaven and earth, angels and men, as he says, Mat. 11:27, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” Though he knew he was such an infinitely honorable person, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and though he knew he was the heir of God the Father’s kingdom, yet such was his humility, that he did not disdain to be abased and depressed down into lower and viler circumstances and sufferings than ever any other elect creature was, so that he became least of all, and lowest of all. The proper trial and evidence of humility, is stooping or complying with those acts or circumstances, when called to it, which are very low, and contain great abasement. But none ever stooped so low as Christ, if we consider either the infinite height that he stooped from, or the great depth to which he stooped. Such was his humility, that though he knew his infinite worthiness of honor, and of being honored ten thousand times as much as the highest prince on earth, or angel in heaven. Yet he did not think it too much when called to it, to be bound as a cursed malefactor, and to become the laughingstock and spitting-stock of the vilest of men, and to be crowned with thorns, and to have a mock robe put upon him, and to be crucified like a slave and malefactor, and as one of the meanest and worst of vagabonds and miscreants, and an accursed enemy of God and men, who was not fit to live on the earth. And this not for himself, but for some of the meanest and vilest of creatures, some of those accursed wretches that crucified him. Was not this a wonderful manifestation of humility, when he cheerfully and most freely submitted to this abasement?
And, how did his patience shine forth under all the terrible sufferings which he endured, when he was dumb, and opened not his mouth, but went as a lamb to the slaughter, and was like a patient lamb under all the sufferings he endured from first to last!
And, what contempt of the glory of this world was there, when he rather chose this contempt, and meanness, and suffering, than to wear a temporal crown, and be invested with the external glories of an earthly prince, as the multitude often solicited him!
3. Christ, in the work which he wrought out, in a wonderful manner exercised those virtues which more immediately respect other men. And these may be summed up under two heads, viz. meekness, and love.
Christ’s meekness was his humble calmness of spirit under the provocations that he met with. None ever met with so great provocations as he did. The greatness of provocation lies in two things, viz. in the degree of opposition by which the provocation is given. And secondly, in the degree of the unreasonableness of that opposition, or in its being very causeless, and without reason, and the great degree of obligation to the contrary. Now, if we consider both these things, no man ever met with such provocations as Christ did, when he was upon earth. If we consider how much he was hated, what abuses he suffered from the vilest of men, how great his sufferings from men were, and how spiteful and how contemptuous they were, in offering him these abuses. And also consider how causeless and unreasonable these abuses were, how undeserving he was of them, and how much deserving of the contrary, viz. of love, and honor, and good treatment at their hands. I say, if we consider these things, no man ever met with a thousandth part of the provocation that Christ met with from men. And yet how meek was he under all! How composed and quiet his spirit! How far from being in a ruffle and tumult! When he was reviled, he reviled not again. And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. No appearance was there of a revengeful spirit. On the contrary, what a spirit of forgiveness did he exhibit! So that he fervently and effectually prayed for their forgiveness, when they were in the highest act of provocation that ever they perpetrated, viz. nailing him to the cross, Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And never did there appear such an instance of love to men. Christ’s love to men that he showed when on earth, and especially in going through his last sufferings, and offering up his life and soul under those sufferings, which was his greatest act of love, was far beyond all parallel. There have been very remarkable manifestations of love in some of the saints, as in the Apostle Paul, the Apostle John, and others. But the love to men that Christ showed when on earth, as much exceeded the love of all other men, as the ocean exceeds a small stream.
And it is to be observed, that all the virtues which appeared in Christ shone brightest in the close of his life, under the trials he met with then. Eminent virtue always shows brightest in the fire. Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace. It was chiefly under those trials which Christ underwent in the close of his life, that his love to God, his honor of God’s majesty, and his regard to the honor of his law, and his spirit of obedience, and his humility, and contempt of the world, and his patience, and his meekness, and his spirit of forgiveness towards men, appeared. Indeed everything that Christ did to work out redemption for us appears mainly in the close of his life. Here mainly is his satisfaction for sin, and here chiefly is his merit of eternal life for sinners, and here chiefly appears the brightness of his example, which he hath set us to follow.
Thus we have taken a brief view of the things whereby the purchase of redemption was made with respect to his righteousness that appeared in theme. — I proceed now,
§ II. To take a view of them with respect to the satisfaction that he thereby made for sin, or the sufferings and humiliation that he was the subject of in them on our account. And here,
I. He was subject to uncommon humiliation and sufferings in his infancy. He was born to that end that he might die. And therefore he did as it were begin to die as soon as he was born. His mother suffered in an uncommon manner in hearing him. When her travail came upon her, it is said, “there was no room in the inn,” Luke 2:7. She was forced to betake herself to a stable. And therefore Christ was born in the place of the bringing forth of beasts. Thus he suffered in his birth, as though he had been meaner and viler than a man, and not possessed of the dignity of the human nature, but had been of the rank of the brute creatures. And we may conclude, that his mother’s circumstances in other respects were proportionally strait and difficult, and that she was destitute of the conveniences necessary for so young an infant which others were wont to have. For want of which the newborn babe without doubt suffered much.
And besides, he was persecuted in his infancy. They began to seek his life as soon as he was born. Herod, the chief man of the land, was so engaged to kill him, that in order to it, he killed all the children in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under. And Christ suffered banishment in his infancy, was driven out of his native country into Egypt. And without doubt suffered much by being carried so long a journey, when he was so young, into a strange country.
II. Christ was subject to great humiliation in his private life at Nazareth. He there led a servile obscure life, In a mean laborious occupation. For he is called not only the carpenter’s son, but the carpenter, Mark 6:3, “ Is not this the carpenter, the brother of James, and Joses, and Juda, and Simon?” He, by hard labor, earned his bread before he ate it, and so suffered that curse which God pronounced on Adam, Gen. 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Let us consider how great a degree of humiliation the glorious Son of God, the creator of heaven and earth, was subject to in this, that for about thirty years he should live a private obscure life among laboring men, and all this while be overlooked, and not taken notice of in the world, as more than other common laborers. Christ’s humiliation in some respects was greater in private life than in the time of his public ministry. There were many manifestations of his glory in the word he preached, and the great miracles he wrought. But the first thirty years of his life he spent among mean ordinary men, as it were in silence, without those manifestations of his glory, or anything to make him to be taken notice of more than any ordinary mechanic, but only the spotless purity and eminent holiness of his life, and that was in a great measure hid in obscurity, so that he was little taken notice of until after his baptism.
III. Christ was the subject of great humiliation and suffering during his public life, from his baptism until the night wherein he was betrayed. As particularly,
1. He suffered great poverty, so that he had not “where to lay his head,” Mat. 8:20, and commonly used to lodge abroad in the open air, for want of a shelter to betake himself to, as you will see is manifest, if you compare the following places together, which I shall but name to you, even Mat. 8:20, and John 18:1, 2, and Luke 21:37, and chap. 22:39. So that what was spoken of Christ in Song 5:2, “My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night,” was literally fulfilled. And through his poverty he doubtless was often pinched with hunger, and thirst, and cold. We read Mat. 4:2, that he was an hungered. And so again in Mat. 21:18. His mother and natural relations were poor, and not able to help him. And he was maintained by the charity of some of his disciples while he lived. So we read in Luke 8 at the beginning, of certain women that followed him, and ministered to him of their substance. He was so poor, that he was not able to pay the tribute that was demanded of him, without the miraculous coming of a fish to bring him the money out of the sea in his mouth. See Mat. 17:27. And when he ate at his last Passover, it was not at his own charge, but at the charge of another, as appears by Luke 22:7, etc. And from his poverty he had no grave of his own to be buried in. It was the manner of the Jews, unless they were very poor, and were not able, to prepare themselves a sepulcher while they lived. But Christ had no land of his own, though he was possessor of heaven and earth. And therefore was buried by Joseph of Arimathea’s charity, and in his tomb, which he had prepared for himself.
2. He suffered great hatred and reproach. He was despised and rejected of men. He was by most esteemed a poor insignificant person, one of little account, slighted for his low parentage, and his mean city Nazareth. He was reproached as a glutton and drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners, was called a deceiver of the people, sometimes was called a madman, and a Samaritan, and one possessed with a devil, John 7:20, and 8:48, and 10:20. He was called a blasphemer, and was accounted by many a wizard, or one that wrought miracles by the black art, and by communication with Beelzebub. They excommunicated him, and agreed to excommunicate any man that should own him, as John 9:22. They wished him dead, and were continually seeking to murder him, sometimes by force, and sometimes by craft. They often took up stones to stone him, and once led him to the brow of a hill, intending to throw him down the precipice, to dash him in pieces against the rocks.
He was thus hated and reproached by his own visible people, John 1:11, “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” And he was principally despised and hated by those who were in chief repute, and were their greatest men. And the hatred wherewith he was hated was general. Into whatever part of the land he went, he met with hatred and contempt. He met with these in Capernaum, and when he went to Jericho, when he went to Jerusalem, which was the holy city, when he went to the temple to worship, and also in Nazareth, his own city, and among his own relations, and his old neighbors.
3. He suffered the buffetings of Satan in an uncommon manner. We read of one time in particular, when he had a long conflict with the devil, when he was in the wilderness forty days, With nothing but wild beasts and devils, and was so exposed to the devil’s power, that he was bodily carried about by him from place to place, while he was otherwise in a very suffering state.
And so much for the humiliation and suffering of Christ’s public life, from his baptism to the night wherein he was betrayed.
IV. I come now to his last humiliation and sufferings, from the evening of the night wherein he was betrayed to his resurrection. And here was his greatest humiliation and suffering, by which principally he made satisfaction to the justice of God for the sins of men. First, his life was sold by one of his own disciples for thirty pieces of silver, which was the price of the life of a servant, as you may see in Exo. 21:32. Then he was in that dreadful agony in the garden. There came such a dismal gloom upon his soul, that he began to be sorrowful and very heavy, and said, his “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and was sore amazed.” So violent was the agony of his soul, as to force the blood through the pores of his skin, so that while his soul was overwhelmed with amazing sorrow, his body was all clotted with blood. The disciples, who used to be as his friends and family, at this time, above all, appeared cold towards him, and unconcerned for him, at the same time that his Father’s face was hid from him. Judas, to whom Christ had been so very merciful, and treated as one of his family, or familiar friends, comes and betrays him in the most deceitful, treacherous manner. The officers and soldiers apprehend and bind him. His disciples forsake him, and flee. His own best friends do not stand by him to comfort him, in this time of his distress. He is led away as a malefactor to appear before the priests and scribes, his venomous, mortal enemies, that they might sit as his judges, who sat up all night, to have the pleasure of insulting him, now they had got him into their hands. But because they aimed at nothing short of his life, they set themselves to find some color to put him to death, and seek for witnesses against him. When none appeared, they set some to bear false witness. And when their witness did not agree together, then they go to examining him, to catch something out of his own mouth. They hoped he would say, that he was the Son of God. and then they thought they should have enough. But because they see they are not like to obtain it without it, they then go to force him to say it, by adjuring him in the name of God, to say whether he was or not. And when he confessed that he was, then they supposed they had enough. And then it was a time of rejoicing with them, which they show, by falling upon Christ, and spitting in his face, and blindfolding him, and striking him in the face with the palms of their hands, and then bidding him prophesy who it was that struck him, thus ridiculing him for pretending to be a prophet. And the very servants have a hand in the sport, Mark 14:65, “And the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.”
During the sufferings of that night, Peter, one of the chief of his own disciples, instead of standing by him to comfort him, appears ashamed to own him, and denies and renounces him with oaths and curses. And after the chief priests and elders had finished the night in so shamefully abusing him, when the morning was come, which was the morning of the most wonderful day that ever was, they led him away to Pilate, to be condemned to death by him, because they had not the power of life and death in their own hands. He is brought before Pilate’s judgment seat, and there the priests and elders accuse him as a traitor. And when Pilate, upon examining into the matter, declared he found no fault in him, the Jews were but the more fierce and violent to have him condemned. Upon which Pilate, after clearing him, very unjustly brings him upon a second trial, and then not finding anything against him, acquits him again. Pilate treats him as a poor worthless fellow, but is ashamed on so little pretense to condemn him as a traitor.
And then he was sent to Herod to be tried by him, and was brought before Herod’s judgment seat. And his enemies followed, and virulently accused him before Herod. Herod does not condemn him as a traitor, of one that would set up for a king, but looks upon him as Pilate did, as a poor worthless creature, not worthy to be taken notice of, and does but make a mere laugh of the Jews’ accusing him as a dangerous person to Caesar, as one that was in danger of setting up to be a king against him, and therefore, in derision, dresses him up in a mock robe, and makes sport of him, and sends him back through the streets of Jerusalem to Pilate, with the mock robe on.
Then the Jews prefer Barabbas before him, and are instant and violent with loud voices to Pilate, to crucify him. So Pilate, after he had cleared him twice, and Herod once, very unrighteously brings him on trial the third time, to try if he could not find something against him sufficient to crucify him. Christ was stripped and scoured. Thus he gave his back to the smiter. After that, though Pilate still declared that he found no fault in him. Yet so unjust was he, that for fear of the Jews he delivered Christ to be crucified. But before they execute the sentence, his spiteful and cruel enemies take the pleasure of another spell of mocking him. They get round him, and make a set business of it. They stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe, and a reed in his hand, and a crown of thorns on his head. Both Jews and Roman soldiers were united in the transaction. They bow the knee before him, and in derision cry, “Hail, king of the Jews!” They spit upon him also, and take the reed out of his hand, and smite him on the head. After this, they led him away to crucify him, and made him carry his own cross, until he sunk under it, his strength being spent. And then they laid it on one Simon a Cyrenian.
At length, being come to Mount Calvary, they execute the sentence which Pilate had so unrighteously pronounced. They nail him to his cross by his hands and feet, then raise it erect, and fix one end in the ground, he being still suspended on it by the nails which pierced his hands and feet. And now Christ’s sufferings are come to the extremity. Now the cup, which he so earnestly prayed that it might pass from him, is come, and he must, he does drink it. In those days crucifixion was the most tormenting kind of death by which any were wont to be executed. There was no death wherein the person expired so much of mere torment. And hence the Roman word, which signifies torment, is taken from this kind of death. — And besides what our Lord endured in this excruciating death in his body, he endured vastly more in his soul. Now was that travail of his soul, of which we read in the prophet. Now it pleased God to bruise him, and to put him to grief. Now he poured out his soul unto death, as in Isa. 53. And if the mere forethought of this cup made him sweat blood, how much more dreadful and excruciating must the drinking of it have been! Many martyrs have endured much in their bodies, while their souls have been joyful, and have sung for joy, whereby they have been supported under the sufferings of their outward man, and have triumphed over them. But this was not the case with Christ. He had no such support. But his sufferings were chiefly those of the mind, though the other were extremely great. In his crucifixion Christ did not sweat blood, as he had before, because his blood had vent otherwise, and not because his agony was now not so great. But though he did not sweat blood, yet such was the suffering of his soul, that probably it rent his vitals, as seems probable by this, that when his side was pierced, there came forth blood and water. And so here was a kind of literal fulfillment of that in Psa. 22:14, “I am poured out like water: — my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
Now, under all these sufferings, the Jews still mock him, and wagging their heads say, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” And even the chief priests, scribes, and elders, joined in the cry, saying, “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” And probably the devil at the same time tormented him to the utmost of his power, and hence it is said, Luke 22:53, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Under these sufferings, Christ having cried out once and again with a loud voice, at last he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:30) “and bowed the head, and gave up the ghost.” And thus was finished the greatest and most wonderful thing that ever was done. Now the angels beheld the most wonderful sight that ever they saw. Now was accomplished the main thing that had been pointed at by the various institutions of the ceremonial law, and by all the typical dispensations, and by all the sacrifices from the beginning of the world.
Christ being thus brought under the power of death, continued under it until the morning of next day but one, and then was finished that great work, the purchase of our redemption, for which such great preparation had been made from the beginning of the world. Then was finished all that was required in order to satisfy the threatenings of the law, and all that was necessary in order to satisfy divine justice. Then the utmost that vindictive justice demanded, even the whole debt was paid. Then was finished the whole of the purchase of eternal life. And now there is no need of anything more to be done towards a purchase of salvation for sinners, nor has ever anything been done since, nor will anything more be done forever and ever.