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illative [A10 ] which knits this part with the former. And indeed, a good frame of life hath à most necessary connexion with a strong resolution for death, and assurance of life eternal; and they mutually cause one another. That a pious life gives strength against death, and hope of eternal life, none will deny; nor is it less true, that that assurance animates and stirs up to obedience: so far is it from causing sloth, that it is the only spur to acceptable walking. We are confident, saith he, (ver. 8,) WHEREFORE, we labour to be accepted, ver. 9.
This purpose is farther backed with a double reason, viz., of two pious affections; the one of fear, ver. 11. the other of love, ver. 14: that of fear, arising from the consideration of the judgment-seat of Christ; that of love from the thoughts of his death. Ver. 14. For that love of God constrained us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again. These are the reasons that stir up this eminent Apostle to a study of acceptable walking in all things, particularly in his especial calling, the ministry of reconciliation ;-approving himself therein to his God, and as much as may be to the consciences of the people; saying and doing all things with intention of His glory, and their good; free from vain glory; not speaking for himself, nor living to himself, but to Him who died for him, and rose again; not possessed with carnal respects touching himself or others; no, nor entertaining carnal considerations of Christ himself, as being ascended, and therefore to be considered and conversed with after a new manner (spiritually) by all those that are new creatures in him, and reconciled to God by him, through the ministry of the word of reconciliation. Which reconciliation God himself hath thus effected ; (ver. 21,) He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Who knew no sin practically, knew none; was altogether free from sin, not only from commission and consent, but from the very first and least
motions of sin. And indeed no one was thus fit to be made sin, but one who knew none, an immaculate Lamb. Made him to be sin, not by constraint, not beside his knowledge and consent. The heathens observed, that their sacrifices were successless and unhappy, when the beasts came unwillingly to the altar. We need not fear in this point: our blessed Sacrifice, who was also Priest and Altar, offered himself up cheerfully: Then saith he, Lo, I come to do thy will, Heb. x. 7. And I lay down my life for the sheep, saith the good Shepherd, John x. 15. To be sin; not only to take the similitude of sinful flesh, becoming man for man's sake, and to be numbered with transgressors, as the prophet speaks, Isa. liii. 12, and to bear the sin of many, but the imputed guilt and inflicted punishment of sin. And these sins of many made him imputatively an exceedingly great sinner, and therefore he is said to have been made sin, by reason of this imputation ; whereupon followed his suffering as a sacrifice. And I conceive, that the reason why the word which in the first language signifies sin, is sometimes taken for the sacrifice, is, because the confessed sins were, in a manner, transferred and laid upon the heads of the legal sacrifices. And so saith the prophet, He hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isa: liii. 6.
He was then made sin primarily, by imputation of and consequently, by suffering for, our sins, as our expiatory sacrifice. He made him sin for us, in our stead, and for our good ; to wit, our redemption; as follows. That we might be made, or become [yuvalevol] the righteousness of God in him ;-but be it made [auwuela], it is no otherwise than Christ was made sin imputatively; and if this inference need help, each word that follows, will confirm it. Righteousness, not righteous; to shew the perfection of it, not to urge its unity. Righteousness, not righteousnesses ; as intimating that it is but one righteousness, whereby we are all justified of God. Not our own, but in him, not in ourselves. All which makes it clear, as it were written with the sun-beams, that, by the most gracious exchange, as he took our sins, so, he hath given us his righteousness. It is true, this is always accompanied with holiness inherent, but imperfect. By that imputed righteousness, the Spouse of Christ is clear as the sun, all luminous; but, in regard of infused righteousness, she is only fair as the moon, but the one half light and that appearing unequally too, waxing and waning, and having spots at its fulness here below. She is holy in this regard, but righteousness in the other righteousness of God; His by appointing, His by gift and application, and His by acceptance. Of God in him; that is, its being in him who is called the Lord our righteousness ; in him, in whom the Father acquiesceth, and is well pleased. Blessed are they that trust in him.
But to the former, ver. 20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us ; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God.
Here we have all the parties requisite in the treaty of reconciliation. God, though offended, seeking peace with men, His creatures, and by sin become rebels : As though God be
Christ, the only procurer, and likewise the chief ambassador, of this peace. And then, lastly, have we the sub-delegated messengers of this peace: We, as ambassadors for Christ. We, the Apostles, and all the ministers of the gospel. For as in their peculiarities, they had no successors, for that is repugnant, so, in those things wherein they have successors, all true ministers of the word are such. The Apostle himself calls this embassy, the ministry of reconciliation, ver. 18.
Ambassadors for Christ, that is, in his stead. In this verse, we have the office of the ministry, under the name of ambassadors; and their message, the delivery whereof is the execution of their office, the entreaty of men to be reconciled to God. Both the office and the message are backed with due authority or warrant. The offices's warrant is, that we are ambassadors
for Christ, or in his stead ; that is, subordinate to him by his own ordination: the warrant of the
is God's own will who sent them, for it is His mind to beseech you by us.
But' to resume the first division, whereof each of its two parts will afford its proposition ; and upon these two propositions I shall insist, in what remains to be said.
The first proposition is this: from their office, ministers of the Gospel are true ambassadors, under Christ, from God to
As soon as man had divested himself of God's image, his shameful nakedness made him run into the thickets; nor could he ever since then look his Maker directly in the face, nor endure to hear His immediate voice. Therefore, when God himself would come and dwell among men, He vailed His deity with human flesh: there He stood behind the wall, and shewed Himself through the lattices. Let us not hear again the voice, nor let us see this great fire any more, that we die not, said the people at Horeb; and the Lord, who knew their mould, saith, They have said well. Deut. v. 28. I will raise them up a prophet, said God, from among their brethren; like unto thee; and He did so. As He came for man's good, so, for the same end, went He away again : It is expedient for you, saith he, that I go away. John xvi. 7. And since that time, He hath continued to send men, men yet liker themselves than He was, men subject to like infirmities, sin not excepted. Even as my Father sent me, so send I you, saith He. John xx. 21. But the loss in this change were intolerable, did He not allay it somewhat, by sending His Spirit upon those men whom he sends to men: If I depart, I will send him unto you, saith he, John xvi. 7. He is gone indeed, as was necessary, but, being ascended, he caused gifts to descend upon men : Some he gave to be apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and pastors and some teachers; all for the work of the ministry, and that for the perfecting of the saints, and the edifying of his body, Eph. iv. 11, 12.
Thus, then, God treats with man in a human way. He draws not His own to Him by immediate revelations, nor
rejects He the rest by express words from heaven ; but, while He sends His ambassadors indifferently to both, He works differently in them. And the admirable variety of effects of the same message, after the same manner, and at the same time delivered, do not a little set forth and commend that same [σολυποίκιλος σοφια του Θεου,0 manifold wisdom of God, (Eph, iii. 10.); that His words should sweetly melt the hearts of some, and, as it were, more violently break the hearts of others; that it should harden and blind some, mollify and enlighten others : that it should convince those whom
yet verts not, and that, by its majesty, though in the mouths of simple men, it should bridle and restrain many of all ranks, whom it renews not; moulding and framing them to an external conformity and square carriage, whereby the world, and the church of God in it especially, are much advantaged. And the lustre of all these effects, is exceedingly set off by the quality of the messengers, being to the world's eye but contemp
But had it not been more congruous to the grandeur of this great King, to have sent angels, His ministering spirits, to be the ministers of the word ? Had He not better have used those precious vessels for His chief treasure, than to have concredited it to vessels of earth, not to say, to discredit it by so doing ? No, His thoughts are not as ours : yea, they are furthest above ours when they seem to be furthest below them. And if we look again, we shall find it more glorious to have conquered so many kingdoms, and brought them to our King, the Lord Jesus, by the preaching of a few fishermen, and such like, than if He had done it by those active spirits. The meanness of the means, raises exceedingly the glory of the Sovereign's cause.
Thus we see how the sending of men in this embassy, was requisite for the frailty of man, and how well it suits with the glory of God.
Hence may be deduced some necessary things for all in general, something in particular for these ambassadors, and something for those to whom they are sent.