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(3.) He is more excellent than all the sons of men, in the revelation he has made of the will of God. Christ has made such a revelation of the will, love, and grace of God, as none of the children of men ever saw before.
These are the things we ought to consider in Christ, as he is fairer than the children of men; in the dignity of his person, in the excellency of his work, and in the glory of his revelation.
You will say, why should we consider Christ in these his incomparable excellencies? I answer, [1.] That our hearts be not taken away, nor engrossed by the children of men, and what belongs unto them, their glory, their honours, their lusts, their pleasures, their righteousness. If we would not have our hearts allured, and drawn off with them, the way is, to exercise our faith upon the incomparable excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can the world be to us an all-sufficient God, and a great reward? Can the world pardon our sins, save our souls, deliver us from wrath to come, reveal to us the mystery of truth from the bosom of the Father? Can it make known the mind of God? communicate grace and love to us? If it cannot, then let us dwell in our thoughts on him, who is fairer than the children of men.
[2.] The consideration of these excellencies in Christ, is exceedingly suited to increase faith and love in us. They are the proper objects in Christ of these graces. What is it we believe and love? Do not we believe in Christ, as the Son of God, as God-man in one person? Do not we love him, as he is so? Do not we believe he hath made atonement for us? And do not we believe and love the excellency of his work? Then the exercise of our thoughts upon these things, is the way to increase faith and love in us. And the great reason why we are so weak in our faith, and so cold in our love, is, because we exercise our souls no more to immediate direct thoughts upon Christ, and his excellencies. We live by reflex considerations upon the benefits of Christ; but if we could exercise our souls more directly, in daily thoughts of Christ in faith and love, we should increase more in these graces, and be more transformed into his likeness; 'beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image,' &c. 2 Cor. iii. 18. It is not such a cheap thing to be a Christian as most imagine. What wandering
thoughts have the generality of Christians about Christ, and never once examine into their thoughts, whether they have any spiritual acquaintance with him or no?
II. The second thing to consider in the words is, The endowment of Christ in his human nature, for the discharge of this great office and work, which is here ascribed unto him in this psalm, set forth by grace being poured into his lips.
And there are three things that may be observed: 1. The nature of this endowment; and that is, grace. 2. The manner of its communication, and that is, poured; it is not dropped, but poured. 3. The seat of it being communicated, grace is poured into his lips.
1. The nature of this endowment; it is grace.
Grace in Scripture is taken two ways: (1.) For inherent grace and holiness, or the graces of the Spirit. Things that are bestowed upon men, and wrought in them, they are called grace, the same as the principle of spiritual life. (2.) Grace is taken externally for favour and love. We are saved by grace,' i. e. by the free favour of God.
It is here taken in the first sense, for the internal principle of grace and holiness; this was poured into the lips of Christ. Grace, in the second sense, is also mentioned in the last clause of the verse, therefore God has blessed thee for ever.'
And we may observe, in reference to the seat of it, that it hath particular respect unto the prophetical office of Christ, whereby he discharged his duty in the revelation of the will of God. Christ did manifest and evidence grace in all he did and said in this world, as the lips are the way of, manifesting the mind.
It is the first of these things I shall chiefly discourse on, viz. The endowment that renders the human nature of Christ so exceedingly desirable and glorious, is grace.
That which rendered Christ so beautiful, so desirable, and glorious, was not secular wisdom, though there was in him the greatest fulness of all wisdom; it was not the pomp, the greatness, the glory of the world, outward ornaments, or any thing that men esteem; no, it was that which men hate and persecute, that rendered Christ so beautiful and glorious. God did not endow Christ with riches; no, he
was poor, so poor, that he had not where to lay his head; nor with bodily appearance, for he was a worm, and no man. But, saith God, I will render him glorious. How? He shall be full of grace. We saw his glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. We saw it, say they; the world saw nothing but a poor man, whom they despised; but we saw his glory. And what was that glory? He was full of grace;' John i. 14. Even the glory of Jesus Christ consists in grace.
And why doth this glory of Christ consist in grace? For these three ends:
but follow it.
Now, we left
(1.) Because in this internal grace consists the reparation of the image of God. All the glory that God thought meet to communicate to his creature man (and it was unspeakable, and all he designed him for), was to make him in his own image and likeness. This was the glory God intended; every thing else doth this image, and became as like the devil, as if we had been begotten by him; John viii. 44. We are the children of the devil, he is our father;' we are a generation of vipers, the seed of the serpent by nature. But it is grace that doth repair, and renew this image of God. It is grace that makes a representation of God unto us, and therefore doth Christ's glory consist in grace. The apostle tells us so, 2 Cor.iv. 6. 'We behold the glory of God in the face of Christ.' How is that? Why, in that abounding grace that was in Christ, there is made such a representation of God, that there we may see his likeness. It is the human nature of Christ that makes the great representation of God, because he hath all that which is the image and likeness of God, viz. grace, in the fulness of it in him.
(2.) This grace is the glory of Christ, because it is that which inclines the heart of Jesus Christ unto all that goodness and kindness that he hath shewed unto us. Whence was it that Jesus Christ loved us so, as to lay down his life for us? Whence does he continue to have compassion on us, even when we were ignorant, and wandered out of the way? It is from that abounding, unspeakable, heavenly love that was in his heart and soul, that inclined him to it. The more grace we have, the more we have of love, compassion and delight in doing the will of God, But there was that
abundance in Christ that inclined him to do all this good for us, to live, to die, to intercede for us. This makes Christ very beautiful and glorious to the eye of faith.
(3.) It is the glory of Christ, as he is the great example and pattern, whereunto we ought to labour after a conformity. When we had lost all, and wandered up and down, it was not enough that we should have a rule set us, but we must moreover have a pattern to follow; we must be like unto Christ. And there is an unconquerable desire implanted in the heart of every believer in the world, to be like unto Jesus Christ, because God hath, in the way of an ordinance, appointed him to be our pattern. And we are but trifling Christians, and a dishonour to our profession, if we make not this the design of our souls continually, that we may be in the world as Christ was; that the same mind may be in us, that was in him; Phil. ii. 5. The same meekness, humility, self-denial, faith, love, patience, that was in him.
To close, in a way of use; If this internal grace and holiness was that wherein Christ was fairer than the children of men, because grace was poured into his lips; then,
1. Let us learn to esteem it above all other things. That which rendered Christ beautiful, will render us so; not in the eyes of the world; no, it did not render Christ so to the world. The more he abounded in grace, the more they despised him. But it renders us beautiful in the sight of God, and all the holy angels, and in the judgment of all believers upon earth. If we be but like unto Christ in any measure, it will render us fair, beautiful, desirable in the eyes of all that have eyes to see, and hearts to discern it.
2. Let us not value so much the lustre, the splendour, and glory that earthly men have in earthly things, in their riches, power, honour, and the like. How apt are we to fret ourselves sometimes at the thoughts of these things, and think they have a peculiar happiness; that they are so great and glorious as they appear, and make a shew of: but God knows, there is nothing in them but what is the object of his contempt, and of all the saints and angels, and will be so to all eternity.
Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.-Psal. xlv. 3.
In the second verse, we have a description of the person of Christ, and of the ground of God's blessing, and accepting of him in his work; the psalm having a double design; first, To shew the glory of Christ in his kingly office. Secondly, To shew the mutual love that is between Christ and his church.
This third verse sets forth his entering upon the first part of his work, and is spoken by the way of encouragement unto Christ in the name of God the Father, to undertake his office, and to go through with it. Gird thy sword,' saith he, 'upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.'
There are three things in the words:
I. The work that is proposed unto Jesus Christ, or rather his preparation for his work; Gird thy sword upon thy thigh.'
II. The manner how he should go through this work; 'With thy glory and thy majesty.' And that which I shall
particularly enlarge on.
III. The appellation that is here given to Christ, which is, most Mighty. He is most mighty in the execution of his office, which he is exalted unto.
I. We have Christ's preparation for his work, Gird thy sword on thy thigh.' Consider two things: 1. What is the sword of Christ; 2. What is meant by girding this sword upon his thigh.
1. The sword of Christ is the word of God; so it is called, 'the sword of the Spirit,' which is the word of God. Eph. vi. 17. The Spirit being the great immediate agent, whereby Christ administers his kingdom. That which is the sword of the Spirit, is the sword of Christ. And there- . fore, where Christ is described in his kingdom, it is said,
• This sermon was preached at Stadham, June 21, 1674.