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appear before them, and called them to an account for what they had done. They asked them particularly by what power, or by what name they had wrought the miracle on the impotent man. Upon which Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, makes answer, “Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel....Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” In the verse of the text the apostle mentions to them as now sulfilled, that in the l l 8th Psalm verse 22. “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” This text, in that psalm, the apostle applies to them : 1. By telling them, This is the stone, i. e. this person of whom he had spoken in the foregoing verse, viz. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, and whom God had raised from the dead. 2. By telling them, that they were the builders spoken of. They, before whom the apostle then was, and to whom he was speaking, were rulers and elders and scribes of the people, the high priest and other priests. They, as they were set to be rulers and teachers among God’s people, by their office, were called to be builders of the church of God. 3. By telling them, that they had set this stone at nought. They had so done by refusing to accept of him. Christ came to his own, and his own received him not; and not only so, but they had openly manifested the greatest contempt of him. They had mocked him, scourged and spit upon him, and in derision crowned him with a crown of thorns, and arrayed him in a mock robe, and then had put him to a most ignominious death. 4. By telling them, that notwithstanding this, he was become the head of the corner. In spite of all that they could do, he had obtained the chief place in the building. God had made him the main foundation of it, by raising him from the dead, and so putting great honor upon him, and by pouring out his Spirit, and enduing his disciples with extraordinary gifts, and by suddenly converting so many thousands to be the followers of Christ. They put him to death that he might have no followers, concluding that that would utterly put an end to his interest in Judea. But they were greatly disappointed; For the gospel had incomparably greater success after Christ's death than before. God had accomplished that very thing which they endeavored to prevent by Christ's crucifixion, viz. Christ’s being believed in and submitted to, as the great Prophet of God and Prince of his people.
Unbelievers set nothing by all the glory and excellency in Christ.
I. They set nothing by the excellency of his person. Christ is a great and glorious person, a person of infinite worthiness, on which account he is infinitely esteemed and loved of the Father, and is continually adored by the angels. But unbelievers have no esteem at all of him on that account. They have no value at all of him on account of his being the Son of God. He is not set the higher in their esteem on the account of his standing in so near and honorable a relation to God the Father. He is not valued at all the more for his being a divine person, or one that is God. By his having the divine nature, he is infinitely exalted above all created beings. But he is not at all exalted by it in their esteem. They set nothing by his infinite Majesty. His glorious brightness and greatness excite not any true respect or reverence in them.
Christ is the holy one of God: He is so holy that the heavens are not pure in his sight. He is possessed of all that holiness which is the infinite beauty and loveliness of the divine nature. But an unbeliever sets nothing by the holiness of Christ. Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God, as he is called, 1 Cor. i. 24. But an unbeliever sets nothing by his power and wisdom. The Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace and mercy; the mercy and love of God appear no where else so brightly and gloriously as they do in the face of Jesus Christ. But an unbeliever sets no value at all upon the infinite grace of Christ.
Neither do unbelievers set any thing by those excellent virtues which appeared in Christ's human nature when he was upon earth. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; he was meek and lowly of heart; he was patient under afflictions and injuries; when he was reviled, he reviled not again. But unbelievers set nothing by these things in Jesus Christ. They very often hear how excellent and glorious a person Christ is; they are told of his holiness, and grace, and condescension, and meekness, and have the excellencies of Christ plainly set forth to them ; yet they set all at nought.
II. They set nothing by his excellency in his work and of. fice. They are told how glorious and complete a Mediator he is, how sufficient to answer all our necessities, and to save sinners to the uttermost; but they make light of it all; yeathey make nothing of it. They hear of the wonderful wisdom of God in contriving such a way of salvation by Christ, they have the manifold wisdom of God set forth to them; but they set nothing by this wisdom, nor do they make any account of the excellency of this way of salvation.
The unbeliever hears what a wonderful thing it was, that he who was in the form of God, and esteemed it no robbery to be equal with God, should take upon him the human nature, and come and live in this world in a mean and low condition ; but he makes nothing of this. He hears much of the dying love of Christ to sinners, how wonderful it was that so glorious a person, who is infinitely above the angels, should so set his love on such worms of the dust, so much below him, on such sinful creatures, who were his enemies, as to come and be made a curse for them, and die a cruel and ignominious death in their stead ; but he sets nothing by all this. This dying łove of Christ is a thing of no account with him; those great
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things that Christ hath done and suffered are with him light matters, things of no weight at all.
Unbelievers not only set little by the glory and excellency of Christ, but they set nothing by these things. Notwithstanding all the shows and pretences which many natural men make of respect to Christ, by speaking honorably of Christin their prayers, and in their common conversation, and by coming to sacraments, and attending other ordinances of Christ; yet indeed they do not set so much by all the glory and excellency of Christ, either the glory of his person, or the glory of his work as a Saviour, as they do by the smallest earthly enjoyment.
I proceed now to mention some evidences of the truth of this doctrine.
1. They never give Christ any honor on the account of this his glory and excellency. They may, and often do pay Christ an external and seeming respect; but they do not honor Christ in their hearts. They have no exalting thoughts of Christ, no inward respect or reverence towards him ; they have indeed no honorable, respectful thoughts of Christ. All their outward worship is only feigned ; hone of it arises from any real honor or respect in their hearts towards Christ. It is either only for fashion's sake, and in compliance with custom, or else it is forced, and is what they are driven to by fear, as we read, Psalm lxvi. 3. “Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.” In the original it is, shall thine enemies lie unto thee, i.e. yield a feigned obedience. Through the greatness of Christ's power, and for fear of his wrath, his enemies, who have no respect or honor for him in their hearts, will lie to him, and make a show of respect when they have none.
An unbeliever is not sensible that Christ is worthy of any glory, and therefore does not at all seek the glory of Christin any thing that he does ; he does nothing that he does in religion, out of respect to Christ's glory, but wholly for other ends; which shows that he sees not Christ to be worthy of any glory. Christ is set last and lowest in the heart of an unbeliever. He has high thoughts of other things; he has high thoughts of creature objects and earthly enjoyments, but mean and low thoughts of Christ. He has more honorable thoughts of that which is but mere dirt and dung, than he has of Jesus Christ. . The unbeliever shows the mean and contemptible thoughts that he has of Christ, in refusing to accept of him, and in shutting the door of his heart against him. Christ stands at the door and knocks, and sometimes stands many years knocking at the door of his heart, and he refuses to open to him. Now it certainly shows that men have a very mean thought of a person, when they shut him out of their doors. Unbelievers show the mean and dishonorable thoughts they have of Christ, in that they dare not trust him. They believe not what he says to be true ; they will not trust the word of Christ, so far as the word of one of their honest neighbors, or of a servant whom they have found to be faithful. It also appears that they have no real honor for Christ in their hearts, in that they refuse to obey his commands. They do nothing that they do from a spirit of obedience to him; and that external obedience which they render, is but a forced, feigned obedience, and not from any respect to Christ’s authority or worthiness to be obeyed. 2. They have no love to him on the account of his glory and excellency. If they did set any thing by all the glory and excellency of Christ, or if they saw any excellency or glory in in Christ, they would have some measure of love to Christ. But the truth is, they see no form or comeliness in Christ, and hence they have no love at all to Christ: An unbeliever never exercises one act of true love to Christ. All that he is told of the glory of Christ, of his divine perfections, of his holiness, his meekness, and grace, has no influence at all to draw forth any love. The display of these things doth no more draw forth love out of the heart of an unbeliever, than it draws forth love from the stones and rocks.