Chapter V

The Person of Christ the great Representative of God and his Will

What may be known of God, is,--his nature and existence, with the holy
counsels of his will. A representation of them unto us is the
foundation of all religion, and the means of our conformity unto him--
wherein our present duty and future blessedness do consist. For to
know God, so as thereby to be made like unto him, is the chief end of
man. This is done perfectly only in the person of Christ, all other
means of it being subordinate thereunto, and none of them of the same
nature therewithal. The end of the Word itself, is to instruct us in
the knowledge of God in Christ. That, therefore, which I shall now
demonstrate, is, that in the person and mediation of Christ (which are
inseparable, in all the respects of faith unto him) there is made unto
us a blessed representation of the glorious properties of the divine
nature, and of the holy counsels of the will of God. The first of
these I shall speak unto in this chapter--the other, in that which
ensues; wherein we shall manifest how all divine truths do centre in
the person of Christ and the consideration of sundry things is
necessary unto the explication hereof.

1. God, in his own essence, being, and existence, is absolutely
incomprehensible. His nature being immense, and all his holy
properties essentially infinite, no creature can directly or perfectly
comprehend them, or any of them. He must be infinite that can
perfectly comprehend that which is infinite; wherefore God is
perfectly known unto himself only--but as for us, how little a portion
is heard of him! Hence he is called "The invisible God," and said to
dwell in "light inaccessible." The subsistence of his most single and
simple nature in three distinct persons, though it raises and ennobles
faith in its revelation, yet it amazeth reason which would trust to
itself in the contemplation of it--whence men grow giddy who will own
no other guide, and are carried out of the way of truth. "No man has
seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of
the Father, he has declared him:" John 1: 18; 1 Tim. 6: 16.

2. Therefore, we can have no direct intuitive notions or
apprehensions of the divine essence, or its properties. Such knowledge
is too wonderful for us. Whatever is pleaded for an intellectual
vision of the essence of God in the light of glory, yet none pretend
unto a possibility of an immediate, full comprehension of it. But, in
our present state, God is unto us, as he was unto Moses under all the
external manifestations of his glory, "in thick darkness.:" Exod. 20:
21. All the rational conceptions of the minds of men are swallowed up
and lost, when they would exercise themselves directly on that which
is absolutely immense, eternal, infinite. When we say it is to, we
know not what we say, but only that it is not otherwise. What we

  • deny* of God, we know in some measure--but what we *affirm* we know not; only we declare what we believe and adore. "Neque sensus est
    ejus, neque phantsia, neque opinio, nec ratio, nec scientia", says
    Dionys. De Divan. Nomine, 1. We have no means--no corporeal, no
    intellectual instrument or power--for the comprehension of him; nor
    has any other creature: "Epei auto hoper estin ho Theos, ou monon
    profetai, all' oude angeloi eidon, oute archangeloi; all' ean
    erooteseis autous, akousei peri men tes ousias ouden apokrinomenous;
    doxa de en hupsistois monon aidontas tooi Theooi; kain para toon
    Cheroubim e toon Serafim epithumeseis ti mathein, to mustikon tou
    hagiasmou melos akousei, kai hoti pleres ho ouranos kai he ge tes
    doxes autou.--"For that which is God" (the essence of God) "not only
    have not the prophets seen, but neither the angels nor the archangels.
    If thou wilt inquire of them, thou shalt hear nothing of the substance
    of God, but only hear them say, 'glory to God in the highest.' If thou
    askest the cherubim and seraphim, thou shalt only hear the praise of
    holiness, 'The whole earth is full of his glory,'" says Chrysostom, on
    John 1: 18. That God is in himself absolutely incomprehensible unto
    us, is a necessary effect of our infinite distance from him. But as he
    externally represents himself unto us, and by the notions which are in
    generated in us by the effects of his properties, are our conceptions
    of him: Ps. 19: l; Rom. 1: 20. This is declared in the answer given
    unto that request of Moses: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory:" Exod.
    33: 18. Moses had heard a voice speaking unto him, but he that spoke
    was "in thick darkness"--he saw him not. Glorious evidences he gave of
    his majestatical presence, but no appearance was made of his essence
    or person. Hereon Moses desireth, for the full satisfaction of his
    soul, (as the nearer any one is unto God the more ernest will be his
    desire after the full fruition of him,) that he might have a sight of
    his glory--not of that created glory in the tokens of his presence and
    power which he had beheld, but of the untreated glory of his essence
    and being. Through a transport of love to God, he would have been in
    heaven while he was on the earth; yea, desired more than heaven itself
    will afford, if he would have seen the essence of God with his
    corporeal eyes. In answer hereunto God tells him, that he cannot see
    his face and live; none can have either bodily sight or direct mental
    intuition of the Divine Being. But this I will do, saith God, "I will
    make my glory pass before thee, and thou shalt see my back parts:"
    Exod. 33: 18-23, &c. This is all that God would grant, viz, such
    external representations of himself, in the proclamation of his name,
    and created appearances of his glory, as we have of a man whose back
    parts only we behold as he passeth by us. But as to the being of God,
    and his subsistence in the Trinity of persons, we have no direct
    intuition into them, much less comprehension of them.

    3. It is evident, therefore, that our conceptions of God, and of the
    glorious properties of his nature, are both in generated in us and
    regulated, under the conduct of divine revelation, by reflections of
    his glory on other things, and representations of his divine
    excellencies in the effects of them. So the invisible things of God,
    even his eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen, being manifested
    and understood by the things that are made: Rom. 1: 20. Yet must it be
    granted that no mere creature, not the angels above, not the heaven of
    heavens, are meet or able to receive upon them such characters of the
    divine excellencies, as to be a complete, satisfactory representation
    of the being and properties of God unto us. They are all finite and
    limited and so cannot properly represent that which is infinite and
    immense. And this is the true reason why all worship or religious
    adoration of them is idolatry. Yet are there such effects of God's
    glory in them, such impressions of divine excellencies upon them, as
    we cannot comprehend nor search out unto perfection. How little do we
    conceive of the nature, glory, and power of angels! So remote are we
    from an immediate comprehension of the untreated glory of Gods as that
    we cannot fully apprehend nor conceive aright the reflection of it on
    creatures in themselves finite and limited. Hence, they thought of
    old, when they had seen an angels that so much of the divine
    perfections had been manifested unto them that thereon they must die:
    Judges 13: 21, 22. Howbeit, they [the angels] come infinitely short of
    making any complete representation of God; nor is it otherwise with
    any creature whatever.

    4. Mankind seem to have always had a common apprehension that there
    was need of a nearer and more full representation of God unto them
    than was made in any of the works of creation or providence. The
    heavens indeed declared his glory, and the firmament always showed his
    handy-work--the invisible things of his eternal power and godhead were
    continually made known by the things that are made; but men generally
    miscarried and missed it in the contemplation of them, as the apostle
    declares, Rom 1. For still they were influenced by a common
    presumption, that there must be a nearer and more evident
    manifestation of God--that made by the works of creation and
    providence being not sufficient to guide them unto him. But in the
    pursuit hereof they utterly ruined themselves; they would do what God
    had not done. By common consent they framed representations of God
    unto themselves; and were so besotted therein, that they utterly lost
    the benefit which they might have received by the manifestation of him
    in the works of the creation, and took up with most foolish
    imaginations. For whereas they might have learned from thence the
    being of God, his infinite wisdom, power, and goodness--viz., in the
    impressions and characters of them on the things that were made--in
    their own representations of him, they "changed the glory of the
    invisible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to
    birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things:" Rom. 1: 23.
    Wherefore this common presumption--that there was no way to attain a
    due sense of the Divine Being but by some representation of it--though
    true in itself, yet, by the craft of Satan, and foolish superstitions
    of the minds of men, became the occasion of all idolatry and
    flagitious wickedness in the world. Hence were all those "epifaneiai",
    or supposed "illustrious appearances" of their gods, which Satan
    deluded the gentiles by; and hence were all the ways which they
    devised to bring God into human nature, or the likeness of it.
    Wherefore, in all the revelations that ever God made of himself, his
    mind and will, he always laid this practice of making representations
    of him under the most severe interdict and prohibition. And this he
    did evidently for these two reasons:--

    (1.) Because it was a bold and foolish entrenching upon his
    provisional wisdom in the case. He had taken care that there should be
    a glorious image and representation of himself, infinitely above what
    any created wisdom could find out. But as, when Moses went into the
    mount, the Israelites would not wait for his return, but made a calf
    in his stead; so mankind--refusing to wait for the actual exhibition
    of that glorious image of himself which God had provided--broke in
    upon his wisdom and sovereignty, to make some of their own. For this
    cause was God so provoked, that he gave them up to such stupid
    blindness, that in those things wherein they thought to show
    themselves wise, and to bring God nearer unto them, they became
    contemptibly foolish--abased their nature, and all the noble faculties
    of their minds unto hell, and departed unto the utmost distance from
    God, whom they sought to bring nest unto them.

    (2.) Because nothing that can fall into the invention or imagination
    of men could make any other but false representations of him, and so
    substitute an idol in his place. His own immediate works have great
    characters of his divine excellencies upon them, though unto us
    obscure and not clearly legible without the light of revelation.
    Somewhat he did, of old, represent of his glorious presence--though
    not of his being--in the visible institutions of his worship. But all
    men's inventions to this end, which are neither divine works of
    nature, nor divine institutions of worship, are all but false
    representations of God, and therefore accursed by him.

    Wherefore it is granted, that God has placed many characters of his
    divine excellencies upon his works of creation and providence--many
    [characters] of his glorious presence upon the tabernacle and temple
    of old--but none of these things ever did or could give such a
    representation of him as wherein the souls of men might fully
    acquiesce, or obtain such conceptions of him as might enable them to
    worship and honour him in a due manner. They cannot, I say--by all
    that may be seen in them, and learned from them--represent God as the
    complete object of all our affections, of all the acting of our souls
    in faith, trust, love, fear, obedience, in that way whereby he may be
    glorified, and we may be brought unto the everlasting fruition of him.
    This, therefore, is yet to be inquired after. Wherefore--

    5. A mere external doctrinal revelation of the divine nature and
    properties, without any exemplification or real representation of
    them, was not sufficient unto the end of God in the manifestation of
    himself. This is done in the Scripture. But the whole Scripture is
    built on this foundation, or proceeds on this supposition--that there
    is a real representation of the divine nature unto us, which it
    declares and describes. And as there was such a notion on the minds of
    all men, that some representation of God, wherein he might be near
    unto them, was necessary--which arose from the consideration of the
    infinite distance between the divine nature and their own, which
    allowed of no measures between them--so, as unto the event, God
    himself has declared that, in his own way, such a representation was
    needful--unto that end of the manifestation of himself which he
    designed. For--

    6. All this is done in the person of Christ. He is the complete image
    and perfect representation of the Divine Being and excellencies. I do
    not speak of it absolutely, but as God proposeth himself as the object
    of our faith, trust, and obedience. Hence it is God, as the Father,
    who is so peculiarly represented in him and by him; as he says: "He
    that has seen me has seen the Father:" John 14: 9.

    Unto such a representation two things are required:--(1.) That all
    the properties of the divine nature--the knowledge whereof is
    necessary unto our present obedience and future blessedness--be
    expressed in it, and manifested unto us. (2.) That there be, therein,
    the nearest approach of the divine nature made unto us, whereof it is
    capable, and which we can receive. And both these are found in the
    person of Christ, and therein alone.

    In the person of Christ we consider both the constitution of it in
    the union of his natures, and the respect of it unto his work of
    mediation, which was the end of that constitution. And--

    (1.) Therein, as so considered, is there a blessed representation
    made unto us of all the holy properties of the nature of God--of his
    wisdom, his power, his goodness, grace, and love, his righteousness,
    truth, and holiness, his mercy and patience. As this is affirmed
    concerning them all in general, or the glory of God in them, which is
    seen and known only in the face of Christ, so it were easy to manifest
    the same concerning every one of them in particular, by express
    testimonies of Scripture. But I shall at present confine myself unto
    the proofs of the whole assertion which do ensue.

    (2.) There is, therein, the most incomprehensible approach of the
    divine nature made unto ours, such as all the imaginations of men did
    ever infinitely fall short of--as has been before declared. In the
    assumption of our nature into personal union with himself, and our
    cognition unto God thereby, with the union which believers obtain with
    him thereon--being one in the Father and the Son, as the Father is in
    the Son, and the Son in the Father, (John 17: 20, 21,)--there is the
    nearest approach of the Divine Being unto us that the nature of things
    is capable of. Both these ends were designed in those representations
    of God which were of human invention; but in both of them they utterly
    failed. For, instead of representing any of the glorious properties of
    the nature of God, they debased it, dishonoured it, and filled the
    minds of men with vile conceptions of it; and instead of bringing God
    nearer unto them, they put themselves at an infinite moral distance
    from him. But my design is the confirmation of our assertions from the

    "He is the image of the invisible God:" Col. 1: 15. This title or
    property of "invisible," the apostle here gives unto God, to show what
    need there was of an image or representation of him unto us, as well
    as of one in whom he would declare the counsels of his will. For he
    intends not only the absolute invisibility of his essence, but his
    being unknown unto us in himself. Wherefore, (as was before observed,)
    mankind was generally prone to make visible representations of this
    invisible God, that, in them, they might contemplate on him and have
    him present with them, as they foolishly imagined. Unto the craft of
    Satan abusing this inclination of mankind, idolatry owes its original
    and progress in the world: howbeit, necessary it was that this
    invisible God should be so represented unto us by some image of him,
    as that we might know him, and that therein he might be worshipped
    according unto his own mind and will. But this must be of his own
    contrivance--an effect of his own infinite wisdom. Hence, as he
    absolutely rejecteth all images and representations of him of men's
    devising, (for the reasons before mentioned,) and declares that the
    honour that any should think would thereby redound unto him was not
    given unto him, but unto the devil; so that which he has provided
    himself, unto his own holy ends and purposes, is every way approved of
    him. For he will have "all men honour the Son, even as they honour the
    Father;" and so as that "he who honoureth not the God, honoureth not
    the Father:" John 5: 23.

    This image, therefore, is the person of Christ; "he is the image of
    the invisible God." This, in the first place, respects the divine
    person absolutely, as he is the essential image of the Father: which
    must briefly be declared.

    1. The Son is sometimes said to be "en Patri", "in the Father," and
    the Father in the Son: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father,
    and the Father in me?" John 14: 10. This is from the unity or sameness
    of their nature--for he and the Father are one: John 10: 30. Thence
    all things that the Father has are his, (chap. 16: 15,) because their
    nature is one and the same. With respect unto the divine essence
    absolutely considered, wherein the Father is in the Son, and the Son
    in the Father, the one cannot be said to be the image of the other.
    For he and the Father are one; and one and the same thing cannot be
    the image of itself, in that wherein it is one.

    2. The Son is said not only to be "en Patri", "in the Father," in the
    unity of the same essence; but also "pros ton Patera" or "Theon",
    "with the Father," or "with God," in the distinction of his person:
    "The Word was with God, and the Word was God:" John 1: 1. "The Word
    was God," in the unity of the divine essence--and "the Word was with
    God," in its distinct personal subsistence. "The Word"-- that is, the
    person of the Son, as distinct from the Fathers" was with God," or the
    Father. And in this respect he is the essential image of the Father,
    as he is called in this place, and Heb. 1: 3; and that because he
    partakes of all the same divine properties with the Father.

    But although the Father, on the other side, be partaker of all the
    essential divine properties of the Son, yet is not he said to be the
    image of the Son. For this property of an image respects not the
    things themselves, but the manner of the participation of them. Now
    the Son receives all from the Father, and the Father nothing from the
    Son. Whatever belongs unto the person of the Son, as the person of the
    Son, he receives it all from the Father by eternal generation: "For as
    the Father has life in himself, so has he given unto the Son to have
    life in himself:" John 5: 26. He is therefore the essential image of
    the Father, because all the properties of the divine nature are
    communicated unto him together with personality --from the Father.

    3. In his incarnation, the Son was made the representative image of
    God unto us--as he was, in his person, the essential image of the
    Father, by eternal generation. The invisible God--Whose nature and
    divine excellencies our understandings can make no approach unto--does
    in him represent, exhibit, or make present unto our faith and
    spiritual sense, both himself and all the glorious excellencies of his

    Wherefore our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, may be considered
    three ways.

    1. Merely with respect unto his divine nature. This is one and the
    same with that of the Father. In this respect the one is not the image
    of the other, for both are the same.

    2. With respect unto his divine person as the Son of the Father, the
    only-begotten, the eternal Son of God. Thus he receives, as his
    personality, so all divine excellencies, from the Father; so he is the
    essential image of the Father's person.

    3. As he took our nature upon him, or in the assumption of our nature
    into personal union with himself, in order unto the work of his
    mediation. So is he the only representative image of God unto us--in
    whom alone we see, know, and learn all the divine excellencies--so as
    to live unto God, and be directed unto the enjoyment of him. All this
    himself instructs us in.

    He reflects it on the Pharisees, as an effect of their blindness and
    ignorance, that they had neither heard the voice of God at any time,
    nor seen his shape: John 5: 37. And in opposition hereunto he tells
    his disciples, that they had known the Father, and seen him: chap. 14:
    7. And the reason he gives thereof is, because they that knew him,
    knew the Father also. And when one of his disciples, not yet
    sufficiently instructed in this mystery, replied, "Lord, show us the
    Father, and it sufficeth us," (verse 8,) his answer is, "Have I been
    so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? He that has
    seen me has seen the Father:" verse 9.

    Three things are required unto the justification of this assertion.

    1. That the Father and he be of the same nature, have the same
    essence and being. For otherwise it would not follow that he who had
    seen him had seen the Father also. This ground of it he declares in
    the next verse: "The Father is in me, and I am in the Father" namely,
    because they were one in nature and essence. For the divine nature
    being simply the same in them all, the divine persons are in each
    other, by virtue of the oneness of that nature.

    2. That he be distinct from him. For otherwise there cannot be a
    seeing of the Father by the seeing of him. He is seen in the Son as
    represented by him--as his image--the Word--the Son of the Father, as
    he was with God. The unity of nature and the distinction of persons is
    the ground of that assertion of our Saviour: "He that has seen me, has
    seen the Father also."

    3. But, moreover, the Lord Christ has a respect herein unto himself,
    in his entire person as he was incarnate, and therein unto the
    discharge of his mediatory work. "Have I been so long time with you,
    and hast thou not known me?" Whilst he was with them, dwelt among
    them, conversed with them, he was the great representative of the
    glory of God unto them. And, notwithstanding this particular mistake,
    they did then see his glory, "the glory of the only-begotten of the
    Father:" John 1: 14. And in him was manifested the glory of the
    Father. He "is the image of the invisible God." In him God was, in him
    he dwelt, in him is he known, in him is he worshipped according unto
    his own will, in him is there a nearer approach made unto us by the
    divine nature than ever could enter into the heart of man to conceive.
    In the constitution of his person--of two natures, so infinitely
    distinct and separate in themselves--and in the work it was designed
    unto, the wisdom, power, goodness, love, grace, mercy, holiness, and
    faithfulness of God, are manifested unto us. This is the one blessed
    "image of the invisible God," wherein we may learn, wherein we may
    contemplate and adore, all his divine perfections.

    The same truth is testified unto, Heb. 1: 3. God spoke unto us in the
    Son, who is "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his
    person." His divine nature is here included, as that without which he
    could not have made a perfect representation of God unto us. For the
    apostle speaks of him, as of him "by whom the worlds were made," and
    who "upholdeth all things by the word of his power." Yet does he not
    speak of him absolutely as he was God, but also as he who "in himself
    purged our sins, and sat down at the right hand of the majesty on
    high;" that is, in his whole person. Herein he is "apaugasma tes
    doxes", the effulgency, the resplendency of divine glory, that wherein
    the divine glory shines forth in an evident manifestation of itself
    unto us. And as a farther explication of the same mystery, it is
    added, that he is the character or "express image" of the person of
    the Father. Such an impression of all the glorious properties of God
    is on him, as that thereby they become legible unto all them that

    So the same apostle affirms again that he is the "image of God," 2
    Cor. 4: 4; in what sense, and unto what end, he declares, verse 6: "We
    have the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ".
    Still it is supposed that the glory of God, as essentially in him, is
    invisible unto us, and incomprehensible by us. Yet is there a
    knowledge of it necessary unto us, that we may live unto him, and come
    unto the enjoyment of him. This we obtain only in the face or person
    of Christ--"en prosoopooi tou Christou"; for in him that glory is
    represented unto us.

    This was the testimony which the apostles gave concerning him, when
    he dwelt among them in the days of his flesh. They saw "his glory, the
    glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth:"
    John 1: 14. The divine glory was manifest in him, and in him they saw
    the glory of the Father. So the same apostle witnesses again, who
    recorded this testimony: "For the life was manifested, and we have
    seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which
    was with the Father, and was manifested unto us:" 1 John 1: 14. In the
    Son incarnate, that eternal life which was originally in and with the
    Father was manifest unto us.

    It may be said, that the Scripture itself is sufficient for this end
    of the declaration of God unto us, so that there is no need of any
    other representation of him; and [that] these things serve only to
    turn the minds of men from learning the mind and will of God therein,
    to seek for all in the person of Christ. But the true end of proposing
    these things is, to draw men unto the diligent study of the Scripture,
    wherein alone they are revealed and declared. And in its proper use,
    and unto its proper end, it is perfect and most sufficient. It is
    "logos tou Theou--"the word of God;" howbeit it is not "logos
    ousioodes", the internal, essential Word of God--but "logos
    proforikos", the external word spoken by him. It is not, therefore,
    nor can be, the image of God, either essential or representative; but
    is the revelation and declaration of it unto us, without which we can
    know nothing of it.

    Christ is the image of the invisible God, the express image of the
    person of the Father; and the principal end of the whole Scripture,
    especially of the gospel, is to declare him so to be, and how he is
    so. What God promised by his prophets in the holy Scriptures
    concerning his Son, Jesus Christ, that is fully declared in the
    Gospel: Rom. 1: 1-4. The gospel is the declaration of Christ as "the
    power of God, and the wisdom of God," 1 Cor. 1: 23, 24; or an evident
    representation of God in his person and mediation unto us: Gal. 3: 1.
    Wherefore three things are herein to be considered.

    1. "Objectum reale et formale fidei"--"the real, formal object of our
    faith in this matter. This is the person of Christ, the Son of God
    incarnate, the representative image of the glory of God unto us; as in
    the testimonies insisted on.

    2. "Medium revelans", or "lumen deferens"--the means of its
    revelation, or the objective light whereby the perception and
    knowledge of it is conveyed unto our minds. This is the gospel;
    compared unto a glass because of the prospect which we have of the
    image of God therein: 2 Cor. 3: 18. But without it--by any other
    means, and not by it--we can behold nothing of this image of God.

    3. "Lumen praeparans, elevans, disponens subjectum"--"the internal
    light of the mind in the saving illumination of the Holy Spirit,
    enabling us--by that means, and in the use of it--spiritually to
    behold and discern the glory of God in the face of Christ: 2 Cor. 4:

    Through both these, in their several ways of operation, there
    proceedeth--from the real object of our faith, Christ, as the image of
    God-a transforming power, whereby the soul is changed into the same
    image, or is made conformable unto Christ; which is that whereunto we
    are predestinated. But we may yet a little farther contemplate on
    these things, in some instances wherein the glory of God and our own
    duty are concerned.

    1. The glory of God's wisdom is exalted, and the pride of the
    imaginations of men is proportionally debased. And in these two
    consists the real foundation of all religion in our souls. This God
    designed in the dispensation of himself and his will, 1 Cor. 1: 29,
    31; this he calls us unto, Isa. 2: 22; Zech 2: 13. As this frame of
    heart is prevalent in us, so do all other graces shine and flourish.
    And it is that which influences all our duties, so far as they are
    acceptable unto God. And there is no truth more instructive unto it
    than that before us. It is taken for granted--and the event has
    demonstrated it to be so--that some express representation should be
    made of God unto us, wherein we might contemplate the glorious
    excellencies of his nature, and he might draw nigh unto us, and be
    present with us. This, therefore, men attempted to effect and
    accomplish; and this God alone has performed, and could so do. And
    their several ways for this end are herein manifest. As the way
    whereby God has done it is the principal exaltation of his infinite
    wisdom and goodness, (as shall be immediately more fully declared,) so
    the way whereby men attempted it was the highest instance of
    wickedness and folly. It is, as we have declared, in Christ alone that
    God has done it. And that therein he has exalted and manifested the
    riches, the treasures of his infinite wisdom and goodness, is that
    which the Gospel, the Spirit, and the church, do give testimony unto.
    A more glorious effect of divine wisdom and goodness, a more
    illustrious manifestation of them, there never was, nor ever shall be,
    than in the finding out and constitution of this way of the
    representation of God unto us. The ways of men, for the same end, Were
    so far from giving a right representation of the perfections of the
    divine nature, that they were all of them below, beneath, and unworthy
    of our own. For in nothing did the blindness, darkness, and folly of
    our nature, in its depraved condition, ever so exert and evidence
    themselves, as in contriving ways for the representation of God unto
    us--that is, in idolatry, the worst and vilest of evils: so Ps. 115: 4-
    8; Isa. 44; Rev. 9: l9, 20, &c. This pride and folly of men was that
    which lost all knowledge of God in the world, and all obedience unto
    him. The ten commandment are but a transcript of the light and law of
    nature. The first of these required that God--the only true God--the
    Creator and Governor of all--should be acknowledged, worshipped,
    believed in, and obeyed. And the second was, that we should not make
    unto ourselves any image or representation of him. Whatever he would
    do himself, yet he strictly forbade that we should make any such unto
    ourselves. And here began the apostasy of the world from God. They did
    not absolutely reject him, and so cast off the *first* fundamental
    precept of the law of nature--but they submitted not unto his wisdom
    and authority in the *next*, which was evidently educed from it. They
    would make images and representations of him unto themselves; and by
    this invention of their own, they first dishonoured him, and then
    forsook him, giving themselves up unto the rule and service of the
    devil. Wherefore, as the way that God in infinite wisdom found out for
    the representation of himself unto us, was the only means of recovery
    from the first apostasy--the way found out by men, unto the same end,
    was the great means of casting the generality of mankind unto the
    farthest degree of a new apostasy from God whereof our nature is
    capable. And of the same kind will all our contrivances be found to
    begin what belongs unto his worship and glory--though, unto us, they
    may appear both pious and necessary. This, therefore, should lead us
    into a continual admiration of the wisdom and grace of God, with a due
    sense of our own vileness and baseness by nature. For we are in
    nothing better or wiser than they who fell into the utmost folly and
    wickedness, in their designs for the highest end, or the
    representation of God unto us. The more we dwell on such
    considerations, the more fear and reverence of God, with faith, trust,
    and delight in him, will be increased--as also humility in ourselves,
    with a sense of divine grace and love.

    2. There is a peculiar ground of the spiritual efficacy of this
    representation of God. The revelations that he has made of himself,
    and of the glorious properties of his nature, in the works of creation
    and providence, are, in themselves, clear, plain, and manifest: Ps.
    19: l, 2; Rom. 1: 19, 20. Those which are made in Christ are sublime
    and mysterious. Howbeit, the knowledge we have of him as he is
    represented unto us in Christ is far more clear, certain, steady,
    effectual and operative, than any we can attain in and by all other
    ways of revelation. The reason hereof is, not only because there is a
    more full and extensive revelation made of God, his counsels and his
    will, in Christ and the gospel, than in all the works of creation and
    providence; but because this revelation and representation of God is
    received by faith alone, the other by reason only: and it is faith
    that is the principle of spiritual light and life in us. What is
    received thereby is operative and effectual, unto all the ends of the
    life of God. For we live by faith here, as we shall by sight
    hereafter. Reason alone--especially as it is corrupted and depraved--
    can discern no glory in the representation of God by Chn6t; yes, all
    that is spoken thereof, or declared in the Gospel, is foolishness unto
    it. Hence many live in a profession of the faith of the letter of the
    Gospel, yet--having no light, guide, nor conduct, but that of reason--
    they do not, they cannot, really behold the glory of God in the face
    of Jesus Christ; nor has the revelation of it any efficacy upon their
    souls. The manifestation of him in the light of nature, by the works
    of creation and providence, is suited unto their reason, and does
    affect it: for that [manifestation] which is made in Christ, they say
    of it, as the Israelites did of manna, that came down from heaven,
    "What is it?" we know not the meaning of it. For it is made unto faith
    alone, and all men have not faith. And where God shines into the
    heart, by that faith which is of divine operation--there, with "open
    face, we behold the glory of God, as in a glass;" or have the
    knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. There is
    not the meanest believer, but--in the real exercise of faith in Christ
    has more glorious apprehensions of God, his wisdom, goodness, and
    grace, of all his glorious excellencies, than the most learned and
    wise in the world can attain unto, in the exercise of reason on the
    proper objects of it. So are these things opposed by the apostle, 1
    Cor. 1. Wherefore, faith in Christ is the only means of the true
    knowledge of God; and the discoveries which are made of him and his
    excellencies thereby are those stone which are effectual to conform us
    unto his image and likeness. And this is the reason why some men are
    so little affected with the Gospel--notwithstanding the continual
    preaching of it unto them, and their outward profession of it. It does
    not inwardly affect them, it produceth no blessed effects in them.
    Some sense they have of the power of God in the works of creation and
    providence, in his rule and government, and in the workings of natural
    conscience. Beyond these, they have no real sense of him. The reason
    is, because they have not faith--whereby alone the representation that
    is made of God in Christ, and declared in the gospel, is made
    effectual unto the souls of men. Wherefore--

    3. It is the highest degeneracy from the mystery of the Christian
    religion, for men to satisfy themselves in natural discoveries of the
    Divine Being and excellencies, without an acquaintance with that
    perfect declaration and representation of them which is made in the
    person of Christ, as he is revealed and declared in the Gospel. It is
    confessed that there may be good use made of the evidence which reason
    gives or takes from its own innate principles--with the consideration
    of the external works of divine wisdom and power--concerning the being
    and rule of God. But to rest herein--to esteem it the best and most
    perfective knowledge of God that we can attain--not to rise up unto
    the more full, perfect, and evident manifestation of himself that he
    has made in Christ a declaration of our unbelief, and a virtual
    renunciation of the Gospel. This is the spring of that declension unto
    a mere natural religion which discovers itself in many, and usually
    ends in the express denial of the divine person of Christ. For when
    the proper use of it is despised, on what grounds can the note of it
    be long retained? But a supposition of his divine person is the
    foundation of this discourse. Were he not the essential image of the
    Father in his own divine person, he could not be the representative
    image of God unto us as he is incarnate. For if he were a man only--
    however miraculously produced and gloriously exalted, yet the angels
    above, the glorious heavens, the seat and throne of God, with other
    effects of creating power and wisdom, would no less represent his
    glory than it could be done in him. Yet are they nowhere, nowhere,
    jointly nor separately, styled "the image of the invisible God"--"the
    brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person;" nor
    does God shine into our hearts to give us the knowledge of his glory
    in the face of them. And it argues the woeful enmity of the carnal
    mind against God and all the effects of his wisdom, that, whereas he
    has granted us such a glorious image and representation of himself, we
    like it not, we delight not in the contemplation of it, but either
    despise it or neglect it, and please ourselves in that which is
    incomparably beneath it.

    4. Because God is not thus known it is--that the knowledge of him is
    so barren and fruitless in the world, as it manifests itself to be. It
    were easy to produce, yea, endless to number the testimonies that
    might be produced out of heathen writers, given unto the being and
    existence of God, his authority, monarchy, and rule; yet what were the
    effects of that knowledge which they had? Besides that wretched
    idolatry wherein they were all immersed, as the apostle declares, Rom.
    1, it rescued them from no kind of wickedness and villainy; as he there
    also manifests. And the virtues which were found among them were
    evidently derived from other causes, and not from the knowledge they
    had of God. The Jews have the knowledge of God by the letter of the
    Old Testament; but they--not knowing him in Christ, and having lost
    all sense and apprehension of those representations which were made of
    his being in him, in the Law--they continue universally a people
    carnal, obstinate, and wicked. They have neither the virtues of the
    heathens among them, nor the power of the truth of religion. As it was
    with them of old, so it, yet continueth to be; "they profess that they
    now God, but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient,
    and to every good work reprobate:" Tit. 1: 16. So is it among many
    that are called Christians at this day in the world: great pretence
    there is unto the knowledge of God--yet did flagitious sins and
    wickedness scarce ever more abound among the heathens themselves. It
    is the knowledge of "God in Christ" alone that is effectually powerful
    to work the souls of men into a conformity unto him. Those alone who
    behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ are changed into
    the same image, from glory to glory.

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