A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen

THE GROUND OF CHRIST’S GLORY.

BROTHER JEWETT: - The 4th and last head, which I mentioned, as a division of those subjects, on which there appears to be an important difference of views between us and some of our Western brethren, is The ground of Christ’s glory, or that which constitutes his glory as the Redeemer.

If I can understand the import of the arguments used by those brethren, they suppose the GLORY, which accrues to the Son of God from the work of redemption, to be altogether such as earthly conquerors derive from their conquests; the more powerful the foe subdued, the greater the glory in conquering him. Thus Elder Parker, in his views of the Two Seeds, pg.12, says, “Notice and remember, that, when a king or power makes great preparations for to accomplish a small object, it argues and proves weakness and ignorance; and as this character cannot be attached to the Divine Being, we cannot fall on any better plan to form an idea of the greatness and power of the devil, than to take a view of the Almighty God of heaven and earth exerting his divine properties in the redemption of his people, for his own glory and the overthrow of Satan and his kingdom.” After other remarks to the same point, he comes to this declaration: “But just bring our minds to Christ, his servitude in this world, his agonizing pains in the garden, his shameful and awful sufferings, his crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension; not a groan, not a drop of blood in vain. O think of this with the sufferings of saints, and providence of God, from then till now, and ask your common reasons as well as the revelation of God, has all this and a great deal more been done just to defeat an immaterial spirit or two? O this would be a contemptible idea of God.” From these quotations it is manifest, that he considers the redemption of the elect and the defeat of Satan to be one and the same thing; that is, that their redemption consisted in conquering the devil and delivering them out of his hands. Hence the argument in favor of Satan’s greatness, from the greatness of the power and exertions to redeem the elect. Also he makes the glory of God and the overthrow of Satan and his kingdom, as intimately connected. Elder Paxton to the same effect says, {W.P. Baptist, No.15, pg.231,} “What! Can we properly appreciate the great power and wisdom of God in his all-conquering Son, for overcoming a mere creature, which he, the Son, must have created in less time than a minute!! I would as soon think of enlarging a giant for overcoming an infant not a week old.” Brother Crafton also seems to have imbibed the same idea; for in reply to Elder West’s letter to him, {W.P. Baptist, No.16, pg.245,} he says, “And whether Jesus Christ in conquering and destroying the devil and his works, will have the glory and honor of destroying an enemy indeed, or only of subduing a revolted subject, made by and for himself to war with,” &c. Again he speaks of the Scriptures, representing in glowing colors the transcendent glories of the Son of God in delivering his captured people from the corrupting influence of the power of darkness and destroying the works of the devil. It appears to me, that those brethren have suffered themselves to be so carried away with the whim of trying to extol the greatness of their self-existent devil, as to be led to degrade and carnalize the great and glorious work of redemption into a mere war of conquest between God and Satan, and the glory resulting to God and Christ as being only commensurate with the great prowess of their enemy, Satan. If such be the case, I have certainly hitherto read the Scriptures in ignorance. I have understood the purpose of Christ, in coming into the world to be to redeem his people, not from the power of Satan, but from curse of the law and from under the law, that they might “receive the adoption of sons.”

In my exercises, my convictions were, not that Satan had the power over me, but that I was a transgressor of God’s Law and depraved in all my faculties. And if ever I knew the joy of believing in Christ, it was that he had taken the law-place for such poor sinners as me, had magnified the law, brought in an everlasting righteousness, and expiated the guilt of sin by the shedding of his own blood, so as to bring us to God. And surely, if our western brethren would look to the time when Christ first appeared to them the chiefest among ten thousand, yea as altogether lovely, they will remember that it was on other accounts, that he thus appeared to them, than merely as having displayed his power in conquering Satan.

But in coming to the point, as to what is declared in the Scriptures to be the design of Christ’s coming into the world, we read in I John 3:8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Again, in Heb.2:14, we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him, that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” &c. By a first view of these texts, without any reference to other parts of scripture, we might suppose, that the devil had gotten the elect somehow into his power, and that what was necessary for their deliverance was to conquer him, as our western brethren, if I understand them, represent the matter. But when we look at other parts of Scripture, we find that it was under the law of God, that they were holden, and that being transgressors of it in Adam, the judgment had passed upon them, in common with others, in condemnation; and therefore sin reigned over them and in their mortal bodies, and they were under the sentence of the Law, dead in – not to – trespasses and sins. Hence, to redeem them from under the Law, to bear the curse in their stead, and to become “the end of the Law for righteousness” to them, was what he had to perform, to accomplish their deliverance. And such the Scriptures abundantly represent his work to have been. Thus Christ says, “Even as the Son of man is come, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” certainly not to the devil, but to the law of God. Matt.20:28. But is there a contradiction between those passages above quoted from I John and Hebrews, and the other parts of the Scriptures? Certainly not. By turning again to I John 3:8, we find the former part of the verse read thus, “He that committeth sin, is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose,” &c. Hence we can readily perceive, what John means by the works of the devil; namely, sin; and by comparing this with Heb.2:14, we may understand what is intended by destroying the devil as having the power of death. We cannot suppose with any propriety, either that the Son of God undertook to destroy the existence of the devil, or that the devil ever had personally the power of death, that is, the control of it so as to visit it upon whom he pleased and when he pleased; or to release from it at his pleasure. But if we understand this text according to the one in John, that is, the devil here spoken of as personating his works, sin, and sin to be represented as his works, because he sinned from the beginning; that is, he first transgressed, for sin is a transgression of the law; and that he first beguiled the woman to transgress, we shall then find it harmonizing with other Scriptures and the general doctrine of Redemption. Thus sin is represented as having power to bring death, as in Rom.5:21, “That as sin hath reigned unto death,” and verse 12, same chapter, “wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” Thus as it is plain, that death comes by sin, so it was sin that Christ was manifested to destroy, in reference to his people; that is, in taking it away by the offering of his body once for all, Heb.10:4-14, and in saving his people from their sins. But from whence did sin derive this power of reigning unto death? Was it a power which the devil independently possessed, and which he of his own will imparted to sin over the human family? Certainly not, for on this principle the devil could kill as fast, as God could create. But as Christ said to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above;” {which he said with all the sins of his people charged to him,} so it might be said to Satan.

The power of sin to reign unto death over the whole human family, as was showed in treating of Sin, was given to it of God as a judgment upon man for his transgression, and was but an infliction of the penalty upon Adam, as a public head, annexed to the prohibition; “For in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Gen.2:17. Hence “the sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” I Cor.15:56. This leads to a very different conclusion from the one, that the object of God’s sending his Son into the world, with all its preparatory and attendant circumstances, was to measure power with the devil and conquer him, thereby to redeem the elect. It leads us to the certainty, that it was the immutable Law of God with its incurred curse, which was to be met, satisfied and honored, for the redemption of his people from under it. And certainly his being able to deliver sinners from the curse of God’s unchanging law, and raise them above its demands, by a perfected redemption, even to the privilege of being sons and heirs of God, whilst he magnifies and makes honorable the law in all its demands, is a far greater manifestation of Christ’s Almighty power to save, than could have been given by his measuring lances with Satan and conquering him. When the devil had the impudence to meet Christ Jesus, face to face, Christ had but to say to him as to his vassal, “Get thee hence, Satan,” and the devil quailed before him. But when he came to meet the law with its sword of eternal Justice awakened up, we find him agonizing in the garden under a view of the cup given him to drink; yea yielding unto death before it; yea as standing in the law place of his people, Immanuel was weak to resist the demands of the law, and was crucified through weakness, II Cor.13:4, yet he liveth by the power of God. Having by his death satisfied the sword of Justice, conquered death, removed the curse of the law and redeemed his people from under it, He arose victorious, was declared to be the Son of God with power, and manifested as “ABLE TO SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST all that come unto God by him.” The parable of the strong man armed, Luke 11:21,22, appears from the connection to refer to Satan; and by the figure he is represented, not as a self-existent being, but as a creature, the figure being that of a man. He considered himself secure of a dominion over the whole human family, being armed, as he thought, with the penalty of the law holding them in a state of death in sin. This penalty Christ by his death took away; thereby stripped Satan of his imaginary dominion over the elect, and divided his spoils. By this we must understand, that the elect and non-elect were in Satan’s estimation alike his spoils.

Thus in redeeming his people from under the curse of the law, Christ completely destroyed the works of the devil; that is, not only, as before observed, took away sin from his people, but also overturned all the malice and arts of Satan, from his beguiling Eve on to his entering into Judas, to his own confusion, and to the accomplishment of God’s glorious purpose of salvation. In this work of redeeming his people from under the law, the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ was fully manifested. No created being could have come into the law place of others and redeemed them, because every creature is bound to obey for himself; God has a sovereign, an unalienable right to his service, from his being his creature. If you are already a bound servant in your own person, it would be absurd to offer your service to your master, as a substitute for the release of a fellow servant. But our Lord, being Jehovah, and therefore dependant on none for his existence and accountable to none, could voluntarily undertake in behalf of others; and by coming into their law-place, being made under the law, and taking this legal nature, this humanity, into personal union with his Godhead, could by his obedience magnify the law and take the curse out of the way, and thus take from death its sting and power to hold its captives, and deliver the lawful captive.

The lawful captive, {Isa.49:24,25,} cannot mean a captive to Satan, he having no legal right to make God’s creatures captives. But they having transgressed God’s righteous law, God, as the rightful Judge, had an undoubted right to assign them over to captivity under sin or depravity, according to the requisition of his law; and being thus under judgment to condemnation, they stand prominent, as the prey of God’s terrible wrath. He who could thus deliver the captive from the mighty and take the prey from the terrible, must be GOD ALMIGHTY; and not only must he put forth omnipotent power, but must exercise an infinitude of goodness, of love and humiliation, in coming under the law and being made a curse for sinners. Thus the true glory of the Son of God, does not consist merely in his having put forth omnipotent power, nor in his destroying an enemy, but in his putting it forth for the salvation of rebel, ruined sinners. How infinitely brighter is this glory, which encircles the brow of our Immanuel, than any which could be reflected by the mere conquest of a contending power! The holiness, the infinite love and goodness, which led Him, who was rich, to become poor, who was in the form of God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, to make himself of no reputation and as a servant to become obedient unto death, that he might save vile sinners from the merited curse of the law, and raise them to be participants with himself in heavenly and eternal happiness and glory, is that glory which he showed forth as the Only Begotten of the Father; that glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and with which he is glorified in his risen humanity in seeing of the travail of his soul and bringing his loved, his redeemed, his heaven-born bride home to partake of that during, holy happiness, which is of the Father reserved for her. When we contemplate the Son of God as crowned with such a glory as this; how trifling, how insipid appears the attempt to swell the devil to a self-existent, independent power, that Christ might have the glory of trying prowess with him and conquering him!

It appears to me, that these Western brethren in their whole advocacy of the Two Seed system, mistake the occasion, or, if you please, the necessity of the putting forth of the power and other attributes of the Godhead in the great work of redemption. For they represent, whether they so intend or not, this most glorious display which God has made of himself, to be from an occasion entirely out of himself, yea to be from a necessity laid upon him by the independent existence of an opposite being, in order to carry out his purpose in spite of the opposition of this enemy. Or if they say, “No; that God foreknew the existence of this enemy, and that he would intrude upon his creation, {which by the by is a positive absurdity, which they have never attempted to meet, that God should actually know what an independent being, who acted of and from himself, would do, when in fact this being could not have willed thus to intrude, until he knew of the existence of an occasion,} still it would leave the purpose, which God purposed in Christ Jesus to have been dependant on the voluntary action of this self-existent and self-acting being! Take which view they please of it; it cannot be made to correspond with the declaration which God made of himself to Moses, when he said, “I AM THAT I AM.” Ex.3:14. The Psalmist says, “He that is our God, is the God of salvation.” Hence, as to be God, is to exist, to will and to act sovereignly and independently, salvation must be, from the original occasion and purpose of it, with all its provisions unto its ultimate accomplishment, all of God, the result of His infinitely wise and sovereign choice. The occasion was God’s goodness in choosing to bring into existence beings, and to raise them to a happiness and glory, in nearness of likeness to and communion with his glorious and holy self, which as mere creatures, however upright they might be, they could never attain, or participate in. The plan embraced those provisions, which are adapted in infinite wisdom to the communication of the greatest good and happiness; such as the creation of these chosen vessels in a natural head, leaving them to fall in him by transgression and become sinners, that they might be proper subjects of the redemption and thus be raised above the accountability and servitude of the law of their creation, even to the privilege of sons; whilst the evil of their depravity as leading them to will and act for self-gratification, is contrasted with the infinite goodness of God, as manifested in the gracious purpose of the Father, the humiliation and sufferings of the Son for them, and the gracious teachings and indwelling of the Holy Ghost as a Comforter; and whilst from Christ, as their spiritual Head, is communicated to them spiritual life, in which they discern and delight in the good, and know and abhor the evil.

But what can we who dead in tenements of clay, know of the purpose and plan of God in what he has declared? We do know, that other beings are brought into existence through the putting forth of God’s creating power, and by his understanding, and are left to depravity and to consequent banishment from him and to misery. How the goodness of God is to be manifested in their being brought into existence, beyond that of communicating to them the pleasure of existence, we know not. But we do see enough of his goodness in creation and providence, in making the curse, with which he visited the earth for man’s sake, a temporal blessing to man, in giving him employment instead of idleness; but more especially as showed in the work of redemption, to know that he is good, infinitely good; and therefore we must know that the existence of the wicked is for the greater good, or they would not be permitted to exist; though we cannot tell the why and the wherefore. And here it is our prudence to leave it.

Yours, &c., S. TROTT.
January, 1844.