POSTED - 5/23/2001
A Display of Christ - Part II (Christ in His Essential and Primeval Glory)
- John Flavel
"Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and was daily His delight, rejoicing always before him." - Prov. 8:30.
THESE words are a part of that excellent commendation of Wisdom, by which in this book Solomon intends two things: first, grace or holiness; "Wisdom is the principal thing," Prov. 4:7; secondly, Jesus Christ the fountain of that grace: and, as the former is renowned for its excellency, Job, 28:14,15, so is the latter, in this context, wherein the Spirit of God describes the most blessed state of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, from those eternal delights he had with his Father before his assumption of our nature: "Then was I by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." That eternity was wholly swallowed up in unspeakable delights and pleasures. The Father and Son delighted one in another (from which delights the Spirit is not here excluded) without communicating their joy to any other; for no creature then existed, save in the mind of God. Verse 30.
"Then was I by him, as one brought up with him:" in his very bosom. "The only-begotten Son" was "in the bosom of the Father," John, 1:18; an expression of the greatest dearness and intimacy, as if he had said, wrapt up in the very soul of his Father -embosomed in God.
"I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." These delights of the Father and the Son one in the other, knew not a moment's interruption or diminution. Thus did these great and glorious persons mutually communicate their fullest pleasure and delight, each into the heart of the other: they lay, as it were, embosomed in one another, entertaining themselves with delights and pleasures ineffable and. inconceivable. Hence we observe,
The state of Jesus Christ before his incarnation was that of the highest and most unspeakable delight and pleasure in the enjoyment of his Father.
As He was "in the bosom of the Father," John, 1:18, the posture of dearest love, John, 13:23; so in Isaiah, 42:1, the Father calls him "Mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth;" and he is said, in this state, to be rich, 2 Cor. 8:9; and to be "equal with God," and "in the form of God;" Phil. 2:6; that is, to have all the glory and ensigns of the majesty of God; and the riches which the apostle speaks of, was no less than all that God the Father hath; "All that the Father hath is mine," John, 16:15; and what he now hath in his exalted state is the same that he had before his humiliation. John, 17:5. Now to portray (as we are able) the unspeakable felicity of that original state of Christ:
I. Let us consider that state negatively, 'by removing from it all the degrees of debasement and sorrow involved in his incarnation.
II. Let us consider Christ's primeval state positively, and guess (for indeed we can but guess) at the glory of it.We cannot but conceive it to be a state of matchless happiness, if we consider the persons enjoying and delighting in each other: he was with God, John, 1:1, God, the fountain, ocean, and center of all delights and joys; "In thy presence is fulness of joy." Psa. 16:11. To be wrapt up in the soul and bosom of all delights, as Christ was, must needs be a state of bliss transcending apprehension.
- He was not then abased to the condition of a creature, which was a low step indeed; for by this, saith the apostle, "he made himself of no reputation," Phil. 2:7; it emptied him of his glory. For God to be made man, is such an abasement as none can express; but not only to appear in true flesh, but also "in the likeness of sinful flesh," Rom. 8:3, oh, what is this!
- Christ was not under the law in this state. It was no disparagement to Adam in the state of innocency, or to angels in their state of glory, to be under law to God; but it was an inconceivable abasement to the absolute independent Being to come under law; yea, not only under the obedience, but also under the malediction and curse of the law: "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." Gal. 4:4.
- In this state he was not liable to any of those sorrowful consequences and attendants of that frail and feeble state of humanity which he afterwards assumed. There was no sorrowing or sighing in that bosom where he lay, though afterwards he became "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Isa. 53:3. "A man of sorrows," as if he had been constituted and made up of pure and unmixed sorrows; every day conversing with griefs, as with his intimate companions and acquaintance. He was never pinched with poverty and want while he continued in that bosom, as he was afterwards, when he said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matt. 8:20. Ah! blessed Jesus! thou neededst not to have wanted a place to lay thy head, hadst thou not left that bosom for my sake. He never underwent reproach and shame in that bosom: there was nothing but glory and honor reflected upon him by his Father, though afterwards "he was despised and rejected of men." Isaiah, 53:3. His Father never looked upon him without smiles and love, delight and joy, though afterwards he became a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Psa. 22:6. While he lay in that bosom of peace and love, he never knew what it was to be assaulted with temptations, to be besieged by unclean spirits, as he did afterwards: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into time wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Matt. 4 :1. It was for our sakes that he submitted to those exercises of spirit, to be "in all points tempted like as we are," Heb. 4 :15, that he might be unto us "a merciful and faithful High Priest." Heb. 2: 17. He was never sensible of pains and tortures in soul or body, though afterwards he groaned and sweat under them. Isa. 53:5. The Lord embraced him from eternity, but never wounded him till be stood in our place and room. There were no bidings or withdrawings of his Father from him; there was not a cloud from eternity upon the face of God, till Jesus Christ had left that bosom. It was a new thing to Christ to cry, "My God, my God, why bast thou forsaken me?" Matt. 27 :46. There were never any impressions of his Father's wrath upon him, as there were afterwards: God never delivered such a bitter cup into his hands before, as that. Matt.. 26:39. There was no death, to which he was subject, in that bosom. All these things were new to Christ; he was above them all, till, for our sakes, he voluntarily subjected himself unto them.
III. Let us consider the glory of that state comparatively either with the choicest delights that one creature takes in another, or that God takes in the creature, or that the creatures take in God. Measure these immense delights, between the Father and his Son, by either of these lines, and you shall find them infinitely short.
- Consider the intimacy, dearness, yea, oneness of those great Persons; and the nearer the union the sweeter the communion. Now Jesus Christ was not only near and dear to God, but one with him: "I and my Father are one," John, 10:30; one in nature, will, love, and delight. There is indeed a moral union of souls among men by love, but this was a natural. oneness: no child is so one with his father, no husband so one with the wife of his bosom, no friend so one with his friend, no soul so one with its body, as Jesus Christ and his Father were one. Oh what matchless delights must necessarily flow from such a blessed union!
- Consider again the purity of that delight with which the blessed Father and Son embraced each other. The best of. creature delights are mixed, debased, and alloyed; if there be something engaging and delightful, there is also something cloying and distasteful. The purer any delight is, the more excellent. Now, there are no crystal streams flowing so purely from the fountain, no beams of light so unmixed from the sun, as the loves and delights of these holy and glorious persons were: the holy, holy, holy Father embraced the thrice holy Son with a most holy delight and love.
- Consider the constancy of this delight; it was from everlasting, as in verse 23, and from eternity; it never suffered one moment's interruption. The overflowing fountain of God's delight and love never stopped its course, never ebbed: "I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."
- The delight that creatures take in each other, is sometimes a great delight; such was Jacob's delight in Benjamin, whose life is said to be "bound up in the lad's life, Gen. 44:30, a dear and high expression.; such was that of Jonathan in David, whose soul was knit with his soul, "he loved him as his own soul," I Sam. 18:1; and such is the delight of one friend in another; there is a friend that is as a man's own soul, Deut. 13:6. Yet all this is but creature delight, and can in no particular equal the delights between the Father and the Son; for this is but a finite delight, according to the measure and abilities of creatures, but that is infinite, suitable to the infinite perfection of the Divine Being. This is always mixed, that perfectly pure.
- It is confessed that God takes great delight in some creatures. The Lord takes pleasure in his saints, he rejoices over them with singing; and resteth in his love. Zeph. 3:17; Isa. 62:5. But yet there is a great difference between his delight in creatures, and his delights in Christ; for all his delight in the saints is secondary, and for Christ's sake; but his delights in Christ are primary, and. for his own sake. We are accepted in the Beloved, Eph. 1:6; he is beloved, and accepted for himself.
- The delight that the best of creatures take in God and Christ, it must be confessed, is a choice delight; and that is a transcendent love, with which they love and delight in him; "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside, thee." Pan. 73:25. But surely our delight in God is no perfect rule by which to measure his delight in Christ; for our love to God, at best, is still imperfect: that is the burden and constant complaint of saints; but this is perfect: ours is inconstant, ebbing and flowing, but this is constant. So then, the condition and state of Jesus Christ before his incarnation, was a state o the highest and matchless delight, in the enjoyment a his Father.
How worthy is Jesus Christ of all our love and delights! You see how infinitely the Father delighteth in him; and shall not our hearts delight in him? Oh that you did but see this lovely Lord Jesus Christ! Why do ye lavish away your precious affections upon vanity? none but Christ is worthy of them. When you spend your precious affections upon, other objects, what is it but to dig for dross with golden mattocks? The Lord direct our hearts into the love of Christ. Oh that our hearts, loves, and delights, did meet and concenter with the heart of God in this most blessed object! Oh let him that left God's bosom for you, be embosomed by you, though your love be nothing to God's: he that left God's bosom for you, deserves yours.
- What an astonishing act of love was this, for the Father to give the delight of his soul, out of his very bosom, for poor sinners! All tongues must needs pause and falter, that attempt the expressions of his grace, expressions being here swallowed up: "God so loved the world, that be gave his only begotten Son." John, 3:16. So loved them: how did be love them? nay, here you must excuse the tongues of angels. Which of us would deliver a child, the child of our delights, an only child, to death, for the greatest inheritance in the world? what tenderparent can endure parting with such a child? When Hagar was taking her last leave (as she thought) of her Ishmael, "she went and sat her down over against him, a good way off: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept." Gen. 21:16. Though she were none of the best of mothers, nor he the best of children, yet she could not give up the child. Oh it was hard to part! What an outcry did David make, even for an Absalom, wishing he had died for him! What a breach has the death of some children made in the hearts of some parents, which will never be closed up in this world! Yet surely, never did any child lie so close to a parent's heart, as Christ to his Father's; and yet he willingly parts with him, though his only one, the Son of his delights; and that to death, a cursed death; for sinners, for the worst of sinners. Oh the admirable love of God to men! matchless love t a love past finding out! Let all men, therefore, in the business of their redemption, give equal glory to the Father with the Son. John, 5:23. If the Father had not loved thee, he had never parted with such a Son for thee.
- From one wonder let our souls turn to another, for they are now in the midst of wonders: adore, and be forever astonished at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners, that ever he should consent to leave such a bosom, and the ineffable delights that were there, for such poor worms as we are. Oh the heights, depths lengths, and breadths of unmeasurable love! See Rom. 5:6-8: read, and wonder. How is the love of Christ commended to poor sinners! As the Father loved him; even so, believers, hath he loved you. John, 17 :23. What manner of love is this! Who ever loved as Christ loves. Who ever denied himself for Christ, as Christ denied himself for us?
- An interest in Jesus Christ is the true way to all spiritual preferment in heaven. Do you covet to be in the heart, in the favor and delight of God? Get interest in Jesus Christ, and you shall presently be there. In heaven, persons are preferred according to their interest in the Beloved. Eph. 1:6. Christ is the great favorite there: his image upon your soul, and his name in your prayers, makes both accepted with God.
If Christ be the beloved of the Father's soul, think what a grievous and insufferable thing it is to the heart of God, to see his dear Son despised, slighted, and rejected by sinners: how God will bear this, that parable, Matt. 21 33-41, will inform you: surely he will miserably destroy such wretched sinners. What a dismal word is that, If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha," 1 Cor. 16:22; that is, let the great curse of God lie upon that man till the Lord come. Oh sinners! you shall one day know the cost of this sin: you shall feel what it is to despise Jesus that is able to compel love from the hardest hear Oh that you would slight him no more! Oh that this day your hearts might fall in love with him! I tell you if you would set your love to sale, none bids so fair for it as Christ.
If Christ lay eternally in this bosom of love, and yet was content to forsake and leave it for your sakes, then, Christians, be you ready to forsake all the comforts you have on earth for Christ. Famous Galleacius left all for this enjoyment; Moses left all the glory of Egypt; Peter and the other apostles left all. Luke, 18 :28. But what have we to leave for Christ in comparison with what he left for us? Surely Christ is the highest pattern of self-denial in the world. Let this confirm your faith in prayer. If he, that has such an interest in the heart of God, intercede with the Father for you, then never doubt of audience and acceptance with him; surely you shall be accepted through the Beloved. Christ was never denied any thing that he asked. The Father hears him always. John, 11:42. Though you are not worthy, Christ is, and he ever lives to make intercession for you. Heb. 7:25. Let this encourage thy heart, O saint, in a dying hour; and not only make thee patient in death, but in a holy manner impatient till thou be gone-for whither is thy soul now going, but to that bosom of love whence Christ came? "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, John, 17:24; and where is he but in that bosom of glory and love where he lay before the world was? verse 5. Oh then let every believer encourage his soul comfort ye one another with these words, "I am leaving the bosom of a creature; I am going to the bosom of God,"
Sinners, embrace the bosom-Son of God. Poor fellow-mortals! whatever you are or have been, under whatever guilt or discouragement you lie, embrace Christ, who is freely offered to you, and you shall be as dear to God as the holiest and most eminent believer in the world; but if you still continue to despise and neglect such a Saviour, sorer wrath is treasured up for you than other sinners. Heb. 10:28,29. Oh that these discoveries and overtures of Christ may never come to such a fatal issue with any of your souls, before whom his glory has been thus opened!
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