(Owen, Christologia, Part 16)

Chapter XVI. An humble Inquiry into, and Prospect of, the infinite 
Wisdom of God, in the Constitution of the Person of Christ, and the 
Way of Salvation thereby 
 From the consideration of the things before insisted on, we may 
endeavour, according unto our measure, to take a view of, and humbly 
adore, the infinite wisdom of God, in the holy contrivance of this 
great "mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh." As it is a 
spiritual, evangelical mystery, it is an effect of divine wisdom, in 
the redemption and salvation of the church, unto the eternal glory of 
God; and as it is a "great mystery," so it is the mystery of the 
"manifold wisdom of God," Eph. 3: 9,--that is, of infinite wisdom 
working in great variety of acting and operations, suited unto, and 
expressive of, its own infinite fulness: for herein were "all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge" laid up, and laid out, Col. 2: 3. 
An argument this is, in some parts whereof divers of the ancient 
writes of the church have laboured, some occasionally, and some with 
express design. I shall insist only on those things which Scripture 
light leads us directly unto. The depths of divine wisdom in this 
glorious work are hid from the eyes of all living. "God [alone] 
understandeth the way thereof; and he knoweth the place thereof;" as 
he speaks, Job 28: 21, 23. Yet is it so glorious in its effects, that 
"destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our 
ears," verse 22. The fame and report of this Divine wisdom reach even 
unto hell. Those who eternally perish shall hear a fame of this 
wisdom, in the glorious effects of it towards the blessed souls above, 
though some of them would not believe it here in the light of the 
Gospel, and none of them can understand it there, in their everlasting 
darkness. Hence the report which they have of the wisdom is an 
aggravation of their misery. 
 These depths we may admire and adore, but we cannot comprehend: "For 
who has known the mind of the Lord herein, or with whom took he 
counsel?" Concerning the original causes of his counsels in this great 
mystery we can only say, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom 
and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgements, and his 
ways past finding out." This alone is left unto us in the way of duty, 
that in the effects of them we should contemplate on their excellency, 
so as to give glory to God, and live in a holy admiration of his 
wisdom and grace. For to give glory unto him, and admire him, is our 
present duty, until he shall come eternally "to be glorified in his 
saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," 2 Thess. 1:10. 
 We can do no more but stand at the shore of this ocean, and adore its 
unsearchable depths. What is delivered from them by divine revelation 
we may receive as pearls of price, to enrich and adorn our souls. For 
"the secret things belong unto the LORD our God, but those things 
which are revealed belong unto us," that we may do "the words of this 
law," Deut. 29: 29. We shall not, therefore, in our inquiry into this 
great mystery, intrude ourselves into the things which we have not 
seen, but only endeavour a right understanding of what is revealed 
concerning it. For the end of all divine revelations is our knowledge 
of the things revealed, with our obedience thereon; and unto this end 
things revealed do belong unto us. 
 Some things in general are to be premised unto our present inquiry. 
 1. We can have no view or due prospect of the wisdom of God in any of 
his works, much less in this of "sending his Son in the likeness of 
sinful flesh," or the constitution of his person, and the work of 
redemption to be accomplished thereby, unless we consider also the 
interest of the other holy properties of the divine nature in them. 
Such are his holiness, his righteousness, his sovereign authority, his 
goodness, love, and grace. 
 There are three excellencies of the divine nature principally to be 
considered in all the external works of God. (1.) His Goodness, which 
is the communicative property thereof. This is the eternal fountain 
and spring of all divine communications. Whatever is good in and unto 
any creature, is an emanation from divine goodness. "He is good, and 
he does good." That which acts originally in the divine nature, unto 
the communication of itself in any blessed or gracious effects unto 
the creatures, is goodness. (2.) Wisdom, which is the directive power 
or excellency of the divine nature. Hereby God guides, disposes, 
orders, and directs all things unto his own glory, in and by their own 
immediate proper ends, Prov. 16: 4; Rev. 4: 11. (3.) Power, which is 
the effective excellency of the divine nature, effecting and 
accomplishing what wisdom does design and order. 
 Whereas wisdom, therefore, is that holy excellency or power of the 
Divine Being, wherein God designs, and whereby he effects, the glory 
of all the other properties of his nature, we cannot trace the paths 
of it in any work of God, unless we know the interest and concernment 
of those other properties in that work. For that which wisdom 
principally designs, is the glorification of them. And unto this end 
the effective property of the divine nature, which is almighty power, 
always accompanies, or is subservient unto, the directive or infinite 
wisdom, which is requisite unto perfection in operation. What infinite 
goodness will communicate ad extra--what it will open the eternal 
fountain of the Divine Being and all sufficiency to give forth--that 
infinite wisdom designs, contrives, and directs to the glory of God; 
and what wisdom so designs, infinite power effects. See Isa. 40: 
13-15,17, 28. 
 2. We can have no apprehensions of the interest of the other 
properties of the divine nature in this great mystery of godliness, 
whose glory was designed in infinite wisdom, without the consideration 
of that state and condition of our own wherein they are so concerned. 
That which was designed unto the eternal glory of God in this great 
work of the incarnation of his Son, was the redemption of mankind, or 
the recovery and salvation of the church. What has been disputed by 
some concerning it, without respect unto the sin of man and the 
salvation of the church, is curiosity, and indeed presumptuous folly. 
The whole Scripture constantly assigneth this sole end of that effect 
of divine goodness and wisdom; yea, asserts it as the only foundation 
of the Gospel, John 3: 16. Wherefore, unto a due contemplation of 
divine wisdom in it, it is necessary we should consider what is the 
nature of sin, especially of that first sin, wherein our original 
apostasy from God did consist--what was the condition of mankind 
thereon--what is the concernment of the holy God therein, on the 
account of the blessed properties of his nature--what way was suited 
unto our recovery, that God might be glorified in them all. Without a 
previous consideration of these things, we can have no due conceptions 
of the wisdom of God in this glorious work which we inquire after. 
Wherefore I shall so far speak of them, that, if it be the will of 
God, the minds of those who read and consider them may be opened and 
prepared to give admittance unto some rays of that divine wisdom in 
this glorious work, the lustre of whose full light we are not able in 
this world to behold. 
 When there was a visible pledge of the presence of God in the "bush 
that burned" and was not consumed, Moses said he "would turn aside to 
see that great sight," Exod. 3: 3. And this great representation of 
the glory of God being made and proposed unto us, it is certainly our 
duty to divert from all other occasions unto the contemplation of it. 
But as Moses was then commanded to put off his shoes, the place 
whereon he stood being holy ground, so it will be the wisdom of him 
that writes, and of them that read, to divest themselves of all carnal 
affections and imaginations, that they may draw nigh unto this great 
object of faith with due reverence and fear. 
 The first thing we are to consider, in order unto the end proposed, 
is--the nature of our sin and apostasy from God. For from thence we 
must learn the concernment of the divine excellencies of God in this 
work. And there are three things that were eminent therein:-- 
 (1.) A reflection on the honour of the holiness and wisdom of God, in 
the rejection of his image. He had newly made man in his own image. 
And this work he so expresseth as to intimate a peculiar effect of 
divine wisdom in it, whereby it was distinguished from all other 
external works of creation whatever, Gen. 1: 26, 27, "And God said, 
Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man 
in his own image, in the image of God created he him." Nowhere is 
there such an emphasis of expression concerning any work of God. And 
sundry things are represented as peculiar therein. 
 [1st,] That the word of consultation and that of execution are 
distinct. In all other works of creation, the word of determination 
and execution was the same. When he created light--which seems to be 
the beauty and glory of the whole creation--he only said, "Let there 
be light; and there was light," Gen. 1: 3. So was it with all other 
things. But when he comes unto the creation of man, another process is 
proposed unto our faith. These several words are distinct, not in 
time, but in nature. "God said, Let us make man in our image and 
likeness;" and thereon it is added distinctly, as the execution of 
that antecedent counsel, "So God made man in his own image." This puts 
a signal eminency on this work of God. 
 [2dly,] A distinct, peculiar concernment of all the persons of the 
holy Trinity, in their consultation and operation, is in like manner 
proposed unto us: "And God said, Let us make man." The truth hereof I 
have sufficiently evinced elsewhere, and discovered the vanity of all 
other glosses and expositions. The properties of the divine nature 
principally and originally considerable, in all external operations, 
(as we have newly observed,) are goodness, wisdom, and power. In this 
great work, divine goodness exerted itself eminently and effectually 
in the person of the Father--the eternal fountain and spring, as of 
the divine nature, so of all divine operations. Divine wisdom acted 
itself peculiarly in the person of the Son; this being the principal 
notion thereof--the eternal Wisdom of the Father. Divine power wrought 
effectually in the person of the Holy Spirit; who is the immediate 
actor of all divine operations. 
 [3dly,] The proposition of the effecting this work, being by way of 
consultation, represents it a signal effect of infinite wisdom. These 
expressions are used to lead us unto the contemplation of that wisdom. 
 Thus, "God made man in his own image;" that is, in such a rectitude 
of nature as represented his righteousness and holiness--in such a 
state and condition as had a reflection on it of his power and rule. 
The former was the substance of it--the latter a necessary consequent 
thereof. This representation, I say, of God, in power and rule, was 
not that image of God wherein man was created, but a consequent of it. 
So the words and their order declare: "Let us make man in our image, 
and after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of 
the sea," &c. Because he was made in the image of God, this dominion 
and rule were granted unto him. So fond is their imagination, who 
would have the image of God to consist solely in these things. 
Wherefore, the loss of the image of God was not originally the loss of 
power and dominion, or a right thereunto; but man was deprived of that 
right, on the loss of that image which it was granted unto. Wherein it 
did consist, see Eccles. 7: 29; Eph 4: 24, 
 Three things God designed in this communication of his image unto our 
nature, which were his principal ends in the creation of all things 
here below; and therefore was divine wisdom more eminently exerted 
therein than in all the other works of this inferior creation. 
 The first was, that he might therein make a reprehension of his 
holiness and righteousness among his creatures. This was not done in 
any other of them. Characters they had on them of his goodness, 
wisdom, and power. In these things the "heavens declare the glory of 
God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work." His eternal power and 
godhead are manifest in the things that are made; but none of them, 
not the whole fabric of heaven and earth, with all their glorious 
ornaments and endowments, were either fit or able to receive any 
impressions of his holiness and righteousness of any of the moral 
perfections or universal rectitude of his nature. Yet, in the 
demonstration and representation of these things does the glory of God 
principally consist. Without them, he could not be known and glorified 
as God. Wherefore he would have an image and representation of them in 
the creation here below. And this he will always have, so long as he 
will be worshipped by any of his creatures. And therefore, when it was 
lost in Adam, it was renewed in Christ, as has been declared. 
 The second was, that it might be a means of rendering actual glory 
unto him from all other parts of the creation. Without this, which is 
as the animating life and form of the whole, the other creatures are 
but as a dead thing. They could not any way declare the glory of God, 
but passively and objectively. They were as an harmonious, well-tuned 
instrument, which gives no sound unless there be a skilful hand to 
move and act it. What is light, if there be no eye to see it? Or what 
is music, if there be no ear to hear it? How glorious and beautiful 
soever any of the works of creation appear to be, from impressions of 
divine power, wisdom, and goodness on them; yet, without this image of 
God in man, there was nothing here below to understand God in them--to 
glorify God by them. This alone is that whereby, in a way of 
admiration, obedience, and praise, we were enabled to render unto God 
all the glory which he designed from those works of his power. 
 The third was, that it might be a means to bring man unto that 
eternal enjoyment of Himself, which he was fitted for and designed 
unto. For this was to be done in a way of obedience;--"Do this and 
live," was that rule of it which the nature of God and man, with their 
mutual relation unto one another, did require. But we were made meet 
for this obedience, and enabled unto it, only by virtue of this image 
of God implanted in our natures. It was morally a power to live unto 
God in obedience, that we might come to the enjoyment of him in glory. 
 Evident it is that these were the principal ends of God in the 
creation of all things. Wherefore this constitution of our nature, and 
the furnishment of it with the image of God, was the most eminent 
effect of infinite wisdom in all the outward works of the divine 
 (2.) In the entrance of sin, and by apostasy from God, man 
voluntarily rejected and defaced this blessed representation of the 
righteousness and holiness of God--this great effect of his goodness 
and wisdom, in its tendency unto his eternal glory, and our enjoyment 
of him. No greater dishonour could be done unto him--no endeavour 
could have been more pernicious in casting contempt on his counsel. 
For as his holiness, which was represented in that image, was 
despoiled, so we did what lay in us to defeat the contrivance of his 
wisdom. This will be evident by reflecting on the ends of it now 
mentioned. For-- 
 [1.] Hereon there remained nothing, in all the creation here below, 
whereby any representation might be made of God's holiness and 
righteousness, or any of the moral perfections of his nature. How 
could it be done, this image being lost out of the world? The brute, 
inanimate part of the creation, however stupendously great in its 
matter and glorious in its outward form, was no way capable of it. The 
nature of man under the loss of this image--fallen, depraved, 
polluted, and corrupted--gives rather a representation and image of 
Satan than of God. Hence--instead of goodness, love, righteousness, 
holiness, peace, all virtues usefully communicative and effective of 
the good of the whole race of mankind, which would have been effects 
of this image of Gods and representatives of his nature--the whole 
world, from and by the nature of man, is filled with envy, malice, 
revenge, cruelty, oppression, and all engines of promoting self, 
whereunto man is wholly turned, as fallen off from God. He that would 
learn the divine nature, from the representation that is made of it in 
the present acting of the nature of man, will be gradually led unto 
the devil instead of God. Wherefore no greater indignity could be 
offered unto divine wisdom and holiness, than there was in this 
rejection of the image of God wherein we were created. 
 [2.] There was no way left whereby glory might redound unto God from 
the remainder of the creation here below. For the nature of man alone 
was designed to be the way and means of it, by virtue of the image of 
God implanted on it. Wherefore man by sin did not only draw off 
himself from that relation unto God wherein he was made, but drew off 
the whole creation here below with himself into a uselessness unto his 
glory. And upon the entrance of sin, before the cure of our apostasy 
was actually accomplished, the generality of mankind divided the 
creatures into two sorts--those above, or the heavenly bodies, and 
those here below. Those of the first sort they worshipped as their 
gods; and those of the other sort they abused unto their lusts. 
Wherefore God was every way dishonored in and by them all, nor was 
there any glory given him on their account. What some attempted to do 
of that nature, in a wisdom of their own, ended in folly and a renewed 
dishonour of God; as the apostle declares, Rom. 1: 18,19, 21, 22. 
 [3.] Man hereby lost all power and ability of attaining that end for 
which he was made--namely, the eternal enjoyment of God. Upon the 
matter, and as much as in us lay, the whole end of God in the creation 
of all things here below was utterly defeated. 
 But that which was the malignity and poison of this sin, was the 
contempt that was cast on the holiness of God, whose representation, 
and all its express characters, were utterly despised and rejected 
therein. Herein, then, lay the concernment of the holiness or 
righteousness of God in this sin of our nature, which we are inquiring 
after. Unless some reparation be made for the indignity cast upon it 
in the rejection of the image and representation of it--unless there 
be some way whereby it may be more eminently exalted in the nature of 
man than it was debased and despised in the same nature; it was just, 
equal, righteous with God--that which becomes the rectitude and purity 
of his nature that mankind should perish eternally in that condition 
whereinto it was cast by sin. 
 It was not, therefore, consistent with the glory of God, that mankind 
should be restored, that this nature of ours should be brought unto 
the enjoyment of him, unless his holiness be more exalted, be more 
conspicuously represented in the same nature, than ever it was 
depressed or despised thereby. The demonstration of its glory in any 
other nature, as in that of angels, would not serve unto this end; as 
we shall see afterward. 
 We must now a little return unto what we before laid down. Wisdom 
being the directive power of all divine operations, and the end of all 
those operations being the glory of God himself, or the demonstration 
of the excellencies of the holy properties of his nature, it was 
incumbent thereon to provide for the honour and glory of divine 
holiness in an exaltation answerable unto the attempt for its 
debasement. Without the consideration hereof, we can have no due 
prospect of the acting of infinite wisdom in this great work of our 
redemption and recovery by the incarnation of the Son of God. 
 (3.) Sin brought disorder and disturbance into the whole rule and 
government of God. It was necessary, from the infinite wisdom of God, 
that all things should be made in perfect order and harmony--all in a 
direct subordination unto his glory. There could have been no original 
defect in the natural or moral order of things, but it must have 
proceeded from a defect in wisdom; for the disposal of all things into 
their proper order belonged unto the contrivance thereof. And the 
harmony of all things among themselves, with all their mutual 
relations and aspects in a regular tendency unto their proper and 
utmost end--whereby though every individual subsistence or being has a 
peculiar end of its own, yet all their actings and all their ends tend 
directly unto one utmost common end of them all--is the principal 
effect of wisdom. And thus was it at the beginning, when God himself 
beheld the universe, and, "lo, it was exceeding good." 
 All things being thus created and stated, it belonged unto the nature 
of God to be the rector and disposer of them all. 
 It was not s mere free act of his will, whereby God chose to rule and 
govern the creation according unto the law of the nature of all 
things, and their relation unto him; but it was necessary, from his 
divine being and excellences, that so he should do. Wherefore, it 
concerned both the wisdom and righteousness of God to take care that 
either all things should be preserved in the state wherein they were 
created, and no disorder be suffered to enter into the kingdom and 
rule of God, or that, in a way suited unto them, his glory should be 
retrieved and re established; for God is not the God of confusions 
neither the author nor approver of it--neither in his works nor in his 
rule. But sin actually brought disorder into the kingdom and rule of 
God. And this it did not in any one particular instance, but that 
which was universal as unto all things here below. For the original 
harmony and order of all things consisted in their subordination unto 
the glory of God. But this they all lost, as was before declared. 
Hence he who looked on them in their constitution, and, to manifest 
his complacency in them, affirmed them to be "exceeding good," 
immediately on the entrance of sin, pronounced a curse on the whole 
earth, and all things contained therein. 
 To suffer this disorder to continue unrectified, was not consistent 
with the wisdom and righteousness of God. It would make the kingdom of 
God to be like that of Satan--full of darkness and confusion. Nothing 
is more necessary unto the good of the universe, and without which it 
were better it were annihilated, than the preservation of the honour 
of God in his government. And this could no otherwise be done, but by 
the infliction of a punishment proportionable in justice unto the 
demerit of sin. Some think this might be done by a free dismission of 
sin, or a passing it over without any punishment at all. But what 
evidence should we then have that good and evil were not alike, and 
almost equal unto God in his rule that he does not like sin as well as 
uprightness? Nor would this supposition leave any grounds of 
exercising justice among men. For if God, in misrule of all things, 
dismissed the greatest sin without any penalty inflicted, what reason 
have we to judge that evils among ourselves should at all be punished? 
That, therefore, be far from God, that the righteous should be as the 
wicked: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" 
 Wherefore, the order of God's rule being broken, as it consisted in 
the regular obedience of the creature, and disorder with confusion 
being brought thereby into the kingdom and government of God; his 
righteousness, as it is the rectorial virtue and power of the divine 
nature, required that his glory should be restored, by reducing the 
sinning creature again into order by punishment. Justice, therefore, 
must be answered and complied withal herein, according unto its 
eternal and unanswerable law, in a way suited unto the glory of God, 
or the sinning creature must perish eternally. 
 Herein the righteousness of God, as the rectorial virtue of the 
divine nature, was concerned in the sin and apostasy of men. The 
vindication and glory of it--to provide that in nothing it were 
eclipsed or diminished--was incumbent on infinite wisdom, according 
unto the rule before laid down. That must direct and dispose of all 
things anew unto the glory of the righteousness of God, or there is no 
recovery of mankind. And in our inquiry after the impressions of 
divine wisdom on the great and glorious means of our restoration under 
consideration, this provision made thereby for the righteousness of 
God, in his rule and government of all, is greatly to be attended to. 
 (4.) Man by sin put himself into the power of the devil, God's 
greatest adversary. The devil had newly, by rebellion and apostasy 
from his first condition, cast himself under the eternal displeasure 
and wrath of God. God had righteously purposed in himself not to spare 
him, nor contrive any way for his deliverance unto eternity. He, on 
the other side, was become obdurate in his malice and hatred of God, 
designing his dishonour and the impeachment of his glory with the 
utmost of his remaining abilities. In this state of things, man 
voluntarily leaves the rule and conduct of God, with all his 
dependence upon him, and puts himself into the power of the devil; for 
he believed Satan above God--that is, placed his faith and confidence 
in him, as unto the way of attaining blessedness and true happiness. 
And in whom we place our trust and confidence, them do we obey, 
whatever we profess. Herein did God's adversary seem for a season to 
triumph against him, as if he had defeated the great design of his 
goodness, wisdom, and power. So he would have continued to do, if no 
way had been provided for his appointment. 
 This, therefore, also belonged unto the care of divine wisdom, 
namely, that the glory of God in none of the holy properties of his 
nature did suffer any diminution hereby. 
 All this, and inconceivable more than we are able to express, being 
contained in the sin of our apostasy from God, it must needs follow 
that the condition of all mankind became thereby inexpressibly evil. 
As we had done all the moral evil which our nature was capable to act, 
so it was meet we should receive all the penal evil which our nature 
was capable to undergo; and it all issued in death temporal and 
eternal, inflicted from the wrath of God. 
 This is the first thing to be considered in our tracing the footsteps 
of divine wisdom in our deliverance by the incarnation of the Son of 
God. Without due conceptions of the nature of this sin and apostasy of 
the provocation given unto God thereby, of the injury attempted to be 
done unto the glory of all his properties, of his concernment in their 
reparation, with the unspeakable misery that mankind was fallen into-- 
we cannot have the least view of the glorious acting of divine wisdom 
in our deliverance by Christ; and, therefore, the most of those who 
are insensible of these things, do wholly reject the principal 
instances of infinite wisdom in our redemption; as we shall yet see 
farther afterward. And the great reason why the glory of God in Christ 
does so little irradiate the minds of many, that it is so much 
neglected and despised, is because they are not acquainted nor 
affected with the nature of our first sin and apostasy, neither in 
itself nor its woeful effects and consequent. 
 But, on the supposition of these things, a double inquiry ariseth 
with reference unto the wisdom of God, and the other holy properties 
of his nature immediately concerned in our sin and apostasy. 
 1. Whereas man by sin had defaced the image of God, and lost it, 
whereby there was no representation of his holiness and righteousness 
left in the whole creation here below--no way of rendering any glory 
to him, in, for, or by, any other of his works--no means to bring man 
unto the enjoyment of God, for which he was made;--and whereas he had 
brought confusion and disorder into the rule and kingdom of God, 
which, according unto the law of creation and its sanction, could not 
be rectified but by the eternal ruin of the sinner; and had, moreover, 
given up himself unto the rule and conduct of Satan:--whether, I say, 
hereon it was meet, with respect unto the holy properties of the 
divine nature, that all mankind should be left eternally in this 
condition, without remedy or relief? Or whether there were. not a 
condecency and suitableness unto them, that at least our nature in 
some portion of it should be restored? 
 2. Upon a supposition that the granting of a recovery was suited unto 
the holy perfections of the divine nature, acting themselves by 
infinite wisdom, what rays of that wisdom may we discern in the 
finding out and constitution of the way and means of that recovery? 
 The first of these I shall speak briefly unto in this place, because 
I have treated more largely concerning it in another. For there are 
many things which argue a condecency unto the divine perfections 
herein--namely, that mankind should not be left utterly remediless in 
that guilt of misery whereinto it was plunged. I shall at present only 
insist on one of them. 
 God had originally created two sorts of intellectual creatures, 
capable of the eternal enjoyment of himself--namely, angels and men. 
That he would so make either sort or both, was a mere effect of his 
sovereign wisdom and pleasure; but on a supposition that he would so 
make them, they must be made for his glory. These two sorts thus 
created he placed in several habitations, prepared for them, suitable 
unto their natures and the present duties required of them; the angels 
in heaven above, and men on earth below. Sin first invaded the nature 
of angels, and cast innumerable multitudes of them out of their 
primitive condition. Hereby they lost their capacity of, and right 
unto, that enjoyment of God which their nature was prepared and made 
meet for; neither would God ever restore them thereunto. And in the 
instance of dealing with them, when he "spared them not, but shut them 
up in chains of everlasting darkness unto the judgement of the great 
day," he manifested how righteous it was to leave sinning, apostate 
creatures in everlasting misery. If anything of relief be provided for 
any of them, it is a mere effect of sovereign grace and wisdom, 
whereunto God was no way obliged. Howbeit, the whole angelical nature, 
that was created in a capacity for the eternal enjoyment of God, 
perished not; nor does it seem consistent with the wisdom and goodness 
of God, that the whole entire species or kind of create made capable 
of glory in the eternal enjoyment of him, should at once immediately 
be excluded from it. That such a thing should fall out as it were 
accidentally, without divine provision and disposal, would argue a 
defect in wisdom, and a possibility of a surprisal into the loss of 
the whole glory he designed in the creation of all things; and to have 
it a mere effect of divine ordination and disposal, is as little 
consistent with his goodness. Wherefore, the same nature which sinned 
and perished in the angels that fell, abideth in the enjoyment of God 
in those myriads of blessed spirits which "left not their first 
 The nature of man was in like manner made capable of the eternal 
enjoyment of God. This was the end for which it was created, unto the 
glory of him by whom it was made; for it became the divine wisdom and 
goodness, to give unto everything an operation and end suited unto its 
capacity. And these, in this race of intellectual creatures, were to 
live unto God, and to come unto the eternal enjoyment of him. This 
operation and end their nature being capable of, they being suited 
unto it, unto them it was designed. But sin entered them also; we also 
"sinned, and came short of the glory of God." The inquiry hereon is, 
whether it became the divine goodness and wisdom that this whole 
nature, in all that were partakers of it, should fail and come short 
of that end for which alone it was made of God? For whereas the angels 
stood, in their primitive condition, every one in his own individual 
person, the sin of some did not prejudice others, who did not sin 
actually themselves. But the whole race of mankind stood all in one 
common head and state; from whom they were to be educed and derived by 
natural generation. The sin and apostasy of that one person was the 
sin and apostasy of us all. In him all sinned and died. Wherefore, 
unless there be a recovery made of them, or of some from among them, 
that whole species of intellectual nature--the whole kind of it, in 
all its individuals--which was made capable of doing the will of God, 
so as to come unto the eternal fruition of him, must be eternally lost 
and excluded from it. This, we may say, became not the wisdom and 
goodness of God, no more than it would hays done to have suffered the 
whole angelical nature, in all its individuals, to have perished for 
ever. No created understanding could have been able to discern the 
glory of God in such a dispensation, whereby it would have had no 
glory. That the whole nature, in all the individuals of it, which was 
framed by the power of God out of nothing, and made what it was for 
this very end, that it might glorify him, and come unto the enjoyment 
of him, should eternally perish, if any way of relief for any portion 
of it were possible unto infinite wisdom, does not give an amiable 
representation of the divine excellencies unto us. 
 It was therefore left on the provision of infinite wisdom, that this 
great effect, of recovering a portion of fallen mankind out of this 
miserable estate, wherein there was a suitableness, a condecency unto 
the divine excellencies, should be produced; only, it was to be done 
on and by a free act of the will of God; for otherwise there was no 
obligation on him from any of his properties so to do. 
 But it may be yet said, on the other side, that the nature of man was 
so defiled, so depraved, so corrupted, so alienated and separated from 
God, so obnoxious unto the curse by its sin and apostasy, , that it 
was not reparable to the glory of God; and therefore it would not 
argue any defect in divine power, nor any unsuitableness unto divine 
wisdom and goodness, if it were not actually repaired and restored. I 
answer two things, 
 (1.) The horrible nature of the first sin, and the heinousness of our 
apostasy from God therein, were such and so great, as that God thereon 
might righteously, and suitably unto all the holy properties of his 
nature, leave mankind to perish eternally in that condition whereinto 
they had cast themselves; and if he had utterly forsaken the whole 
race of mankind in that condition, and left them all as remediless as 
the fallen angels, there could have been no reflection on his 
goodness, and an evident suitableness unto his justice and holiness. 
Wherefore, wherever there is any mention in the Scripture of the 
redemption or restoration of mankind, it is constantly proposed as an 
effect of mere sovereign grace and mercy. See Eph 1: 3-11. And those 
who pretend a great difficulty at present, in the reconciliation of 
the eternal perishing of the greatest part of mankind with those 
notions we have of the divine goodness, seem not to have sufficiently 
considered what was contained in our original apostasy from God, nor 
the righteousness of God in dealing with the angels that sinned. For 
when man had voluntarily broken all the relation of love and moral 
good between God and him, had defaced his image--the only 
representation of his holiness and righteousness in this lower world-- 
and deprived him of all his glory from the works of his hands, and had 
put himself into the society and under the conduct of the devil; what 
dishonour could it have been unto God, what diminution would there 
have been of his glory, if he had left him unto his own choice--to eat 
for ever of the fruit of his own ways, and to be filled with his own 
devices unto eternity? It is only infinite wisdom that could find out 
a way for the salvation of any one of the whole race of mankind, so as 
that it might be reconciled unto the glory of his holiness, 
righteousness, and rule. Wherefore, as we ought always to admire 
sovereign grace in the few that shall be saved, so we have no ground 
to reflect on divine goodness in the multitudes that perish, 
especially considering that they all voluntarily continue in their sin 
and apostasy. 
 (2.) I grant the nature of man was not reparable nor recoverable by 
any such actings of the properties of God as he had exerted in the 
creation and rule of all things. Were there not other properties of 
the divine nature than what were discovered and revealed in the 
creation of all--were not some of them so declared capable of an 
exercise in another way or in higher degrees than what had as yet been 
instanced in--it must be acknowledged that the reparation of mankind 
could not be conceived compliant with the divine excellencies, nor to 
be effected by them. I shall give one instance in each sort; namely, 
first in properties of another kind than any which had been manifested 
in the works of creation, and then the acting of some of them so 
manifested, in another way, or farther degree than what they were 
before exerted in or by. 
 [1.] Of the first sort are love, grace, and mercy, which I refer unto 
one head--nature being the same, as they have respect unto sinners. 
For although there were none of them manifested in the works of 
creation, yet are they no less essential properties of the divine 
nature than either power, goodness, or wisdom. With these it was that 
the reparation of our nature was compliant--unto them it had a 
condecency; and the glory of them infinite wisdom designed therein. 
That wisdom, on which it is incumbent to provide for the manifestation 
of all the other properties of God's nature, contrived this work unto 
the glory of his love, mercy, and grace; as in the gospel it is 
everywhere declared. 
 [2.] Of the second sort is divine goodness. This, as the 
communicative property of the divine nature, had exerted itself in the 
creation of all things. Howbeit, it had not done so perfectly--it had 
not done so to the uttermost. But the nature of goodness being 
communicative, it belongs unto its perfection to act itself unto the 
uttermost. This it had not yet done in the creation. Therein "God made 
man," and acted his goodness in the communication of our being unto 
us, with all its endowments. But there yet remained another effect of 
it; which was, that God should be made man, as the way unto, and the 
means of, our recovery. 
 These things being premised, we proceed to inquire more particularly 
by what way and means the recovery of mankind might be wrought, so as 
that God might be glorified thereby. 
 If fallen man be restored and reinstated in his primitive condition, 
or brought into a better, it must either be by himself, or by some 
other undertaking for him; for it must be done by some means or other. 
So great an alteration in the whole state of things was made by the 
entrance of sin, that it was not consistent with the glory of any of 
the divine excellencies that a restoration of all things should be 
made by a mere act of power, without the use of any means for the 
removal of the cause of that alteration. That man himself could not be 
this means--that is, that he could not restore himself--is openly 
evident. Two ways there were whereby he might attempt it, and neither 
jointly nor severally could he do anything in them. 
 1. He might do it by returning unto obedience unto God on his own 
accord. He fell off from God on his own accord by disobedience, 
through the suggestion of Satan; wherefore, a voluntary return unto 
his former obedience would seem to reduce all things unto their first 
estate. But this way was both impossible, and, upon a supposition of 
it, would have been insufficient unto the end designed. For-- 
 (1.) This he could not do. He had, by his sin and fall, lost that 
power whereby he was able to yield any acceptable obedience unto God; 
and a return unto obedience is an act of greater power than a 
persistency in the way and course of it, and more is required 
thereunto. But all man's original power of obedience consisted in the 
image of God. This he had defaced in himself, and deprived himself of. 
Having, therefore, lost that power which should have enabled him to 
live unto God in his primitive condition, he could not retain a 
greater power in the same kind to return thereunto. This, indeed, was 
that which Satan deceived and deluded him withal; namely, that by his 
disobedience he should acquire new light and power, which he had not 
yet received--he should be "like unto God." But he was so far from any 
advantage by his apostasy, that one part of his misery consisted in 
the loss of all power or ability to live to God. 
 This is the folly of that Pelagian heresy, which is now a third time 
attempting to impose itself on the Christian world. It supposeth that 
men have a power of their own to return unto God, after they had lost 
the power they had of abiding with him. It is not, indeed, as yet, 
pretended by many that the first sin was a mere transient act, that no 
way vitiated our nature, or impaired the power, faculty, or principle 
of obedience in us. A wound, they say, a disease, a weakness, it 
brought upon us, and rendered us legally obnoxious unto death 
temporal, which we were naturally liable unto before. Wherefore, it is 
not said that men can return unto that perfect obedience which the law 
required; but that they can comply with and perform that which the 
gospel requireth in the room thereof. For they seem to suppose that 
the gospel is not much more but an accommodation of the rule of 
obedience unto our present reason and abilities, with some motives 
unto it, and an example for it in the personal obedience and suffering 
of Christ. For whereas man forsook the law of obedience first 
prescribed unto him, and fell into various incapacities of observing 
it, God did not, as they suppose, provide, in and by the gospel, a 
righteousness whereby the law might be fulfilled, and effectual grace 
to raise up the nature of man unto the performance of acceptable 
obedience; but only brings down the law and the rule of it into a 
compliance unto our weakened, diseased, depraved nature,--than which, 
if anything can be spoken more dishonourably of the Gospel, I know it 
not. However, this pretended power of returning unto some kind of 
obedience, but not that which was required of us in our primitive 
condition, is no way sufficient unto our restoration; as is evident 
unto all. 
 (2.) As man could not effect his own recovery, so he would not 
attempt it. For he was fallen into that condition wherein, in the 
principles of all his moral operations, he was at enmity against God; 
and whatever did befall him, he would choose to continue in his state 
of apostasy; for he was wholly "alienated from the life of God." He 
likes it not, as that which is incompliant with his dispositions, 
inclinations, and desires--as inconsistent with everything wherein he 
placeth his interest. And hence, as he *cannot* do what he *should* 
through *impotency*, he *will* not do even what he *can* through 
*obstinacy*. It may be, we know not distinctly what to ascribe unto 
man's impotency, and what unto his obstinacy; but between both, he 
neither can nor will return unto God. And his power unto good, though 
not sufficient to bring him again unto God, yet is it not so small but 
that he always chooseth not to make use of it unto that end. In brief, 
there was left in man a fear of divine power--a fear of God because of 
his greatness--which makes him do many things which otherwise he would 
not do; but there is not left in him any love unto divine goodness, 
without which he cannot choose to return unto God. 
 (3.) But let us leave these things which men will dispute about, 
though in express contradiction unto the Scripture and the experience 
of them that are wrought upon to believe; and let us make an 
impossible supposition--that man could and would return unto his 
primitive obedience; yet no reparation of the glory of God, suffering 
in the loss of the former state of all things, would thereon ensue. 
What satisfaction would be hereby made for the injury offered unto the 
holiness, righteousness, and wisdom of God, whose violation in their 
blessed effects was the principal evil of sin? Notwithstanding such a 
supposition, all the disorder that was brought into the rule and 
government of God by sin, with the reflection of dishonour upon him, 
in the rejection of his image, would still continue. And such a 
restitution of things wherein no provision is made for the reparation 
of the glory of God, is not to be admitted. The notion of it may 
possibly please men in their apostate condition, wherein they are 
wholly turned off from God, and into self--not caring what becomes of 
his glory, so it may go well with themselves; but it is highly 
contradictory unto all equity, justice, and the whole reason of 
things, wherein the glory of God is the principal and centre of all. 
 Practically, things are otherwise among many. The most profligate 
sinners in the world, that have a conviction of an eternal condition, 
would be saved. Tell them it is inconsistent with the glory of the 
holiness, righteousness, and truth of God, to save unbelieving, 
impenitent sinners--they are not concerned in it. Let them be saved 
that is, eternally delivered from the evil they fear--and let God look 
unto his own glory; they take no care about it. A soul that is 
spiritually ingenuous, would not be saved in any way but that whereby 
God may be glorified. Indeed, to be saved, and not unto the glory of 
God, implies a contradiction; for our salvation is eternal 
blessedness, in a participation of the glory of God. 
 Secondly, It followeth, therefore, that man must make satisfaction 
unto the justice of God, and thereby a reparation of his glory, that 
he may be saved. This, added unto a complete return unto obedience, 
would effect a restitution of all things; it would do so as unto what 
was past, though it would make no new addition of glory unto God. But 
this became not the nature and efficacy of divine wisdom. It became it 
not merely to retrieve what was past, without a new manifestation and 
exaltation of the divine excellencies. And therefore, in our 
restoration by Christ, there is such a manifestation and exaltation of 
the divine properties as incomparably exceeds whatever could have 
ensued on, or been effected by, the law of creation, had man continued 
in his original obedience. But at present it is granted that this 
addition of satisfaction unto a return unto obedience, would restore 
all things unto their just condition. But as that return was 
impossible unto man, so was this satisfaction for the injury done by 
sin much more. For suppose a mere creature, such as man is, such as 
all men are, in what condition you please, and under all advantageous 
circumstances, yet, whatever he can do towards God is antecedently and 
absolutely due from him in that instant wherein he does it, and that 
in the manner wherein it is done. They must all say, when they have 
done all that they can do, "We are unprofitable servants; we have done 
what was our duty." Wherefore, it is impossible that, by anything a 
man can do well, he should make satisfaction for anything he has done 
ill. For what he so does is due in and for itself; and to suppose that 
satisfaction will be made for a former fault by that whose omission 
would have been another, had the former never been committed, is 
madness. An old debt cannot be discharged with ready money for new 
commodities; nor can past injuries be compensated by present duties, 
which we are anew obliged unto. Wherefore--mankind being indispensably 
and eternally obliged unto the present performance of all duties of 
obedience unto God, according to the utmost of their capacity and 
ability, so as that the non-performance of them in their season, both 
as unto their matter and manner, would be their sin--it is utterly 
impossible that by anything, or all that they can do, they should make 
the least satisfaction unto God for anything they have done against 
him; much less for the horrible apostasy whereof we treat. And to 
attempt the same end by any way which God has not appointed, which he 
has not made their duty, is a new provocation of the highest nature. 
See Micah 6:6-8. 
 It is therefore evident, on all these considerations, that all 
mankind, as unto any endeavours of their own, anything that can be 
fancied as possible for them to design or do, must be left 
irreparable, in a condition of eternal misery. And unless we have a 
full conviction hereof, we can neither admire nor entertain the 
mystery of the wisdom of God in our reparation. And therefore it has 
been the design of Satan, in all ages, to contrive presumptuous 
notions of men's spiritual abilities--to divert their minds from the 
contemplation of the glory of divine wisdom and grace, as alone 
exalted in our recovery. 
 We are proceeding on this supposition, that there was a condecency 
unto the holy perfections of the divine nature, that mankind should be 
restored, or some portion of it recovered unto the enjoyment of 
himself; so angelical nature was preserved unto the same end in those 
that did not sin. And we have showed the general grounds whereon it is 
impossible that fallen man should restore or recover himself. 
Wherefore we must, in the next place, inquire what is necessary unto 
such a restoration, on the account of that concernment of the divine 
excellencies in the sin and apostasy of man which we have stated 
before; for hereby we may obtain light, and an insight into the glory 
of that wisdom whereby it was contrived and effected. And the things 
following, among others, may be observed under that end:-- 
 1. It was required that there should be an obedience yielded unto 
God, bringing more glory unto him than dishonour did arise and accrue 
from the disobedience of man This was due unto the glory of divine 
holiness in giving of the law. Until this was done, the excellency of 
the law, as becoming the holiness of God, and as an effect thereof, 
could not be made manifest. For if it were never kept in any instance, 
never fulfilled by any one person in the world, how should the glory 
of it be declared?--How should the holiness of God be represented by 
it? How should it be evident that the transgression of it was not 
rather from some defect in the law itself, than from any evil in them 
that should have yielded obedience unto it? The obedience yielded by 
the angels that stood and sinned not, made it manifest that the 
transgression of it by them that fell and sinned was from their own 
wills, and not from any unsuitableness unto their nature and state in 
the law itself. But if the law given unto man should never be complied 
withal in perfect obedience by any one whatever, it might be thought 
that the law itself was unsuited unto our nature, and impossible to be 
complied withal. Nor did it become infinite wisdom to give a law whose 
equity, righteousness, and holiness, should never be exemplified in 
obedience--should never be made to appear but in the punishment 
inflicted on its transgressors. Wherefore the original law of personal 
righteousness was not given solely nor primarily that men might suffer 
justly for its transgression, but that God might be gloried in its 
accomplishment. If this be not done, it is impossible that men should 
be restored unto the glory of God. If the law be not fulfilled by 
obedience, man must suffer evermore for his disobedience, or God must 
lose the manifestation of his holiness therein. Besides, God had 
represented his holiness in that image of it which was implanted on 
our nature, and which was the principle enabling us unto obedience. 
This also was rejected by sin, and therein the holiness of God 
despised. If this be not restored in our nature, and that with 
advantages above what it had in its first communication, we cannot be 
recovered unto the glory of God. 
 2. It was necessary that the disorder brought into the rule and 
government of God by sin and rebellion should be rectified. This could 
no otherwise be done but by the infliction of that punishment which, 
in the unalterable rule and standard of divine justice, was due 
thereunto. The dismission of sin on any other terms would leave the 
rule of God under unspeakable dishonour and confusion; for where is 
the righteousness of government, if the highest sin and provocation 
that our nature was capable of, and which brought confusion on the 
whole creation below, should for ever go unpunished? The first express 
intimation that God gave of his righteousness in the government of 
mankind, was his threatening a punishment equal unto the demerit of 
disobedience, if man should fall into it: "In the day thou eatest 
thereof thou shalt die." If he revoke and disannul this sentence, how 
shall the glory of his righteousness in the rule of all be made known? 
But how this punishment should be undergone, which consisted in man's 
eternal ruin, and yet man be eternally saved, was a work for divine 
wisdom to contrive. This, therefore, was necessary unto the honour of 
God's righteousness, as he is the supreme governor and Judge of all 
the earth 
 3. It was necessary that Satan should be justly despoiled of his 
advantage and power over mankind, unto the glory of God; for he was 
not to be left to triumph in his success. And inasmuch as man was, on 
his part, rightfully given up unto him, his deliverance was not to be 
wrought by an act of absolute dominion and power, but in a way of 
justice and lawful judgement; which things shall be afterward spoken 
 Without these things the recovery of mankind into the favour and unto 
the enjoyment of God was utterly impossible, on the account of the 
concernment of the glory of his divine perfections in our sin and 
 How all this might be effected--how the glory of the holiness and 
righteousness of God in his law and rule, and in the punitive 
constitution of our nature, might be repaired--how his goodness, love, 
grace, and mercy, might be manifested and exalted in this work of the 
reparation of mankind--was left unto the care and contrivance of 
infinite wisdom. From the eternal springs thereof must this work 
arise, or cease for ever. 
 To trace some of the footsteps of divine wisdom herein, in and from 
the revelation of it by its effects, is that which lieth before us. 
And sundry things appear to have been necessary hereunto. 
 1. That all things required unto our restoration, the whole work 
wherein they consist, must be wrought in our own nature--in the nature 
that had sinned, and which was to be restored and brought unto glory. 
On supposition, I say, of the salvation of our nature, no satisfaction 
can be made unto the glory of God for the sin of that nature, but in 
the nature itself that sinned and is to be saved. For whereas God gave 
the law unto man as an effect of his wisdom and holiness, which he 
transgressed in his disobedience, wherein could the glory of them or 
either of them be exalted, if the same law were complied withal and 
fulfilled in and by a nature of another kind--suppose that of angels? 
For, notwithstanding any such obedience, yet the law might be unsuited 
unto the nature of man, whereunto it was originally prescribed. 
Wherefore, there would be a veil drawn over the glory of God in giving 
the law unto man, if it were not fulfilled by obedience in the same 
nature; nor can there be any such relation between the obedience and 
sufferings of one nature in the stead and for the disobedience of 
another, as that glory might ensue unto the wisdom, holiness, and 
justice of God, in the deliverance of that other nature thereon. 
 The Scripture abounds in the declaration of the necessity hereof, 
with its condecency unto divine wisdom. Speaking of the way of our 
relief and recovery, "Verily," says the apostle, "he took not on him 
the nature of angels," Heb. 2:16. Had it been the recovery of angels 
which he designed, he would have taken their nature on him. But this 
would have been no relief at all unto us, no more than the assuming of 
our nature is of advantage unto the fallen angels. The obedience and 
sufferings of Christ therein extended not at all unto them--nor was it 
just or equal that they should be relieved thereby. What, then, was 
required unto our deliverance? Why, saith he, "Forasmuch as the 
children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise 
took part of the same," verse 14. It was human nature (here expressed 
by flesh and blood) that was to be delivered; and therefore it was 
human nature wherein this deliverance was to be wrought. This the same 
apostle disputes at large, Rom. 5: 12-19. The sum is, that "as by one 
man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one" 
(of one man, Jesus Christ, verse 15) "are many made righteous." The 
same nature that sinned must work out the reparation and recovery from 
sin. So he affirms again, 1 Cor. 15: 21, "For since by man came death, 
by man came also the resurrection of the dead." No otherwise could our 
ruin be retrieved, nor our deliverance from sin with all the 
consequents of it be effected,--which came by man, which were 
committed and deserved in and by our nature,--but by man, by one of 
the same nature with us. This, therefore, in the first place, became 
the wisdom of God, that the world of deliverance should be wrought in 
our own nature,--in the nature that had sinned. 
 2. That part of human nature wherein or whereby this work was to be 
effected, as unto the essence or substance of it, was to be derived 
from the common root or stock of the same nature, in our first 
parents. It would not suffice hereunto that God should create a man, 
out of the dust of the earth or out of nothing, of the same nature in 
general with ourselves; for there would be no cognation or alliance 
between him and us, so that we should be any way concerned in what he 
did or suffered: for this advance depends solely hereon, that God " 
has made of one blood all nations of men," Acts 17: 26. Hence it is 
that the genealogy of Christ is given us in the a~-- not only from 
Abraham, to declare the faithfulness of God in the promise that he 
should be of his seed, but from Adam also, to manifest his relation 
unto the common stock of our nature, and unto all mankind therein. 
 The first discovery of the wisdom of God herein was in that primitive 
revelation, that the Deliverer should be of "the seed of the woman," 
Gen. 3: 15. No other but he who was so could "break the serpent's 
head," or "destroy the work of the devil," so as that we might be 
delivered and restored. He was not only to be partaker of our nature, 
but he was so to be, by being "the seed of the woman," Gal. 4: 4. He 
was not to be created out of nothing, nor to be made of the dust of 
the earth, but so "made of a woman," as that thereby be might receive 
our nature from the common root and spring of it. Thus "he who 
sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one," Heb. 2:11,-- 
"ex henos"; that is, "furamatos"--of the same mass, of one nature and 
blood; whence he is not ashamed to call them brethren. This also was 
to be brought forth from the treasures of infinite wisdom. 
 3. This nature of ours, wherein the work of our recovery and 
salvation is to be wrought and performed, was not to be so derived 
from the original stock of our kind or race as to bring along with it 
the same taint of sin, and the same liableness unto guilt, upon its 
own account, as accompany every other individual person in the world; 
for, as the apostle speaks, "such a high priest became us" (and as a 
high priest was he to accomplish this work) "as was holy, harmless, 
undefiled, separate from sinners." For, if this nature in him were so 
defiled as it is in us--if it were under a deprivation of the image of 
God, as it is in our persons before our renovation--it could do 
nothing that should be acceptable unto him. And if it were subject 
unto guilt on its own account, it could make no satisfaction for the 
sin of others. Here, therefore, again occurs "dignus vindice nodus"--a 
difficulty which nothing but divine wisdom could expedite. 
 To take a little farther view hereof, we must consider on what 
grounds these things (spiritual defilement and guilt) do adhere unto 
our nature, as they are in all our individual persons. And the first 
of these is--that our entire nature, as unto our participation of it, 
was in Adam, as our head and representative. Hence his sin became the 
sin of us all--justly imputed unto us and charged on us. In him we all 
sinned; all did so who were in him as their common representative when 
he sinned. Hereby we became the natural "children of wrath," or liable 
unto the wrath of God for the common sin of our nature, in the natural 
and legal head or spring of it. And the other is--that we derive our 
nature from Adam by the way of natural generation. By that means alone 
is the nature of our first parents, as defiled, communicated unto us; 
for by this means do we become to appertain unto the stock as it was 
degenerate and corrupt. Wherefore that part of our nature wherein and 
whereby this great work was to be wrought, must, as unto its essence 
and substance, be derived from our first parent,--yet so as never to 
have been in Adam as a common representative, nor be derived from him 
by natural generation. 
 The bringing forth of our nature in such an instance--wherein it 
should relate no less really and truly unto the first Adam than we do 
ourselves, whereby there is the strictest alliance of nature between 
him so partaker of it and us, yet so as not in the least to 
participate of the guilt of the first sin, nor of the defilement of 
our nature thereby must be an effect of infinite wisdom beyond the 
conceptions of any created understanding. And this, as we know, was 
done in the person of Christ; for his human nature was never in Adam 
as his representative, nor was he comprised in the covenant wherein he 
stood. For he derived it legally only from and after the first 
promise, when Adam ceased to be a common person. Nor did it proceed 
from him by natural generation--the only means of the derivation of 
its depravation and pollution; for it was a "holy thing," created in 
the womb of the Virgin by the power of the Most High. "O the depths of 
the wisdom and knowledge of God!" 
 It was necessary, therefore, on all these considerations--it was so 
unto the glory of the holy properties of the divine nature, and the 
reparation of the honour of his holiness and righteousness--that he by 
whom the work of our recovery was to be wrought should be a man, 
partaker of the nature that sinned, yet free from all sin, and all the 
consequent of it. And this did divine wisdom contrive and accomplish 
in the human nature of Jesus Christ. 
 But yet, in the second place, on all the considerations before 
mentioned, it is no less evident that this work could not be wrought 
or effected by him who was no more than a mere man, who had no nature 
but ours--who was a human person, and no more. There was no one act 
which he was to perform, in order unto our deliverance, but did 
require a divine power to render it efficacious. But herein lies that 
great mystery of godliness whereunto a continual opposition has been 
made by the gates of hell; as we manifested in the entrance of this 
discourse. But whereas it belongs unto the foundation of our faith, we 
must inquire into it, and confirm the truth of it with such 
demonstrations as divine revelation does accommodate us withal. And 
three things are to be spoken unto. 
 First, We are to give in rational evidences that the recovery of 
mankind was not to be effected by any one who was a mere man, and no 
more, though it were absolutely necessary that a man he should be; he 
must be God also. Secondly, We must inquire into the suitableness or 
condecency unto divine wisdom in the redemption and salvation of the 
church by Jesus Christ, who was God and man in one person; and thereon 
give a description of the person of Christ and its constitution, which 
suiteth all the ends of infinite wisdom in this glorious work. The 
first of these falls under sundry plain demonstrations. 
 1. That human nature might be restored, or any portion of mankind be 
eternally saved unto the glory of God, it was necessary, as we proved 
before, that an obedience should be yielded unto God and his law, 
which should give and bring more glory and honour unto his holiness 
than there was dishonour reflected on it by the disobedience of us 
all. Those who are otherwise minded care not what becomes of the glory 
of God, so that wicked, sinful man may be saved one way or other. But 
these thoughts spring out of our apostasy, and belong not unto that 
estate wherein we loved God above all, and preferred his glory above 
all,--as it was with us at the first, in the original constitution of 
our nature. But such an obedience could never be yielded unto God by 
any mere creature whatever,--not by any one who was only a man, 
however dignified and exalted in state and condition above all others. 
For to suppose that God should be pleased and glorified with the 
obedience of any one man, more than he was displeased and dishonored 
by the disobedience of Adam and all his posterity, is to fancy things 
that have no ground in reason or justice, or are any way suitable unto 
divine wisdom and holiness. He who undertaketh this work must have 
somewhat that is divine and infinite, to put an infinite value on his 
obedience--that is, he must be God. 
 2. The obedience of such a one, of a mere man, could have no 
influence at all on the recovery of mankind, nor the salvation of the 
church. For, whatever it were, it would be all due from him for 
himself, and so could only profit or benefit himself; for what is due 
from any on his own account, cannot redound or be reckoned unto the 
advantage of another. But there is no mere creature, nor can there be 
any such, but he is obliged for himself unto all the obedience unto 
God that he is capable of the performance of in this world; as we have 
before declared. Yea, universal obedience, in all possible instances, 
is so absolutely necessary unto him, as a creature made in dependence 
on God, and for the enjoyment of him, that the voluntary omission of 
it, in any one instance, would be a criminal disobedience, ruinous 
unto his own soul. Wherefore, no such obedience could be accepted as 
any kind of compensation for the disobedience of others, or in their 
stead. He, then, that performs this obedience must be one who was not 
originally obliged thereunto, on his own account, or for himself. And 
this must be a divine person, and none other; for evermore creature is 
so obliged. And there is nothing more fundamental in Gospel 
principles, than that the Lord Christ, in his divine person, was above 
the law, and for himself owed no obedience thereunto; but by his own 
condescension, as he was "made of a woman" for us, so he was "made 
under the law" for us. And therefore, those by whom the divine person 
of Christ is denied, do all of them contend that he yielded obedience 
unto God for himself, and not for us. But herein they bid defiance 
unto the principal effect of divine wisdom, wherein God will be 
eternally glorified. 
 3. The people to be freed, redeemed, and brought unto glory, were 
great and innumerable; "a great multitude, which no man can number," 
Rev. 7: 9. The sins which they were to be delivered, ransomed, and 
justified from--for which a propitiation was to be made--were next 
unto absolutely infinite. They wholly surpass the comprehension of any 
created understanding, or the compass of imagination. And in every one 
of them there was something reductively infinite, as committed against 
an infinite Majesty. The miseries which hereon all these persons were 
obnoxious unto were infinite, because eternal; or all that evil which 
our nature is capable to suffer was by them all eternally to be 
 By all these persons, in all these sins, there was an inroad made on 
the rule and government of God, an affront given unto his justice, in 
the violation of his law; nor can any of them be delivered from the 
consequent hereof in eternal misery, without a compensation and 
satisfaction made unto the justice of God. To assert the contrary, is 
to suppose, that upon the matter it is all one to him whether he be 
obeyed or disobeyed, whether he be honoured or dishonored, in and by 
his creatures; and this is all one as to deny his very being, seeing 
it opposeth the glory of his essential properties. Now, to suppose 
that a mere man, by his temporary suffering of external pains, should 
make satisfaction unto the justice of God for all the sins of all 
these persons, so as it should be right and just with him not only to 
save and deliver them from all the evils they were liable unto, but 
also to bring them unto life and glory, is to constitute a mediation 
between God and man that should consist in appearance and ostentation, 
and not be an effect of divine wisdom, righteousness, and holiness, 
nor have its foundation in the nature and equity of things themselves. 
For the things supposed will not be reduced unto any rules of justice 
or proportion, that one of them should be conceived in any sense to 
answer unto the other, that is, there is nothing which answers any 
rule, notions, or conceptions of justice--nothing that might be 
exemplary unto men in the punishment of crimes, that the sins of an 
infinite number of men, deserving every one of them eternal death, 
should be expiated by the temporary sufferings of one mere man, so as 
to demonstrate the righteousness of God in the punishment of sin. But 
God does not do these things for show or appearance, but according 
unto the real exigence of the holy properties of his nature. And on 
that supposition, there must be a proportion between the things 
themselves--namely, the sufferings of one and the deliverance of all. 
 Nor could the faith of man ever find a stable foundation to fix upon 
on the supposition before mentioned. No faith is able to conflict with 
this objection, that the sufferings of one mere man should be accepted 
with God as a just compensation for the sins of the whole church. Men 
who, in things of this nature, satisfy themselves with notions and 
fancies, may digest such suppositions; but those who make use of faith 
for their own delivery from under a conviction of sin, the nature and 
demerit of it, with a sense of the wrath of God, and the curse of the 
law against it, can find no relief in such notions or apprehensions. 
But it became the wisdom of God, in the dispensation of himself herein 
unto the church, so to order things as that faith might have an 
immovable rock to build upon. This alone it has in the person of 
Christ, God and man, his obedience and sufferings. Wherefore, those by 
whom the divine nature of the Lord Christ is denied, do all of them 
absolutely deny also that he made any satisfaction unto divine justice 
for sin. They will rather swallow all the absurdities which the 
absolute dismission of sin without satisfaction or punishment does 
bring along with it, than grant that a mere man could make any such 
satisfaction by his temporary sufferings for the sins of the world. 
And, on the other hand, whoever does truly and sincerely believe the 
divine person of Christ namely, that he was God and man in one person, 
and as such a person acted in the whole work of mediation--he cannot 
shut his eyes against the glorious light of this truth, that what he 
did and suffered in that work must have an intrinsic worth and 
excellency in it, outbalancing all the evil in the sins of mankind-- 
that more honour and glory accrued unto the holiness and law of God by 
his obedience than dishonour was cast on them by the disobedience of 
Adam and all his posterity. 
 4. The way whereby the church was to be recovered and saved, was by 
such works and acting as one should take on himself to perform in the 
way of an office committed unto him for that end. For whereas man 
could not recover, ransom, nor save himself as we have proved, the 
whole must be wrought for him by another. The undertaking hereof by 
another must depend on the infinite wisdom, counsel, and pleasure of 
God, with the will and consent of him who was to undertake it. So also 
did the constitution of the way and means in particular whereby this 
deliverance was to be wrought. Hereon it became his office to do the 
things which were required unto that end. But we have before proved, 
apart by itself, that no office unto this purpose could be discharged 
towards God, or the whole church, by any one who was a man only. I 
shall not, therefore, here farther insist upon it, although there be 
good argument in it unto our present purpose. 
 5. If man be recovered, he must be restored into the same state, 
condition, and dignity, wherein he was placed before the fall. To 
restore him with any diminution of honour and blessedness was not 
suited unto divine wisdom and bounty; yea, seeing it was the infinite 
grace, goodness, and mercy of God to restore him, it seems agreeable 
unto the glory of divine excellencies in their operations, that he 
should be brought into a better and more honourable condition than 
that which he had lost. But before the fall, man was not subject nor 
obedient unto any but unto God alone. Somewhat less he was in dignity 
than the angels; howbeit he owed them no obedience--they were his 
fellow-servants. And as for all other things here below, they were 
made "subject unto him, and put under his feet," he himself being in 
subjection unto God alone. But if he were deemed and restored by one 
who was a mere creature, he could not be restored unto this state and 
dignity; for, on all grounds of right and equity, he must owe all 
service and obedience unto him by whom he was redeemed, restored, and 
recovered, as the author of the state wherein he is. For when we are 
"bought with a price," we are not our own, as the apostle affirms, 1 
Cor. 6: 19, 20. We are therefore his who has bought us; and him are we 
bound to serve in our souls and bodies, which are his. Accordingly, in 
the purchase of us, the Lord Christ became our absolute Lord, unto 
whom we owe all religious subjection of soul and conscience, Rom. 14: 
7-9. It would follow, therefore, that if we were redeemed and 
recovered by the interposition of a mere creature--if such a one were 
our Redeemer, Saviour, and Deliverer--into the service of a mere 
creature (that is, religious service and obedience) we should be 
recovered. And so they believe who affirm the Lord Christ to be a man, 
and no more. But, on this supposition, we are so far from an 
advancement in state and dignity by our restoration, that we do not 
recover what we were first instated in. For it belonged thereunto that 
we should owe religious service and obedience unto him alone who was 
God by nature over all, blessed for ever. And they bring all confusion 
into Christian religion, who make a mere creature the object of our 
faith, love, adoration, invocation, and all sacred worship. But in our 
present restoration we are made subject anew, as unto religious 
service, only unto God alone. Therefore the holy angels, the head of 
the creation, do openly disclaim any such service and veneration from 
us, because they are only the fellow-servants of them that have the 
testimony of Jesus, Rev. 19: 10. Nor has God put the "world to come," 
the gospel state of the church, into subjection unto angels, or any 
other creature, but only unto the Son, who is Lord over his own house, 
even he that made all things, who is God, Heb. 3: 4-6. Wherefore, we 
are restored into our primitive condition, to be in spiritual 
subjection unto God alone. He, therefore, by whom we are restored, 
unto whom we owe all obedience and religious service, is, and ought to 
be, God also. And as they utterly overthrow the gospel who affirm that 
all the obedience of it is due unto him who is a man, and no more--as 
do all by whom the divine nature of Christ is denied; so they debase 
themselves beneath the dignity of the state of redemption, and cast 
dishonour on the mediation of Christ, who subject themselves in any 
religious service to saints or angels, or any other creatures 
 On these suppositions, which are full of light and evidence, infinite 
Wisdom did interpose itself, to glorify all the other concerned 
excellencies of the glory of God, in such a way as might solve all 
difficulties, and satisfy all the ends of God's glory, in the recovery 
and redemption of mankind. The case before it was as followeth:-- 
 Man, by sin, had cast the most inconceivable dishonour on the 
righteousness, holiness, goodness, and rule of God; and himself into 
the guilt of eternal ruin. In this state it became the wisdom and 
goodness of God, neither to suffer the whole race of mankind to come 
short eternally of that enjoyment of himself for which it was created, 
nor yet to deliver any one of them without a retrieval of the eternal 
honour of his righteousness, holiness, and rule, from the diminution 
and waste that was made of it by sin. As this could no way be done but 
by a full satisfaction unto justice and an obedience unto the law, 
bringing and yielding more honour unto the holiness and righteousness 
of God than they could any way lose by the sin and disobedience of 
man;--so this satisfaction must be made, and this obedience be 
yielded, in and by the same nature that sinned or disobeyed, whereby 
alone the residue of mankind may be interested in the benefits and 
effects of that obedience and satisfaction. Yet was it necessary 
hereunto, that the nature wherein all this was to be performed, though 
derived from the same common stock with that whereof in all our 
persons we are partakers, should be absolutely free from the contagion 
and guilt which, with it and by it, are communicated unto our persons 
from that common stock. Unless it were so, there could be no 
undertaking in it for others--it would not be able to answer for 
itself. But yet, on all these suppositions, no undertaking, no 
performance of duty, in human nature, could possibly yield that 
obedience unto God, or make that satisfaction for sin, whereon the 
deliverance of others might ensue, unto the glory of the holiness, 
righteousness, and rule of God. 
 In this state of things did infinite Wisdom interpose itself, in that 
glorious, ineffable contrivance of the person of Christ or of the 
divine nature in the eternal Son of God and of ours in the same 
individual person. Otherwise this work could not be accomplished,--at 
least all other ways are hidden from the eyes of all living, no 
created understanding being able to apprehend any other way whereby it 
might so have been, unto the eternal glory of God. This, therefore, is 
such an effect of divine wisdom as will be the object of holy 
adoration and admiration unto eternity,--as unto this life, bow little 
a portion is it we know of its excellency!

John Owen, Christologia

(continued in Part 17...)

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