The Method of Grace

by John Flavel

Christ, "The Lord of Glory"
 
"Which, none of the princes of this world have known, for had they
known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 Cor. 2: 8.
     
    In this chapter the apostle discourses to the Corinthians, of
the excellency of his ministry, both to obviate the contempt which
some cast upon it for want of human ornaments, and to give the
greater authority unto it among all: and whereas the spiritual
simplicity of his ministry laid it under the contempt of some, he
removes that several ways, by showing them,
    First, That it was not suitable to the design and end of his
ministry, his aim being "to know nothing among them, save Jesus
Christ, and him crucified," ver. 1, 2.
    Secondly, Neither was it for the advantage of their souls; it
might indeed tickle their fancies, but could be no solid foundation
to their faith and comfort, ver. 4, 5.
    Thirdly, Though his discourses seemed jejune and dry to carnal
hearers, yet they had a depth and excellency in them, which
spiritual and judicious Christians saw and acknowledged, ver. 6, 7.
    Fourthly, Therefore this excellent wisdom which he preached far
transcended all the natural wisdom of this world; yes, the most
raised and improved understandings of those that were most renowned
and admired in that age for wisdom, ver. 8. "which none of the
princes of this world knew."
    In which words we have,
    1. A negative proposition.
    2. The proof of the proposition.
    First, A negative proposition: None of the princes of this
world knew that spiritual wisdom which he taught. By princes of this
world, or rather, principes seculi, the princes of that age, he
means, as Cameron well notes, the learned Rabbis, Scribes, and
Pharisees, renowned for wisdom and learning among them; and honored
upon that account as so many princes: but he adds a diminutive term,
which darkens all their glory: They are but the princes of this
world, utterly unacquainted with the wisdom of the other world. To
which he adds,
    Secondly, A clear and full proof; "For had they known it, they
would not have crucified the Lord of glory." In which words we find
one of Christ's glorious and royal titles, The Lord of glory: upon
which title will be my present discourse. The words being fitly
rendered, and nothing of ambiguity in them, they give us this
observation,
     
    Doctrine. That Christ crucified is the Lord of glory.
     
    Great and excellent is the glory of Jesus Christ, the
scriptures everywhere proclaim his glory: yes, we may observe a
notable climax, or gradation, in those scriptures that speak of his
glory. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of him, calls him glorious; Isaiah
4: 2. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and
glorious." John, speaking of his glory, rises a step higher, and
ascribes to him a "glory as of the only begotten Son of the
Father," John 1: 14. that is a glory meet for, and becoming the Son of
God: proper to him, and incommunicable to any other. The apostle
James rises yet higher, and does not only call him glorious, or
glorious as the only begotten of the Father, but the glory, James 2:
1. glory in the abstract; "My brethren, (says he) have not the
faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory, with respect of persons;"
For the word "Lord", which is in our translation, is a supplement;
Christ is glory itself, yes, the glory emphatically so stiled; the
glory of heaven; the glory of Zion; the glory of our souls forever.
The author to the Hebrews goes yet higher, and calls him not simply
the glory, but "the brightness of the Father's glory," Heb. 1: 3. as
though he should say, the radiancy, sparkling, or beaming forth of
his Father's glory; the very splendor or refulgency of divine
glory. O what a glorious Lord is our Lord Jesus Christ! the bright,
sparkling diamond of heaven; who shines in glory there, above the
glory of angels and saints, as the glory of the sun excels the
lesser, twinkling stars. When he appeared to Paul, Acts 26: 13. "I
saw (says he) a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun,
shining round about me:" Needs must the glory of Christ be
unspeakable, who reflects glory upon all that are with him, John 17:
24. and stamps glory upon all that belong to him. His works on earth
were glorious works, Luke 13: 17. the purchased liberty of his
people, a glorious liberty, Romans 8: 21. the church his mystical
body, a glorious church, Eph. 5: 27. the gospel which reveals him is
a glorious gospel, 1 Tim. 1: 11.
    But more particularly let us consider the glory of Christ, as
it is distinguished into his either,
    1. Essential, or,
    2. Mediatorial glory.
    First, The essential glory of Christ, which he has as God from
everlasting; which is unspeakable and inconceivable glory: For
(says the apostle, Phil. 2: 6.) "He being in the form of God,
thought it no robbery to be equal with God," that is he has a peerage
or equality with his Father in glory; John 10: 80. "I and my Father
are one." And again, John 16: 15. "All things that the Father has
are mine:" the same name, the same nature, the same essential
properties, the same will, and the same glory.
    Secondly, The mediatorial glory of Christ is exceeding great.
This is proper to him, as the head of the church, which he has
purchased with his own blood. Of this glory the apostle speaks,
Phil. 2: 9, 10. "Wherefore God also has exalted him, and given him a
name, which is above every name, &c. "huperupsose", exalted above
all exaltation. Now the mediatorial glory of our Lord Jesus Christ
consists either,
    1. In the fullness of grace inherent in him; or,
    2. In the dignity and authority put upon him.
    First, In the tallness of grace inherent in him: The humanity
of Christ is filled with grace, as the sun with light: John 1: 14.
"Full of grace and truth." Never any creature was filled by the
Spirit of grace, as the man Christ Jesus is filled; for "God gives
not the Spirit to him by measure," John 3:34. By reason of this
fullness of grace inherent in him, he is "fairer than the children of
men," Psalm. 14: 2. excelling all the saints in spiritual luster and
gracious excellencies.
    Secondly, In the dignity and authority put upon him. He is
crowned King in Zion; all power in heaven and earth is given unto
him, Matthew. 28: 18. he is a law-giver to the church, James 4: 12.
all acts of worship are to be performed in his name; prayer,
preaching, censures, sacraments, all to be administered in his name.
Church officers are commissioned by him, Eph. 4: 11. The judgment
of the world in the great day will be administered by him; Matthew.
25: 81. "Then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory."
    To conclude, Jesus Christ shall have glory and honor ascribed
to him for evermore, by angels and saints, upon the account of his
mediatorial work; this some divines call his passive glory, the
glory which he is said to receive from his redeemed ones. Rev. 5: 8,
9, 10. "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, and the
four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having everyone
of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the
prayers of the saints; and they sung a new song, saying, You are
worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for you
west slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood, out of every
kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," &c. And thus you see
that our Lord Jesus Christ is upon all accounts the Lord of glory.
The uses follow.
    Inference 1. How wonderful was the love of Christ, the Lord of
Priory, to be so abased and bumbled, as he was for us, vile and
sinful dust? It is astonishing to conceive that ever Jesus Christ
should strip himself of his robes of glory, to clothe himself with
the mean garment of our flesh: O what a stoop did he make in his
incarnation for us! If the most magnificent monarch upon earth had
been degraded into a toad; if the sun in the heavens had been turned
into a wandering atom; if the most glorious angel in heaven had been
transformed even into a fly; it had been nothing to the abasement of
the Lord of glory. This act is everywhere celebrated in scripture as
the great mystery, the astonishing wonder of the whole world, 2 Tim.
3: 16. Phil 2: 8. Romans 8: 3. The Lord of glory looked not like
himself, when he came in the habit of a man; Isaiah 53: 3. "We hid, as
it were our faces from him:" Nay, rather like a worm than a man,
Psalm. 22: 6. "A reproach of men, and despised of the people." The
birds of the air and beasts of the earth were here provided of
better accommodations than the Lord of glory, Matthew. 8: 20. O
stupendous abasement! O love unspeakable! "Though he was rich, yet
for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be
rich," 2 Cor. 8: 9. He put off the crown of glory to put on the
crown of thorns; Quanto pro me vilior, tanto mihi charior, said
Bernard; The lower he humbled himself for me, the dearer he shall be
to me.
    Inference. 2. How transcendently glorious is the advancement of be
believers, by their union with the Lord of glory? This also is an
admirable and astonishing mystery; it is the highest dignity of
which our nature is capable, to be hypostatically united; and the
greatest glory of which our persons are capable is to be mystically
united to this Lord of glory, to be bone of his bone, and flesh of
his flesh. O what is this! Christian, do you know and believe all
this, and your heart not burn within you in love to Christ? O! then,
what a heart have you? What are you, by nature, but sinful dust, a
loathsome sinner, viler than the vilest creature, cast out to the
loathing of your person in the day of your nativity! O that ever the
Lord of glory should unite himself to such a lump of vileness! take
such a wretch into his very bosom! Be astonished, O heavens and
earth, at this! this is the great mystery which the angels stooped
down to look into: Such an honor as this could never have catered
into the heart of man. It would have seemed a crude blasphemy in us,
once to have thought or spoken of such a things, had not Christ made
first the motion thereof; yet how long did you make this Lord of
glory wait upon your undetermined will, before he gained your consent?
Might he not justly have spurned you into hell, upon your first
refusal, and never have made you such another offer? Will you not
say, Lord, what am I, and what is my father's house, that so great a
King, should stoop so far beneath himself, to such a worm as I am!
That strength should unite itself to weakness, infinite glory to
such baseness! O grace, grace, forever to be admired!
    Inference. 3. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of glory? Then let no man
count himself dishonored by suffering the vilest indignities for
his sake: The Lord of glory puts glory upon the very suffering you
undergo in this world for him. "Moses esteemed the reproaches of
Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt," Heb. 11: 26. he
cast a kingdom at his heels, to be crowned with reproaches, for the
name of Christ. The diadem of Egypt was not half so glorious as self-
denial for Christ. This Lord of' glory freely degraded himself' for
you; will you stand hesitating with him upon terms? It is
certainly your honor to be dishonored for Christ, Acts 5: 41. to
you it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe, but also
to suffer for his sake, Phil. 1: 29. The gift of suffering is there
matched with the gift of faith; it is given as an honorarium, a
badge of honor to suffer for the Lord of glory. As all have not the
honor to wear the crown of glory in heaven, so few have the honor
to wear the chain of Christ upon earth. Thanus reports of Ludovicus
Marsacus, a knight of France, that being led to suffer with other
martyrs, who were bound, and he unbound, because a person of honor;
he cried out, "Why don't you honor me with a chain too, and create
me a knight of that noble order?" My brethren, count it all joy when
you fall into divers temptations, James 1: 2. that is trials by
sufferings. David thought it an honor to be vile for God, and that
is a true observation that disgrace itself is glorious when endured
for the Lord of glory.
    Inference. 4. Is Christ the Lord of glory? How glorious then shall
the saints one day be, when they shall be made like this glorious
Lord, and partake of his glory in heaven?, John 17: 22. "The glory
which you gave me, I have given them:" Yes, the vile bodies of
believers shall be made like to the glorious body of Christ, Phil.
3: 21. What glory then will be communicated to their souls? True,
his essential glory is incommunicable; but there is a glory which
Christ will communicate to his people. "When he comes to judge the
world, he will come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired
in all them that believe," 2 Thes. 1: 10. Thus he seems to account
his social glory, which shall result from his saints, a great part
of his own glory: As we have now fellowship with him in his
sufferings, so we shall have a fellowship or communion with him in
his glory: When he shall appear, then shall we also appear with him
in glory; then the poorest believer shall be more glorious than
Solomon in all his royalty. It was a pious saying of Luther, that he
had rather be Christianus rusticus, quam Ethnicus Alexander; a
Christian clown, then a Pagan emperor. The righteous is more
excellent than his neighbor, though he live next door to a
graceless nobleman: But it does not yet appear what they shall be.
The day will come, it certainly will come, for the Lord has spoken
it, when they shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their
Father.
    Inference. 5. How has the devil blindfolded, and deluded them
that are frighted off from Christ, by the fears of being dishonored by
him? Many persons have half a mind to religion, but when they
consider the generality of its processors to be persons of the
lowest and meanest rank in the world, and that reproaches and
sufferings attend that way; they shrink back as men ashamed, and as
Salvian says, Mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur; they chuse
rather to remain wicked, than to be esteemed vile: But to them that
believe, Christ is an honor; as the word which we translate
"precious" might be rendered, 1 Pet. 2: 7. Until God open men's eyes
thus, they will put evil for good, and good for evil. But O dear
bought honors, for which men stake their souls and everlasting
happiness! Paul was not of your mind: for birth he was an Hebrew of
the Hebrews; for dignity and esteem, a Pharisee; for moral
accomplishments, touching the law, blameless: Yet all this he
trampled under his feet, counting it all but dross and dung in
comparison of Jesus Christ. Moses had more honor to lay down for
Christ than you; yet it was no temptation to him to conceal or deny
the faith of Christ. Noble Galeacius would not be withheld from
Christ by the splendor and glory of Italy; but O, how does the
glory of this world dazzle and blind the eyes of many: "How can you
believe (says Christ) who receive honor one of another?" John 5:
44. Saints and sinners, upon this account, are wonders one to the
other. It is the wonder of the world to see Christians glory in
reproaches; they wonder that the saints run not with them into the
same excess of riot; and it is a wonder to believers, how such poor
toys and empty titles (rather than titles of honor) should keep the
world as it does from Jesus Christ, and their everlasting happiness
in him.
    Inference. 6. If Christ be the Lord of glory, how careful should all
be who profess him, that they do not dishonor Jesus Christ, whose
name is called upon by them? Christ is a glory to you, be not you a
shame and dishonor to him. How careful had Christians need to be,
to draw every line and action of their lives exactly: The more
glorious Christ is, the more circumspect and watchful you had need to
be. How lovely would Jesus Christ appear to the world, if the lives
of Christians did adorn the doctrine of God their Savior, in all
things! Remember, you represent the Lord of glory to the world; it
is not your honor only, but the honor of Christ which is engaged
and concerned in your actions. O let not the carelessness or scandal
of your life, make Jesus Christ ashamed to be called your Lord. When
Israel had grievously revolted from God, he bids Moses rise and get
down from thence; for (says he) your people, which you have brought
forth out of Egypt, have corrupted themselves, Deut. 9: 12. as if
the Lord were ashamed to own them for his people any longer. It was
a cutting question, James 2: 7. apt to startle the consciences of
these loose professors; "Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by
which you are called? Your duty is to adorn the gospel by your
conversations, Titus 2: 10. The words signify to deck, trim, or
adorn the gospel, to make it trim, neat, and lovely, to the eyes of
beholders. When there is such a beautiful harmony, and lovely
proportion between Christ's doctrine and your practices, as there is
in the works of creation, wherein the loveliness and elegance of the
world much consists, (for to this the apostle's word here alludes)
then do we walk suitably to the Lord of glory.
    Inference. 7. What delight should Christians take in their daily
converse with Jesus Christ in the way of duty? Your converses in
prayer, hearing, and meditation, are with the Lord of glory: The
greatest peers in the kingdom count it more honor to be in the
presence of a king, bare-headed, or upon the knee at court, than to
have thousands standing bare to them in the country. When you are
called to the duties of communion with Christ, you are called to the
greatest honor, dignified with the noblest privilege creatures are
capable of in this world: Had you but a sense of that honor God
puts upon you by this means, you would not need so much pressing and
striving, to bring a dead and backward heart into the special
presence of Jesus Christ. When he says, Seek you my face, your
hearts would echo to his calls; Your face, Lord, will we seek. But
alas! the glory of Christ is much hid and veiled by ignorance and
unbelief, from the eyes of his own people; it is but seldom the best
of saints, by the eye of faith, do see the King in his glory.
    Inference. 8. If Christ be so glorious, how should believers long to
be with him, and behold him in his glory above? Most men need
patience to die, a believer should need patience to live. Paul
thought it well worth enduring the pangs of death, to get a sight of
Jesus Christ in his glory, Phil. 1: 23. "The Lord direct your hearts
into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ,"
(says the apostle) 2 Thess. 3: 5. intimating that the saints have
great need of patience, to enable them to endure the state of
distance and separation from Christ, so long as they must endure it
in this world. The spirit and the bride say, come, and let him that
hears say, come, and let him that is a-thirst come: even so, come
Lord Jesus, and be you as a swift roe upon the mountains of
separation.
 




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