Owen - BX9315 O81

EFFECT OF DIVINE WISDOM AND OOOÚIfESS. lb the air, and over the cattle and over all theearth," Gen. Christian religion of all its glory, debasing it unto what Mahometism pretends unto, and unto what Judaism was really enjoyed. Thefaith of this mystery ennobles the mind wherein it is, rendering it spiritual and heavenly, transforming it into the image of God. Herein consists the excellency of faith above all other powers and acts of the soul, that it receives, assents unto, and rests in things in their own nature absolutely incomprehensible. It is Ererxes oö ß>s- ,r,,íese, Heb. xi. 1. The evidence of things not seen; that which makes evident as by demonstration, those things whirls are no way objected unto sense, and which reason cannot comprehend. The more sublime and glorious, the more inaccessible unto sense and reason, are the things whichwe believe, the moreare the chang- ed into the image of God, in the exercise of faith upo, them. Hence we find this most giorious effect of faith or the transformation of the mind into the likeness of God, no less real, evident, and eminent in many, whose rationally comprehensive abilities are weak and contemptible in the eye of that wisdom, which is of this world, than in those of the highest natural sagacity, en- joying the best improvements of reason. For God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, James ii. 5. However they may be poor, and as another apostle speaketh, foolish, weak, base and despised, 1 Cor. i. 27, 23. yet that faith which enables them to assent unto, and embrace divinemyste- ries, renders them rich in the sight of God, its that it makes them like unto him. Some would have all things that we are to believe, to be levelled absolutely unto our reason and comprehen- sion; a principle which at this day shakes the very foundations of Christian religion. It is not sufficient, they say, to determine, that thefaith or knowledge ofany thing is necessary unto our obedienceand salvation, that it seems to be fully and perspicuously revealed in the scripture; unless the things so revealed, be obvious and comprehensible unto our reason. An apprehension, which, as it ariseth from the pride which naturally en- sues on the ignorance of God and ourselves; so it isnot only an invention suited to debase religion, but an en- gine to evert the faith of the church, in all the principal mysteries of the gospel, especially of the Trinity and incarnation ofthe Son of God. But faith which is truly divine, is never more in its proper exercise, doth never i. 26.; it was all but an obscure representation ofthe ex- altation of our nature in Christ, as the apostle declares, Heb. ii. 6, 7, S, 9. There was true religion in the world after thefall, both before and after giving of the law ; a religion built upon, and resolved into divine revelation. And as for the outward glory of it, the administration that it was brought into under the tabernacleand temple, it was be- yond what isrepresented in the institutions of thegospel. Yet is Christian religion, our evangelicalprofession,and the state of the church thereon,far.moreglorious, beau- tiful and perfect, than that state of religion was capable of orcould attain. And as this is evident from hence, be- cause God in his wisdom, grace, and love to the church, bath removed that state, and introduced this in the room thereof: so the apostleproves it in all considerable in- stances, in his epistle to the Hebrews, written unto that purpose. There were two things before in religion. The promise, which was the lifeof it, and the institutions of worship under the law, which were the outward glory and beauty of it. And both these were nothing, or had nothing in them, but only what they before proposed and represented of Christ, Godmanifested in theflesh. The promise was concerning him; and the institutions of worship didonly represent him. So the apostle declaresit, Col. ii. 17. Wherefore asall the religionthat was in the world after the fall, was built on the promise of this work of God in due time to be accomplished, so it is theactual performance ofit, which is the foundation', ,'Christian religion, and which gives it the pre- eminence above all that went before it. So the apostle expresseth it, Heb. í. 1, 2, 3. God whoat, &c. Allfalse religion pretended always unto things that were mysterious. And the more men could invent, or the devil suggest, that had an appearance of that nature, assundry things were so introduced horrid and dreadful, the more reverence and esteem were reconciled unto it. But the whole compass of the craft of Satan, and the imaginations of men, could never extend itself unto the least resemblance of this mystery. And it is not amiss conjectured, that the apostle inhis description of it, 1 Tim. iii. 16, did reflect upon, and condemnthe vanity of the Eleusynianmysteries, which were of the greatest vogue and reputation among the Gentiles. Take away the consideration hereof, and we despoil