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THE SALVATION OF SINNERS THE PROMISED REWARD FOR CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS Print E-mail
Written by Oshea Davis   
Saturday, 21 January 2012

 

THE SALVATION OF SINNERS THE PROMISED REWARD FOR CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS

Headnote to Is. 53:10(a)


 

      In this sermon, written and delivered in the period from Aug. 1731 to Dec. 1732, Edwards identifies the words of Is. 53:10 as those of the Father pronouncing that Christ's suffering will be successful, and that he shall give Christ the reward of seeing his beloved church converted and brought to him.

      Edwards penned this Christocentric sermon within the framework of the covenant of redemption, focusing on one of the inward motivations for Christ's sufferings. "Christ has so set his love upon men," Edwards comments, "that the seeing this sight [of men saved] is what he earnestly desired and greatly delights in." He points to Luke 22:29, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me," along with other verses, to show that Christ was subject to God as mediator, a role for which he volunteered under the covenant of redemption. Edwards also mentions this verse in "Miscellanies" no. 1064 to show that Christ also entered into a covenant of grace with the church:

the parties contracting in the covenant of redemption are the Father and the Son, but the parties contracting in the covenant of grace, Christ and believers, is what seems to be taught in that Luke 22:29, "καγω διατιθεμαι υμιν καθως διεθετο μοι ο πατηρ μου βασιλειαν, I do by covenant dispose unto you a kingdom, as my father by covenant disposed unto me." For the word διατιθεμαι properly signifies to covenant, or make a contract or testament, or to appoint or dispose by covenant or testament. This is the word used, Acts 3.25, "Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made (διαθησομαι) with our fathers." So Hebrews 8:10, "This is the covenant I will make (διαθησομαι) with the house of Israel." Therefore, the noun διαθηκη that comes of this verb signifies covenant, which is the word translated "covenant" in the New Testament.

Furthermore, while discussing the "economy" of the Trinity in "Miscellanies" no. 1062, Edwards also speaks in detail of how the Father not only is a judge of Christ in their covenant, but likewise a giver of rewards. He writes,

the whole tenor of the gospel holds this forth: that the Son acts altogether freely, and as in his own right, in undertaking the great and difficult and self-abasing work of our redemption, and that he becomes obliged to the Father with respect to it by voluntary covenant engagements, and not by any establishment prior thereto; so that he merits infinitely of the Father in entering into and fulfilling these engagements. ...From which engagements of the Son the Father acquires a new right of headship and authority over the Son, to command him and prescribe to him and rule over him as his proper lawgiver and judge; and the Father also comes under new obligation to the Son, to give him such success, rewards, etc.

In the doctrinal section of this sermon, Edwards explores two Propositions, the first being that "God the Father promised Jesus Christ a reward, if he would undertake to suffer for us." Edwards expounds on this through a rising succession of questions and answers regarding the covenant of redemption. The second Proposition is, "This is a part {of the reward that God promised him for his sufferings}." Here Edwards presents a second set of questions and answers centering on Christ's love for the persons for whom he died. Staying on this theme of Christ's love for the elect, Edwards ends the Doctrine with escalating encouragements that "Christ doth as it were adorn himself with believers, as the high priest was adorned with the precious stones."

In the Application, Edwards encourages his listeners with several meditative and earnest responses on unbelievers and believers, culminating in a special plea for believers to rejoice with Christ. When sinners are converted, they are united to Christ. Hence, "it should rejoice our hearts: for Christ herein has his rewards for his suffering."

*  *  *  *  *

The manuscript is six duodecimo-sized leaves. 

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Transcribed, edited & Headnote provided by:

Jonathan Edwards Center @ Yale University (http://edwards.yale.edu/),

Kenneth Minkema,

Oshea Davis.  2012

 

For permission use see the Jonathan Edwards Center website:  http://edwards.yale.edu/copyright


FOR HIS SUFFERINGS, GOD PROMISED CHRIST THE REWARD OF SEEING SINNERS SAVED

Isaiah 53:10.

When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

 

This chapter is the plainest and fullest account of the sufferings of Christ that there is in all the Old Testament. We have a very particular description of his sufferings, and the ends, and benefit thereof; and then in these three last verses we have an account of the reward of his sufferings. There are three things that are mentioned in this verse, which are the promised rewards of Christ sufferings:

1. That “he shall see his seed”; that is, God [promises] his death and sufferings shall be successful for the actually bringing in of many souls to salvation.

2. The second reward here promised is his resurrection and eternal life, signified in that expression, “he shall prolong his days.” The Prophet had been giving an account of his death: he tells us in the 7th verse, “he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter”; and in the 8th verse that “he was cut off out of the land of the living”; and in the 9th verse that “he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.”; and in this verse that he “shall make his soul an offering for sin”: and yet here the Prophet says, “he shall prolong his days.” This is a plain prophecy of his resurrection, and that the whole human nature shall after his death have eternal life.

3. The 3rd reward promised is his advancement to the rule of the world for God, and his success therein. “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands”; which implies that that matter shall be committed into Christ’s hands, shall be left with him to fulfill the pleasure of God to govern the world, and accomplish God’s decrees and good pleasure in it, and that Christ shall successfully and prosperously manage the government of the world, so that God’s pleasure shall be done and his glory advanced.

But to return to the first of these rewards which we are chiefly concerned with at this time, viz., that Christ shall see his seed. By the “seed of Christ” are here[II] meant believers on him: these are said to be Christ’s seed, Gal. 3:29, “if Christ then are we Abraham’s seed”; they are called his children, Heb. 2:13, “Behold I and the children.”

As we by nature are the children of the first Adam, so by grace are we the children {of the second Adam}; as our animal nature is derived from the first Adam, so is our spiritual nature {from the second Adam}; as the old man is derived from {the first Adam}--we proceed from the first Adam by a natural generation--so believers proceed from Christ by regeneration by being born of the Word and Spirit.

Christ shall see his seed, that is, he shall see them born; and therefore ‘tis added, that he shall prolong his days: as a man can’t see his posterity multiply unless he lives long, so Christ could not see that glorious success which there was to his gospel, unless he rose from the dead and had his days prolonged, that he might see it. This is what is promised to Christ as a reward for his making “his soul an offering of sin,” [Is. 53:10], {that} he should see his blest ones—those that the Father had given him—born, brought home and saved by himself.

 

DOCTRINE.

That Christ should see sinners converted and saved, was part of the reward that God promised him for his sufferings.

Two Propositions,

[Prop.] I. God the Father promised Jesus Christ a reward, if he would undertake to suffer for us. God the Father sought our redemption, and his only begotten Son was the person whom he chose to work it out, and he appointed him to it. It is a great and difficult work; it was necessary that he, that was the Redeemer, should become the surety of the redeemed, and should take their guilt upon him, and suffer their punishment.

This was a very great and difficult and costly undertaking, and God the Father saw meet that his Son, that he appointed to it, should have a reward for it, answerable to the merit and gloriousness of the work, and also answerable to the difficulty and expense of it.

It was fit that such a work should be rewarded: for as Christ undertook the work for man’s sake, so it was for God’s sake to glorify. And it is a work whereby God is glorified in a peculiar and most distinguishing manner: this work is, above all others, to God’s glory; and therefore, ‘tis fit that God should reward it.

It was a work wherein Christ showed superlative love to God meritoriously.[III] Christ [was] under no natural obligation to undertake such sufferings; Christ expressed an infinite love herein to the Father.

God, by his love to his Son, was inclined to reward such a glorious undertaking to which he had appointed him, and which he had undertaken.

And this reward was ascertained to Christ beforehand by promises. God and Christ had respect to this reward. Heb.12:2, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

First Question. In what manner was the reward promised to Jesus Christ?

Answer. In a covenant that was made between the Father and the Son, called the covenant of redemption. There was a covenant that was entered into between the Father and the Son about the redemption of man. God was determined that man should be redeemed, and he in infinite wisdom pitched upon his own eternal Son to do the work; but this person could no otherwise be appointed to such an undertaking, than by agreement or covenant. The Father could not appoint him by authority, and therefore it must be by covenant or agreement. The Son, naturally not subject to any proper authority of the Father, is God, and equal with God. Indeed, he is subject as mediator, but he don’t become mediator any otherwise than by this covenant or agreement, whereby he voluntary undertook.

After the covenant is passed, then he is become mediator. Then he becomes subject and is appointed by command, because this was part of the agreement, that he should be subject in that work to the Father.

Therefore it must be by agreement or covenant that Christ first was appointed and undertook such a covenant. [It] is plainly intimated to be between the Father and Son, Zech. 6:12-13. The Prophet there speaking of Christ the branch—how he shall arise and build the temple of the Lord—he says “the counsel of peace shall be between them both,” that is, between the Lord whose temple he shall build, and him; which intimates a consultation, or agreement of peace or redemption between the Father and Son. Luke 22:29, “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” The word in the original properly signifies, “make over to by covenant.”

In the 40th Psalm, at the 6th and 7th verses, the covenant between Christ and the Father is compared to the covenant there was between the servant and his master that chose to serve his master forever, that had his ear bored. “Mine ear hast thou bored; then said I, Lo, I come.” [Deut. 15:16-17]

In this covenant, Christ promised to [serve], and God the Father promised him a glorious reward.

Second Question. What was the reward promised?

Answ. Christ’s mediatorial glory. The thing that Christ undertook and promised the Father, was that glory which he should have as mediator.

Christ as God is not capable of a reward. But Christ as mediator is. He was humbled, he was subject, and he may be exalted, capable of receiving honor and glory. Christ’s mediatorial glory comprehends [all]. The promised rewards are summed up in the text and two following verses: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; he shall divide the spoil with the strong.”

We often have an account of the promises of God made to Christ: that he shall sit at God’s right hand, till [God makes his enemies his footstool, Ps. 110:1; that he shall] give [the] heathen {to Christ as an inheritance, Ps.2:8; that God has} highly exalted [Christ], given him a name above {every name, Philip. 2:9; and that} all power in heaven and on earth [has been given to him, Matt. 28:18].

Third Question. When did God the Father {promise Christ the reward}?

Answ. From all eternity. The redemption of fallen man was a thing that was upon the heart of God from all eternity: it was purposed and determined before the world was; there was a consultation among the persons of the Trinity about it before the world was.

Christ by the covenant of redemption was appointed the mediator of the elect, but he was appointed their mediator “before the world was,” by which expression in Scripture we are to understand from all eternity; the beginning of the world being the first thing in time, what before is from eternity. II Tim.1:9, “who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began.” Tit. 1:2, “which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” He could not promise before the world in any other covenant but the covenant of redemption.[IV]

Prop. II. This is a part {of the reward that God promised him for his sufferings}.

This was a part of that joy that was set before him, that made him cheerfully to undertake those sore and grievous sufferings, that made him endure the cross and despise the shame [Heb. 12:2].

To see sinners converted and saved, was part of that reward which Christ depended [on] and earnestly expected. He had this in his view. This encouraged him, that the Father had faithfully promised him that he should see this; he should see such a joyful sight as sinners coming out of a natural state and condition, coming to him for eternal life, [and] to see them brought out of such a miserable and undone state into a state of life and happiness. This was a great part of that joy that was set before him.

Qu. How has this the nature of a reward? What advantage is it to Christ, to have sinners converted and saved? Christ has enough. His exaltation to heaven, his sitting at the right hand of God, his enjoying the Father, his being made head over the angels, renders him rich; he has no need of us poor worms. How can it be any reward for his suffering, for us to be converted and saved?

Answ.1. Christ has so set his love upon men, that the seeing this sight is what he earnestly desired and greatly delights in. ‘Tis that [which] makes it a reward: ‘tis [not] because he wants, or is indigent, but ‘tis his love that makes it joyful to him to see such a sight; he looks upon it as a blessed sight.

He tells us that before the world was made, his delights were with the sons of men. Prov. 8:31, “Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” Christ is the good shepherd that loves the sheep, and therefore when he finds the sheep that was lost, “he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” Luke 15:4-6, “he leaveth the ninety  and nine in the wild, and goeth after that which was lost until he find it. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulder, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me.”

Loves make him rejoice. Love makes a reward {delightful}. The Father knew the love he had to men, and therefore he promised.

[Answ.] 2. ‘Tis part of his mediatorial glory. As king, [he has a] multitude of subjects. They, in coming in and in converting to him, glorify him, see his glory; their knees bow, [their] tongues confess and extol, [their] hearts love [Philip. 2:10]. Herein consists his kingdom of grace. These are his people; Zion is his kingdom. Christ doth as it were adorn himself with believers, as the high priest was adorned with the precious stones of the breast plate, whereon were written the names of the twelve {tribes, engraved like a signet [Ex. 39:8-14]}.

[Herein consists Christ’s] success. Hereby, Christ gives his enemies an overthrow.[V]

 

APPLICATION.

I. What reason we have to love the Lord Jesus Christ, that he should account it his reward for his great sufferings, to see us converted and saved; that he should take such delight in seeing such a sight; that it should [be] so pleasant to him to behold us delivered from bondage, from blindness, from condemnation, from death and from hell, as to esteem it his reward; that he should so desire it, and with such earnestness expect it, that he esteemed it as a glorious reward when the Father told him, “If thou shalt make thy soul an offering for sin, thou shalt see thy seed.” The thoughts of this made Christ very cheerful in undertaking that terrible death that he suffered.

Why should Christ so set his heart upon us? Why should he account it such a sweet reward for his suffering, to see us converted and saved, to have us coming to him? We are poor, miserable worms. How great was his love; how wonderful his condescension to us.

And what cause have we reciprocally to love Christ, to thank him that he should so set his heart upon us, and esteem and prize us, and take such delight in our happiness.

II. Hence doubtless God will continue to carry on the work of conversion in the world: for this is the reward that he has promised Christ. He told him if he would make {his soul an offering for sin, that he would have a reward}. God won’t fail his own dear Son; he won’t withhold from him that reward which he promised him from all eternity, and which he all along depended upon, and which encouraged him to undertake such a hard work. Christ has well earned the reward; he has suffered extremely. God will surely do as he said: he shall see his seed, “the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” He hath built his church upon this rock, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” [Matt. 16:18].

{God will continue to carry on the work of conversion,} seeing that Christ so delights in seeing sinners coming out of darkness {into his marvelous light}. He shall see it as long as the world stands; multitudes shall be converted and saved.

The devil and all his instruments shall not put a stop to the progress of this work. God will raise up instruments; God will continue to pour out his Spirit. However wickedness seems to prevail, there is no deny[ing] but that [God’s work will continue]. And God will accomplish those things which he has spoken concerning the great increase of the number {of the Christ’s seed} in the latter days [Is. 60:3-5].[VI]

We may be assured that the work shall be carried on: for God has committed this affair into Christ’s own hand. John 17:2, “[God has] given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him.” Christ, seeing the matter is left with him, will carry on this work that he so delights in, and which is his own promised reward.

III. Hence, those sinners that are seeking conversion should look to Christ for help. He is doubtless willing to help them in such an affair: for converting men is a work that Christ greatly delights in; ‘tis his reward for his suffering. Therefore, he won’t be backward. That is very great encouragement for poor, Christless sinners to cry to Christ, that he would enable them to come to him.

IV. Hence, there can be no danger but that Christ will be ready to receive all that are willing to come to him. Their coming won’t be unwelcome; he'll be willing to save them. This is what he expected with pleasure before the world was. He undertook those sorrows for the sake of these joys.

V. What reason there is that all that are Christ’s disciples should seek the conversion of sinners: neighbors, children [and] ministers of their people. We should consider that herein we are honored, in being made the instruments of Christ’s receiving his reward for his suffering. How should we strive.

VI. How we should rejoice when sinners are converted. Christians are members of Christ; when the Head rejoices, they should all rejoice. His reward, we should esteem our reward. There should be the same spirit in the members as in the head. When we hear, therefore, such names of any, or have full evidence of a saving change, it should rejoice our hearts: for Christ herein has his rewards for his suffering.


 



[I] Economy of the Trinity and Covenant of Redemption

[II] M.S. Doubt less

[III] M.S. “meritorious”

[IV] The M.S. shows 4 blank lines here.

[V] [Remainder of leaf blank]

[VI] Conjectural scriptural reference.

 
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