John Flavel

“But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” [1 Cor. 1:30]

He that enquires what is the just value and worth of Christ, asks a question which puts all the men on earth, and angels in heaven, to an everlasting non-plus.

The highest attainment of our knowledge in this life, is to know, that (Christ) Himself and His love do pass knowledge, [Eph. 3:19].

But how excellent soever Christ is in Himself, what treasures of righteousness soever lie in his blood, and whatever joy, peace, and ravishing comforts, spring up to men out of his incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation, they all give down their distinct benefits and comforts to them, in the way of effectual application.

For never was any wound healed by a prepared, but unapplied plaister. Never any body warmed by the most costly garment made, but not put on: Never any heart refreshed and comforted by the richest cordial compounded, but not received: Nor from the beginning of the world was it ever known, that a poor deceived, condemned, polluted, miserable sinner, was actually delivered out of that woeful state, until of God, Christ was made unto him, wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

For look as the condemnation of the first Adam passeth not to us, except (as by generation) we are his; so grace and remission pass not from the second Adam to us, except (as by regeneration) we are his. Adam’s sin hurts none but those that are in him: and Christ’s blood profits none but those that are in Him: How great a weight therefore does there hang upon the effectual application of Christ to the souls of men! And what is there in the whole world so awfully solemn, so greatly important, as this is! Such is the strong consolation resulting from it, that the apostle, in this context, offers it to the believing Corinthians, as a superabundant recompence for the despicable meanness, and baseness of their outward condition in this world, of which he had just before spoken in ver. 27, 28. telling them, though the world condemned them as vile, foolish, and weak, yet “of God Christ is made unto them wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.”

In which words we have an enumeration of the chief privileges of believers, and an account of the method whereby they come to be invested with them.

FIRST, Their privileges are enumerated, namely, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, mercies of inestimable value in themselves, and such as respect a fourfold misery lying upon sinful man, viz. ignorance, guilt, pollution, and the whole train of miserable consequences and effects, let in upon the nature of men, yea, the best and holiest of men, by sin.

Lapsed (i.e fallen) man is not only deep in misery, but grossly ignorant, both that he is so, and how to recover himself from it: Sin has left him at once senseless of his state, and at a perfect loss about the true remedy.

To cure this, Christ is made to him wisdom, not only by improvement of those treasures of wisdom that are in Himself; for the benefit of such souls as are united to Him, as an head, consulting the good of His own members; but also, by imparting His wisdom to them by the Spirit of illumination, whereby they come to discern both their sin and danger; as also the true way of their recovery from both, through the application of Christ to their souls by faith.

But alas! simple illumination does but increase our burden, and exasperate our misery as long as sin in the guilt of it is either imputed to our persons unto condemnation, or reflected by our consciences in a way of accusation.

With design therefore to remedy and heal this sore evil, Christ is made of God unto us righteousness, complete and perfect righteousness, whereby our obligation to punishment is dissolved, and thereby a solid foundation for a well-settled peace of conscience firmly established.

Yea, but although the removing of guilt from our persons and consciences be an inestimable mercy, yet alone it cannot make us completely happy: For though a man should never be damned for sin, yet what is it less than hell upon earth, to be under the dominion and pollution of every base lust? It is misery enough to be daily defiled by sin, though a man should never be damned for it.

To complete therefore the happiness of the redeemed; Christ is not only made of God unto them wisdom and righteousness, the one curing our ignorance, the other our guilt; but He is made sanctification also, to relieve us against the dominion and pollutions of our corruptions: “He comes both by water and by blood, not by blood only, but by water also,” 1 John 5: 6. purging as well as pardoning: How complete and perfect a cure is Christ!

But yet something is required beyond all this to make our happiness perfect and entire wanting nothing; and that is the removal of those doleful effects and consequences of sin, which (not withstanding all the fore-mentioned privileges and mercies) still lie upon the souls and bodies of illuminated, justified, and sanctified persons. For even with the best and holiest of men, what swarms of vanity, loads of deadness, and fits of unbelief, do daily appear in, and oppress their souls! to the embittering of all the comforts of life to them? And how many diseases, deformities, and pains oppress their bodies, which daily boulder away by them, till they fall into the grave by death, even as the bodies of other men do, who never received such privileges from Christ as they do? For if “Christ be in us (as the apostle speaks, Rom. 8: 10 .) the body is dead, because of sin:” Sanctification exempts us not from mortality.

But from all these, and whatsoever else, the fruits and consequences of sin, Christ is redemption to His people also: This seals up the sum of mercies: This so completes the happiness of the saints, that it leaves nothing to desire.

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