Portions of Gospel Conversation by Jeremiah Burroughs
There’s nothing in the world that God ever did that reveals the worth of man’s immortal soul as the gospel of Jesus Christ does. There God manifests to all the world what a price He puts upon Man’s soul.
The Gospel reveals unto us the great honor that God has put upon human nature above the angels. This could never have been but by the gospel. This is as proper a thing to the gospel as any I have spoken of, and one special design that God had in the gospel was to reveal those thoughts and counsels that He had from all eternity, to put mighty and great excellencies upon our human nature in these two particulars:
One) In the personal union of man’s nature to the Second Person in the Trinity. That’s the first and great way of honor that God has crowned human nature with. Hence the Apostle, in 1 Timothy 3:16, says, “without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.” What is it? God was manifested in the flesh. God manifested in the flesh? That’s a great mystery of godliness.
Now it could not be such a mystery if God had only taken a human shape upon Him (for so it was in the time of the Law). Jesus Christ often took human shape, as when He strove with Jacob. It was Jesus Christ, as might easily appear, but great is the mystery of godliness. Without controversy it’s great; God manifested in the human flesh. That is, God taking the flesh of a man into a personal union, which is more fully expressed in John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh.” This was a strange speech, but proper to the gospel.
A heathen would have thought this was a strange speech, especially if he knew that by the Word was meant He who was the true and eternal God. And then in Hebrews 2:16 it is said that Christ did not take the nature of angels upon Him, but the seed of Abraham. So it appears that, by the personal union of our natures to the Son of God, God has advanced human nature above angels, above all creatures. Truly, my brethren, in Christ’s taking our nature upon Him, which the gospel holds forth to us, we may see God, as it were, resolving to do a work from Himself to the uttermost, to manifest the uttermost of His glory in a work out of Himself, the work of God within Himself.
It is His eternal generation, and the possession of the Holy Ghost, but now God would work out of Himself, and work out of Himself to the uttermost extent. “I’ll make a world,” said God, “heavens and earth by My Word. Aye, but this is not such a glorious work as I am able to do. I could make ten thousand worlds and, when I have made them, I could make as many more and more glorious. But I would do some work wherein I might manifest even the uttermost of My glory.”
What work is that? The work God pitched upon. He would do no work from without to manifest the uttermost extent of His glory, and the Lord pitches upon this: to take the nature of a man into personal union with His Son. That’s the uttermost; and it is impossible that men or angels, if they were left to all eternity to imagine, could think of a work in which it would be possible for God to express more of His power, wisdom, and glory. We know but little of it now, but we shall know more in heaven.
Now, oh, how God has honored human nature in this: that when He would do a work to the utmost of His excellencies. He would pitch upon man’s nature to take it into personal union with Himself! Here’s the mystery of the gospel.
Now this is, indeed, the marrow of the mystery of the gospel: the Word made Flesh, the Second Person in the Trinity taking man’s nature upon Him. This is the mystery of the gospel that angels and saints admire, and shall be taken up to all eternity in admiring and praising and magnifying God for. That’s the first way of God honoring man’s nature.
Two) The second thing that the gospel reveals is this: God has put honor not only upon the nature of man as having soul and body, but He has put a mighty honor upon the very body of man; the meanest and the very lowest part of a man, the very shell, outside, rind, and the case of man. You have this in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. You have no such thing revealed in the Old Testament, this comes by the light of the gospel that the Lord has made the bodies of the saints to be the temples to the Holy Ghost; that the Holy Ghost dwells in their bodies as in a temple. Like the King in his palace, so the Holy Ghost is in His temple. Now these two are great things revealed in the gospel, and did we have a clear understanding of these two things, oh, it would mightily elevate our spirits!
Conversations suitable to these two particulars surely must be a high-raised conversation. For instance, consider the personal union of our natures with the Second Person of the Trinity. Oh, how should this raise our hearts, and we should manifest the elevation of our spirits in our conversation so as it becomes those who may expect great things from God! Surely the fact that God has honored our natures so as to be personally united to His Son shows that He intends great things to some of the children of men.