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The Purpose of Christ's being Set up from Everlasting


Extract from a sermon by Mr Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1754), entitled “Christ Set up from Everlasting”


Ebenezer Erskine and his brother Ralph were famous Presbyterian ministers in Scotland, and close friends of Thomas Boston. Their father was Henry Erskine, under whose preaching the youthful Thomas Boston came to Christ.  



Proverbs 8:23. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.



3.To show for what purposes Christ was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.


First, He was set up from everlasting as a Sun to give light unto this lower world which, through the sin of man, had become like a dungeon of darkness. No sooner had man sinned, but his mind became dark, yea, darkness itself, although before it was like a lamp of light, as to the knowledge of God and of His mind and will. "Ye were sometimes darkness", says the apostle, speaking of man in his natural state. There is the face of a covering cast over all people and the veil that is spread over all nations, and upon this account this world is called a dark place, and these parts of the earth where Christ is not known are called the dark places of the earth. But now Christ is and was set up as a glorious Sun to enlighten the world in the knowledge of God and of the way of salvation; hence He is called the Sun of righteousness, the Light of the world, because He, by His Word and Spirit, spreads the light of the knowledge of the glory of God among lost sinners of Adam's family. Hence, when the gospel of Christ, which is the lamp of God's anointed, comes unto a people, they that "sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up".


Second, He is set up as a second Adam, the Head of a new covenant of grace and promise. All mankind were lost and ruined in the first Adam - by the breach of the covenant of works made with him as their federal head and representative - so that the curse of that covenant was the only legacy he could bequeath unto his posterity. And under this curse we had lain through all eternity if God had not raised up for us "a Horn of salvation . . . in the house of His servant David". Sirs, God had a purpose of love and grace, from all eternity, toward a select company of Adam's family. He pitches upon His own beloved Son as a new covenant Head, and enters into a covenant of grace with Him, to deliver them out of a state of sin and misery and bring them unto a state of salvation through Him: "I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant" (Ps 89:3). Accordingly Christ, as the second Adam, steps into the room of the first Adam and fulfils the covenant of works, both as to its precept and penalty; whereby the promise of eternal life made to Him, upon condition of perfect obedience, devolves upon Him as a second Adam and He becomes the righteous heir of everlasting life, not only by birth, but also by purchase; and all the promises of the covenant, and all the salvation of the covenant, stand in Him. And that moment a sinner quits his holding of the first Adam and of the law as a covenant and, by a faith of God's operation, is determined to take hold of Christ and the covenant whereof He is Head, that moment, I say, he is brought into the bonds of the covenant of grace and promise, according to that, "Hear, and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David" (Is 55:3).


Third, He was set up from everlasting, as a repairer of breaches between God and man. Whenever man sinned, and joined himself in a confederacy with Satan, the god of this world, the breach between God and man became wide like the sea. Death and hell were the penalty of the law; and the faithfulness of God was pledged, so that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sins. And though all the angels of heaven and men upon earth had been sacrificed and their blood shed in order to satisfy justice, it would have been rejected; the offence was infinite, with respect to the object of it, and therefore a satisfaction of infinite value had to be offered. Sacrifices and offerings - that is, of man's providing (Ps 40:6, Heb 10) - Thou wouldest not. Well then, how shall the breach be repaired? How shall the different claims of mercy and justice be reconciled with respect to the guilty criminal? Lo, I come, says Christ, I will assume the human nature, and in that nature I will die in the room of the criminal; and in this way I will make peace through the blood of the cross. I will be wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities; the chastisement of their peace shall be upon Me, and by My stripes they shall be healed; and so justice shall be satisfied, and mercy shall be for ever magnified. "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Pet 3:18 ). Thus He is set up as the Repairer of breaches, hence called the Mediator between God and men; and there is no Mediator between God and men but the man Christ Jesus.


 For Ebenezer Erskine's full sermon on Proverbs 8:23, click here



The Works of Ebenezer Erskine (3 volumes) are published by Free Presbyterian Publications (Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland)