Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

covenant will arise the glory, peace, and happiness, which will be found in that pure and exalted world by the whole assembly of the first born. All these, and all things pertaining to them, result, obviously, from the wonderful transaction, recorded in the text.

3dly. The Church, thus promised to Christ, as the reward of his mediation, is formed of a great multitude of mankind.

It will not be necessary for me to inquire, at the present time, either in what manner this multitude will be gathered, or of whom it will be composed. It is sufficient for the present purpose, that the assertion, which I have made, is expressly contained in the text. By the knowledge of him shall my Servant justify Many. I will distribute the Many to him for his portion, and the Mighty people, that is, a great multitude, shall he share for his spoil. Accordingly, St. John informs us, that he saw in the heavens a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; crying with a loud voice, and saying, Salvation to our God, who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.

4thly. In this covenant a reward was promised to Christ, sufficiently great to induce him to undergo all the humiliation and sufferings of his Mediatorial character.

This we know by the fact. In accordance with this covenant he actually assumed this character, and voluntarily underwent all its sufferings. But, were we at a loss concerning this subject otherwise; we are directly assured by St. Paul, that Christ, for the joy, set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame. What the joy of Christ was, he himself has, I apprehend, expressly declared to us in the 8th chapter of Proverbs. His words are, When he appointed the foundations of the earth, then was I by him, as one brought up with him; I was daily his delight, rejoicing alway before him ; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men : that is, with his Church ; the glorious reward, which was promised to him from the beginning.

From these summary observations, concerning the Covenant of Redemption, I derive, by way of inference, the following

REMARKS.

In the 1st place, The salvation of the Church of God, that is, of all righteous men, was an original part of the system of God's providence towards the inhabitants of this world.

If the observations, made in the progress of this discourse, are just; then it follows by irresistible consequence, that the salvation of the righteous, or of all who will be ultimately saved, was contemplated, and resolved on, by God, from the beginning, or from everlasting. It was, also, made the subject of a solemn Covenant

was

between the Father and the Son. It was not, therefore, in any sense a thing, which grew out of a contingency; according to the scheme of Dr. Price and others; a remedy, provided for evils unforeseen; a thing, grafted upon the fall of man, which they consider as an accident, springing out of that liberty of contingency, which they suppose indispensable to the free volitions of a moral being. St. Paul teaches us that God, the Father, created all things by Jesus Christ; to the intent, that now unto principalities, and powers, in heavenly places might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God: According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Here it is declared to be a part of the eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ, to create all things by him, to the intent that principalities and powers might know, by means of the Church, that is, by means of his dispensations to the church, the manifold wisdom of God. Of course, the existence of the Church was an essential part of his eternal purpose. Of course, also, the existence of the church was foreknown, and resolved on, as a part of this purpose. Its existence, therefore, was in no sense contingent; in no sense accidental ; in no sense dependent on any thing, by which it could be prevented. In accordance with this declaration, St. Paul says, 2 Tim. i. 9, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose, and

grace,

which given us, before the world began. In this passage Christians are said to be saved according to the purpose and grace of God, given to them, in the strong figurative language of the Apostle, before the world began ; that is, in simpler language, resolved on, established for them, given in the counsels of God; so as to be indefeasible by any subsequent event. Thus is this passage explained in the corresponding one of Titus 1st and 2d, In the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Here the grace and salvation, said in the passage, last quoted, to be given, is called eternal life, and is declared to be PROMISED before the world began. The existence of the Church, the eternal life of its members, and the grace by which that life is attained, were all promised before the world began : promised, I apprehend, in the Covenant which we have been contemplating; and plainly an essential part of the providential system, relating immediately to the inhabitants of this world.

2dly. The salvation of the righteous is Certain.

If the salvation of the righteous was an original, and essential part of the providential system ; if it was contemplated, purposed, and resolved on; if it was promised to Christ, as the reward of his labours and sufferings; if it was the condition on the part of the Father in a covenant with the Son; then it is perfectly evident, that it cannot fail; but will certainly be accomplished. The language of God on this subject is, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

As the salvation of the church is thus certain; the salvation of every righteous man is for the same reason equally certain. Every righteous man is a part of the church; one of the Many, thus promised to Christ in the covenant of Redemption, and assured of the certain attainment of eternal life by the unchangeable promise of God. Let no such man indulge a moment's apprehension, that he shall be forgotten of God, either in this life, or in death, or at the resurrection, or at the judgment, or at the final entrance of the Church into Heaven. He, who has given a cup of cold water to a disciple, in the name of a disciple; he, who has consecrated two mites to the service of God; he, who has willingly befriended the least of Christ's brethren, is absolutely certain of his reward.

3dly. We are taught by this doctrine, that the Mediation of Christ furnishes a complete foundation for our acceptance with God.

The Mediation of Christ was the condition of our acceptance, which God himself proposed, and proceeding from his own good pleasure. It was, therefore, originally, and absolutely, pleasing to him. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. It will, of course, be alway, and equally, pleasing. We are not, therefore, left to the necessity of debating, or even inquiring, whether the satisfaction of Christ is sufficient for all men, that is, whether there is a quantum of merit, mathematically estimated; on which every man may rely, because it is so great, as to rise to any definite, or supposed limit. Independently of all discussions of this nature, every man is assure

that, if he is interested in this covenant by becoming one of the seed, or followers, of Christ, by possessing that knowledge, or faith, which is the condition of justification; he will certainly, also, be accepted of God; as being one of those, whom this promise included.

The number, and the greatness, of the sins, committed by any man, and the degree of guilt, which he has accumulated, however discouraging, or overwhelming, it may prove in the hour of deep contrition, ought in no wise to persuade the penitent to doubt, even for a moment, of the sufficiency of Christ as an expiation for him. One sin, only, is mentioned in the Scriptures, as admitting of no atonement : viz. blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Others are indeed exhibited as peculiarly dangerous; because, acquiring peculiar strength by habit, they conduct men, with few exceptions, to final impenitence and immoveable hardness of heart. But none of these is declared to be in itself, beyond the reach of forgiveness. For the sin against the Holy Ghost, repentance never existed. He therefore, who has good reason to believe, that he is the subject of faith in the Redeemer, and repentance towards God, has equal rea. son to believe, that his sins are blotted out, and his soul accepted, through the atonement of Christ ; sufficient for him, and for all others who are like him.

With the same confidence may the anxious, trembling sinner rely on the same righteousness as the ground of his own future ac

[ocr errors]

ceptance with God. The language of God on this subject is, Him that cometh unto me, that is, in this manner, will I in no wise cast out. The sole concern of every sinner ought, therefore, to be the attainment of this evangelical character; the very thing, which is intended by coming to God; and not curious inquiries, nor anxious doubts, concerning a point, so easily settled in this manner, and so clearly decided by the Scriptures.

4thly. The salvation of the Church is here shown to be an object of inestimable greatness and importance.

It has, I trust, been proved, that this event was a primary part of the providential system of God towards mankind, and the subject of a solemn covenant between the Father and the Son in the ages of Eternity. For the accomplishment of it, as one primary object, this world was created; and a mysterious and most wonderful system of Providence carried into execution. For the accomplishment of it the Son of God condescended to be born, to lead a life of humiliation and suffering, to die on the cross, and to be buried in the tomb. For the accomplishment of it he rose again from the dead on the third day; ascended into Heaven; sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; and makes an unceasing and effectual intercession. For the same end the Spirit of Truth came into the world on a divine and benevolent mission; and here renews and purifies the souls of men, and conducts them to the heavenly world. For the same end the world itself will be consumed with fire; the visible heavens pass away with a great noise; they that are in the graves hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth; the judgment be set ; angels and men be tried,

; and sentenced to their respective rewards ; new heavens and a new earth be created, wherein righteousness shall dwell for ever: while, at the same time, the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads : they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Each of these things declares in a forcible manner the importance of this mighty object in the sight of God. In his providence the Means are never greater, more numerous, or more splendid, than the nature of the End will amply justify. The means, which I have recited, are the most magnificent and awful events, of which we have any knowledge. The greatness of the end is proportional. Accordingly, St. Paul in a most sublime exhibition of this subject, in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, declares, that the earnest expectation of the Creature (in the Greek, Creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God: and that the whole Creation groaneth, and travailcth together in pain, with this divine and most wonderful birth.

If, then, the salvation of the Church holds this high place in the divine estimation ; it ought unquestionably to hold the same place in ours. By each of us it ought to be regarded as an event of incomprehensible magnitude, of transcendent glory, and of an importance, sufficient to reward, with propriety, the labours and sufferings of the Son of God.

of proportional importance is the salvation of each of the Individuals, of which this assembly of the righteous is composed. Lord Shaftesbury has decided, that no conduct, in which future good to one's self is the motive of action, can be virtuous. Proofs of the soundness of this decision his Lordship has not however furnished, and plainly was not able to furnish: for it is a decision, contradicting alike the voice of common sense, and the voice of God. God by commanding us to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold on eternal life, has assured us of the rectitude of this conduct. In the observations, contained in this discourse, we have seen ample reason for this command; and ample proof of the rectitude of the conduct, which it requires. If the salvation of the Church was so great and glorious a thing in the sight of God; the salvation of each individual, which it contains, is proportionally important: a thing in itself great and good ; incomprehensibly great and good ; deserving our supreme attention, most anxious labours, and most fervent prayers.' The attainment of it, in every instance, is pleasing to our Creator ; makes man lovely in his sight; and diffuses a peculiar joy over that happy world, where all the virtuous are assembled together. Let every one of us, therefore, with all humility of mind, with strong crying, and many tears, begin, and carry on, this prime business of life, unseduced by sophistry, unwarped by temptation, unbroken by discouragement; and by a patient continuance in all well-doing, seek so faithfully for glory, honour, and immortality, as to obtain in the end everlasting life.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PoprzedniaDalej »