Obrazy na stronie

news of the kingdom of the Messiah. And St. Paul often in his epistles puts faith for the whole duty of a Christian.' But yet the tenor of the gospel is what Chrift declares, Luke xii. 3. 5. “'Unless " ye repent, ye shall all likewise perith.”. And in the parable of the rich man in hell, delivered by our Saviour, Luke xvi. 'repentance alone is the means proposed of avoiding that place of torment, ver. 30, 31. And what the tenor of the doctrine, which should be preached to the world, should be, he tells his apostles after his resurrection, Luke xxiv. 27. viz. “That repentance and remission “ of fins should be preached in his name," who was the Meffiah. And accordingly believing Jesus to be the Messiah, and repenting, was what the apostles preached. So Peter began, Acts ii. 38. “Re ,

pent, and be baptized.” These two things were required for the remission of fins, viz. entering themselves in the kingdom of God, and owning and professing themselves the subjects of Jesus, whom they believed to be the Messiah, and received for their Lord and king; for that was to be baptized in his name : baptism being, an initiating ceremony known to the Jews, whereby those, who leaving heathenism, and professing a submission to the law of Moses, were received into the commonwealth of Israel. And so it was! made use of by our Saviour, to be that solemn visible act, whereby those who believed him to be the Messiah, received him as their king, and professed obedience to him, were admitted as subjects into his kingdom: which in the gospels is called “ The kingdom of "God," and in the Acts and epiftlés often by another name, viz. • The church.

The fame St. Peter preaches again to the Jews, Acts iii. 19. “ Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."

What this repentance was, which the new covenant required as one of the conditions to be performed by all those who should receive the benefits of that covenant, is plain in the scripture, to be not only a sorrow for fins past, but (what is a natural consequence of such sorrow, if it be real) a turning from them, into a new and contrary life. And so they are joined together, Acts iii. 19. "Re“pent, and turn about ;” or, as we render it, Be converted. And, Ads xxvi. “Repent and turn to God."

And fonetimes turning about is put alone to signify repentance, Matt. xiii. 15. Luke xxii. 32. Which in other words is well expressed by newness of life. For it being certain, that he who is really sorry for his fins, and abhors them, will turn from them, and for fake them; either of these acts, which have so natural a connexion one with the other, may be, and is often, put for both together. Repentance is a hearty forrow for our paft misdeeds, and a fincere resolution and endeavour, to the utmost of our power, to conform all our actions to the law of God." So that repentance does not confiit in one single act of sorrow (though that, being the first and leading act, gives denomination to the whole), but in doing works of repentance, in a fincere obedience to the law of Christ, the remainder of our lives. This was called for by John the Baptist, F 4


the preacher of repentance, Matt. iii. 8. “ Bring forth fruits meet “ for repentance. And by St. Paul here, Acts xxvi. 20. “Ben

pent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. There are works to follow belonging to repentance, as well as sorrow for what is past.

These two, faith and repentance, i. e. believing Jesus to be the Mefliah, and a good life, are the indispensable conditions of the new covenant to be performed by all thole who would obtain eternal life. The reasonablenes, or rather neceflity of which, that we may the better comprehend, we must a little look back to what was said in the beginning

Adam being the son of God, and so St. Luke calls him, chap. iii. 38. had this part also of the “ likeness” and “ image" of his father, viz. that lie was immortal. But Adam tranfgressing the command given him by his heavenly father, incurred the penalty, forfeited that ftatc of immortality, and became mortal. After this, Adam begot children, but they were" in his own likeness, after his

own image ;” mortal, like their father.

God nevertheless, out of his infinite mercy, willing to bestow, eternal life on mortal men, sends Jesus Christ into the world; who heing conceived in the womb of a virgin (that had not known man) by the immediate power of God, was properly the son of God; according to what the angel declared to his inother, Luke i.

“The Holy Ghost Thall come upon thee, and the power “ of the highest fhall overshadow thee : therefore also that holy "I thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called THE SON OE. 66 God." So that, being the son of God, he was, like his father, “ immortal," as he tells us, John v. 26. “As the father hath life “ in himself, so hath he given to the son to have life in himself.”

And that immortality is a part of that "jinage," wherein these, (who were the immediate sons of God, so as to have no other father) were made like their father, appears probable, not only from the places in Genesis concerning Adam, above taken notice of, but seems to me also to be intimated in some expresions concerning Jesus the son of God. In the New Testament, Col. i. 15, he is called “ the image of the invisible God." "Invisible" seems put in, to obviate any gross imagination, that he (as images used to do) represented God in any corporcal or visible resemblance. And there is farther subjoined, to lead us into the meaning of it, “ first-born of every creature;” which is farther explained, ver. 18. where he is termed, “ The first-born from the dead :" thereby making out, and Thewing himself to be the image of the invisible God; that death hath no power over him: but being the son of God, and not having forfeited that sonship by any transgression, was the heir of eternal life; as Adam thould have bcen, had he continued in his filial duty. In the same sense the apostle seems to use the word "image" in other places, viz. Rom. viii. 29. : Whom “ he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the “ image of his son, that he might be the first-born among many

is brethren.''


" The

“ brethren." This" image,” to which they were conformed, seems to be “ immortality" and eternal life. For it is remarkable, that in both these places St. Paul speaks of the resurrection, and that Christ was the first-born among many brethren ;" he being by birth the son of God, and the others only by adoption, as we see in this fame chapter, ver. 15–17. “ Ye have received the spirit of

adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, father : the spirit itself bearing “ witness with our fpirits, that we are the children of God. And “ if children, then heirs ; and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that . " we fuffer with him, that we may also be glorified together.” And hence we fee, tliat our Saviour vouchfafes to call those, who at the day of judgement are through him entering into eternal life, his • brethren;" Matt, xxv. 40. " Inasınuch as ye have done it unto " one of the least of these my brethren.” May we not in this find a reason why God so frequently in the New Testament, and so feldom, if at all, in the Old, is mentioned under the single title of The FATHER? And therefore our Saviour says, Matt. xi. “ No man know, RC eth the father fave the son, and he to whomsoever the son will

reveal him.” God has now a son again in the world, the firstborn of many brethren, who all now, by the spirit of adoption, can fay, " Abba,” father, and we by adoption, being for his fake made his brethren, and the fons of God, come to share in that inheritance which was his natural right, he being by birth the son of God: which inheritance is eternal life. And again, ver. 23. “We groan

within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption • of our body;" whereby is plainly meant the change of these frail mortal bodies, into the spiritual immortal bodies at the resurrection; * When this mortal shall have put on immortality," 1 Cor. xv. 54. which in that chapter, ver. 42-44, he farther expresses thus : “ So • also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it " is raised in incorruption : it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in

glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a “ natural body, it is raised a spiritual body, &c.” To which he fubjoins, ver. 49. “ As we have borne the image of the earthy" (i. e. As we have been mortal, like earthy Adam our father, from whom we are descended, when he was turned out of paradise), “ we

shall also bear the image of the heavenly ;" into whose sonship and inheritance being adopted, we shall, at the resurrection, receive that " adoption” we expect, " Even the redemption of our bodies;” and after his “image,” which is the “ image" of the father, becoma immortal. Hear what he himself says, Luke xx. 35, 36. “ They “ who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the re“ furretion from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in mara * riage. Neither can they die any more ; for they are equal unto “ the angels, and are the sons OF GOD, being the sons of the re“ furrection.” And he that shall read St. Paul's argument, Aets xiii. 32, 33, will find, that the great evidence that Jesus was the · son of God," was his resurrection. Then the image of his fa. ther appeared in him, when he visibly entered into the state of im


mortality. For thus the apostle reasons ; “ We preach to you,
“ how that the promise which was made to our fathers, God hath
* fulfilled the fame unto us, in that he hath raised up Jesus again
" as it is also written in the second Pfalm, Thou art my fon, this

day have I begotten thee."
This may serve a little to explain the “ immortality" of the sons
of God, who are in this, like their father, made after his “image"
and likeness. But that our Saviour was so, he himself farther de-
clares, John X. 18. where, speaking of his life, he says, “ No one
w taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself: Í have power
" to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” Which
he could not have had if he had been a mortal man, the son of a
man, of the seed of Adam ; or else had by any transgression forfeited
his life : for “ the wages of fin is death.” And he that hath in-
curred death for his own transgression, cannot lay down his life for
another, as our Saviour professes he did. For he was the just one,
Acts vii. 57. and xii. 14.

“ who knew no sin.” 2 Cor. v. 21. “ who did 110 fin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” And thus, “ As by man came death, so by man came the resurrection of “ the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Chrift fhall all be 's made alive.

For this laying down his life for others, our Saviour tells us, John x. 17., " Therefore does my father love me, because I lay * down my life, that I might take it again.” And this his obedience and suffering was rewarded with a kingdom, which he tells as, Luke xxii. “ His father had appointed unto him;" and which, it is evident out of the epistle to the Hebrews, chap. xii. 2. he had a regard to in his sufferings : “ who for the joy that was set before “ him, endured the cross, defpifing the shame, and is set down at “ the riglit land of the throne of God." Which kingdom given him upon tliis account of his obedience, suffering, and death, he himfelf takes notice of in these words, John xvii. 1-4. " Jesus “ lift up bis eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come,

glorify thy fon, that thy son also may glorify thee. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life

to as many as thou has given him. And this is life eternal, " that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus the Mer“ fian, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on earth : I

have finished the work which thou gaveft me to do." And St. Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, chap. ii. 8—11. “ He hum• bled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of " the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and

given himn a name that is above every name : that at the name * of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things " in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue, " should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Thus God, we see, designed his son Christ Jesus a kingdom, an everlasting kingdom in heaven. But “ though as in Adam.alt die, * so in Chrift shall all be made alive;" and all men thall return to

[ocr errors]

life again at the last day : yet all men having finned, and thereby “ come short of the glory of God," as St. Paul assures us, Rom. iii. 23. (i. e. not attaining to the heavenly kingdom of the Mefliah, which is often called the glory of God; as may be seen, Rom. v. 2. and xv. 7. and ii. 7. Matt. xvi. 27. Mark viii. 38. For no one who is unrighteous, i. e. comes short of perfect righteousness, shall be admitted into the eternal life of that kingdom ; as is declared, 1 Cor. vi. 9. “ The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of “ God”). And death, the wages of fin, being the portion of all those who had transgressed the righteous law of God, the son of God would in vain have come into the world, to lay the foundations of a kingdom, and gather together a select people out of the world, if (they being found guilty at their appearance before the judgement-feat of the righteous judge of all men at the last day) instead of entrance into eternal life in the kingdom he had prepared for them, they should receive death, the just reward of fin, which cvery one of them was guilty of. This second death would have left him no subjects; and instead of those ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thoufands, there would not have been one left him to sing praises unto his name, saying, “ Blessing, and * honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that fitteth on the " throne, and unto the lamb for ever and ever." God, therefore, out of his mercy to mankind, and for the erecting of the kingdom of his son, and furnishing it with subjects out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, proposed to the children of men, that as many of them as would believe Jesus his son (whom he sent into the world) to be the Messiah, the promised deliverer, and would receive him for their king and ruler, should have all their paft fins, disobedience, and rebellion forgiven them; and if for the future they lived in a fincere obedience to his law, to the utmost of their power, the fins of human frailty for the time to come, as well as all those of their past lives, should, for his fon's sake, because they gave themselves up to him to be his subjects, be forgiven them: and so their faith, which made them be baptized into his name (i. e. enrol themselves in the kingdom of Jesus the Messiah, and profess themselves his subjects, and consequently live by the laws of his kingdom), should be accounted to them for righteousness ; i. e. should supply the defects of a scanty obedience in the fight of God; who, counting this faith to them for righteousness, or complete obedience, did thus justify, or make them juft, and thereby capable of eternal life.

Now, that this is the faith for which God of his free grace jurtifies finful man (for it is God alone that justifieth," Rom. viii. 33. Rom. iii. 26.), we have already shewed, by observing through all the hiftory of our Saviour and the apostles, recorded in the evangelifts, and in the A&ts, what he and his apostles preached and proposed to be believed. We shall shew now, that, besides believing him to be the Meffiah their king, it was farther required, that those who would have the privilege, advantage, and deliverance of his


« PoprzedniaDalej »