Obrazy na stronie

were such, as Infinite perfection was pleased to obey; that the government founded on them, and the character of him who published them to the universe, as the rule by which he intended to govern it for ever, were of the same glorious and perfect nature. This testimony none but Christ could give. A testimony of equal weight, the universe could not furnish. Thus in a manner, which nothing else could rival, he magnified the law, and made it honour. able, according to the prediction of God by the prophet Isaiah, in the sight of Angels and men.

The influence of this conduct of Christ upon the future obedience of virtuous beings could not fail to be supreme. What creature, however exalted, can refuse to be subject to that law, to which the Son of God voluntarily became subject? Who can deny those precepts to be reasonable, all of which he exactly, and cheerfully, obeyed? Who can hesitate to believe that law to be holy, just, and good ; who can doubt, that it is infinitely honourable to its Author, and supremely beneficial to the universe, when he knows, and remembers, that a person of infinite knowledge, rectitude, and digniiy, of his own accord, submitted both his affections and his conduct lo its absolute control. So far as I can see, higher glory was reflected on this great rule of righteousness by the obedience of Christ, than could have resulted from the united obedience of the whole Intelligent creation.

It is hardly necessary to observe, that the obedience of Christ, and his holiness, are convertible terms; and that all the importance of the things, mentioned under these three heads, is no other than the importance of this attribute to his priestly character.

III. To give the necessary efficacy to his sufferings for mankind.

The sufferings of Christ were of no value, as mere sufferings. There is no worth, or excellence, in the mere endurance of evil. The real merit of the sufferings of Christ, as of all other meritorious sufferings, lay in these two things : that they were undergone for a valuable End; and that they were borne by a good Mind with the spirit of Benevolence and Piety. The End, for which Christ endured the Cross, and all the other evils of his humiliation, was the best of all ends; the glory of God, and the salvation of men. The Mind of Christ is the best of all minds; and

; the Spirit, with which

he encountered, and sustained, his sufferings, was that of supreme Benevolence and supreme Piety.

In undertaking the Office of a Mediator between God and man, he gave the most solemn and glorious testimony to the equity of the divine law in all its precepts, and in all its penalties. In enduring the sufferings, which he underwent as the substitute for sinners, he completed this testimony by cheerfully consenting, in this character, to obey, and to suffer. If he had not been perfectly holy, he would, instead of becoming a substitute for others, have

needed a substitute for himself, to expiate his sins. No supposition can be more absurd, than that Christ should make an atonement for the sins of others, when he needed an atonement for his own sins; or that God should accept him as a Mediator for sinners, when he himself was a sinner; or that he should become the means of delivering mankind from the penalty of the law, when he himself deserved to suffer that penalty.

Thus it is evident, that without consummate holiness Christ would not only have utterly failed to execute, to the divine acceptance, the office of a priest ; but that he could not have entered upon that office.

IV. To qualify him for executing the office of Intercessor.

Absolute holiness seems entirely necessary to render the prayers of any being, even when offered up for himself, if offered in his own name, acceptable to God.

The same holiness seems even more indispensable to render intercession for others accepted; and especially for a world of sinners. Such intercession, also, appears plainly to demand, as a previous and essential qualification on the part of the intercessor, that he should acknowledge, in the amplest manner, the perfect rectitude of the divine government in condemning sinners to that punishment, for their deliverance from which his intercession is undertaken. It cannot, I think, be supposed, even for a moment, that God would accept of any person in this office, who denied, doubted, or did not in the most open and complete manner acknowledge, the equity and propriety of his administrations. It seems further necessary, that he, who made this acknowledgment, should be a competent judge of the nature of the divine government; so that the acknowledgment should be made with intelligence and certainty, and not be merely a profession of faith.

The holiness of Christ, manifested in his obedience both to the preceptive and penal parts of the divine law, was the most direct and complete acknowledgment of the rectitude of the divine law, and the divine government, which was possible; because it was voluntarily undertaken, and perfectly accomplished. It was, at the same time, the obedience of a person, who was a finished judge of the nature of both, from the entire rectitude of his disposition, and the unlimited greatness of his understanding. It was, also, the acknowledgment of a person, possessed of infinite dignity, in the nature of all his attributes, in the supremacy of his station, and in the eternal and immeasurable extent of his dominion.

As an intercessor, therefore, Christ comes before his Father, both in the most amiable and the most exalted character; having confirmed, beyond all future debate, the rectitude of his law and government, and supremely glorified his name in the sight of the Universe; and pleading with divine efficacy both his obedience and his sufferings, on the behalf of those for whom he intercedes. What must not such an Intercessor be able to obtain ? From such an intercession what may not penitent sinners hope? How plain is it, that such an high priest became us; was fitted to expiate all our sins, and to secure to us an inheritance undefiled and unfailing in the everlasting love of God; an high priest who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens:

[blocks in formation]



1 John ii. 5.—He, that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as

he walked.

In my last discourse, I considered the Importance of the Holie

IN ness of Christ, in his character of High Priest, as being necessary to give him that distinction, without which the attention and confi. dence of men could not have been excited towards him; as necessary to enable him to magnify the Law of God; and to become a propi. tiation, and un Intercessor, for the children of Adam.

The subject, which naturally offers itself next for our consideration, is the Importance of this attribute to Christ, as an Example to mankind.

That Christ was intended to be an example of righteousness to the human race is completely evident from the passage of Scriplure, which I have chosen for the theme of this discourse. He, that saith, he abideth in him ; that is, he, who professes himself a Christian; ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Every Christian is here required to follow the example

of Christ. But every man is bound to become a Christian. Therefore, every man is required to follow the same example. I have given you an example, said our Saviour, when he washed his disciples' feet, that ye should do, as I have done to you. John xiii. 15. And again;

If any man will serve me, let him follow me. John xii. 26. Be ye followers of me, says St. Paul, even as I also am of Christ. 1 Cor. xi. 1. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, says the same Apostle, urging upon the Philippians the duty of humil. ity, and arguing, at length, their obligations to be humble, from our Saviour's example. Phil. ii. 54, &c. In the like manner, he urges upon the Romans the character of benevolence, from same source of argument; Rom. xv. 1, &c. and the Hebrews to patience and fortitude in the Christian race; Heb. xi. 1, &c. It will be useless to multiply passages, any farther, to this purpose. Even these will probably be thought to have been unnecessarily alleged.

The example of Christ is formed of his holiness, directed by his wisdom, or more properly by his understanding. Of all its parts, holiness is the substance, and the soul. Without this attribute, he would only have been a more sagacious sinner, and therefore a more malignant example, than other men. A proper exhibition of the example of Christ, in which its nature and usefulness are

sufficiently displayed for the present purpose, will, of course, be a proper exhibition of the importance of this attribute to Christ, in This character.

The excellence of Christ, as an example to mankind, I shall attempt to exhibit under the following heads.

1. He was an Example of all virtue.

By this I intend, that he was an example of piety, benevolence, and self-government, alike. This truth has been sufficiently illustrated in the two first sermons on this subject. To add any thing, therefore, to what has been so lately said, must be unnecessary.

By the Example of Christ, considered in this light, we are decisively taught, that virtue is no partial character. The apprehension, not unfrequently entertained, that a man may love God, and not love his neighbour, and yet be a virtuous man; that is, in the Evangelical sense; the contrary apprehension, much more frequently entertained, that a man may love his neighbour, and not love God; and the opinion, still more generally adopted, that a man may love both God and his neighbour, and thus be virtuous, while he yet does not confine his passions and appetites within scriptural bounds ; are completely done away by the example of Christ. He, that saith, he abideth in him, is, in the text, required to walk as he walked : and in Rom. viii. 9, St. Paul declares, that if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. But if any man has the spirit of Christ, it will dictate the same conduct, which it dictated to Christ. If he is Christ's, therefore; in other words, if he is a virtuous man; the subject of that holiness, of which Christ was the subject, and beside which there is no virtue; he will walk as Christ also walked. This is one of those commands of our Saviour, which he himself has made the test of our discipleship, and of our love to him. If therefore we are his disci. ples indeed; if we love him ; we shall keep this command; and be, as he was, pious, benevolent, and self-governed, alike.

Further, Christ performed all the duties of life, prompted by these three great divisions of virtue. This conduct of our Saviour teaches us, irresistibly, that he, who does not carry the virtue, which he professes, into practice; or who does not perform those acts, or external duties, which are the proper effusions of such a spirit, as that of Christ; is not a disciple of Christ. Christ habitually prayed to God. He, who does not thus pray, is, therefore, not a disciple of Christ. Christ praised God; blessed, and gave thanks for, his food; worshipped God in his house; and celebrated all the institutions of the sanctuary. He, therefore, who does not these things, since he walks not as Christ also walked, has not the Spirit of Christ, and is none of his. Christ, also, universally befriended, in all the ways of justice and charity, his fellow-men, by furnishing that relief to their wants and distresses, which they needed. In vain will that man pretend to be his disciple, who is unjust in treatment of others; or who does not readily open his

« PoprzedniaDalej »