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rock will I build my church,” he must be understood to mean, upon this article of faith which Peter had then confessed, and not upon Peter himself.
Nor can it reasonably be supposed that our Saviour would have said things, as he often did, which were generally and naturally understood to be making himself equal with God, had he not considered the belief of his being really so, very necessary to be inculcated. Would he of whom the Father testified,
My servant shall deal prudently,” have prejudiced so many of his hearers, and prevented their conversion, by insisting upon, or once insinuating, what he well knew they accounted blasphemy, unless he had viewed it as a point of fundamental importance ? Some preachers may be fond of throwing out strange things, which, if true, are of little or no consequence; but this certainly was not the manner of the Author and Finisher of our faith. From his discourses relative to this doctrine, therefore, we are led to conclude, not only that it is a real truth, but a truth very essential to be known and believed in order to the salvation of men.
But it is equally a plain doctrine of the gospel, and equally an essential article of our faith, that Christ was a real and proper man. 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22, “ For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For, as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” And ver. 47, « The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven." Phil. i. 6, 7, 8, “ Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men ; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death
1 Tim. ïi. 5, “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And Heb. ii. 16, 17,
And Heb. ii. 16, 17, “ For verily
of the cross.
he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore, it behov. ed him in all things to be made like unto his brethren.”
Some, who would not be thought Arians, and who acknowledge the proper Divinity of our Saviour, be. lieve, nevertheless, that be existed, as a creature, long before his incarnation : that he was the first of all created beings, and far superior to the highest angels. But how they can reconcile this idea of him, with a belief of his proper humanity, I do not readily see. Surely, one who has nothing more of manhood, than a mere animal body, is not a man, in all things like his brethren : and it is not supposed, I presume, that Christ had a human soul, besides his Divine, and super-angelic natures. In that case, there must have been three distinct natures, in one person.
That Christ was, and continues to be, a perfect man, however, is the evident doctrine of the NewTestament. And the belief of this, as well as of his being truly God, is undoubtedly necessary in order to our trusting in him as a suitable, or capable Redeemer of the souls of men.
2. To believe truly on him whom God hath sent, we must have a right understanding and belief respecting the design of his mission.
What that was he himself hath declared in general, John iii. 17, “ For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” And with what salvation, we are particularly informed in many other places. See Matt. i. 21—“ He shall save his people from their sins." 1 Thes. i. 10, “ Even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." And 2 Tim. ii. 10, “ That they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”
The five thousand whom our Saviour miraculously fed, as related in the context, had different ideas of this matter. They considered him only as a temporal deliverer: and therefore, though they said, “ This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world,” yet they were far from being true believers in him.
To have saving faith in Christ, we must believe that he was sent to obtain for lost men, a spiritual and an eternal salvation : deliverance from sin and hell, and the enjoyment of immortal happiness in the kingdom of heaven.
3. It is necessary that we should have a right belief concerning the way and manner, in which
Christ hath procured this salvation for us.
He hath done this, we are told, by obeying and dying in our nature and stead. It is written,“ Ву the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous." It is written, “ He was wounded for our transgressions ; he was bruised for our iniquities ; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” It is written, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." It is written,
It is written, “ Now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Here again, “ The liberal man deviseth liberal things ;” and must do so to be consistent. The learned divine before quoted, supposes it equally immaterial what we believe concerning the way of our salvation, as concerning the person of our Saviour. Say,” says he,
says he, that Christ saves us merely by being a messenger from God to reveal to us eternal life, and to confer it upon us; or say, on the contrary, that he not only reveals to us eternal life, and confers it upon us, but has obtained it for us by offering himself a propitiatory sacrifice on the cross, and making satisfaction to the justice of the Deity
for our sins : -Is it not obvious, with respect to these differences, that they affect not the doctrine itself of our salvation by Christ; and that however they are determined, the foundation of our hopes remains the same ?"
And indeed, if the glory of God were nothing to be accounted of; if the honor of Christ were a matter of no consequence, and if we might be happy without seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, as well as with, this might be obvious. If our escaping punishment, and obtaining a heaven agreeable to the native wish of our hearts, were the only things in the universe of any importance, it would be very immaterial by whom we were saved, or how. In that case we might well enough believe and preach another gospel ; not much offensive to a Jew, or Mahometan, or Pagan. In that case,“ even denying the Lord that bought us,” would be no damnable heresy. The foundation of our hopes would still remain the same.
But God, though his name is love, is not so liberal. “ He cannot deny himself.” Those whom he would have to be saved, he would have come to the knowledge of the truth, that his name may be glorified. And all other beings in the universe would not be perfectly satisfied, to see the guilty cleared, and the rewards of the righteous given them, without understanding upon what grounds. The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, are things, we are told, into which the angels desire to look. We are also told, that when the Saviour of this ruined world was born, a multitude of the heavenly host sang together, “Glory to God in the highest,” as well as, “ on earth peace, good will towards men.” But that there may be the highest glory to God, or any glory at all, in the salvation of sinners, it must be seen that his grace is not exalted to the eternal dishonor of his justice. “ A just God, and a Saviour,” is the united name, in which he glories : and
he would be known to all, in the former as well as in the latter of these characters. Hence it was that he set forth Christ to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood for the remission of sins. This was done, that he might be just, and be known to be so, while he justifies transgressors, on their believing in Jesus. “ For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” But not so to unbelievers. To any one who remains in total ignorance or error concerning Christ, or concerning his atonement, he is no end of the law at all. It is said, “ If righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain ;” but equally in vain would be his death, in regard to the glory of God in the eyes of men, if they were to be saved without seeing the necessity, or without understanding the nature, of that satisfaction which was made to divine justice, by his painful and ignominious sufferings.
For these reasons, undoubtedly it was, that the apostles so strenuously insisted, in all their preaching, on Christ crucified ; notwithstanding they knew it was “ to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness.” On non-essential points, they fed those with milk who were unable to bear strong meat, and were very careful not to give Jew, or Greek, or the church of God, any offence ; but, upon this great article of salvation by the propitiatory sacrifice of God's only begotten Son, they determined always to insist, let who would be offended.
4. I will only just observe further, that it is necessary to have a firm and full belief of the power and willingness of Christ to save, all who are willing to be saved by him, in every respect in which they need salvation.
As to the all-sufficiency of his power; sec 1 Cor. i. 30, “ But of him are'ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Col. i. 19; Tt