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years of his residence upon earth, and terminated by his last and highest acts of obedience in submitting to the death of the cross, than it could have been by the ansinping obedience of all mankind, to the end of time.
But Messiah was not only to obey the law for us, he was likewise to expiate, to sustain, and to exhaust, the curse due to sin.* lo this attempt, no mere creature could have endured. Nor could the sufferings of a creature have been proposed to the universe, to angels and men, as a consideration sufficient to vindicate the righteousness and truth of God in the remission of sin, after he had determined and solemnly declared that the wages of sin is death. The apostle assures us, that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sin.'t They who differ from the apostle in their judgment, who think it very possible for God, if he pleased, to forgive the sinner who should offer a bull or a goat, or even without any offering, by the sovereign exercise of his mercy, may be reminded, that the question is not simply what God can do, but what it becomes him to do, agreeable to his perfections, and to his character as governor of the world. Of this bis infinite wisdom is the only competent judge ; and we learn, from his word, that it is impossible any blood, but that of bis own Son, can cleans us from guilt, or save us from misery. The blood of a bull or a goat, of a man or an angel, (if angels could bleed,) are all equally insufficient to the great purpose of declaring his righteousness, of manifesting to all intelligent creatures his inflexible displeasure against sin, in the very act of affording mercy to sinners. But since the atoning blood is the blood of Immanuel, of him who is God with us ; the sinner who makes it his plea, builds his hope upon a rock which cannot be removed, and obtaining forgiveness in this way, be likewise obtains by it such a knowledge of the beineusness of sin, as disposes him, from that hour, to fear, hate, and forsake it.
But though forgiveness be an essential part of salvation, it is not the whole. We cannot be happy, except the power of sin be likewise destroyed. A well-grounded hope in the mercy of God is connected with a thirst for sanctification, and a conformity to his image. But peither this hope nor this desire are natural to us. Our case requires the help of an almighty arm, of the power which can cause the “blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to arise ; which can take away the heart of stone, and create a heart of flesh. So, likewise, the difficulties attendant on our Christian profession, arising from the spirit of the world around us, the
* Gal. iii. 15.
| Heb. x. 4.
snares to which we are exposed in every situation ; our weakness, the deceitfulness of our hearts, the subtilty, vigilance, and power of our spiritual enemies, are so many and great, that unless he, on whom we depend for salvation, be able to save to the uttermost, we can have no security, either for our progress, or our perseverance, in the grace of God. Unless the Saviour of sinners be omnipresent, omniscient, unchangeable, 'the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,' that is unless he be God, how can he answer the prayers, satisfy the wants and relieve the distresses of all who trust in him in every age, and of all who, in every place, equally need his support at the same moment? Or how can be engage to give rest to every weary soul, to secure them from perishing, and to bestow upon them eternal life? David comfortably concluded, that because the Lord was his shepherd, he should not want, and had no reason to fear,* not even when passing through the valley of the shadow of death. To us Jesus is made known as the great Shepherd of the sheep; but how can we place the like confidence in him, unless we likewise are assured that our shepherd is the Lord ?
I shall not attempt to vindicate this doctrine largely from the exceptions of those who call themselves men of reason. It is a point of revelation, and it is expressly revealed. It demands our assent upon the authority of God, who requires us to receive this record which he has given us of his Son. Thus far it approves itself to our reason, that however difficult it may be to our conceptions, yet thus it must be, upon a supposition that sinners can be saved without prejudice to the honour of the divine government. If we affirm that he who was born in a stable, and suffered as a malefactor on Mount Golgotha, is the true God and eternal life, many will think it a hard saying. But it is the doctrine of Scripture, the very pillar and ground of truth ; the only foundation of hope for an awakened cooscience, the only standard by which we can properly estimate the evil of sin, the worth of the soul, and the Jove of God. We do not however, say that the human nature of Christ, considered in itself, possesses the attributes of Deity, or is the proper object of worship ; nor do we suppose that God could suffer, bleed, or die. But we say, with the apostle, 'that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.'t We believe that the human nature was so intimately and indissolubly united to the divine, that the properties and actings of each nature are justly ascribed to the one person of Christ, God-man, • Immanuel, God with us.' Thus we read that the final judgment
* Psalm xxiii. 1,4.
+ Cor. v. 19.
of the world is committed to a man, and that God hath purchased his church with his own blood.*
Behold, then, the character of Messiah in this prophecy! a man! a God! a divine person in the human nature. “God manifest in the flesh! Immanuel, God with us.'
As fallen creatures, we had lost the true knowledge of God, and were unable to form such conceptions of his greatness and goodness, as are necessary to inspire us with reverence, to engage our confidence, or produce obedience to his will.
His glory shines in the heavens, and fills the earth ; we are surrounded by the tokens of his power and presence ; yet, till we are instructed by his word, and enlightened by his Holy Spirit, he is to us an unknown God. The prevalence of idolatry was early, and (with an exception to the people of Israel) soon became universal. Men who boasted of their reason worshipped the sun and mood, yea, the works of their own hands, instead of the Creator. And even where revelation is vouchsafed, the bulk of mankind live without God in the world. But he is known, trusted, and served, by those who know Messiah. To them bis glory is displayed in the person of Jesus Christ.f His agency is perceived in the creation, his providence is acknowledged, and his presence felt, as God with us.
As fallen creatures, God is against us, and we are against him. The alienation of our hearts is the great cause of our ignorance of him. We are willingly ignorant. The thoughts of him are unwelcome to us, and we do not like to retain him in our knowledge. Guilt is the parent of atheism. A secret foreboding, that if there be a God, we are obnoxious to his displeasure ; and that if he
; takes cognizance of our conduct, we have nothing to hope, but every thing to fear from him, constrains many persons to try to persuade themselves that there is no God; and many more to ihink, or at least to wish, that if there be a God, he does not concern himself with human affairs. What a proof is this of the enmity of the heart of man against him ! that so many persons who would tremble at the thought of being in a ship, driven by the winds and waves, without a compass or a pilot, should yet think it desirable, if it were possible, to be assured, that in a world like this, so full of uncertainty, trouble, and change, all things were left at random, without the interference of a supreme governor.
But this enmity, these dark apprehensions, are removed, when the Gospel is received by faith. For it brings us the welcome news, that there is forgiveness with him ; that God is reconciled in his
; Son to all who seek his mercy. In this sense, likewise, MESSIAH
* Acts, xvii. 31. Acts, xx. 28.
† 2 Cor. iv. 6.
is Immanuel, God with us,' on our side, no longer the avenger of sin, but the author of salvation.
• Immanuel is. God with us,'God in our nature still. He suffered as a man, and as a man he vow reigns on the throne of glory; exercising all power and authority, and receiving all spiritual worship both in heaven and upon earth. He is the head of all principalities and powers, thrones and dominions. Thus man is not only saved, but unspeakably honoured and ennobled. He is brought into the nearest relation to him, who is over all, blessed forever. The angels adore him ; but only redeemed sinners can say, 'He loved us and gave bimself for us; he has washed us from our sins in his own blood ;* he is our Saviour, our Shepherd, our Friend, our, Immanuel, God with us.'
I shall conclude with a few obvious reflections which offer from this important subject.
What a cold assent is paid to the doctrine of the Godhead of Christ by many who profess and receive it as a truth! They have received from education, from books or ministers, what is called an orthodox scheme of religious sentiments, and with this they are contented. They have not been accustomed to doubt of it, and therefore take it for granted that they really believe it. “But as I have already hinted, it is so contrary to our natural apprehensions, that no man can, from his heart, say that · Jesus Christ is Lord,' unless he be taught of God. And a cordial belief of this point will and must produce great and abiding effects. They who know the Saviour's name, will so trust in bim, as to renounce every other ground of confidence. They will love him. . supremely, and forsake every thing that stands in competition with his favour. They will glory in his cross, they will espouse bis cause, and devote themselves to his service. They will make continual application to him, that they may receive, out of his fulness, grace according to their need. They will obey his precepts, and walk in his Spirit. Happy were it, indeed, if all who join in repeating the Creed, and who bow their knee at the mention of his name, were thus miuded. But the lives, tempers, and pursuits of thousands, give too sure an evidence, that when they express their assent with their lips, they neither know what they say, nor whereof they affirm. Their acknowledgment of his character has no more salutary influence, than that of the evil spirits when he was upon earth, who, said, and perhaps with a much fuller conviction, We know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.'t.
* Gal. ii. 20. Rev. i. 3.
Mark, i. 24.
2. What a strong foundation does this doctrine afford for the faith and hope of those who indeed know MESSIAH, and have put their trust in him. This truth is the rock upon which the church is built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If God be for us, who shall be against us ?" The difficulties of our warfare are great, the enemies of our peace are many. The world may frown, and Satan will rage ; but Jesus has overcome the world, and is greater than all our foes. He will guide his people with bis unerring wisdom, support them with his almighty arm, supply them out of the inexhaustible riches of his grace, revive them when fainting, heal them when wounded, plead for them above as their great high priest, manage for them upon earth as their great shepherd, and at last make them more than conquerors, and give them a crown of life!
3. On the coutrary, bow dreadful must be the state of those who finally reject him, and say in their hearts, . We will not have this man to rule over us! He is now proposed as a Saviour, he invites sinners to come to him, that they may have life; and assures us, that 'him that cometh he will in nowise cast out.'* Happy are they who hear and obey his voice to-day, while it is called to-day. To-morrow is uncertain. Death may be at the door, and at death our state will be fixed for eternity. They who refuse him now, in the character of a Saviour, must then appear at his tribunal, and stand before him as their Judge; and must answer, in their own person, for all their transgressions of the holy law, and for their contempt of the Gospel of the grace of God!
SALVATION PUBLISHED FROM THE MOUNTAINS.
Isaiah, xl. 9.
o Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain : 0
Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength ; list it up, be not afraid : say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
It would be improper to propose an alteration, though a slight one, in the reading of a text, without bearing my tes
* John, vi. 37.