Imágenes de página

Not my

[ocr errors]

not required. Then said I, Lo, I come : in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart,” Psalm xl. 6—8. He saw the divine decree, and embraced it; the law was in his heart, and fully possessed all his thoughts and affections, and had a commanding influence upon his life.—And his willingness was fully expressed by him, when he approached his last sufferings; for although he declined death as man, having natural and innocent desires of self-preservation, yet as Mediator he readily submitted to it; will, but thine be done,” was his voice in the garden. And this argued the completeness and fixedness of his will, that notwithstanding his aversion to death absolutely considered, yet with an unabated election he still chose it as the means of our salvation. No involuntary constraint did force him to that submission : but the sole causes of it were his free compliance with his Father's will, and his tender compassion towards men. He saith, “ I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again : this commandment have I received of my Father,” John x. 18. In his death, obedience and sacrifice were united. The typical sacrifices were led to the altar, but the Lamb of God presented himself: it is said, " he gave himself for us,” Gal. i. 4; to signify his willingness in dying, Tit. ii. 14. Now the freeness of our Redeemer in dying for us qualified his sufferings to be meritorious. The apostle tells us, Rom. v. 19, that " by the obedience of ne many are made righteous ;” that is, by his voluntary sufferings we are justified; for without his consent his death could not have the respect of a punishment for our sins. No man can be compelled to pay another's debt, unless he make himself surety for it.

Briefly : the appointment of God and the undertaking of Christ, to redeem us from the curse of the law by his suffering it, are the foundation of the new testament.

3. He that interposed as Mediator, must be perfectly holy; otherwise he had been liable to justice for his own sin; and guilty blood is impure and corrupt, apter to stain by its effusion and sprinkling, than to purge away sin. tle joins these two as inseparable; “ He was manifested to take away our sin, and in him is no sin,” 1 John iii. 5. The priesthood under the law was imperfect, as for other reasons, so for the sins of the priests ; Aaron, the first and chief of the Levitical order, was guilty of gross idolatry, so that re

The apos

conciliation could not be obtained by their ministry; for how can one captive ransom another, or sin expiate sin ? But our Mediator was absolutely innocent, without the least tincture of sin original or actual. He was conceived in a miraculous manner, infinitely distant from all the impurities of the earth. That which is produced in an ordinary way, receives its propriety from second causes, and contracts the defilement that cleaves to the whole species. Whatever is born “ of blood" and “ of the will of the flesh," that is formed of the substance of the flesh and by the sensual appetite, is defiled : but though he was formed of the substance of the virgin, yet it was by virtue of a heavenly principle according to the words of the angel to her. “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that hcly thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God,” Luke i. 35. He came in the appearance only “of sinful flesh ;" as the brazen serpent had the figure, and not the poison, of the fiery serpent. He was without actual sin. He foiled the tempter in all his arts and methods wherewith he tried him. He resisted the lust of the flesh, by refusing to make the stones bread to assuage his hunger; and the lust of the eyes in despising the kingdoms of the world with all their treasures; and the pride of life, when he would not throw himself down, that by the interposing of angels for his rescue, there might be a visible proof that he was the Son of God. The accuser himself confessed him to be the “Holy One of God;" he found no corruption within him, and could draw nothing out of him. Judas that betrayed him, and Pilate that condemned him, acknowledged his innocence. He perfectly fulfilled the law, and did always what pleased his Father. In the midst of his sufferings, no irregular motion disturbed his soul, but he always expressed the highest reverence to God and unspeakable charity to men. He was compared, for his passion and his patience, to a lamb, that quietly dies at the foot of the altar.

Besides, we may consider in our Mediator not only a perfect freedom from sin, but an impossibility that he should be touched by it. The angelical nature was liable to folly ; but the human nature, by its intimate and unchangeable union with the divine, is established above all possibility of falling. The Deity is holiness itself and, by its personal presence, is a greater preservative from sin, than either the vision of God

[ocr errors]

tells us,

[ocr errors]

in heaven, or the most permanent habit of grace. Our Saviour

“the Son can do nothing of himself,” but according to the pattern the Father sets him, John v. 19.

Now the perfect holiness of our Redeemer hath a special efficacy in making his death to be the expiation of sin, as the scripture frequently declares; “ For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate fron sinners,” Heb. vii. 26. And he that knew no sin, was made sin for us, " that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. v. 21. “We are redeemed not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, a as of lamb without blemish, and without spot," 1 Pet. i. 18. And, “ By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many," Isa. liii. 11.

4. It was requisite the Mediator should be God and man.

He must assume the nature of man, that he might be put in his stead in order to make satisfaction for him. He was to be our representative, therefore such a conjunction between us must be, that God might esteem all his people to suffer in him. By the law of Israel the right of redemption belonged to him that was next in blood. Now Christ took the seed of Abraham, the original element of our nature, that having a right of propriety in us as God, he might have a right of propinquity as He was allied to all men, as men, that his sufferings might be universally beneficial.

And he must be God. It is not in his innocency only or deputation, but the dignity of his person that qualifies him to be an all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, so that God may dispense pardon in a way that is honourable to justice ; for justice requires a proportion between the punishment and the crime ; and that receives its quality from the dignity of the person offended. Now since the majesty of God is infinite against whom sin is committed, the guilt of it can never be expiated but by an infinite satisfaction. There is no name under heaven nor in heaven, that could save us, but the Son of God, who, being equal to him in greatness, became man.

If there had been such compassion in the angels as to have inclined them to interpose between justice and us, they had not been qualified for that work; not only upon the account of their different nature, so that by substitution they could not satisfy for us ; nor that being immaterial


substances, they are exempted from the dominion of death, which was the punishment denounced against the sinner, and to which his surety must be subjected; but principally that being finite creatures, they are incapable to atone an incensed God. - Who among all their glorious orders durst appear before so consuming a fire? Who could have been an altar whereon to sanctify a sacrifice to divine justice ?No mere creature how worthy soever could propitiate the supreme majesty when justly provoked. Our Redeemer was to be the Lord of angels. The apostle tells us, that it

pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell :" this respects not his original nature, but his office; and the reason of it is, to reconcile by the blood of the cross, things in heaven and in the earth, Col. i. 19. From the greatness of the work we may infer the quality of the means, and from the quality of the means, the nature of the person that is to perform it. Peace with God, who was provoked by our rebellion, could only be made by an infinite sacrifice. Now in Christ the Deity itself, not its influences and the fulness of it, not any particular perfection only, dwelt really and substantially. God was present in the ark in a shadow, and representation; he is present in nature by his sustaining power, and his saints by special favour, and the eminent effects, the graces and comforts, that proceed from it; but he is present in Christ in a singular and transcendent manner. The humanity is related to the Word, not only as a creature to the author of its being, for in this regard it hath an equal respect to all the persons, but by a peculiar conjunction ; for it is actuated by the same subsistence, as the divine essence is in the Son, but with this difference, the one is voluntary, the other necessary; the one is espoused by love, the other received by nature.

Now from this intimate union, there is a communication of the special qualities of both natures to the person of Christ: man is exalted to be the Son of God, and the Word abased to be the Son of man; as by reason of the vital union between the soul and body, the essential parts of man, it is truly said that he is rational in respect of his soul, and mortal in respect of his body.

This union derives an infinite merit to the obedience of Christ; for the human nature having its complement from the divine person, it is not the nature simply considered, but the person, that is the fountain of actions. To illustrate this by an instance: the civil law determines that a tree transplanted from one soil to another, and taking root there, belongs to the owner of that ground, in regard that receiving nourishment from a new earth, it becomes as it were another tree, though there be the same individual root, the same body and the same soul of vegetation as before. Thus the human nature taken from the common mass of mankind, and transplanted by personal union into the divine, is to be reckoned as entirely belonging to the divine, and the actions proceeding from it are not merely human, but are raised above their natural worth, and become meritorious. One hour of Christ's life glorified God more than an everlasting duration spent by angels and men in the praises of him; for the most perfect creatures are limited and finite, and their services cannot fully correspond with the majesty of God; but when the word was made flesh, and entered inio a new state of subjection, he glorified God in a divine manner and most worthy of him. He that cometh from above, is above all,” John iii. 31. The all-sufficiency of his satisfaction arises from hence-he that “was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God;" that is, in the truth of the divine nature was equal with the Father, and without sacrilege or usurpation possessed divine honour; he became obedient to the death of the cross. The Lord of glory was crucified. We are purchased by the blood of God, Acts xx. 28. « The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin," 1 John i. 7. The divine nature gives it an infinite and everlasting efficacy.

And it is observable, that the Socinians, the declared enemies of his eternity, consentaneously to their first impious error, deny his satisfaction; for if Jesus Christ were but a titular God, his sufferings, how deep soever, had been insufficient to expiate our offence; in his death he had been only a martyr, not a mediator; for no satisfaction can be made to divine justice, but by suffering that which is equivalent to the guilt of sin, which as it is inconceivably great, such must the satisfaction be.

« AnteriorContinuar »