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from all Iniquity, and purifie to himself a peculiar People zealous of good Works.
And Lastly, St. Peter gives the fame Account of his coming, Aěts 3. 26. where he tells us, That therefore God raised up his Son Jesus, that is, sent him into the World (for his raising up there spoken of, as any one will fee that looks into the Context, was not his being raised from the Dead, but his being manifested to Mankind; For here the Apostle's Business is to apply that Promise or Prophecy of Moses unto our Saviour, viz. That God would, in due Time, raise up to his People a Prophet like unto him, whom they should all be obliged to hearken to: I say, therefore, God raised up his Son Jesus, i. e. sent 'him into the World) that he might bless his People, in turning every one of them from their Iniquities. This turning every one from their Iniquities, was the great End for which our Lord Jesus Christ was manifeft. ed unto Mankind.
And, indeed, Reason will teach us all this, as well as Revelation: For, in the Nature of the Thing, none can be truly Happy but those that are truly Pious : And in the fame Degree and Proportion that any one is wicked, or is under the Power of his Lusts, in the same Degree he must needs be miserable. So that if Christ came to be our Saviour, and in that, meant either to make us happy, or to keep us from being miserable; there was an ablolute Neceffity, that his first and principal Design must be to root out of our Nature all Sin and Wickedness; and to restore the Image of God in
our Minds which consists in unchangeable Purity, and Holiness, and Goodness.
Away, therefore, with all those Hypotheses, that give such an account of Christ's coming into the World, as to make the ultimate End of it, to be the freeing us from Hell and Damnation, and purchasing Heaven and Eternal Life for us; but without any respect had to the renewing our Natures, or the making us sincerely Holy and Vertuous. All such ACcounts of Christ's Undertaking, are monstrously unreasonable and absurd.
For not to insist upon the manifest Affront they put upon God's Justice and Holineß, in making Him, the great Patron of Sin, whilst they affert Him to be the Justifier of wicked Men, even whilft they continue Wicked.
You cannot, as I said, but fee (in the First Place) how very much such Doctrines do disparage the Love of our Saviour, and lessen his Undertaking: For whilst he is here fupposed to have Redeemed us only from his Father's Wrath, and the Punishment consequent thereupon; leaving us in the mean Time to the Wickedness and Impurity of our own Nature, which alone, without the accession of any other external Evil, is a Misery great enough ; He is hereby rendred but half a Saviour ; One that freed us, indeed, from an External Evil, but left ùs irremediably exposed to an Internal one, as grievcus as the other. One that delivered us from the Apprehensions of a Gibbet, or an Executioner; but could not, VOL. I.
or would not cure us of the inward Sicknesses and Maladies, under which we languished. : But this is not all. In the Second Place, it ought to be taken notice of, what an absurd inconsistent Notion this kind of Doctrine gives us of the Happineß of Mankind : For whilst they suppose, that a Man under the Power and Dominion of Sin, 'is capable of that Happiness which Christ purchased for us in the other World (which Happiness, as both Scripture and Reason testify, doth chiefly consist in the Enjoyment of God, and of his Excellencies and Perfections ;) they must at the same Time suppose, that a Man may be rendred happy by the Enjoyment of that of which he has no Sense, no Perception; or rather, to speak properly, that he is the happiest Creature alive, in the Enjoyment of an Object, to which he has the greatest Averfion and Antipathy in the World. Which, if it be not an Absurdity, I know not what is. When Light can have Communion with Darkneß, when God can have Fellowship with Belial; then, and not 'till then, can a wicked Man, a Man that lives in Sin, and loves it, be capable of that Happiness which Jesus Christ hath purchased for us.
IV. The Fourth Thing I should speak to from this Text, is, The Means by which our Saviour brought to pass the great End of his Appearance, viz. The putting away of Sin. Which Means are said to be the Sacrifice of himself. Now once in the End of the World, hath he ap peared to put away Sin, by the Sacrifice of himself.
Two Things should be done, in order to a just Discourse upon this point. ·
First, To give an Account, how the Death of Christ was a Means for the putting away of Sin, in the first Sense I gave, that is, the procuring the Pardon of it.
Secondly, How it was a means of putting it away in the other Sense, that is, the destroying or mortifying it in us.
But these Things being Foreign to our present Business, and more proper for the Argument of a Good-Friday Sermon; I shall say no more of them, but proceed to my last Point.
V. The Fifth and last Thing observable from the Text, is the Difference of Christ's Sa. crifice, whereby he put away Sin, from the Mosaical ones: Which Difference, so far as it is here taken notice of, consists in this; That the Legal Sacrifices, for the Expiation of Sin, were Daily offered; but Christ offered the sacrifice of Himself
, but once, Once in the End of the World, &c.
The Apostle, in this Chapter, is Discoursing of the Difference between the Law and the Gospel. And as to that Point, he insists much on the Difference of their Sacrifices. The Christians that owned the Gospel, had but one Sacrifice, The Sacrifice of Christ once offered; whereas those that were under the Law, were forced to have many. Nay, even the most folemn Sacrifice that God had appointed, for the Expiation of their Sins, was repeated once a Year, as the Apostle tells us, in the Verse before my Text. But now the
Sacrifice of Christ, which he puts by way of Opposition to theirs, that was but once offered, and was never to be repeated. This is the Point with which he concludes this Chapter ; Two Verses after my Text, Chrift (faith he) was once uffered, to bear the Sins of many, and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the Second Time unto Salvation.
This is the Apostle's Doctrine, and I insist on it now, because all those that design, on this Day, to receive the Holy Sacrament, are concerned in it.
Let us from hence take notice, that in this Service of the Holy Communion, we are not to pretend to offer Christ as a Sacrifice to his Father: His Sacrifice was but once to be offered, and that was done Seventeen hundred Years ago; and in the Virtue of that Sacrifice once offered, all faithful Christians, and fincere Penitents, shall receive Remission of Sins, and all other Benefits of his passion. But for us to think of offering Christ again as a Sacrifice, is in effect to put ourselves into the same Rank and Condition with the unbelieving Jews; that is, to need the Repetition of the lame Sacrifices every Year, nay, every Day, which is the very Reason, for which the Apostle denies the Efficacy of them.
We do not, indeed, deny, but that every Time we approach to the Lord's Table, for the receiving of the Holy Communion, we offer Sacrifices to God: For we offer our Alms, which we beg of God to accept as our Oblations; and these, in the Language of Scrip