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II. It was necessary that Christ should preach the Gospel, that he might sanction its Doctrines, Precepts, and Ordinances, with his own authority.

The Doctrines, Precepts, and Ordinances of the Gospel, are rules of the faith, practice, and worship, of all, to whom it is made known. Whenever a rule of this nature is published to any man, the great question, naturally asked by him, is always : “ By what authority am I required to conform to this rule ?"' In matters of conscience, even an ignorant man knows, that no being, except God, has any right to prescribe to him rules of obedience. When God prescribes to him, the prescription is a law: When man prescribes to him, it is only advice. But between law and advice the difference, in this case, is infinite.

Christ, as has been remarked, is the only, and the rightful Lawgiver to his Church. Had he not declared the Gospel in his own person, the question, whether it was his Gospel, would have arisen, not only against its claims to be a Revelation, but also against its authority, and consequent obligation. The Authority of the Apostles, as men, is certainly less than that of Christ, as a man; for he was a wiser and better man than they.

According to every scheme of Christianity, even according to that of the Socinians, the authority of the Gospel terminates in Christ, as the original Publisher of it to mankind; and in this view is of more import, and higher obligation, than if it had terminated in the Apostles. The Apostles might, indeed, have been admitted as upright and unexceptionable witnesses of facts; and full credit might have been given to their testimony. But when they prescribed rules of faith and practice, their authority would easily have been questioned: for in this case they would have needed not only an unexceptionable character, but a divine commission. Had the Apostles told us, (as, if Christ had not personally preached the Gospel, they must have told us) only, that Christ was born, lived and died, at such a time, and in such a manner; it is not easy to conceive how they would have proved, satisfactorily to mankind, their reception of such a commission from him. The mind would instinctively, fondly, and anxiously, have asked, “ whether this distinguished person did not, while in the world, teach those around him the superior wisdom, which he possessed. If he did not; why did he not? If he did; why were not his instructions recorded ?"

The absolute want of an answer to these questions would, I think, have left this subject in a state of obscurity, not only distressing, but perplexing, and dangerous.

Of this obscurity, Infidels would not have failed to avail themselves; as they now do of every seeming difficulty, and disadvantage, under which they suppose Christianity to labour. They would have asked triumphantly, “how does it appear that these doctrines, precepts, or ordinances, are Christ's ; and not merely

the dictates of his followers? In many instances we acknowledge them to be true doctrines, sound and useful precepts, and harmless ordinances; such as may be believed, and obeyed, reasonably enough; but where is the proof, that they were intended to be laws of faith and conduct, binding the consciences of men ? If this had been their character, would not Christ, the source of this system, have declared it, during his residence on earth? The fact, that he did not, to say the least, renders the point doubtful; and, of course, releases inankind from any obligation to obey."

What Infidels would thus have boldly advanced, Socinians would probably have readily admitted; and multitudes of cold and timid believers would, as probably, have followed in their train. In this manner, the whole system might have assumed a new face and the whole Church a different character.

All these things would, also, have required peculiar strength, and consistency, from the fact, that the Apostles attribute the Gospel wholly to Christ; as being originally, and exclusively, his. " Where,” it would be asked, " is the proof of this great fact? No record is left of the Instructions of Christ himself, to indicate his pleasure. This certainly is strange; and, if it was really his will that we should obey these precepts and receive these doctrines, unaccountable. In a case of such importance, he cannot be believed to have left us in any doubt; much less in so serious a perplexity. His absolute silence, therefore, in a matter of this magnitude, furnishes no small reason to believe, that he intended and required, no conformity, or obedience, of this nature, on our part."

From these objections and others like them, the Church, and those, individually and successively, of whom in every period it was to be formed, would undoubtedly have experienced many difficulties and perplexities, in the way of their faith and obedicnce. Nor would the powerful arguments, derived from the lives, and the miracles, of the Apostles, be able to remove these difficul. ties. In spite of these arguments, difficulties even now exist, sufficiently perplexing to stumble the weak, and ensnare the unguarded. It is hardly necessary to add, that by the supposed silence of Christ all these would be mightily enhanced.

The Gospel is probably reverenced by those, who reverence it at all, in a degree, generally proportioned to their views concerning its Author. Trinitarians regard it with the highest veneration; Arians with a less degree; and Socinians, particularly the followers of Doctor Priestly, with the least. Even these, however, regard Christ with more respect, than they render to the Apostles. Had the Gospel been preached by the Apostles only, there is reason to fear that by every one of these classes of men, it would have been regarded with a still lower degree of veneration. To believe its doctrines, to obey its precepts, and to celebrate its ordinances, would have been felt to be a duty, less powerfully

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incumbent on mankind, less obligatory, and less necessary to the attainment of salvation.

It ought here to be remarked, that the Scriptures themselves furnish a solid foundation for this distinction. St. Paul, Heb. ii. 1-3, says, Therefore, (that is, on account of the exalted Character of Christ, displayed in the preceding chapter) we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For, if the word spoken by Angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect 80 great salvation ; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by those that heard him? ceding chapter, the Apostle had proved the entire and infinite superiority of Christ to Angels. From this character of the Saviour he derives the inference, just read; viz. the utter hopelessness of escape to such, as neglect the salvation, which Hlc published with his own mouth. The justice of the Inference he proves by the fact, that even those, who disobeyed the word spoken by Angels, were uniformly, and equitably punished. Those, therefore, he says, cannot possibly escape punishment, who neglect the word spoken by Christ, å person so much greater and better than Angels.

Again, Chap. x. 28, 29, He says, He that despised Moses' law, died without mercy. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, sha!l he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God! In both these instances the Apostle evidently considers the guilt of disobeying Christ as greater than that of disobeying other publishers of the Word of God; and of course attributes to Christ, as a preacher of the Gospel, an authority, superior to that of any other person. These very passages, had they been written, as substantially they might have been, would perhaps have been quoted against the Apostles themselves, if Christ had not preached the Gospel in person.

III. It was necessary that Christ should preach the Gospel, that he might appear in the world, as a Preacher of Truth and Righteousness.

The importance of Christ's assumption of this character will be evident from the following particulars.

1st. The importance of the Character itself. No intellectual character is so great, or so important, as this. The highest wisdom and authority are here united, and exhibited with unrivalled lustre. The subjects unfolded are the most interesting in the Universe : The character, pleasure, and works, of God; the nature, and destiny, of Man; the nature of holiness and sin; the laws, by which our duty is prescribed and regulated; the means, by which eternal life is obtained; the termination of this earthly system; and the introduction of another, wholly new, immortal, and divine. Vol. II.


In the assumption of this character Christ became the Lawgiver, and Teacher of a World, and indeed of the Universe; unfolded all the wisdom, and all the holiness, attainable by mankind throughout endless duration; and disclosed the perfect attributes and immeasurable glories, of JEHOVAH. Angels in his instructions saw what all the splendours of the heavenly system had never illuminated; and found a wisdom, displayed on the footstool of the Creator, which their own exalted world, notwithstanding the perfection with which it is arrayed, had never ushered into light. In this character, then, it was suitable to the glory of Christ, that he should have the pre-eminence.

2dly. The lustre which it shed upon his life.

Christ is the only Teacher, ever found in this world, whose life exactly, and perfectly, accorded with his instructions. No object is so edifying, as this accordance. The perfect holiness of the Redeemer would have been less clearly seen and less deeply felt, if we could not have compared his actions with the perfect rules of life, uttered by his own mouth. This truth needs no other evidence, except the continual appeal to the fact, made by all Christians in their conversation and writings; an appeal, showing more forcibly than arguments can do, the strong impressions, made by this fact on their minds. The peculiar excellence and dignity of Christ is here seen with the highest advantage; as being seen in the strongest light, and seen alone.

3dly. The proof, which it furnished, that all his precepts are capable of being obeyed, with a suitable disposition, by a human being.

Christ was a man, as well as God; differing from other men only in wisdom, and excellence. In this character he perfectly observed every precept, which he uttered, so far as it was applicable to himself. In this manner he taught, unanswerably, that other teachers, and all other men, would do the same, if they possessed, and so far as they possessed, the same disposition. The precepts, therefore, are reasonable in themselves; and all the difficulty, found by us in obeying them, arises from our disinclination. Had Christ left the Gospel to be preached by the Apostles only; this trait in his character would, at the best, have been dimly seen, and feebly regarded.

4thly. The Example, which he thus furnished to all future preach. ers of the Gospel.

The example of Christ in this respect is perfect. A particular display of its excellencies will, however, be more advantageously made hereafter. Suffice it, now, to observe, that it was an example indispensably necessary for men in every period of time, and peculiarly at the time wlien it was furnished. The Gospel then began to be preached; and the manner, in which it ought to be preached, all future preachers needed to know, for their direction : the gentleness, meekness, candour, patience, clearness, simplicity, firmness, boldness, and unwavering integrity, which every preacher ought to display; which Christ alone has perfectly displayed; but which thousands of preachers have exhibited in far higher degrees than they would ever have reached, if they had not been presented with this glorious Example, to direct and animate them, in this great duty.

The Examples of this nature, actually existing at that time in the world, were such, as only to mislead, and corrupt, those who followed them. The pride of both Jewish and Heathen Teachers, the dissoluteness of their lives; their covetousness; their sickly love of human applause; the blind devotion of the former to the silly and immortal traditions of the Elders; and the theoretical. spirit, the sophistry, and the empty declamation, of the latter; rendered a new example, free from all these deplorable defects, indispensable to all future teachers, who wished to benefit their fellow-men.

IV. It was necessary, that Christ should preach the Gospel, in order to the authoritative abolition of the peculiarities of the Mosaic system.

These peculiarities are called by St. Peter, Acts xv. 10, a Yoke, which neither our fathers, nor we, (that is, the Jews) were able to bear. For the Gentiles at large it would have been not only an insupportable yoke, but a system of rites and duties, with which their accordance would, in many cases, have been impossible. Still all these were sanctioned by an authority confessedly divine. Equal authority was necessary to abrogate them. Ye this abrogation was absolutely necessary to the success of the Gospel. The authority of the Apostles would not, I think, in this case, have been submitted to by the Jews; nor easily have been placed in their estimation above, nor in an even balance with, that of Moses; but would probably have been classed with that of the Prophets, who succeeded Moses, and who were universally, and justly, considered as possessing an authority inferior to his.

The Jews were taught to expect the only material change, which would ever exist in the Mosaic system, from that Prophet, whom the Lord their God was to raise up unto them, like unto Moses. This Prophet not one of the Apostles could claim to be. Not one of them, therefore, could arrogate to himself the authority, by which that system was to be changed. This belonged exclusively to Christ, the Prophet thus foretold ; the Prophet, from whom the Scriptures themselves laught the Jews to expect material alterations in their religion.

Had Christ, then, been silent on this subject, it is not easy to conceive how the Jews could have been persuaded, that the system was to be changed at all; nor, if they had not been persuaded, how the Gentiles could either have realized, or maintained, this important fact.

V. It was necessary, that Christ should preach the Gospel, to furnish an opportunity of faith, and conversion, to the Jews, who lived at that time.

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