Billeder på siden

ly, how we should treat our fellow-creatures; but we ask our Iusts and our passions, we enquire of our ambition and pride, our covetousness, our wrath and revenge, how we should behave to others.

Reflect, O my soul, how often thou hast turned aside from this blessed rule of thy Saviour, by consulting with the corrupt principles of flesh and blood. How often hast thou negleeted this holy precept, to follow the vicious customs of a sinful world, and a degenerate age! A degenerate age indeed, that has forgot the practise of truth and love! Where shall we write this rule in large and golden letters, that the whole city might read it daily? Shall we engrave it on every door, that all who pass by may see it? Shall it stand fixed to every post of the house, that it may direct all your domestie conduct? Shall it meet us at the entrance of every shop, and thus guard our traffic from iniquity, and sano tify all our commerce? Shall we make a philactery of it, and wear it on the borders of our garments, that we may never put it off, unless we lie down to sleep, and cannot act ? But the Spirit of Christ is the best writer of his own golden rule, and the heart of man is the best table to receive and bear this writing. O that the holy Spirit would write this sacred law of justice and love more deeply, more effectually in all our hearts, that the religion of our Saviour might look like itself, all amiable and holy; and that while we give glory to God on high, for his saving grace, we might find peace and truth spreading through all the earth, and good-will multiplied among the children of men. Thus the will of God would be done on earth, as it is in heaven, and the kingdom of pur Redeemer come in its expected glory. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus.


The Universal Rule of Equity.

BLESSED Redeemer , bow divine, Is reason ever at a loss? How righteous is this rule of thine, Call in self-love to judge the cause; “ Never to deal with others worse, Let our own foodest passion shew Than we we would have them deal with How we should treat our neighbours us. "

too. This golden lesson short and plain, How bless'd would every pation prove, Gires nor the mind por memory paio : Thus rol'd by equity and love ! And every conscience must approve All would be friends without a foe, This universal law of love.

Aod form a paradise below. "Tis written in each mortal breast, Jesus, forgive us that we keep Where all our tenderest wishes 'rest; Thy sacred law of love asleep.; We draw it from our inmost veids, And take our envy, wrath and pride, Wbere love to self resides and reigns, Those savage passions, for dut guide


The Atonement of Christ.

Rom. iii. 25.-Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation It is one of the chief glories of the gospel, that it discovers a kull atonement for sin by the blood of Christ, that it sets before us the reconciliation of singers to an offended God, by the death of his own Son. One would be ready to wonder, that any of the guilty race of Adam should be unwilling to receive so divine a discovery, or should refuse a blessing so important.

But such unhappy principles have prevailed over the minds of some men, and particularly the Socinians in the last age, that they have been content to venture their eternal hopes on the mercy of God, without a dependance on the satisfaction made for sin, by Jesus the Saviour. They imagine Christ the Son of God came into our world chiefly to be a teacher of grace and duty, to be an example of piety and virtue, to plead with God for sinners, and in short to do little more than any other divine prophet might have been employed in, if the wisdom of God had so appointed it. They suppose he yielded to death that he might seal his doetrine with his blood, and might set us a glorious pattern of suffering and dying, and then he led the way to our resurrection, by his own rising from the dead.

It is granted indeed, these are some of the designs of the coming of Cnrist, some of the necessary parts of the blessed gospel : But it seems to me, that this blessed gospel is shamefully curtailed, and deprived of some of its most important designs and honours, if a proper atonement for sin by the blood of Christ be left out of it.

Forgive me, my fellow-christians, if I spend a discourse or two on this great article of our common faith. I think it of so high a moment, that I would fain pronounce and publish it aloud in an age that verges towards infidelity ; I would glory in the cross of Christ, and endeavour to support this doctrine with all my power. O may none of those who bear the christian name, ever grow weary of it, or run back again to the mere religion of nature, as though we had no gospel!

I shall not spin out my thoughts, or employ yours in a labo


rious enquiry into the connection of the words, but take them just as they lie, and make this plain sentence the foundation of my discourse.

Doctrine.—God hath set forth his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a propitiation for the sins of men.

When the apostle says, God hath set him forth, Christ is plainly the person intended : and this greek word wpe9:10, set forth, denotes either, 1. That God hath fore-ordained and appointed his Son to become our propitiation by his divine purpose in eternity, which purpose he exccuted here in time: Or, 2. It intends ihat God hath set him forth, that is, proposed and offered him to the world as an atonement for the sins of those who trust in the merit of his death; for so the following words intimate, God set hiin forth for a propitiation, through faith in his blood. I am not solicitous which of these scuses the reader will chuse; either of them perfectly agrees with the design of the apostle.

I would just take a brief notice also, that some interpreters transpose the words of the text a little, and read them thus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation in his blood through faith, and thus they suppose the apostle, in this very verse, declares that Christ atoned for our sins by his own blood : And if this be the true sense of it, it does but more effectually confirm the design of my doctrine, which is to shew that Christ, by his bloody death, became a sacrifice to God, in order to make satisfaction for the crimes of men. My method of discourse shall be tliis :

1. To explain more at large the manner in which I conceive Christ to become an atonement or propitiation for our sins.-II. To give some reasons to prove, that he is ordained of God, and set forth or offered to the world under this character.--And, III. I shall slew what gloriouş use is made of this doctrine throughout the whole christian life.

First, Let me explain the manner wherein Christ becomes an atonement or propitiation for sin. And to render this point easy to the lowest understanding, I would draw it out into these propositions :

Proposition I. The great God having made man, appointed to govern bim by a wise and righteous law, wherein glory and honour, life and immortality are the designed rewards for perfect obedience; but tribulation and wrath, pain and death, are the appointed recompence to sinners who violate his law.

This law is in a great measure engraven on the hearts and consciences of all men by nature; at least the general precepts of it are written in the conscience : And nuankind, by the light of rature, has some notion also of these penalties, viz. the indig. nation and wrath of God on those that do evil. And such as have. enjoyed the benefit of divine revelation, in patriarchal, Jewish, or christian times, have had much clearer discoveries thereof. This might be proved at large from the discourse of St. Paul; Rom. ü. 6—16. compared with Rom. i. 32. The heathens who are without the law, hare the work of the law written in their hearts, and they know, or might know, that those who break it are worthy of death.

II. All mankind have broken the law of God. There is none righteous; no, not one; Rom. ii. 10. By sinning against God, we have lost all pretence to the reward of life, and immortality, and glory; Rom. iii. 23. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And we have also subjected our. selves to guilt and punishment ; verse 19. Every month is stopped, and all the world becomes guilty before God. A sentence of wrath and death is passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; Rom. v. 12. and the best of saints were by nature dead in trespasses and sins, and the children of wrath even as others ; Eph. ii. 1–3.

III. God in is infinite wisdom did not think fit to pardon sinful man, without some compensation for his broken law, some recompence for the dishonour done to his government. He did not see it proper to forgive all our guilt without some satisfaction for breaking his holy commands. I will not enter into that curious enquiry, whether Gad, considered absolutely as a sovereign, could have done it. It is enough for us that he hath, in effect, declared he would not do it, and that probably for such reasons as these :

1. If the Great Rules of the world had pardoned the sins of men without any satisfaction, then his laws might have seemed not worth the vindicating. It might have been questioned, whether his statutes were so wisely contrived and framed, as to deserve a vindication, if he had freely forgiven all rebels that had broken them, without any consideration, without any satisfaction at all. It becomes a wise lawgiver to sce that his wisdom in framing, his laws, be not exposed to dishonour; and therefore his laws must be vindicated, when they are broken.

2. Men would have been tempted to persist in their rebellions, and to repeat their old offences continually, if there had been no vindication of the honour of the law, "nor any of the threatenings of it had been executed. Therefore God requires a satisfaction for his broken commands, that his subjects might be kept in due obedience, by an awful fear of his governing justice. And it is on this account, viz. ta deter and attright man


fróm sinning, and breaking his laws, he hath given them an account in what a severe and terrible manner he dealt with angels that simned, he spared them not; 2 Pet. ii. 4. but delivered them to chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day; Jude 6.

3. His forms of government among his creatures, might have appeared as a matter of small importance: His threatenings might have been counted a trifling and useless formality, and merc vain terrors, if he had given laws, and took no care whether they were obeyed or vo: and if he let those creatures that broke them come off, without any tokens of his displeasure, without any reparation of the honour due to lis law and government: Let not sinners deceive themselves with vain hopes, and dress up the great God in their own imaginations, as a being of mere mercy, as an Almighty Creator, that keeps no discipline or authority among his creatures ; Gal. vi. 7. "Be not deceived, God is not

. mocked; He that soweth to the flesh shall reap destruction."

4. God had a mind to make a very illustrious display, both of his justice and of his grace among mankind, which should be the solemn spectacle and the wonder of other worlds besides this, even the world of angels, principalities and powers; and there fore he hath designed his grace and his justice should mutually set forth each other, in his transactions with sinful man : On this account he would not pardon sin, without a satisfaction; but he thought fit to require and demand that sin be punished, and that the honour of the law be repaired to the full, that his justice might shine in full glory: And at the same time, in order to display his rich mercy, he would find out a way to save multitudes of these rebellious creatures.

These, and other reasons, infinitely superior to all our thoughts, might be in the divine mind, why God would not pardon sinners without a satisfaction.

IV. Man, poor sinful man, is not able to make any satisfaction to God for his own sins, by his utmost labours of future obedience: For all that he can do for time to come, is but mere necessary duty, if he had not sinned at all; and therefore this can never make any recompence to the governing justice of God, for his past transgressions.

It is a most strange vain doctrine of the papists, that some persons are such great saints, that they do works of heroic virtue, beyond what they are required to do; and these they call works of supererogation, whereby they can merit some favours at the hands of God, not only for themselves, but for their neighbours too. Strange doctrine indeed, made up of folly, pride, and absurdity! Our best services are so much due to God, that if any man could practise complete righteousness, and fulfil the law of God constantly through all his life, it would not make amends

« ForrigeFortsæt »