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Christ, or trusting in him ;" and it includes also “ the promised aid of the Holy Spirit to those who seek it, to enable them to receive this salvation, and to fit them for the final possession of the promised glory." It includes also the “ revelation of the future resurrection, the last judgment and eternal life.” To this end did the Son of God come into the world, that whosoeeer belieces on him should not perish but have everlasting life; John ü. 16. This may be made out and explained, more at large, in the following manner:
The salvation which the gospel proposes, is exactly answerable to our present state of sin and wretchedness, and fully supplies all the necessities of fallen man, his guilt and deserved misery, his sinful and corrupted nature, and his utter inability to help bimself; and therefore it must contain in it holiness and happiness, with divine directions and divine aids, in order to attain them. The happiness of it is a freedom from that death and punishment, which we had incurred by sin, and a recovery to the favour of God, which we had lost, and everlasting joy therein. The holiness of it is the image of God, in which we were at first created, which image was defaced and ruined by man's first transgression.
The foundation of this salvation is the eternal mercy and good-will of God the Father, to his poor, perishing, sinful creatures, by the glorious undertaking and various transactions and offices of our Lord Jesus Christ as Mediator, and the several operations of the blessed Spirit. This salvation in the whole of it is contri ved and appointed by the various attributes of God, especially his wisdom, power and goodness, exerting themselves for this purpose: It is purchased or procured for us, by the death and sufferings of Jesus Christ: It is applied to us, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
We are chosen, to partake of all this salvation, both the holiness and happiness of it, by the eternal' goodwill of the Father. We are recovered to the favour of God, and happiness, by the obedience or righteousness, the death and intercession, of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, in our nature. We are restored to the image of God, and holiness, by the Spirit of Christ, that is promised and sent down into this world, to change our hearts and reform our lives, and thereby fit us for the heaYenly happiness.
But, what are we to do that we may become partakers of this salvation? For it is not every son and daughter of Adam who are possessors of it. Now, it is the gospel that reveals this to us, and also directs us in it. The appointed way to partake of this salvation is, by believing or trusting in Christ, that is, when from a deep sense of the evil of sin, and our guilt and danger or that account, we grow weary and heavy laden with the bur
den, of our sins, and surrender or betrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, that, by his death and obedience, we may be saved from hell, and be accepted unto eternal life, and that by the divine aid of his Spirit, we may have all the sinful powers of our natures renewed and sanctified, and fitted for that life eternal which Christ has purchased. Thus you see this grace of faith necessarily draws along with it sincere repentance for sin, and desires after true holiness.
When we consider, that we are, by nature, afar off from God, ignorant and averse to all that is holy, we shall find that we are not more able to believe unto salvation, nor to repent of sin, at first, than we are to perform works of holiness afterwards. Therefore this gospel provides us with divine strength to fulfil these duties ; Christ is our strength, as well as our righteousness; Is. xlv. 24, 25. He is exalted to bestow repentance as well as forgiveness; Acts v. 31. and faith is the gifi of God, who creates us anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works ; Eph. ii. 8–10. and makes us holy by his spirit, as is before expressed. It is by the Iloly Spirit, considered eminently as the Spirit of Christ, that we are enabled to receive this salvation at first, and trained up
and prepared for the full possession of it.
It is further also comprehended in this gospel, and promised in this gracious constitution of God, that when we have finished our state of trial on earth, our souls shall be received, at death, into the presence and enjoyment of God; and our bodies also shall be raised from the grave, in the great resurrection-day, and thus our whole natures shall be made bappy together to all eternity. This is the matter and subject of the gracious revelation of God, this the method of salvation, and the manner of our partaking of it, which is appointed by God himself, and this is what I call the substance of the gospel. There are some other points of importance that belong to it, but this is the foundation of all, and comprehensive of the rest.
To sum up the several parts of it in as few words as I can; the gospel of Christ is a gracious constitution of God, for the recovery of sinful man, by sending his own Son, in the flesh, to obey his law, which man had broken, to make a proper atonement for sin by his death, and to procure the favour of God, and eternal happiness, for all that believe and repent, and receive this offered salvation, together with a promise of the Holy Spirit, to work this faith and repentance in the hearts of men, to renew their sinful natures unto holiness, to form them fit for this happiness on earth, and to bring them to the full possession of it in heaven.
All this is so evident from a variety of scriptures, that might be cited here, that one would think there should be no need to prove it. But there have been some persons in the last and in
the present age, I chiefly intend the Socinian writers, and those nominal christians, who are leaning towards deism, who would impoverish and curtail the gospel of Christ, and make it to consisi in little more than mere natural religion. Some of these persons just make a shiit to persuade themselves to believe the bible, or at least they profess to believe it, because it is the religion of their country, but they explain it in so poor, so narrow, so dry, and insipid a manner, as raises it very little above the light of nature, viz. “ 'That if we follow the dictates of our inward reason and our conscience, in worshipping Gou, and in loving our neighbours, according to the rules which scripture hath given us to explain and confirm the light of nature, and herein imitate the holy example of our Lord Jesus Christ, then our sins shall be forgiven us, by the mere mercy of God, through the supplication and intercession of so good a man as Jesus Christ, and we shall be accepted to eternal life;" and this without any dependance on the death of Christ, as a proper atonement or satisfaction for sin, or any regard to him as a true and real sacrifice. And as for the Spirit of God, and his almighty operation on the souls of men, to enlighten and satisfy them, at least in our age, this is almost banished out of their gospel, and finds but little room in their religion. I think it necessary, therefore, to prove, that the gospel of Christ is such a doctrine as I have described; and that I shall do by these five reasons :
Sect. II.-I. This doctrine, which I have now mentioned, of the restoration of believers in Jesus Christ to the favour of God, by the atoning sacritice and obedience of Christ, and the renewing of sinful men to God's image by the work of the Holy Spirit, and thereby bringing them to eternal life, is the very gospel of Christ, because “ it is the very labour and business, the chief scope, aim and design of the great apostle of the Gentiles, in those of his epistles where he sets himself, professedly, to explain the gospel; and this is what he takes frequent occasion also to bring into all his writings." It is his perpetual labour to instruct the Jews and Gentiles in these glorious and unknown truths : He uses various forms of speech to explain them to their understandings; for “ I desire, saith he, and determine to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, that is, nothing like it ; nothing in comparison with it. I Cor.ü. 2. It is the cross of Christ that is and must be the great subject of my ministry ; this is what I am sent to preach, for it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God; 1 Cor. i. 24. for the salvation of men ; Rom. i. 16.
You find his letters to the churches full of such expressions as these, Christ died for our sins; 1 Cor. xv. 3. He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity : Tit. ii. 13. We have redemption through his blood ; Eph. i. 7. God was in Christ
reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; 2 Cor v. 19. He was made sin, verse 21. and a curse for us; Gal. iii. 10. He is our propitiation and atonement; 1 John ii. 2. He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself ; Heb. ix. 26. When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by his death ; Rom. v. 8. He made peace by the blood of his cross ; Col. i. 20. He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification; Rom iv. 25. By the righteousness of one man the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous; Rom. v. 18, 19. and we are justified by faith in him ; verse 1. He teaches us also the offices of the Holy Spirit. We have access to God through his Spirit; Eph. ii. 18. “ We are purified and sanctified by the spirit; 1 Cor. vi. 11. It is by the Spirit of Christ that we are lo mortify the deeds of the flesh; Rom. viii. 13---17. We are led by the Spirit, and we are taught to understand this gospel by the Spirit which he hath given us; Eph. iii. 16. We -are sealed by this Spirit unto the day of redemption ; chapter ix. 23. The Spirit dwelling in us is a pledge and earnest of our inheritance in heaven, chapter i. 14.
Now these expressions of his are to be understood in the common sense and meaning of the words, and not as far-fetched metaphors; for it is evident, that in all this he does not affect the arts of oratory, nor assume a magnificent air of writing, nor does he raise himself into sublimities of style, nor rove in an enthusiastic way, when he treats of these subjects, but while he is explajping to us these great things of the gospel, he avoids the wisdom of words and oratory, and he talks in a plain, rational, and argumentative method, to inform the minds of men, and give them the clearest knowledge of the truth.
Surely, a person that was sent of God to preach and write the gospel, for the use of all nations and future ages, and even for the ignorant and uninstructed barbarians, would not have expressed himself in this sort of language, if he meant no more by it than the Socinians do by the gospel of Christ ; that is, " that the Lord Jesus Christ was a very great man, but a mere man still ; he was a prophet ordained of God, to preach up holiness in greater degrees than it had been before preached, to settle some points which were left a little doubtful by the light of nature, to assure us that God would be reconciled to man, and forgive him, if man repented and was sorry for his sins, and lived as well as he could for time to come ; and that for the sake of the prayers of Christ, who was so very pious, so very religious, and so very heavenly a person, and so submissive in his sufferings to the will of God, he would favour the penitent among mankind with some blessings and coinforts in this world, and eternal life in the world above. Then, when he had preached this doctrine to the world,
he suffered the death of the cross, to bear witness to the truth of it, and sealed it with his blood, and rose again for the confirmation of the same doctrine.” Now if this were all the meaning of the gospel of Christ, St. Paul would never bave preached it in such language as he did. We must suppose him to be a very inaccurate writer, a most unintelligible preacher, and a most unfit man to be made an apostle, and be sent to instruct the ignorant world, if he had expressed himself in such mysterious, figurative, and strange phrases, and all this while had meant no more by thein, than what the Socinians mean by their gospel.
Can we think God would have employed such an instrument as this was, whose way of talking would have rather deceived multitudes than informed them of the truth, would have led them into the dark rather than have given them light, would have filled their heads with mysterious words without ideas, and instead of leading them into the way of salvation, would have left them in bewildered thoughts, about the doctrines and duties of it with so much entanglement and confusion ?
Here I might add also, that the holy apostle not only instructs his own countrymen the Jews, and the Gentile strangers in this clivine doctrine, and teaches them to build their hopes of salvation upon it; but he ventures his own soul, his immortal eoncernments, and his everlasting hopes upon the same foundation. He glories in the cross of Christ ; Gal. vi. 14. He has committed his all into his hands till the great judgment-day ; 2 Tim. i. 12. He lives by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, saith he, and gave himself for me; Gal. ii. 20. It is the pleasure of his tongue, it is the joy of his pen, it is the delight and the life of his spirit to talk of those things : He hangs upon this subject, and knows not how to leave it; his very heart and soul is in it, and he abandons all things for the sake of this knowledge. He despises the former privileges of his birth, of his learning, of the Jewish prerogatives and rites. He renounces all bis legal and ceremonial perfection, and all his honour amongst the Priests and the Pharisees in comparison of this. " What things were gain to me,” says he, “ those I count loss for Christ: Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness, which is of God by faith : that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; Philip. iii. 7–10.
Nor is the apostle Paul singular in this respect, or different in his sentiinents from the other apostles. You find Peter and