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Christ during the state of his Humiliation, and advert to the circumstances by which he was distinguished from every other Prophet; and, secondly, the honours to which he was exalted, in consequence of the meritorious execution of his office.
Since a partial view of the subject must expose to errors, we will avoid this extreme, though we should incur the imputation of prolixity; and as our sentiments may in some respects be different from those which are generally received, justice to our argument, and to ourselves, requires that we should be as explicit as possible.
We shall first consider the peculiar offices of Christ, during the state of his humiliation, by which he was distinguished from every other Prophet, or minister of righteousness; and secondly, the honours to which he was exalted on account of the faithful execution of them.
On the Mediatorial Office of Christ, in a State of Humiliation.
THERE are no terms, by which the blessings of the Gospel are more frequently described,
than by the terms Salvation, being saved, &c.
"The Gospel is said to be the power of God unto Salvation." "The Grace of God bringeth Salvation." How shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation. Christ is called the Saviour of the world. There is no other name whereby we must be saved. We shall be saved from wrath through him, &c. &c.
The terms Salvation, Saviour, being saved, necessarily refer to certain evils or dangers in which the subject is involved, or to which he is exposed; and from which it is of the utmost moment to be rescued or preserved. In the Old Testament, every kind of protection, defence, delivery, is styled Salvation; and the God of Israel is frequently denominated the God of their
Salvation. In the Gospel of Christ, Salvation is represented in two points of view, as being saved from sin, and from the consequences, or punishment of sin. Thus it is said, "he shall save his people from their sins;" and also that they "are saved from the wrath of God." When it is said, that "he shall save his people from their sins," it may be alleged, that by his precepts, example, encouraging promises and assistance, they shall be excited to repentance, and be reclaimed from wickedness; and that he will thus "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." In this sense, the benefit derived from their reclamation, consists in their being liberated from all the evils, to which a continuance in sin would have subjected them. Liberation from vice or iniquity, is certainly a freedom from the bondage, in which the wicked are frequently represented as being held, in the strongest fetters. "He that committeth sin is the servant of sin," says St. Paul. "The creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God." "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Stand fast,
therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
But liberation from the power of sin, and from the miseries suffered under its immediate dominion, is not the exclusive signification of the term Salvation. We are told that "he who endureth to the end shall be saved;" but he that endureth to the end, in a course of righteousness, is liberated from sin, and, according to this limited sense of the phrase, is saved already. Evils are impending to the wicked, distinct from the pernicious consequences naturally flowing from a vicious course. Another object of this Salvation, we are repeatedly told, is to save them from the wrath of God; or from these judgments denounced by the Universal Sovereign against all the workers of iniquity. They are frequently warned to "flee from the wrath to come." "The Wrath of God is revealed from heaven," says the Apostle, "against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." The wicked are perpetually represented to be in a state of condemnation; "but there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”
That vice, immorality, wickedness,—however
we may choose to express mental depravity and disobedience to the divine commands, whether in ethical or theological language,—that Wickedness is, in its own nature, the bane of human felicity, must be obvious to every man who observes and thinks. That it is offensive to God, is admitted by every one who acknowledges the existence and moral government of God; and every one will own that the manifestations of his displeasure must be dreadful.
When we were investigating the nature of moral obligation, we observed that all governments, without exception, are constituted upon three principles. They have an object, precepts, or Rules, for the attainment of that object, the sanctions of rewards and punishments, by which obedience is enforced. These operate upon the hopes and fears of men. The enforcement of rules by sanctions, implies authority. It converts rules into precepts, in distinction from advice or recommendation; and the union of precepts and sanctions, constitutes a Law.
We observed that the professed object of all laws is to secure some apparent Good; although in the eagerness to obtain this, they may be