Page images

which is denoted by God's giving him all power ini heaven and on earth, after his resurrection.

We shall have a clearer understanding of this passage in the epiftle to the Colossians, if we compare it with a parallel passage in the epistle of the fame apostle to the Ephesians, i. 17, &c. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom, that ye may knowthe exceeding greatness of his power, which he wrought in Chrif Jesus when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right-hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come ; and bath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is bis body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. In this passage we see most clearly that all the power and authority to which Christ is advanced is subsequent to his resurrection.

The origin and extent of the power of Christ are also most distinctly expressed, Phil. ii. 8. ---- 11. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jefus every knee. Should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every

tongue aflert

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tongue fhould confess that Jesus Christ is. Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

To the same purpose also, 1 Pet. i. 20, 21. Wha (Chris) verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. I should think it hardly poffible to read this single passage with attention, and not see that the writer of it considered Christ as a being distinct from God, and subordinate to: him; that all his glory was subsequent to his refurre&tion; and also, that, though he was foreordained before the foundation of the world, he was not manifested, or brought into being, 'till these lap' times, or those of the gospel.

There are some other passages in the New Testament, which are similar to those which I have quoted above, and may serve to illustrate them, John xvi. 15. All things that the Father hath are mine, xvii. 10. AN mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. I Cor. viii. 6. To us there is but: one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

That there is nothing, in any of the passages which I have now quoted, that implies any proper divinity in Christ, is sufficiently evident, even without the addition of such expressions as directly

N 3

affert the contrary ; as when the apostle Paul says, that to us there is one God, even the Father ; and our Saviour calls his Father the only true God. To signify that the authority of Christ is not underived, like that of God; and at the fame time to inform us from whence it does proceed, the apostle says, that it pleased the Father, that in him Ahould all fullness dwell. In the very fame language our Saviour speaks of his disciples, Fear not, little flock, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.


The death of Christ being an event of the greatest consequence to the end of his coming into the world, and being, at the same time, the great Numbling-block both to the jews and the gentiles, who could not easily reconcile themselves to the notion of a suffering faviour, it is no wonder that the writers of the New Testament speak much of it, and represent it in a great variety of lights, and especially such as would appear the most favourable to the christian converts. In this case we naturally expect bold comparisons and allusions, especially considering how much more figurative is the style of the books of scripture, and indeed of all oriental writings, than ours.

But in whatever lights the sacred writers represent the death of


[ocr errors]

Chrift, there is resemblance enough sufficiently to juftify the representation, at the same time that this event being compared to so many things, and things of such different natures, proves that the resemblance in all of them is only in certain 12Spects, and that they differ considerably in others.

For example, the death of Christ is compared to a sacrifice in general, because he gave up his life in the cause of virtue and of God, and more especially, a facrifice for fin, because his death and * resurrection were necessary to the confirmation of

that gospel, by which finners are brought to repentance, and thereby reconciled to God. It is called a curse, because he died in a state of sufe pension, which was by the jews appropriated to thofe persons who were considered as reprobated by God; and it is called a pasover, because it may be considered as a sign of our deliverance from the power of fin, as the paffover among the jews was a sign of their deliverance from the egyptian bondage. It is also called a ransom, because we are delivered by the gospel from fin and misery. On the same account, he is said by his death ta bear, or take away our sins, fince his gospel delivers us from the power of fin, and consequently from the punishment due to it.

These are all bold, but fignificant figures of speech, the death of Christ really corresponding to them all to a certain degree, but they differ so very widely from one another, that no one thing can correspond to any of them throughout; for then it must exclud all, or at least most of the rest. The same thing, for instance, could not be a curse, and a sacrifice; because every thing accursed was considered as an abomination in the fight of God, and could never be brought to the altar ; and the killing of the paschal lamb was a thing essentially different from a sacrifice for fin..

These observations appear to me to be a fuffisient guide to the interpretation of all the language of the New Testament respecting the death of: Christ, without fuppofing that it had any proper influence upon God, so as to render him propitious to his offending creatures, or that it made it consistent with the divine justice to forgive the sins of mankind; which is contrary to a thousand plain: and express declarations of scripture, which re

present God. as being essentially, and of himself, • merciful and gracious, without the least refer-

ence to any other being or agent whatever, and as forgiving freely, and gratuitously, upon our repentance and amendment, without any other atonement or satisfaction, I shall therefore con tent myself with reciting a few of the passages in which the death of Christ is represented in these feveral lights.

Eph. v. 2. Christ also has loved us, and given himfelf for us, an offering and a facrifice to God, of a


« PreviousContinue »