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18, 5. Rom. vii. 23.
SERM. under fin; all men had finned, and come short of the glory XXXII. of God: death had passed over all, because all had finned :
When for us, being plunged into so wretched a condi23. V. 19. tion, no visible remedy did appear, no possible redress
could be obtained here below : (for what means could we have of recovering God's favour, who were apt perpetually to contract new debts and guilts, but not able to discharge any old scores? What capacity of mind or will had we to entertain mercy, who were no less stubbornly perverse and obdurate in our crimes, than ignorant or infirm? How could we be reconciled unto Hea
ven, who had an innate antipathy to God and goodRom. vi. nefs ? [Sin, according to our natural state, and secluding 12, 14, 20. evangelical grace, reigning in our mortal bodies, no good
thing dwelling in us; there being a predominant law in our members, warring against the law of our mind, and
bringing us into captivity to the law of kn; a main ingreRom. vi. 6. dient of our old man being a carnal mind, which is enmity Coloff. iii. to God, and cannot submit to his law; we being alienated Ephef. iv. from the life of God by the blindness of our hearts, and
enemies in our minds by wicked works :) How could we
revive to any good hope, who were dead in trespases and ουχ υποτάσ.
fins, God having withdrawn his quickening Spirit ? How Ephes. iv. at least could we for one moment stand upright in God's Coloff.i. fight, upon the natural terms, excluding all fin, and
exacting perfect obedience?) Ephef. ii. 5. When this, I say, was our forlorn and desperate case, (Rom. vi.
then Almighty God, out of his infinite goodness, was Psal . cxliii. pleased to look upon us (as he sometime did upon Jeru
falem, lying polluted in her blood) with an eye of pity and Ezek mi. mercy, so as graciously to design a redemption for us out
of all that woful distress : and no sooner by his incomprehensible wisdom did he foresee we should lofe ourfelves, than by his immense grace he did conclude to
restore us. Eph. i. 4, But how could this happy design well be compassed ? 9, 11, & iii.
How, in consistence with the glory, with the justice, with 2 Tim. i. 9. the truth of God, could such enemies be reconciled, fuch Rev. xiii. 8: offenders be pardoned, such wretches be saved? Would
2. Exod. 6.
1 Pet. i. 20.
25. Tit. i. 2.
the omnipotent Majesty, so affronted, design to treat with SERM. his rebels immediately, without an interceffor or advo- XXXII. cate? Would the fovereign Governor of the world suffer Rom. xvi. thus notoriously his right to be violated, his authority to be slighted, his honour to be trampled on, without some notable vindication or satisfaction ? Would the great Patron of justice relax the terms of it, or ever permit a gross breach thereof to pass with impunity? Would the im- Athan. de mutable God of truth expose his veracity or his constancy Gen. ii. 17. to suspicion, by so reversing that peremptory sentence of death upon finners, that it should not in a fort eminently be accomplished? Would the most righteous and most holy God let lip an opportunity so advantageous for demonstrating his perfect love of innocence, and abhorrence of iniquity ? Could we therefore well be cleared from our guilt without an expiation, or reinstated in freedom without a ransom, or exempted from condemnation without some punishment ?
No: God was so pleased to prosecute his designs of goodness and mercy, as thereby nowise to impair or obscure, but rather to advance and illustrate the glories of his sovereign dignity, of his severe justice, of his immaculate holiness, of his unchangeable steadiness in word and purpose. He accordingly would be sued to for peace and mercy: nor would he grant them absolutely, without due compensations for the wrongs he had sustained ; yet so, that his goodness did find us a Mediator, and furnish us with means to satisfy him. He would not condescend to a simple remiffion of our debts; yet fo, that, saving his right and honour, he did stoop lower for an effectual abolition of them. He would make good his word, not to let our trespasses go unpunished; yet so, that by our punishment we might receive advantage. He would manifest his detestation of wickedness in a way more illustrious than if he had persecuted it down to hell, and irreversibly doomed it to endless torment.
But how might these things be effected? Where was there a Mediator proper and worthy to intercede for us? Who could presume to solicit and plead in our behalf ?
SERM. Who should dare to put himself between God and us, XXXII.
or offer to screen mankind from the divine wrath and vergeance? Who had so great an interest in the court of heaven, as to ingratiate such a brood of apoftate enemies thereto? Who could assume the confidence to propose terms of reconciliation, or to agitate a new covenant, wherewith God might be satisfied, and whereby we might be saved ? Where, in heaven or earth, could there be found a priest fit to atone for fins so vastly numerous, so extremely heinous ? And whence should a sacrifice be taken, of value fufficient to expiate for so manifold enor
mities, committed against the infinite Majesty of Heaven? Aiwvícev 2.ú- Who could find out the everlasting redemption of innumesowow sligha rable fouls, or lay down a competent ransom for them
all? Not to say, could also purchafe for them eternal life and bliss ?
These are questions which would puzzle all the wit of man, yea, would gravel all the wisdom of angels to refolve : for plain it is, that no creature on earth, none in heaven, could well undertake or perform this work.
Where on earth, among the degenerate fons of Adam, could be found such an high priest as became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from finners ? and how could a man, however innocent and pure as a seraphim, fo perform bis duty, as to do more than merit or satisfy for himself?
lives could the life of one man serve to ransom ; seeing that it is aflerted of the greatest and richest among
that none of them can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him.
And how could available help in this case be expected from any of the angelical hoft; seeing (befide their being in nature different from us, and thence improper to merit or fatisfy for us ; beside their comparative meanness, and infinite distance from the majesty of God) they are but our fellow-fervants, and have obligations to discharge for themselves, and cannot be solvent for more than for their own debts of gratitude and service to their infinitelybountiful Creator; they also themfelves needing a Saviour, to preserve them by his grace in their happy state ?
Heb. vii. 26.
Psal. xlix. 7.
11. xlv. 21. Hof. xiii. 4.
Indeed, no creature might aspire to so august an ho- SERM. nour, none could achieve so marvellous a work, as to re
XXXII. deem from infinite guilt and misery the noblest part of all the visible creation: none could presume to invade that high prerogative of God, or attempt to infringe the truth of that reiterated proclamation, I, even I, am the Lord, Ifa. xliii. and bende me there is no Saviour.
Wherefore, feeing that a supereminent dignity of person was required in our Mediator, and that an immense value was to be presented for our ransom; seeing that God saw there was no man, and wondered (or took special Isa. lix. 16.
κατενόησε, notice) that there was no intercessor; it must be his arm alone that could bring salvation ; none beside God himself could intermeddle therein.
But how could God undertake the business? Could he become a suitor or interceffor to his offended self ? Could he present a sacrifice, or disburse a satisfaction to his own justice ? Could God alone contract and ftipulate with God in our behalf? No; surely man also must concur in the transaction : some amends must issue from him, fomewhat must be paid out of our stock : human will and consent must be interposed, to ratify a firm covenant with us, inducing obligation on our part. It was decent and expedient, that as man, by wilful transgression and presumptuous felf-pleasing, had so highly offended, injured, and dishonoured his Maker; fo man also, by willing obedience, and patient submission to God's pleasure, should greatly content, right, and glorify him.
Here then did lie the stress; this was the knot, which Ephef.i. 9. only divine wisdom could loose. And so indeed it did in Ephef. i. 5. a most effectual and admirable way: for in correspond-Tit. iii, 4. ence to all the exigences of the case, (that God and man Gal. iv. 4.
John vi. 38. 'both might act their parts in saving us,) the blessed eterinal Word, the only Son of God, by the good-will of his John i. 14. Father, did vouchsafe to intercede for us, and to under- Heb. 2. take our redemption; in order thereto voluntarily being Ephes. i. 6. sent down from heaven, assuming human flesh, fubjecting poft: viii. himself to all the infirmities of our frail nature, and to the 12. worst inconveniences of our low condition; therein merit- Tit. ii, 14.
Heb. x. 7.
1 Tim.ii. 6. John v. 18.
Col. i. 22.
i Tim. jii. 16.
δε σαυρώ. .
SERM. ing God's favour to us, by a perfect obedience to the XXXII. law, and satisfying God's justice by a most patient endurHeb. ix. 15. ance of pains in our behalf; in completion of all, willingly
laying down his life for the ransom of our fouls, and pouring forth his blood in facrifice for our fins.
This is that great and wonderful mystery of godliness, (or of our holy religion,) the which St. Paul here doth express, in these words concerning our blessed Saviour; Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men : and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
In which words are contained divers points very observable. But seeing the time will not allow me to treat on them in any measure as they deserve, I shall (waving
all the rest) insist but upon one particular, couched in the Θανάτου
last words, even the death of the cross; which by a special emphasis do excite us to consider the manner of that holy passion which we now commemorate; the contemplation whereof, as it is most seasonable, so it is ever very profitable.
Now they in this kind of pallion we may consider divers notable adjuncts; namely these: 1. Its being in appearance criminal. 2. Its being most bitter and painful. 3. Its being most ignominious and shameful. 4. Its peculiar advantageousness to the designs of our Lord in suffering. 5. Its practical efficacy.
I. We may consider our Lord's suffering as criminal ;
or as in femblance being an execution of justice upon Ifa. liii. 12. him. He, as the Prophet foretold of him, was numbered 2 Cor.v. 21. among the transgresors; and God, faith St. Paul, made
him hn for us, who knew no fn: that is, God ordered him to be treated as a most finful or criminous person, who in himself was perfectly innocent, and void of the least inclination to offend.
So in effect it was, that he was impeached of the higheft crimes; as a violator of the divine laws in divers in
X. 30, &c.