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substance,-in it all the outlines are filled up, the representations
-and types of the law are fulfilled by the exhibition of their realities. "The law made nothing perfect :-it pointed out by shadors and similitudes those better things which were yet to come; and thus it was the truth, the fulfilment of the sacrificial system, which offered only representative victims : but the gospel brought in and exhibited the true sacrifice ; that Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Now, this truth contains especially the following grand fundamental principles :
1. There is one God.—There is one self-existing, infinite, eternal being; possessed of all possible perfections, and of each in an infinite manner; an eternity of perfections, and each perfection absolutely so. He is so perfect that no perfection is wanting; and so absolutely perfect that no perfection can be added. This God is the good being, the fountain of goodness, the source of blessedness. As evil is a privation and imperfection, it cannot exist in him. It has been brought into creation, but it is not of him ; though he permits it, he has not produced it.
“No evil can from Him proceed;
'Tis only suffer'd, not decreed : As darkness is not from the sun,
Nor mount the shades till he is gone." As he is infinite, omniscient, absolute, and eternal, he can be but one. For there cannot be two infinites, nor two eternals. There can be but one that inhabits ēternity; there can be but one who filleth all things ; and who is the creator, possessor, and preserver of all. This is the first principle of truth, and is the foundation of all religion, all science, all wisdom, and all that can be called TRUTH.
This most august, and most perfect of all beings, and the source whence all existence is derived, is here termed Ewang muar 805, our Saviour God,—the God who saves man, and the only being who can save : for the salvation of a lost world is a work which an all-powerful and infinitely good God alone can effect. And such is his goodness, such his love to man, that he assumes this character, and will be known by this name. In this character fallen man needs him most; and in this character he is most prominently exhibited in his own word. He that cometh to him, (professes to worship him,) must know that he is, that he is the sole author of existence; and that because he is good and the saving God, he is “the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” They seek him in order to be saved : and they have salvation in consequence of seeking him ; which is a reward or recompense, not of debt, but of grace; for God the saviour does all things for his own name's sake.
There are attributes which now belong to God, which are not essential to his nature. He is merciful ; but before the fall of man this could not have been one of his attributes. In like
manner, he is long-suffering. He is the forgiver of iniquity, transgression, and sin: in a word he is God our saviour. "But although all these spring from his infinite goodness, which ever was and must be an essential attribute of his nature, yet it was only in consequence of sin entering into the world, that his innate essential goodness became necessary to be expressed by these manifestations and their concomitant acts. Man is a sinner and therefore he needs a saviour :-Man has destroyed himself; but in God is his help. Man cannot give a ransom for his own soul, but his saving God has found out a ransom.
2. The second principle mentioned by the apostle, as contained in that truth which is necessary to the salvation of the world, is, “ There is one mediator between God and men.
The word mediator (Medians) signifies a middle person ; one that stands between two parties, either for the sake of introducing them to each other that they may become acquainted ; or of reconciling them to each other, who were before at enmity.
In no common case, can a man become mediator, who is not acquainted with both parties, and has not the confidence of each. The parties requiring a mediator in the case before us, are God and MEN.
(1.) Men who had sinned against God, and rebelled against their sovereign; and so had conimitted a capital offence, for which they were justly exposed to such an exile and punishment as should banish them from the presence of God, and from the power of his glory for ever, and consign them to everlasting perdition.
(2.) God, their creator and sovereign, from whom they received their being, and to whom their allegiance was invariably due; but against whom they had sinned, and from whom they had deeply revolted. These fallen spirits God willed to save, and redeem from impending ruin. Such was the nature of their sin, and of his holiness, that the original union in which man's happiness consisted could not possibly be restored, unless God could become such a one as man, or man be restored to the divine image, and thus be brought into that state of union with him, which he had in the beginning. Man who was a rebel, and not even a penitent, could not expect to be restored to favour : and man who was a sinner and full of impurity, could not expect to be brought into this union, which could not take place without such a moral change as it was utterly impossible he should work in himself.
3. This mediator is particularly characterized as the man Christ Jesus.
God, who willed the salvation of this fallen creature, found out a suitable mediator: for “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” As the mediator was the person whose business it was to reconcile contending parties, hence Suidas explains usoirns, mediator, by sipnuomonos, a peace-maker. God was justly offended with the crimes of men; to restore them to his peace Jesus became Mediator. And that Christ might appear to be in every sense proper for this office, the apostle adds, “ The man Christ Jesus," as it was necessary he should be incarnated ; and thus he, who was in the form of God, took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.
But we are not to suppose that the mediatorial office of Christ did not begin till after his ascension to heaven. Those appearances under the patriarchal dispensation, and also under the Mosaic, of a glorious personage sometimes called the “angel of the Lord,” the “angel of the covenant,” and the “captain of the Lord's hosts,” who assumes the name Jehovah, and performs acts practicable only by him whose power is unlimited, and whose judgments are just, have been supposed by the wisest of men to have been appearances of him, “in the likeness of man,” who, in the fulness of time took upon him the form of a man, by being incarnated of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary Had man been left just as he was when he fell from God, he, in all probability, had been utterly unsalvable; as he appears to have lost all his spiritual light and understanding, and even his moral feeling. We have no mean proof of this in his endeavouring to “hide himself,” among the trees of the garden, from the presence and eye of Him, whom, previously to his transgression, he knew to be “every where present;" to whose eye the darkness and the light are both alike, and who discerns the most secret thoughts of the heart of man. Add to this, it appears as if he had neither self-abasement nor contrition, and therefore he charged his crime upon the woman, and indirectly upon God; while the woman, on her side, charged her delinquency upon the serpent. As they were, so would have been all their posterity, had not some gracious principle been supernaturally restored to enlighten their minds, to give them some knowledge of good and evil, of right and wrong, of virtue and vice; and thus bring them into a salvable state. Now, the gracious mediator is expressly said to be that “true light which lightens every man that cometh into the world.” (John i. 9.) And it is from
(. this light that we have conscience : for conscience is neither a principle of light, nor a power of discernment; but a recipient subject which is capable of receiving light and transmitting it to the judgment, in order to enable it to form a proper estimate of the moral conduct of its owner. It is precisely to the soul, what the eye is to the body : the eye is not light, nor a principle of light, nor can it of itself discern any thing ; but it is a proper recipient of
light, without which there is no vision : as the sun, or in his absence, borrowed or artificial light, shines upon and through the different humours of the eye; so objects within the range of vision are discerned: and as Jesus, the true light, by his Spirit shines upon conscience, so a man is capable of forming a just estimate of his spiritual state. This light is both directive and convicting, and affords to every fallen soul a grand antagonist power by which men may resist evil : by the proper use of which, those who are brought to God receive more grace; and for the abuse of which, every man shall be judged in the great day. This light Jesus, as mediator, has imparted to all men, in all ages, and in all countries. It is this saving principle that has ever remonstrated against evil, showed man his transgression, shone upon his guilt, and convinced him of his own helplessness.
After his ascension this mediator appeared, and ever appears in the presence of God for us : and thus before and after his incarnation he was the “one mediator between God and men.” As there can be but one God, so there can be but one mediator. For he who must be mediator between God and man must partake of both natures. Who else could appear in the presence of God to negotiate the concerns of a whole world? We have already seen that Jesus the mediator has all the essential attributes of that God, of whose glory he is the brightness, and of whose person he is the express image: and his incarnation proves that he was made man: and his manner of life, passion, and death, manifest that his human nature was precisely the same as that of all other men. Thus we find two distinct persons in one being ; for in the man Christ Jesus dwelt all the fulness of the godhead bodily.
This subject is considered by many pious men to be one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian religion, which should be adored and implicitly received, but is no subject for rational investigation. On such subjects as these, we perhaps concede too much to those, who, pretending to believe nothing but what they can rationally account for, in fact, believe nothing at all. Every attribute of God may be, in some sense, a subject for reason. Reason can even look into his eternity; and, when comparing that with all the characteristics and affections of time, can at once conceive that it had no beginning, can have no end, and is, in all considerations, illimitable and incomprehensible. And he who inhabiteth eternity must be necessarily without beginning of days and end of time, infinite, unlimited, independent, and self-existent.
Thus far reason can acquire a satisfactory view of eternity, by comparing it with time. Time is duration, which had a be. ginning, and will have an end. Eternity is duration, but differs
from time as being without beginning and without end. Reason, in reference to the incarnation, can at least proceed thus :- I have an immortal spirit, it dwells in and actuates my mortal body. As then, my soul can dwell in my body, so could the deity dwell in the man Christ Jesus. He who can believe that Isaiah, or any of the prophets, spoke by inspiration, i. e. “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” must believe the possibility of the incarnation of Christ. And he who can believe it possible that Christ can dwell in the hearts of his followers, can as easily believe that the Messiah or Logos, which was in the beginning with God, “was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John i. 14.) Reason says, if the one was possible so is the other; and as one is fact, so may the other be also. The possibility of the thing is evident. God says the fact has taken place; that, therefore, which faith saw before to be possible and probable, it sees now to be certain ; for God's testimony added, puts all doubts to flight. The Lord Jesus, the Almighty's fellow, was incarnated of the Holy Ghost, and was made man: and by being God and man was every way qualified to be mediator “between God and men,” as the text declares him to be. God and man met in the same person of Jesus Christ : and God was in this Christ reconciling the world to himself. In both these cases, reason, without going out of its proper province by meddling with things inconceivable, may arrive at such unimpeachable evidence as may satisfy honest inquiry, and silence doubt.
Some of the ancients appear to have thought that the word avsgwmos, man, in the last clause of the verse, was a needless repetition ; and therefore read the verse thus : “There is one me. diator between God and man, Christ Jesus.” But, that the term is here repeated with manifest design, and that it not only strengthens, but explains the sense, will be evident when the 5th verse is considered. Christ Jesus, who was from the beginning, who appeared to the patriarchs, and who spake by the prophets, really became man that he might be qualified to redeem man. Man must always mediate between man and man. Angels would be utterly incapable of such an office, as they could not enter into the feelings, because destitute of the sympathies of human beings. Hence they have never been employed in this work, nor are they employed in preaching the gospel
, for the very same reason. They cannot apprehend as men ; they cannot feel as men ; therefore they would be inappropriate, and even the highest of them, useless preachers. God therefore preaches to man by man: and when Jesus undertook to save men he took upon him the nature of man. He had also the true nature of God: and as he could, in consequence, properly estimate the requisitions of divine justice, and feel to the uttermost that the law was holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good; so, in becoming man,