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First, The priestly office of Christ. The proper acts of this office, which are oblation and intercession, immediately respect God himself; for a priest is one who is appointed to deal with God in the behalf of others; and therefore Christ does not by either of these sacerdotal acts immediately and efficiently work holiness in us: but the effects of these acts are of two sorts, immediate and mediate. (1.) Immediate, such as respect God himself; as atonement, reconciliation, satisfaction. In these consists the first and fundamental end of the mediation of Christ; without which all other things would be useless: we can neither be sanctified nor saved by him, unless sin be first expiated, and God atoned. But (2.) The mediate effects of Christ's sacerdotal acting respect us; namely, our justification and sanctification; for God effects holiness in all believers by virtue of the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ.
'He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.' His giving himself for us,' is the common expression of his offering himself as a sacrifice to God; and this he did, not only that he might redeem us from iniquity, from the guilt and punishment of our sins, but also that he might purify us to himself, sanctify us, or make us holy, and fruitful, or zealous of good works. His blood purgeth our consciences from dead works, to serve the living God.' There is a purging of sin, which consists in the legal expiation of it; but this is by real efficiency in our sanctification. So where Christ is said to wash us from our sins in his own blood,' namely, as shed for us, it is not only the expiation of guilt, but the purification of filth that is intended: and as holiness is one special end for which he gave himself for us, without a participation thereof, it is impossible that we should have the least evidence of an interest in his oblation as to any other end of it.
The intercession of Christ, which is his second sacerdotal act, hath also the same end, and is effectual to the same purpose. It is true, he intercedes with God for the pardon of sin by virtue of his oblation; but this is not the whole design of it; he intercedes also for grace and supplies of the Spirit, that we may be made and kept holy. John xvii. 15, 17.
Secondly,—As to the prophetical office of Christ; and there are two parts of it,-the revelation of God in his name, love, grace, goodness, and truth in his promises, that we may believe in him; and the revelation of God in his will and commands, that we may obey him ;—and this may be considered two ways, 1. As he was peculiarly sent to the house of Israel: 2. With respect to the whole Church in all ages.
The first, which engaged much of his personal ministry, consisted in the declaration, exposition, and vindication of the divine precepts which had been given before; but which, through the carnality of the people to whom they were given, were but obscurely apprehended. He declared the spirituality of the law, with respect to the most secret frames of our hearts, and the least disorder and irregularity of our passions and affections. He declared the true sense of its commands, vindicating them from the false glosses which then passed current in the Church. Thus he restored the law to its pristine crown, as the Jews have a tradition that it should be done in the days of the Messiah.
The second part of this office, with respect to the Church in all ages (including the ministry of the apostles as inspired by him) consisted in the revelation of those duties of holiness which, though they had a general foundation in the law, could never have been known in their special nature but by his teaching. Hence are they called Old and New Commandments in distinct senses. Such are faith in God through him, brotherly love, self-denial in taking up the cross, doing good for evil, and the like. Besides, he teacheth us all those ordinances of worship which belong to our holiness, and whereby it is promoted.
There are three things considerable in the doctrine of obedience that Christ teacheth. 1. It is complete and perfect. It reaches the heart itself, with all its most secret actings. The practice of most men goes no further than outward acts; but he, in the first place, requires the renovation of our whole souls into the image of God. It is a notable effect of the atheistical pride of men, that they betake themselves to other directions rather than to those of the Gospel. Some go to the light of nature and the use of right reason (that is, their own) as their guide; and some add the documents of the philosophers. They think
a saying of Epictetus, or Senecca, or Arrianus (being witily suited to their fancies) to have more life and power in it than the precepts of Christ in the Gospel. Such a contempt have men risen to of Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, and the great Prophet of the Church, of whom God says, This is my beloved Son; hear him!' Let us suppose, for the sake of our modern Heathens who would have it so, that all our obedience consists in morality; from whence shall we learn it? or to whom shall we go for teaching? Certainly, where the instruction is most plain, perfect, and free from mistakes; where the manner of teaching is most powerful and efficacious; and where the authority of the teacher is most unquestionable. In all these respects we may say of Christ, who teachech like him?' Then, probably, .we shall be taught of God, when we are taught by him.
The precepts which are given us by the light of nature, however improved by the reason of contemplative men, are defective; for they never reached to that in which the life of holiness consists,-the renovation of our nature. Hence it is that, by all the documents of the philosophers, the nature of no individual person was ever renewed, whatever change was made in his conversation. Very few of the precepts of it are certain, so that we may take them for an infallible rule. Some general commands are indeed sufficiently clear, as that God is to be loved, that others are not to be injured, that every one's rights is to be rendered to him: but go a little further, and you will find all the great moralists at endless disputes about the nature of virtue, the duties of it, and the rule of their practice. In these disputes many of them consumed their lives, without any great endeavours to express their own notions in their conversations: and, from the same reason I suppose it is, that our present moralists seem to care for nothing but the name; virtue itself is become a strange and uncouth thing.
But, in what is commanded by Jesus Christ, there is no room for the least hesitation, whether it be an infallible rule to us or not. Every precept, about the meanest duty, is equally certain and declarative of the nature and necessity of that duty, as those of the greatest, and which have most evidence from the light of nature. There is no obscurity nor partiality in his precepts and directions; they
are commensurate to universal obedience. I dare challenge the most learned moralists in the world, to give an instance of any one duty of morality that I will not evince to be more clearly required by Christ in the Gospel, and pressed on us by far more effectual motives than any they are acquainted with. It is, therefore, the highest folly, as well as wickedness, for men to plead or pretend the learning duties of obedience from others, rather than from Christ, the Prophet of the Church!
2. The manner of teaching, as to power and efficacy, is also considerable to this end: and concerning this also we may say, Who teacheth like him? There was that eminence in his personal ministry while he was on earth, that filled all men with admiration. Hence it is said, that he taught with authority, and not as the Scribes ;'- they wondered at thę gracious words which he uttered;' and the very officers that were sent to apprehend him, came away astonished, saying, Never man spake like this man.' Yet this is not what I intend, but his continued and present teaching of the Church by his Word and Spirit. He gives that power and efficacy to it, as that by its effects every day it demonstrates itself to be from God. This the experience and lives of multitudes bear witness to continually. They do and will to eternity attest what power his word hath had to enlighten their minds, to subdue their lusts, to renew their hearts, to relieve and comfort them in their temptations and distresses, with the like effects of grace and power.
What is the manner of teaching by the greatest moralists, and what are the effects of it? Enticing words, elegance, of speech, composed into snares for the affections and delight to the fancy, are the ornament and life of that kind of teaching; and hereof evanid satisfaction, temporary resolutions, and a few feeble endeavours after some change of life, are its best effects: and so gentle is its operation on the minds of men, that even the most profligate of sinners are delighted with it, as they are with the preaching of those who act in the same spirit, and from the same principles.
3. Whereas the last thing considerable in those whose instructions we should choose to give up ourselves unto, is their authority; that must be left without further plea to the consciences of all men, whether they have the highest
esteem of the authority of Christ the Son of God, or of those others whom they admire; and let them freely take their choice, so they will but ingenuously acknowledge what they do.
Thirdly, This is one great end of the kingly power of Christ; for, as such, he subdues our enemies, and preserves our souls from ruin. Those are our adversaries who fight against our spiritual condition and safety,-our lusts, our sins, and our temptations. These doth our Lord Christ subdue by his kingly power,' quickening and strengthening in us, by his supplies of grace, the principles of holy obedience. In brief, the work of Christ as a King may be reduced to these heads :-To make his subjects free:-To preserve them in safety, delivering their souls from deceit. and violence :-In giving them prosperity, and increasing their wealth:-In establishing assured peace for them :In giving them love among themselves :-In placing the interest and welfare of his kingdom in all their affections: -In eternally rewarding their obedience. All these he doth, principally, by working grace and holiness in them, as might be easily demonstrated. I suppose none question that the principal work of Christ towards us, as our Head and King, is in making and preserving of us holy. I shall not, therefore, further insist upon it. It remains that we improve these considerations, to the confirmation of our present argument concerning the necessity of holiness.
First, It is evident from hence, how vain a thing it is for persons continuing in an unholy condition, to imagine that they have an interest in Christ, or shall have any benefit by him. This is the great deceit whereby Satan ruins the generality of mankind who profess the Christian religion. The Gospel openly declares a way of life and salvation by Jesus Christ. This is so far admitted by those who are called Christians, that they will allow of no other way in competition with it; for I speak not of profligate and hardened sinners, who disregard all future concerns, but such as in general desire to escape the damnation of Hell, and attain immortality and glory: and this they profess to do by Jesus Christ, as supposing that the things to this purpose mentioned in the Gospel, belong to them as well as to others, because they also are Christians: but they consider not that there are certain ways and means, whereby the virtue and benefit of all that Christ has done