Page images
PDF
EPUB

sins through the atonement of Christ is only granted to us, when we believe, repent, and amend our lives. These are the conditions which must be performed by us, if we would partake of the benefits of his passion : for he died only to procure pardon to the penitent, grace to assist those who endeavour to obey his commands, and glory to those who persevere to the end in the practice of well-doing. Thus he hath put us in a capacity of salvation, by rendering it consistent with the divine justice to pardon our past offences, in consideration of what he hath done and suffered for this purpose, if we henceforth renounce them, and bring forth in our lives the fruits of righteousness. For thus saith the scripture, “be it known unto you men and brethren, that through this man is preached the forgiveness of sin: and by him, all who believe, are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.” But then it follows as a condition required of us," repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” So that amendment is a necessary qualification on our part to entitle us to the privileges of the gospel covenant; and it will be our wisdom thankfully to accept of redemption, by performing the conditions on which it is offered on our part, without disputing how it was procured on the part of Christ.

That this is the tenor of the covenant of grace is every where taught in scripture, and may be illustrated by a plain similitude. Suppose a prince, whose subjects had rebelled against him, should through the mediation of his son, offer mercy to as many as would profess sorrow for their guilt, ask pardon in his son's name, and promise obedience for the future : this would not procure an actual pardon to any of them till they had performed the conditions of repentance for their misconduct, and returned to their duty: no: in like manner, Christ by his death, obtained of his father a new covenant, in which he promises to pardon and be reconciled to all upon their faith and repentance : but he has not procured actual pardon, reconciliation or salvation to any who have not complied with these terms: nor can they have any claim to the blessings he has purchased as long as they continue in unbelief and impenitence. Therefore let us believe on him to the saving of our souls; let us repent, lest we all likewise perish; and let us amend our lives, that we may obtain the salvation of our souls.

The necessity of this will be still more apparent, if we consider the capacity which Christ now sustains in the character of our intercessor and our king. It was appointed as the reward of our Saviour's undertaking, sufferings, and death, that he should be advanced to glory and honour at the right hand of God; and, accordingly it is declared, that “ for this cause God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess both of things in heaven, and things on earth ; and that every one should acknowledge he is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

In this his dignified condition he still acts as our Ne. diator, to procure from God the blessings of his purchase, and to rule over his people in his spiritual kingdom. As our intercessor in the court of heaven, he presents his requests before the throne of God, and obtains from his Father power and authority to grant to us the pardon of our sins, the acceptance of our prayers, the supply of our wants, the assistance of his grace, and all other blessings and benefits included in the gospel covenant, which he hath ratified and confirmed by his own blood, and secured a right to them for his people, when by faith and holiness they are qualified to receive them.

The intercession of our Saviour is a prominent doctrine of the New Testament, and one of the most consolatory to us in our present sinful condition. Thus, we are said “ to have access to God through him; and, if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us." _We are therefore encouraged “ to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain

mercy, , and find grace to help us in time of need.”

That we may be persuaded to repose confidence in the powerful efficacy of Christ's mediation, the scripture represents him as a king whom God hath set over his holy hill of Zion, to rule and govern his church and people, by his equitable laws. For “ to this end Christ both died, and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living: who is gone into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers, being made subject unto him. And he is head over all things to his church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."--This church Christ hath erected as his spiritual kingdom, by uniting into one religious community all those, who through his mediation as a prophet, have received the knowledge of true religion, and study to obey his commands. This church or religious community Christ governs, by the laws of conscience written on their hearts, and by the precepts delivered in his divine word. With this church, Christ is ever present in an invisible manner, gradually enlarging it, and thereby extending his kingdom throughout the world, till all nations become converts to the gospel. But, besides this external visible church, Christ has another church or kingdom which is not of this world, consisting of all good men who live according to the rules of rectitude, and endeavour to conform their hearts and lives more and more to the precepts of true religion.

The subjects of this spiritual kingdom are protected by their mediatorial king, so that no evil can befal them: they are preserved by his power from all the machinations of their enemies; so that none can pluck them out of his hand; and they are kept by his providential care, through faith unto salvation. This kingdom of righteousness shall continue to increase till the end of time, when Christ will be delegated to judge the world, and determine the eternal fate of angels and of men. For thus the scripture teaches : “ the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father : for Christ must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet; then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”—Thus, it appears, that God hath committed the government of his church and people to Christ, as their mediatorial king, and confers through him all the blessings of salvation, pardon of sin, grace to assist us in the performance of our duty, the protection of his providence in this world, and eternal glory in the world to come. Thus, God hath appointed him as the medium of communicating every good and perfect gift, temporal, spiritual and eternal.

It is worthy of our attention and consideration, that this method of governing us by Christ, and bestowing the advantages we possess through his interposition, is analogous to God's natural plan of administering the temporal enjoyments of life. For we find that almost every benefit we receive in the course of providence, is procured for us by the instrumentality of others. Thus, our parents provide for us the necessaries and comforts of life in our infancy; our friends exert themselves to obtain an increase to our fortune as we advance in years; and the kindness of those who are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, alleviates our troubles in the hour of distress. All these persons in their various capacities, are means in the hand of God, of doing us good, and delivering us from evil; so that it seems to be the general plan of his dispensations, to confer benefits upon us through the interposition of others. And he continues the same method in bestowing the blessings of redemption ; for he has not granted them immediately from himself; but ordained that they should be conveyed to us through a Mediator. Thus, God is uniform in all the varied plans of his administration; he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. Thus,

· III. The efficacy of his mediation, in promoting the end proposed.

66 He re

These ends were various and important, arising from the condition in which mankind were placed. We were brought into a state of guilt and condemnation by the transgression of our first parents; but the mediation of Christ is intended to counteract the consequences of original sin: and, accordingly, the scriptures inform us, " that as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” As the corruption of human nature transmitted by Adam to his posterity subjected us to the curse of the broken law : so “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” moved the hand-writing” of divine justice, which was against us for the breach of the covenant of works, “and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

Thus, the sentence of condemnation which had been passed u pon mankind for the fall, has been removed ; and we are again placed by the mediation of Christ in a capacity of obtaining the divine favour and eternal life, which we had lost in the person of our first progenitor. But as we inherit a perverted nature, and fall into innumerable trespasses, which still subject us to the wrath of God: therefore it was necessary, that the mediation of our Saviour should make some provision for the expiation of our actual guilt, and render it consistent with the divine rectitude to pardon us upon our repentance and reformation. This has been done in the person of Christ, who is appointed by God himself as a propitiation to satisfy the demands of the law, and bring in everlasting righteousness: so that God regards the obedience and death of Christ, as securing the honour of his laws, as effectually as if we ourselves had fully obeyed them, or suffered an adequate punishment for their violation.

In consideration, therefore, of the merits of Christ, our sins are pardoned ; and “ by the righteousness of one the free gift is come upon all who believe unto justification of life.” Thus, by the acceptance of our Mediator's righte

« PreviousContinue »