Page images
PDF
EPUB

But the special advantage which the world derived from the teaching of Christ, an advantage exclusively communicable by him who was one with the Father, was the declaration of the divine will conveyed through his medium. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.' "All things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.' 'He that sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things that I have heard of him 3.

It is observable, that on this ground alone did Christ himself condescend to account for his qualifications to be a public instructor. In reply to the astonishment expressed by the Jews at his teaching, which led them to ask, 'How knoweth this man letters? (or,

learning,' as it is rendered in the margin),

and demonstrates how admirably the religion of Christ was calculated to supply the peculiar defects and imperfections of the law of Moses. Heb. viii. 7-10. Tillotson's Works, vol. v. Sermons, 104 and 105. 3 John, i. 18. xv. 15. viii. 26.

2

having never learned:' he told them plainly, that his doctrine was not his own, but his who sent him +. He took upon himself openly and in his own person that character which he bad hitherto sustained through the medium of others. For as in Melchisedec was represented his everlasting priesthood, so in the series of divine revelations communicated in different ages to holy men of God, was also indirectly displayed the everlasting nature of his prophetical office. In all the appearances of Jehovah to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and the succeeding prophets, it was still Christ who was the declarer of the heavenly will, and through whom every manifestation of it was conveyed. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them, did signify 5.'

4 John, vii. 15, 16.

s 1 Pet. i. 10, 11.

It is true, that the heavens are telling the glory of God, and that the firmament sheweth his handy work; but of those things which constitute the surpassing excellence of his glory, the glory of his long-suffering in spite of provocations, the glory of his faithfulness to his promises, the glory of his mercy in the gracious scheme devised for the reconciliation of fallen man, the glory of his justice in the satisfaction. made by a vicarious sacrifice for sin, the glory of his love in proffering not pardon only, but the blessings of an eternal kingdom to his redeemed inheritance,-of whatever, in short, is comprised under the term of the great mystery of the Gospel,- the world would have remained in utter ignorance, unless the great priest of the church had also condescended to become its prophet. The works of creation, and the external fabric of the world, wise and wonderful and glorious as they are, could never have adequately proclaimed the moral attributes of his Father; so that men could never bave been acquainted with their nature but by revelation, and even in this accommodated sense of the

D

words it may be truly said, “No man cometh to the Father but by him. They could have known something of his greatness and majesty and power,—but would have had no clue to lead them to comprehend the height and depth of his goodness, or the extent of his love to man. They would have known that it must have been an almighty wisdom which called them into life, and upheld by sovereign laws the organized world which they inhabit,-but they could not have learnt with the same certainty that the happiness of his creatures was so dear to the Creator, that he spared not his own Son in their behalf. Without the interference of our Lord, the sons of men would have been still, as we have seen them among the wisest and most civilized nations of antiquity, erecting an altar to the unknown God, alienated from spiritual religion, and vainly seeking for some vital principle of holiness which the light of nature appears insufficient to supply. “To this end,' said he to Pilate, 'was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth 7.'

6 John, xiv. 6.

Nothing less than an omniscience of the whole will of God could have qualitied our Saviour for the due discharge of this office. Moses, the greatest of the prophets who preceded him, was not endowed with any perpetual gift of inspiration, authorizing him to speak at all times in the name of God according to the necessity of the moment. He had no such comprehensive knowledge of the universal will of Jehovah on every subject as would empower him to dispense with consulting in the appointed way, and waiting for particular answers to the information required.

But the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him, for so the Apostle marks the peculiarity of the heavenly message announced through the ministry of our Saviour, was very different. As in all things he was to

? John, xviji. 37.

« PreviousContinue »