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How much reason then has the sinner to triumph in a crucified Sa. viour, and to glory in the cross of Christ! What comfort and consola. tion must it afford him, that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus! He, who made the world, was certainly able to redeem it: nor can we despair of pardon, if we look up to the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him,* endured the cross, despising the shame; and, having spoiled principalities and powers, is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The Christian may now exult in the language of the apostle, 1 Cor. xv. 55; “O! Death! where is thy sting? O! Grave! where is ihy victory! The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ. *"
Let us, therefore, take care that we do not frustrate and pervert this merciful and gracious dispensation. Though any man sin, either through ignorance, infirmity, or presumption, if he sincerely repents of his wickedness, St John gives him this comfortable assurance, that “ we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.” But it is a falsc and dangerous conclusion, which some men bave drawn, very fatal to themselves, that they
* “ Propositum Christo fuit gaudium salutis omnium hominum, et gloriæ Dei per totum orbem exaltandæ; tum etiam gloriæ corporis sui, et tot hominum, a quibus et adorandus et prædicandus erat, &c.” Ribera.
+ " Hoc ordine locum legunt omnes Græci codices, et Syrus et Arabs. Contrario tamen ordine legendum, Ubi tua, O Mors! O Victoria! &c. ut liquet ex Hebræo, ubi morti tribuitur vīvos, sepulchro sértpor, sicut in Vulgato legitur.” Beza. “ Apostolus hic quasi in re præsente, ut sæpe prophetæ, triumphum canit de morte et inferno, i. e. statu mortuorum; solent enim conjungi, ut Esa. xxvüi. 15.” Grotius. “De morte loquitur, tanquam de persona, rege, hoste, cui hic telum ascribit.” Estius.
Preces ecclesiæ Christus, more Advocati, Deo patri commendat. Grotius. Est autem Christus Advocatus noster, formaliter et proprie, orando et interpellando pro nobis. Et Ilaparasti nomen Christo tribuitur opposite ad Diabolum, qui dicitur rathmogos, accusator, sive calumniator, Apoc. xü, 10." Camerarius.
may continue in sin, that grace may abound.* For this is to crucify the Son of God afresh, and to count the blood of the covenant, wherewith they are sanctified, an unholy thing. Christ came to take away sin, not to encourage it; and the only genuine mark of our being his followers is to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts. The Gospel dispensation is not altogether unconditional; for, as the just must live by faith, this faith must be productive of good works, Christ himself having expressly stipulated, “ If thou wilt enter life, keep the commandments.”
*“ Permanebimus in peccatis, peccata peccatis addemus, ut gratia auctior fiat. Hoc consequens falso attribuebatur apostolis, et eorum sectatoribus, qui contrarium et docebant et factis ostendebant. Tertul. Bene, libertas in Christo nullam innocentiæ facit injuriam. Manet lex tota pietatis, sanctitatis, humanitatis, veritatis, castitatis, &c.” Grotius, &c.
ca G 2
A SER MON
ZECHARIAH, xii. 10.
“ THE testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy;" or, rather, by inverting the terms of the proposition, the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus; and the words will admit of three interpretations, either that the prophecies of the Old and New Testament together bear the most ample testimony to Jesus, as the Messiah;* or that the predictions of Jesus biniself, to whom God gave the spirit without measure, which are contained in the Revelation of St John, and relate to the state of his church from its beginning to the end of the world, are the strongest proofs of his divine mission;ť or, lastly, that the several prophecies of the holy men of old, who have been since the world began, and who spake as the spirit gave them utterance concerning Christ, having had their exact completion in the person of Jesus, carries with
it an incontestible evidence that he is the Son of God.* If any, the minutest, particular, relating to this great personage, had not received its accomplishment in the Son of Joseph, that question of the chief priests and the scribes, Art thou the Christ? could never have been answered satisfactorily. But when every circumstance, predicted by Moses and all the prophets respecting the character and office, the nature and person, the precise time of his appearance, the place of the nativity, and the death and passion, of the Messiah, attended with so many extraordinary events, was so punctually fulfilled in the Lord Jesus, none but fools, and slow of heart to believe, can doubt whether this is the very Christ. Amongst all of which, not the least remarkable, or rather perhaps the most remarkable, is that made mention of by the prophet, in the words of the text; “ They shall look upon me, whom they have pierced.” For, though there is no part of the whole course of our Saviour's life or death but is well worthy our looking on, this last part of his piercing is more particularly commended to our view by the prophet, as an avowal of an act of grace, and by the apostle also, who calls upon us to “ look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy (of our salvation) set before him,+ endured the cross, and despised the shame," i. e. in this spectacle, when he was pierced.
* “ Spiritus prophetiæ, i. e. qui per prophetas locutus est, est testimonium Jesu, h. e. testatur de Jesu, Act. iii. 21, 24, et x. 43. Ipsum unicum esse Dominum, non autem angelos, Heb. ii. 5, &c. quippe qui ipsum adorant et ministrant ipsi. Christiani ergo non debent angelis se subjicere.” Cocceius. “Quand un seul homme auroit fait un livre des prophéties de Jésus Christ, pour le tems et pour la manière, et que Jésus Christ seroit venu conformement à ces prophéties, ce seroit une force infinie. Mais il y a bien plus ici. C'est une suite d'honnes durant quatre mille ans, qui constamment et sans variation viennent, l'un ensuite de l'autre, prédire ce même avènement. C'est un peuple tout entier qui l'annonce, et qui subsiste, pendant quatre mille années, pour rendre en corps témoignage des assurances qu'ils en ont, et dont ils ne peuvent être detournés par quelques menaces et quelques persécutions qu'on leur fasse. Ceci est tout autrement considérable.” Pascal, Pensées.
+ See page 42. Note *.
The words of the prophet point out two things to our consideration; the sight itself, i. e. the thing to be seen; and the sight of it, i. e. the act of seeing or looking. Whom they have pierced is the object; they shall look upon me is the act or duty enjoined.*
That by tlic person whom they have pierced is meant Christ, not only some of the Jews themselves acknowledge,t but St John, in his Gospel, c. xix: 37, and the Revelation, c. i. 7, has put out of all doubt; and the reason for the prophet's making use of this distinctive mode of expression, was the better to specify and particularize the person of Christ, by the most peculiar circumstance of his death. Isaiah had prophecied that he should die, and lay down his soul an offering for sin; but does not say whether it should be a natural or violent death. But Daniel expressly informs us, c. ix. 26, that he should be cut off, but not for himself. Now there are many sorts of violent deaths. The psalmist therefore describeth it more particularly thus; “ They pierced my hands and my feet,” Ps. xxii. 17; which is only proper to the death of the cross. He was to die then, to be slain, and to be crucified; but so had
* See Bishop Andrews.
t“ Referunt hæc vulgò Rabbini ad Duvidem, (diceret forsan, Messiam,) filium Josephi, quem occubiturum aiunt in prælio contra Gog. At Hadarsan, in Gen. xxviii. de Messia filio David intelligit.” Grotius.
"nza dicitur de fatalibus flagitiorum pænis, sive a Deo sive a magistratu inflictis, Levit. xviii. 29. Psal. xxxvii. 34, unde vox nga apud R. R. capitale supplicium et latam ejus sententiam sign. Significat ergo mortem Christi fuisse execrabilem, tum hominibus, sive Judæis sive Gentilibus, qui illum tanquam sceleratum et blasphemum justè interfectum putabant, tum etiam Deo, Gal. iii. 13, cujus consilium erat ipsum atterere, idque ob peccata, non quidem sua, sed nostra." Graserus, &c. But he likewise gives this sense, et non erit ei opem ferens, which Wintle and others follow.
1 “ Etsi probabile est psalmum hunc a Davide fuisse compositum in gravi aliquo periculo, &c. dubium tamen non est quin omnis ejus cogitatio a Spiritu Sancto longius fuerit abducta, ut cum sua calamitate simul etiam Christi, cujus se typum gerere cognoscebat, dolores contemplaretur, sicque præsentium ærumnarum sensum leniret. Quis tam cæcus, qui non videat hîc ea dici, quæ soli Christo conveniunt, ut, foderunt manus, &c. diviserunt vestimenta, &c.” Muis, Limb. &c. Graviter et præclare Lutherus, “ Nos, inquit, Christiani non rem gestami e Scripturarum mysteriis, sed scripturarum mysteria e re gesta, h. e. veterem scripturam evangelio illustramus, et non, è contra, ad illius sensum hujus sensum comparamus. Cum ergo certum habeamus, tum Christi ma