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this we perceive the sovereignty of God; for there can be no other reason given why the man Christ Jesus exists, and is constituted Lord of all. When Christ was brought forth as the covenant Head of the body his church, his seed had a representative, being in him, and eternal love was the uniting principle that bound them together. The vast settlement of grace on millions of the human family in him, was an expression of infinite wisdom in God; for as on the foreview of the fall of Adam, and the ruin of his whole posterity in him, was well known by God, therefore Christ was constituted the head and fountain of spiritual life to his adopted seed, above the fall, and they were preserved in him when they fell to the gates of hell in Adam. It cannot be for a moment supposed, that an undertaking of such vast magnitude, as the redemption of the church by Jesus Christ to God, did not form a principal part of the covenant of grace; for by the ransom that he has paid to divine justice, God has obtained from him all that he could equitably exact, and the church is for ever saved. But God himself declares that he would preserve his Son in the perforınance of this great work, and give him for a covenant to the people. “ I have made a covenant with my chosen.” It is not necessary to multiply scripture quotations to prove the unchangeable nature of this covenant, and the vast love of the triune God in the settlement of all the conditions of it. The fall of Adam did not disconcert the plan of God; but his apostacy was anticipated, and provision was made for the recovery of the church. Sin was an occasion for God to manifest his love, in the person of Christ, the Mediator of the new testament. When God chose his people in the person of his Son, he set them apart for himself. “ Sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus.--Yea, he loved the people ; all his saints are in his hands."
When God created Adam, he placed him under a law; the terms of which were, by his obedience he was to retain the station which he occupied ; and by disobedience, a forfeiture of it would ensue both for himself and his children. The state in which he was created, was connatural with the law under which he existed ; and so long as he preserved and continued his innocency, he had communion with God his Creator and Legislator. When he stood in Eden as the federal head of the human family, they stood in him free from blame; but when he rebelled against God, they fell in and with him. The consequence of his apostacy is truly awful. The image of God in which he was created was defaced; the rectitude of his powers, moral and physical, was lost; his nature was corrupted; yea, he became the enemy of God, and his estate was alienated, because he failed in the performance of the terms upon which he was to continue its
As every cause is superior to the effects produced by it, we conclude, that original sin is the fertile source of all the depravity which we see in the life of man. We say, that all the rivers run into the
now, it is certain, that the sea from whence they at first
proceeded must be the largest body of water; and therefore, the native corruption of man, which is derived from Adam, is the pregnant cause of his wilful departure from God. There is no exception here, for the whole family of man stand upon a level before God. The divine law pronounces every sinner accursed for his apostacy from God; and so long as he continues in a state of unregeneracy, he is ignorant of what he is exposed to as a condemned sinner.
Having noticed the wretched state of being to which we are reduced by sin, let us glance at a brighter scene which opens upon us in the person and redemption of Jesus Christ. When God came down into the garden of Eden, in the cool of the day, to converse with Adam, he made known to him the riches of his grace, by promising that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." The whole race of Adam stood in him dead in law, for in had entered and destroyed the workmanship of God. But Jehovah then began to discover that he loved his children above the fall; and though they were condemned because of it, yet he loved them so as to give to them his only begotten Son to set them free from everlasting misery. The quality of sin is directly opposed to the nature of God; he cannot pass by it with impuniiy, for it is an insult offered, and an injury done to his government. We have before noticed, that Christ, the head of the church, was present in heaven when he covenanted to redeem her to God, but by the fall she is held under the control of justice, which by the law asserts the rights of God. Nevertheless, the church is as much the property of Christ under these circumstances, by gift from the Father before the fall, as she ever was; but her apostacy became an occasion for him to shew his love for her, conformably with the conditions of the covenant of grace and redemption. He could not take her from under the grasp of inexorable justice without paying her debts, for he had covenanted as her surety to do so. It was grace that moved the Son of God to engage to become the Redeemer of the church; but when he had pledged his word to satisfy justice, and to save her for ever, equity bound him to perform and complete his contract. The love of God for poor sinners is sovereign and unparalleled in his nature; for he has admitted a commutation of persons, allowing of his Son 10 stand under law in the place of the whole election of grace, and to act for them as a substitute. The letter of the law which says, “ thou shalt surely die," was dispensed with; but the spirit of it was maintained by admitting the Saviour according to his will to restore its honor and to maintain its rights. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.” Jehovah the Father graciously appointed and cheerfully accepted Christ to be surely for the church; and he wil. lingly became responsible for his brethren, to fulfil the law, and become a sacrifice for their sins, by which God is glorified, and they are released from condemnation.
In the complex person of Christ, the requirements of the law are
fulfilled by his obedience unto death, and all the claims of justice are, satisfied, forasmuch as the curse which was denounced against transgressors of it has been endured by him. The wormwood and gall which imbittered the cup that Jesus drank when he made an end of sin, entered into his holy soul, and filled him with indescribable
In the person of the suffering Son of God, divine justice has marked sin with the infamy that it merited. It was the Father's pleasure to bruise his Son, and to put him to grief; but in the instant of time that he punished sin in the person of Christ, he commended his love towards us.
The Holy Ghost is given to the heirs of grace to sanctify and justify them in the name of Christ, and to make them meet to be partakers of an inheritance with the saints of light. Just before our Lord was crucified, he told his disciples it was expedient for him to go away, for except he went away the Comforter would not come. The end of his coming was not to speak of himself, but to glorify Christ; for, said he, “ he shall take of the things which aré mine, and shall shew them unto you.” The mission of the Holy Ghost is to impart life through Christ to the redeemed by the washing of regeneration. This change is instantaneously wrought, and the life which is imparted is discovered by an enlightening influence accompanying it. The Spirit of God works upon the mind which he has sanctified, and he discovers something of its native state in order to destroy the love and power of sin. The eternal love of God in Christ Jesus is manifested to cheer and console the mind; a sense of the evil of sin lying upon the conscience, the law working wrath in it, and God by the law asserting and vindicating his just right, and disclosing the purity of his nature; the heart mourning and sorrowing because of its uncleanness, and trembling with dread anxiety lest the sentence of death should be executed. what joy does redemption by price and power impart, when the forgiving mandate is sealed by the Holy Ghost on the conscience, in the saving virtue of the atoning blood of Christ! This has a powerful tendency to subdue pride, to conquer the enmity of the human heart, and to reconcile the mind to the dispensation of mercy and justice in and through Jesus Christ. When the saints are blessed with the Spirit of adoption, they look by faith in the name of Christ to God as their heavenly Father. There is an immeasurable ocean of love in God; and let his people be in ever such calamity, it is the same.
This sacred fountain is constantly flowing, to satisfy and to sanctify them. Jehovah continued his love towards his people when they became sinners, although he never approved their evil conduct. “ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him : for if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being recon
ciled we shall be saved by his life.-Yet it hath pleased the Lord to bruise bim; he hath put him to grief.” Here we perceive the love and vengeance of God combining in the person of Immanuel, to save his seed, to know, fear, and love his name.
But wherever the kingdom of God resides within, there is a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit perpetually maintained. According to the opinion of some good men, expounded in their writings and preaching, we by their statements should be led to conclude, that the christian has nothing within and about him but true holiness. It is a fact that can never be denied, that the regenerated man is the subject of two distinct principles of operation, i. e. the flesh and the spirit. Let us examine by the scriptures these terms, flesh and spirit; and then let us notice how they lust against and are opposed to each other. Our Lord told Nicodemus, “ that which is born of the flesh, is flesh.” The term, flesh, as here used by the great Redeemer, must be understood of the depravity of nature derived from the common parent of men; for an inspired writer informs us, “ that the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these : adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I teil you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Another definition of the flesh is a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, " for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” This is an awful description of the state of fallen man. It is obvious to every one born again of the Spirit, from what is stated above, that man is by nature prone to evil, and that the feeblest exercise of the mind is in opposition to the law of God. Regeneration does not alter the natural disposition of man, but by it he is made partaker of heavenly life. The flesh in a believer is the same as it is in an unbeliever ; for though the saints are made partakers of a divine nature, the implantation of an immortal principle of life in them does not eradicate the inbred corruption of the heart.
In the same discourse with Nicodemus, Jesus told him, " that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” There are various definitions of this term in the scriptures. The term spirit, is descriptive of that immortal principle that is conveyed in regeneration into the heart, by which we are declared to be the children of God; “ being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” The meaning of the apostle Peter is simply this; the incarnate Word is the life of the church, and the spiritual life which is derived from Christ is imperishable. Again, Christ is emphatically called, “our life"-" Christ in you the hope of glory.” As Christ is the life of the church, and as her life is hidden with him in God, we can know nothing spiritually of his person, but as the Holy Ghost is pleased to form us to receive evidence
of the union of natures in it from the scriptures. All that Christ Jesus has done for us, that he is in us by the sanctification of the Spirit. This is necessary according to the will of God, in order that sin may be dethroned, and we be conformed to the image of God, and so be introduced to fellowship with him. This is the privilege of all the family of God. The life that is conveyed into the soul in regeneration, is soon discovered by the acts that are put forth from it; for like the spark which ascends to the sun, so the mind is carried upward to the source of life, purity, and liberty. The spiritual life of a christian is unmixed with the sinfulness of nature, nor can it be contaminated by it. Sin can never be converted into holiness. Thus we see that what the Holy Ghost calls spirit, is that heavenly life that we obtain by a new creation, which is wrought by him when we are manifestly declared to be the children of God.
The irreconcilable nature of the flesh and spirit may be known by the constant warfare that is perpetuated in the bosom of every chrislian. Reconciled he is to God, but he has entered upon a course of being, that is an innocent occasion for him to be constantly employed in a holy warfare. Sin is dethroned, and the reigning power of it is broken. The old man of sin is taken captive, and confined by sovereign grace. It is not suffered to tyrannize over the man as it formerly did. The quality of it is as bad as ever it was. It does not like the chain by which it is bound ; and as it cannot reign in the
way that it did formerly, it is opposed to the new creature in all its acts. The happy man who is a partaker of heavenly life, is often employed in a sore conflict; and, under the pressure of inbred sin he exclaims, “O wretched man that I am !” The word but means a longing lingering desire after something. Our Lord says, that, “ whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” The unclean man, when he sees a lovely woman, lusts after her; that is, he longs to feed bis depraved appetite and sinful inclination. Just so, it is with the fesh; there is longing, lusting, lingering after things contrary to the will of God, and this inordinate desire after sinful things damps the ardour of the mind after spiritual subjects. Thus the flesh lusts against the spirit. But then it is said, " the spirit lusts against the flesh;" “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ; against such there is no law: and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts.” As the old man of sin does not like the control of grace, no more can the Spirit be reconciled to the opposition it meets with from the Aesh. The several acts of the Spirit are holy in their nature, and they follow after spiritual objects. The Lord Jesus is the object of the renewed mind's love and desire. Every thing that has life requires something to support it; and the life conveyed by regeneration into the soul can only subsist on pure spiritual food, even the flesh and blood of the Lamb of God, which