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had he been no more than a man, he would not have been equal to the great undertaking of saving sinners. A due consideration of the majesty, holiness, authority, and goodness of God, will make sin appear to be, as the apostle expresses it, “exceedingly sinful*.” Whoever has a right sense of the nature and effects of that rebellion against the Most High, which the Scripture intends by the term Sin, will not need many arguments to convince him, that the Mediator between God and man, must be possessed of such dignity and power, as cannot be attributed to a creature, without destroying the idea of a created and dependent being, by ascribing to hin those perfections which are incommunicably divine.
If Messiah had been a sinless and perfect man, and no more, he might have yielded a complete obedience to the will of God, but it could have been only for himself. The most excellent and exalted creature cannot exceed the law of his creation. As a creature, he is bound to serve God with bis all, and his obligations will always be equal to his ability. But an obedience acceptable and available for others, for thousands and millions, for all who are willing to plead it, must be connected with a nature which is not thus necessarily bound. A sinner, truly convinced of his obnoxiousness to the displeasure of God, must sink into despair, notwithstanding the intiination of a Saviour, if he were not assured by the Scripture, that it was a divine person in the human nature who engaged for us. It is this alone affords a solid ground for hope, to know that he who was before all, by whom all things were made, and by whom they consist, assumed the nature of man; that the great Lawgiver himself submitted to be under his own law. This wonderful condescension gave an immense value and dignity to all that he did, to all that he suffered ; thus he not only satisfied but honoured the law. So that we may, without hesitation, affirm, that the law of God was more honoured by MESSIAH, in his obedience to it, during the few years of his residence upon earth, and terminated by his last and highest act of obedience in submitting to the death of the cross, than it could have been by the unsinning obedience of all mankind to the end of time.
* Rom. vii. 13.
But MESSIAH was not only to obey the law for us, he was likewise to expiate, to sustain, and to exhaust, the curse due to sin*. In this attempt, no mere creature could have endured. Nor could the sufferings of a creature have been proposed to the universe, to angels and men, as a consideration sufficient to vindicate the righteousness and truth of God in the remission of sin, after he had determined and solemnly declared that “the wages of sin is death.” The apostle assures us, that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and of “ goats to take away sint.” They who differ from the apostle in their judgment, who think it very possible for God, if he pleased, to forgive the sinner who should offer a bull or a goat, or even without any offering, by the sovereign exercise of his mercy, may be reminded, that the question is not simply what God can do, but what it becomes him to do, agreeable to his perfections, and to his character as guvernor of the world. Of this his infinite wisdom is the only competent judge; and we learn from his word, that it is impossible any blood, but that of his own Son, can cleanse us from guilt, or save us from misery. The blood of a bull or a goat, of a man or an angel, (if angels could bleed,) are all equally insufficient to the great purpose of declaring his righteousness, of manifesting to all intelligent creatures, his inflexible displeasure against sin, in the very act of affording mercy to sinners. But since the atoning blood is the blood of Immanuel, of him who is God with us; the sinner who makes it his plea, builds his hope upon a rock which cannot be removed ; and, obtaining forgiveness in this way, he likewise obtains by it such a knowledge of the heinousness of sin, as disposes him from that hour to fear, hate, and forsake it.
* Gal. iii. 13.
+ Heb..x. 4.
But though forgiveness be an essential partof salvation, it is not the whole. We cannot be happy, except the power of sin be likewise destroyed. A well grounded hope in the mercy of God, is connected with a thirst for sanctification, and a conformity to his image. But neither this hope nor this desire are natural to us. Our case requires the help of an almighty arm, of the power which can cause the “blind to see, the deaf to hear, the “dead to arise;" which can take away the heart of stone, and create a heart of filesh. So, likewise, the difficulties attendant on our Christian profession, arising from the spirit of the world around us, the snares to which we are exposed in every situation, our weakness, the deceitfulness of our hearts, the subtilty, vigilance, and power of our spiritual enemies, are so many and great, that unless he, on whom we depend for salvation, be able to save to the uttermost, we can have no security, either for our progress, or our perseverance, in the grace of God. Unless the Saviour of sinners be omnipresent, omniscient, unchangeable, "the same yesterday, to day, and forever," that is, unless he be God, how can he answer the prayers, satisfy the wants, and relieve the distresses of all who trust
in him in every age, and of all who in every place equally need his support at the same moment? Or how can he engage to give rest to every weary soul, to secure them from perishing, and to bestow upon them eternal life? David comfortably concluded, that because the Lord was his shepherd, he should not want, and had no reason to fear*, not even when passing through the valley of the shadow of death. To us Jesus is made known as the great Shepherd of the sheep; but how can we place the like confidence in him, unless we likewise are assured that our shepherd is the Lord ?
I shall not attempt to vindicate this doctrine largely from the exceptions of those who call themselves men of reason. It is a point of revelation, and it is expressly revealed. It demands our assent upon the authority of God, who requires us to receive this record which he has given us of his Son. Thus far it approves itself to our reason, that however difficult it may be to our conceptions, yet thus it must be, upon a supposition that sinners can be saved without prejudice to the honour of the divine government. If we affirm that he who was born in a stable, and suffered as a malefactor upon Mount Golgotha, is the true God and eternal life, many will think it a hard saying. But it is the doctrine of Scripture, the very pillar and ground of truth; the only foundation of hope for an awakened conscience, the only standard by which we can properly estimate the evil of sin, the worth of the soul, and the love of God. We do not, however, say, that the human nature of Christ, considered in itself, possesses the attributes of Deity, or is the proper object of worship; nor do we suppose that God could suffer, bleed, or die. But we say, with the apostle,
* Psalm xxii. I. 4.
" that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto him“ self*.” We believe that the human nature was so intimately and indissolubly united to the divine, that the properties and actings of each nature are justly ascribed the one person of Christ, God-man, “Immanuel, God with
us.” Thus we read that the final judgment of the world is committed to a man, and that “God hath purchased “his church with his own blood.t”
Behold then the character of MESSIAH in this prophecy! a man! a God! a divine person in the human nature. “God manifested in the flesh! Immanuel, God " with us."
As fallen creatures, we had lost the true knowledge of God, and were unable to form such conceptions of his greatness and goodness, as are necessary to inspire us with reverence, to engage our confidence, or produce obedience to his will. His glory shines in the heavens and fills the earth; we are surrounded by the tokens of his power and presence; yet, till we are instructed by his word, and enlightened by his Holy Spirit, he is to us an unknown God. The prevalence of idolatry was early, and, (with an exception to the people of Israel,) soon became universal.. Men who boasted of their reason, worshipped the sun and moon, yea, the works of their own hands, instead of the Creator. And even where revelation is vouchsafed, the bulk of mankind live without God in the world. But he is known, trusted, and served, by those who know Messiah. To them his glory is displayed in the person of Jesus Christt. His agency is perceived in the creation, his providence is acknowledged, and his presence felt as God with us.
† Arts xvii. 31.; Acts xx. 28.
* 2 Cor. v. 19. + 2 Cor. iv. 6.