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the Author of nature, and if a person, clothed with the attributes of divinity, asserts and maintains this prerogative, it necessarily follows, that the source of it lies in Him, who is the Head of all principality
Whenever, therefore, we hear Christ's holy character impugned, or his pretensions questioned, let us argue with the blind man, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." Let us show with St. Peter, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed with the devil; for God was with him.” Let us contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, and yield, no not for an instant, to those who are of the contrary part, and would take away the foundation on which we rest. And, above all, let us show by the purity and innocence of our lives, and by their strict conformity to the precepts and example of Jesus, that our faith does not consist in bare words and professions, but that, what we believe of him, we likewise practice, and have the cross, which was signed upon our foreheads, spiritually engraven upon our hearts.
“ Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.”
THE NATURE AND EFFICACY OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
1 PETER ii. 24.
WHO HIS OWN SELF BARE OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BODY ON THE TREE, THAT WE, BEING DEAD TO SINS, SHOULD LIVE UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS : BY WHOSE STRIPES YE WERE HEALED.”
THE death of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is so interesting and instructive an event, that every devout Christian should have it in his frequent contemplation. There are many particulars in it which press themselves on the reflecting mind, but none of them are more important, or more affecting, than that which comprehends the efficacy of his passion. The subject of our present enquiry shall be, in what this efficacy .consists, and we shall then see the importance, the value, the necessity of his death, in order to our reconciliation with God, and our future happiness. There are persons who deny that there was any satisfaction or atonement made to God by the suffering of our blessed Lord, and who even go so far as to affirm, that it is impossible for the divine nature, and abhorrent to the divine attributes, to be appeased by the death of the innocent. They resolve the efficacy of the death of Christ into the attestation he thereby gave to his public virtues and ministry, and they hold him out as an example of patient suffering and meritorious innocence, rather than a victim of propitiation, dying for the sins of the world. . It becomes us, therefore, to consider in which of these lights the Scriptures represent him, because it must be of the highest importance to mankind to be rightly informed on so momentous a subject. If he merely taught the duties of life, and exhibited the virtues of a good and holy man, he did little more than Moses, or any righteous servant of God, did, or might have done. If he died purely to set before us an example of afflicted innocence, suffering patiently when suffering wrongfully, he did no more than many men in different ages of the world have done, less perfectly indeed, but not less truly. But if he made satisfaction to God by his suffering on the cross, and took away sin, so as to leave no vestige of it on the divine mind;—if he became a sin-offering for us, in the only sense in which such offering could be deemed efficacious, namely as a substitution and atonement ;—if the cleansing nature of his blood was such, that “ with his stripes we are healed;"—and if not only pardon for past offences was obtained by him, but a reconciliation brought about between God and man, so that man is again sanctified as a clean vessel, purged from his old pollutions, and made meet for the habitation of the Spirit of God ;-if, in short, such a change has been wrought in the divine counsels towards us, that from strangers and foreigners we are become members of God's household, from being dead in trespasses and sins, we are quickened and raised to the assured hope of eternal life,—from lying under a curse, are blessed with all spiritual blessings; it is obvious, that something much more than the setting a seal to an office, or the example of innocent and unresisting suffering, must have been intended by the death of Christ.
Let us, then, consider in the First place, the condition of man by sin, which will enable us to determine what kind of a Saviour was required for him; and Then let us see in what sense the death of Christ was suitable to his case.
I. Now, it is one of the plainest of all truths, that the condition of man was most deplorable. He had become a sinful and degenerate being, and his nature was so weakened by his irregular appetites and passions, and his reasoning faculties were so clouded and obscured by lust, that he had neither the inclination nor the ability to serve God aright. His addresses to the throne of grace were an unclean offering, being stained in the corrupt channel through which they flowed: and had they even been better in their kind, nothing less than a perfectly pure and holy service could be accepted by a perfect being. Man, therefore, had no means of access to his Creator by any service which he was competent to perform, and God being angry with him for his guilt, it was necessary that some expiation should be made, in order to bring about his reconciliation with God, and a repeal of the sentence which had been denounced against him. But an expiation which should purify the nature of man, and place him in a condition of acceptance and grace, must go to the full length of satisfying the justice of Heaven, and bearing the punishment due to voluntary guilt. God had declared before the fall of Adam, that death would be the sure consequence of any deviation from his commands. Adam's fall brought this sentence into immediate operation, and there was no possible way by which he could extricate himself from it. That death, in the original decree, implied something more than mere dissolution, is evident from the promise then made with respect to the Seed of the woman, and from the actual advent and death of Christ, in a subsequent era of the world. For every human being is still subject to the pains and penalty of temporal death. If, therefore, under the figure of death, something was implied which had respect to a future state, and involved the welfare of the spiritual part of man, it does not seem possible for him to have offered to God any sacrifice or atonement which could reach to futurity, and affect his spiritual interests. It is to be observed, that sin is properly the work of the soul; that the consequences of it reach to the inner man, and defile the image of God; and that the destruction of the body, its outward covering, made no reparation for the inward guilt. Punish