תמונות בעמוד

the approbation and acceptance of God, or the confidence of intelligent creatures, are concerned; is this the object, on which our thoughts ultimately rest, in comparison with which all others are of little importance.

II. To enable him to magnify the Law of God, and make it honourable.

CARIST performed this important office, an office predicted by the Prophet Isaiah, and also by himself, many ages before his incarnation, in a manner absolutely perfect. The following particulars will, if I mistake not, illustrate this subject with advantage.

1st. Christ in his own obedience showed, that the Law was capable of being perfectly obeyed by mankind.

By this I mean, that beings, possessing exactly such natural powers, as we possess, are, if properly disposed, proved, by the obedience of Christ, to be capable of perfectly obeying the law of God.

There is no reason to believe, that CHRIST possessed any other natural powers, than those, which are possessed by mankind generally. The difference between him, and them, lay, radically, in the disposition : His being that of a dutiful child; and theirs being froward and rebellious. With these powers Christ perfectly obeyed the law of God; and thus proved, that it might be perfectly obeyed by any other person, possessing the same powers. No difference of intellect can be pleaded here; because, Christ thus obeyed in every stage of his life; with the intelligence of an infant; of a child; of a youth ; and of a man. The least degree of intelligence which he possessed, after he became a moral agent, is, therefore, sufficient to enable any other moral agent thus to obey. The difficulty of obeying, experienced by us, does not, therefore, lie in the want of understanding.

The importance of this article will be easily realized, if we call to mind how prone we are to justify ourselves in sin, and to feel secure from the danger of punishment, from the consideration, that we have not, naturally, sufficient power to obey; and, if at the same time, we remember, that, even to the present day, not only ordinary men and plain Christians, but even philosophers and divines, hold this doctrine, and insist on it as a part of their customary instruction. The proof, here furnished, that the doctrine is wholly erroneous, is complete : for it can never be said, that the mind of Christ, at its entrance upon moral agency, possessed more intelligence, and more natural ability to obey, than that of a mature man. Christ obeyed throughout his infancy, and childhood. Bacon, Newton, and Locke, were sinful beings. The reason, why they were sinful beings, was not a defect of intelligence. The difference between them as moral beings, and Christ, while an infant, or a child, was a moral difference; involved moral turpitude on their part; and rendered them deserving of blame and punishment.

In this manner Christ proved the practicability of obedience, and the reasonableness of the law. If He, with the same natural powers, which we possess, could obey the law; obedience is naturally, and certainly, practicable to us. If Christ obeyed, while an infant, or a little child; the requisitions of the law cannot be unreasonable. The importance of his glorifying the law, in this respect, needs no illustration.

2dly. Christ, in obeying, furnished mankind an extensive, and most useful, comment on the law of God.

A moment's recollection will show us, if we need to be shown, that the nature of all precepts is more perfectly seen in those actions, which are conformed to them, than it can be in the abstract contemplation of the precepts themselves. The life of CARIST was exactly conformed to the precepts of the divine law; and was, therefore, a more perfect exhibition of their true nature, than any other, of which they were capable. It was, particularly, a perfect exhibition of the nature, and extent, of every requirement, so far as it was applicable to him. In seeing what he did, we learn, exactly, what we are required to do; more exactly, than we could possibly learn from the precept itself.

It exhibited, also, the beauty and excellency of obedience. This is discerned very imperfectly in the mere contemplation of the precept, by which it is required. That application of the precept, through which alone its proper influence can be discerned by mere contemplation, is made so imperfectly, and seen so obscurely, by the mind, that the proper efficacy of the precept capnot, in this way, be ever realized. In example, in actions, on the

contrary, the true nature, the beauty, the desirableness, of the wise and good precepts, by which such actions are governed, are distinctly perceived, and comprehended. The example of CHRIST is, beyond debate, far the most amiable and glorious of all the moral objects, ever exhibited to mankind. At the same time, it is an exact display of the nature and influence of the precepts of the divine law; as being no other than a course of mere obedience to them.

Thus Christ has taught us what it is to obey the Law of God; what conduct is obedience, in every situation in which he was placed; in what respects, within what limits, and to what degree, obedience is to be exhibited; what words we are to use ; what actions to perform ; what affections to indulge, and to discover ; and when, or how far, we are to withhold, to restrain, and to deny, them all. These several things, also, he has taught us with a distinctness and perfection, of which all other instruction is incapable. At the same time, he has shown us the beauty and loveliness of Obedience in the strongest colours ; divinely fair, divinely amiable ; beheld by God the Father with infinite complacency; and admired, loved, and adored, with supreme regard by Angels and good men.

3dly. Christ in his obedience has made the Law honourable, because it was the Obedience of a Person, possessed of infinite dignity.

I have formerly, and, as I flatter myself, with success, attempted to show, that Christ was God as well as Man. In these united natures he was one person ; and all his actions were the result, not only of human views and affections, but of a Divine approbation and choice; of a created mind, voluntarily devoted to perfect rectitude, and to perfect truth, and thus coinciding in the most exact manner with the will of God; and of the divine wisdom, complacently regarding all the dictates and conduct of this mind, and concurring with it in every affection and effort. The obedience of Christ is the obedience of this glorious person.

As Christ is a person of infinite knowledge, it is impossible, that he should not discern with entire exactness the propriety, or impropriety, of becoming a subject to the law of God, in the character of Mediator. In conformity to this perfect discernment he became such a subject. In this character he discerned VOL. II


with the same exactness the propriety, or impropriety, of all the conduct, presented by the circumstances, in which he was placed, to his view; and of course the propriety, or impropriety, of his absolute obedience to the divine law. But in this manner he actually obeyed.

The infinite rectitude of Christ prompted him to that conduct, and that only, which in all respects was right. But, under the influence of this rectitude, he became subject to the law; and, when he had become a subject, conformed his whole life, in every minute, as well as every important, particular, to the precepts of that law. In this manner he showed with the most decisive evidence, the evidence of life and conduct, that infinite knowledge and rectitude dictated to him to assume the office of Mediator; to become a subject of the divine law; and in that character to yield to its precepts an universal and perfect obedience.

Christ is a person of infinite dignity. By this I mean, not only the splendour of moral and intellectual greatness, with which his character is invested; but the dignity also, which is conferred by omnipotence, eternity, and immutability, and by supremacy of station and dominion. With this transcendent exaltation over all things in heaven and in earth, he still chose to be. coine subject to the divine law; and, as a subject, to obey every one of its precepts, which at any time respected either his cha. racier or his conduct. Thus he taught, in a manner which cannot be questioned, and with a decisiveness allowing of no doubt, hat infinite Knowledge and Rectitude regarded the divine law as possessing such infinite excellence and glory, that it was not unbecoming a divine person to conform his own actions to its dictates, even in the minutest particulars; that it was not unsuitable to a divine person to become subject to its control, and in this state of subjection to obey its precepts in an absolute manner.

These considerations exhibit my own views of that Active obedience, or Righteousness, of Christ, by which we are said in the Scriptures to be justified. Christ, as a mere man, was of necessity subject to the law of God, equally with all other moral creatures. His obedience in this character, therefore, was necessary to his own justification, and could not be the means of ours. 4s a di

vine Person, he was subject to no law; and needed, and could need, no justification. By the union of his divine and human natures he became One Person, as Mediator between God and man ; in such a sense One, that all his actions and sufferings became the actions and sufferings of this One Mediator. The value which was inherent in his conduct, as a divine Person, was in consequence of this union extended to all the conduct of the Mediator, Jesus Christ. When, therefore, this glorious Person voluntarily yielded himself as a subject of the divine Law; the act was the result of Infinite knowledge, and rectitude ; and was instamped with the worth, necessarily belonging to all the determinations, and conduct, to which these Perfections give birth. The same moral excellence and glory are attached to all the acts of Christ's obedience, subsequent to his assumption of the character of a subject. Every one of them is an act of the Mediator; and derives its true worth, and importance, from the greatness and excellency of his Personal character.

As Christ assumed the Office of a Mediator, and the condition of a subject, voluntarily; as he was originally subject to no law, and could be required to yield no act of obedience; he could, if he pleased, become with propriety a substitute for others; and perform, in their behalf, vicarious services, which, if possessing a nature and value, suited to the case, might be reckoned to their benefit, and accepted in their stead. Had these services been due on his own account, and necessary to his own justification, as all the services of Intelligent creatures are, throughout every moment of their existence; they could never have assumed a vicarious character, nor have availed to the benefit of any person, at his final trial, beside himself. Now, the services of the real Mediator were all gratuitous; demanded by no law; and in no sense necessary to the justification of himself. All, therefore, that could in this case be required, to render them the means of justification to others, must be these two things only; that they should be of such a kind, as to suit the nature of the case; and that they should be of sufficient value.

That the actual services of the Mediator were suited to the l'eal nature of the case, we know; because they were prescribed, and accepted, by the Father. We may. also, he satisfied of

« הקודםהמשך »