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TITUS, CHAP. II.–VERSE 14.
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The expression here made use of, 'Who gave himself for us,' is so familiar to the ears of Christians, and is so well understood to relate to the death of Christ, and the offering up of himself on the cross for the sins of the whole world, that there is no need to give light to it by alleging parallel places of holy Scripture. The expression is something fuller in St. Paul's first Epistle to Timothy; · Who gave himself a ransom for all,' ii. 6. As likewise Gal. i. 4. · Who gave himself for our sins ;' but the import and meaning of the words is one and the same.
This doctrine of the gospel, that the death of Christ was an offering made of himself for the sins of the whole world, a price paid for the purchase of mankind, that they might become ‘his,' and, together with him, heirs of glory, and of a kingdom that shall never fail, is that great mystery hid from ages and
generations, but now made manifest by the preaching of the Apostles and prophets of Christ Jesus.
But, that we may not mistake, and imagine that, because this mystery is said to be made known' and 'manifest' to us, therefore we are intitled to call for the reasons on which this wonderful administration of Providence is founded, it is necessary to observe that the gospel is a revelation of the will and purpose of God. The reasons on which he acted, when he ordained this method of salvation, are not fully revealed to us; nor have we authority to say they ever will be. Under the law we meet with many intimations of God's purpose to save mankind : under the gospel this purpose is opened and pro
claimed to all the world : but neither under the law, nor yet under the gospel, are we instructed in the reasons of this proceeding; but having life and immortality set before us in God's own way, we are left to embrace them through faith and confidence in his promise, who is able to perform the word which is gone out of his mouth.
And since God has thought fit to offer the gospel as a matter of faith to the world, and has given his word, confirmed by signs and wonders, as a sufficient security for the performance on his part, he acts without commission, who proposes the gospel to the world as a matter of science and knowlege, and the result of mere reason, and pretends to account for the methods of God's wisdom, which are far above and out of his sight.
If you ask how it became necessary for Christ to die, or why God required a sacrifice for those sins, which he might, if he had so pleased, have freely forgiven? I know but one proper answer for a minister of the gospel to make to these inquiries, that God has not admitted him into these secret councils, nor sent him to declare them to the world.
We preach the death of Christ a sacrifice and expiation for sin, because appointed by God, who gave his Son to die for the sins of the world: we preach Christ the resurrection and the life, because God hath given him power to raise the dead : we preach Christ the judge of the world, because the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son. If you ask for our evidence, we answer with St. Peter, “ To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins :' Acts x. 43.
We answer with our blessed Saviour, · The works which he did in his Father's name, they bear witness of him :' John X. 25. We answer with St. Paul, That God hath given this assurance upto all men, that he will judge the world by Christ, in that he raised Jesus from the dead : Acts xvii. 31.
On this evidence the faith of the gospel stands: the Christian's hope of salvation has no dependence on the speculations of curious inquirers, but rests on this immoveable foundation, " that all the promises of God in Christ are yea, and amen ;' that is, sure, certain, and irrevocable promises,
The death of Christ was, as the holy Scripture teaches, foreordained before the foundation of the world : and since God intended, in the fulness of time, to offer salvation to the world through faith in the sacrifice of his Son, it is reasonable to suppose that the sacrifices before and under the law were introduced and countenanced to prepare the faith of the world to receive the tender of God's mercies, in virtue of the one sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the whole world ; that, being accustomed to ask pardon for iniquities by the means of sacrifices, men might be ready and disposed to receive the grace of God, when offered under like conditions.
Sacrifices in the heathen world, as all other parts of religion, were corrupted, and applied to corrupt purposes; but they appear at first in the religious worship of the best and most approved men in the earliest time, and were established as part of God's worship in the church of his own founding among the people of Israel. Had this been a mere piece of superstition and human invention in its original, however we may suppose God to accept graciously the free-will offering of a weak mind, yet it is not to be supposed that he would adopt the superstition, and make it a necessary part of a religion of his own establishment. To avoid this absurd consequence, it must be maintained that the use of sacrifice was introduced by divine precept for the atonement of sins. If sacrifices were introduced by the command of God, they had such virtue as he thought fit to annex to the performance, in consequence of the promise which attended them ; but if they came in any other way, it is impossible to conceive that there was any virtue in them. And since we are taught that the sacrifice offered up by Christ is the only true expiatory sacrifice for the sins of the world, it is manifest that all other sacrifices accepted by God owed their efficacy to the relation they bore to this one sacrifice, through the appointment of him, who gave them for signs and figures of better things to come.
This reasoning on the principles of revelation taught us in the gospel, may show us that the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice is not confined to any particular age or time; that sacrifices in the ancient church of God were figures and representations of this one great sacrifice, as the Eucharist in the Christian church
is the memorial of it; and that the most material and significative part of worship among the people of God has ever been, the showing forth the Lord's death, in types and figures before the coming of Christ, and in the communion of his body ever since.
This sacrifice conveys to us the charter of God's pardon, and, together with it, the certain hope of glory and immortality. We are now no longer our own, that we should obey the lusts
of the flesh; but we are his, who hath purchased us with the · inestimable price of his own blood; purchased us, not to be
slaves, but to be his brethren, and heirs with him of the kingdom of God.
These are great hopes, and are built on our faith in the promises of God through Christ Jesus. How reasonable this foundation is, a little consideration will show. All religion ultimately resolves itself into trust and faith in God. Men are not apt to refer those conclusions to the head of faith, which they collect from their own natural reason; and yet oftentimes these conclusions have no other support. In common affairs of life, where we have long known men to act on principles of honor and virtue, we think ourselves as secure in our dealings with them, as if we pursued them in every step with bonds and obligations. This is, without doubt, trust and confidence ; and yet it is a natural conclusion of our reasoning on the characters and qualities of men about us. This is the very argument on which natural religion forms all its conclusions: it reasons from the character and attributes of God, and rests itself in this conclusion, that so just and reasonable a Being will deal justly and reasonably with the children of men ; and what is this but faith and trust in God? To any higher point of certainty natural religion cannot arrive : for though we may certainly conclude from the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God, that he will, in all his dealings, act wisely, mercifully, and justly; yet we cannot draw this general conclusion into particulars, and say precisely what is the very thing which God will do in any case, or by what particular method he will bring it about. To determine this we must be as wise as God; for no Being not infinitely wise can, with certainty, say what is the best thing for infinite wisdom to do; for though we learn from natural religion
to depend on God for future happiness if we do well, yet nature presents us with great difficulties: we die and moulder to dust, and in that state what we are, or where we are, nature cannot say; whether we are beings capable of enjoyment out of the body; whether we are to have the same, or other, or any bodies; what kind of happiness is prepared for us; what capacities and powers we shall be endowed with, and the like, are inquiries in which we can have no light from mere reason. What does natural religion do then under these difficulties? Why, it supports itself on this one rational conclusion, that God has power and wisdom to conduct this great affair in the best method; and to him it may be securely left. And is not this a religion of faith, which trusts God for all its dearest concerns ?
This faith of natural religion is the basis and foundation of gospel faith: for as reason teaches us to depend on the attributes of God's wisdom, justice, and goodness, it teaches us also to depend on his veracity: and therefore, on God's declaring the method in which he will save the world, it is altogether as rational an act of faith to rely on the method which he has declared, as it is in natural religion to rely on his goodness to do the thing without being able to assign any method in which it shall be done : for if it be reasonable in natural religion to rely on God's goodness for the pardon of sin, is it not as reasonable, under the gospel, to rely on pardon through Jesus Christ, God having declared himself reconciled to the world through Jesus Christ? The difference lies not in the nature of faith in one case and in the other, but in the extent of our knowlege in one case and in the other. Under natural religion we see only this, that God is merciful; and therefore our trust and faith can go no farther than this, to rely on his mercy: under the gospel God has declared that he has given his only Son to die for the sins of the world; and therefore we believe that through the death of Christ we shall receive pardon and redemption. In natural religion, the general belief that God will save us, implies that some means shall be used for our salvation : under the gospel the means are ascertained ; and therefore the faith of a Christian embraces the means as well as the end of this hope.
In things which are within our power to do, or to conceive,