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ward?- The best man on earth must either sit down in despair, or live in continual suspense respecting his eternal welfare But the righteousness of Jehovah appears at once, not only adequate to our wants, but to the wants of all mankind; and, by trusting in that, we find rest unto our souls-Nor can we devise any other method of acceptance so honourable to God; since it refers all the glory to him; and necessitates all the hosts of the redeemed to ascribe the honour of their salvation to him alone--In spite of all the objections too that are urged against it, we can affirm that it is eminently conducive to the practice of holiness—Can we think of God becoming man in order to work out a righteousness for us, and not feel a desire to serve and honour him? “ Can we continue in sin that grace may
abound? God forbid”-An inspired writer assures us that “the grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world”
Let us then seek our righteousness in Christ alone; but let us shew by our lives, that this doctrine of faith is indeed " doctrine according to godliness"-]
CLXXIII. CHRIST'S INCARNATION A CALL TO
Heb. i. 6. When he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world
he saith, And let all the angels of God worship himi IF God had been pleased to try our faith, he might have required us to believe whatsoever he should reveal, even though he should mention it but once: but, in condescension to our weakness, he has given us a great variety of testimonies to confirm every fundamental doctrine of our holy religion—The doctrine of the divinity of Christ is as important as any in the whole Bible: and it stands, not on one or two doubtful passages of scripture, but on the plainest, and almost numberless declarations of the inspired writers—In the passage before us the apostle is shewing the infinite superiority of Jesus above the highest orders of created beings; and he adduces a whole series, as it were, of testimonies in proof of this pointThe one which we have now read is taken from the 97th Psalm, and confessedly relates to Jesus—In discoursing upon
it we are led to observe
a It speaks of Christ's kingdom, ver. 1. and the duty of angels, here called gads, to worship him, ver. 7.
I. That Christ is a proper object of divine worship
The command contained in the text is itself decisive upon the point
(God is a jealous God, and claims divine worship as his unalienable prerogative;yet he at the same time requires it to be given to his Son-Would he do this, if his Son were not worthy of that high honour? Would he, contrary to his express declaration, give his glory to another? We are assured he would not; and therefore his Son must be a proper object of our supreme regard)
The practice of the Christian church confirms it beyond a doubt
[Stephen, when he was full of the Holy Ghost, and his face shone like that of an angel, at the very instant that he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, addressed himself, not to the Father, but to Jesus; and that too in terms precisely similar to those in which Jesus in his dying hour had addressed the Fatherd_Can we wish for any plainer example!—The apostle Paul, under the buffetings of Satan, applied to Jesus for relief, and was expressly answered, as he himself tells us, by Jesus; in consequence of which answer he from that time “ gloried in his infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon him”—The whole church of God, not only at Corinth, but “in all other places” are described and characterized by this very thing, the worshipping of Christ-But the church triumphant no less than the church militant are incessantly presenting before him their humble and grateful adorations
Surely if worship be not to be paid to Christ, the scriptures are not calculated to instruct, but to deceive and ensnare us -]
Nor must it be forgotten that to worship Christ is the highest act of obedience to the F ther
[It is the Father who enjoins it in the text; and that, not to men only, but to angels also—" He has committed all judgment to his Son for this very purpose, that all men may honour the Son even as they honour the Father”h—He even swears that all, at the peril of their souls, shall bow to Jesus; and, so far from thinking himself dishonoured by it, he expressly requires it, in order that he himself may be more abundantly glorified ?"
The text leads us further to observe respecting Christ
b Matt. iv. 10.
c Isai. xlii. 8. Compare Acts vii. 59, 60, with Luke xxiii. 34, 46. e 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. fi Cor. i. 2.
8 Rev. vii. 9, 10. b John v. 22, 23.
i Rom. xiv. 10, 11. k Phil. ii. 10, 11.
II. That his incarnation-affords a special call to all both
in heaven and earth to worship him “The bringing in of the first-begotten into the world” may comprehend the whole period of his reign under the gospel dispensation; in which case the command to worship him is general: but if we confine the expression to the time of his incarnation, the command to worship him will be a special call, arising from the circumstance of his incarnation, and founded on it-To elucidate it in this latter view we may observe that
1. It affords the brightest discovery of the divine perfections
[The angels had doubtless seen much of the divine glory before: they had seen God's wisdom, power, and goodness in the creation and government of the world.
But they never before had such a view of his condescension and grace as when they beheld him lying in the manger, an helpless babe-Now also the design of God to glorify all his perfections in the work of redemption was more clearly unfolded Hence the whole multitude of the heavenly choir began to sing, “ Glory to God in the highest”-And if their hosannas increased with their discoveries of the divine glory, should not ours also?-Have not we also abundant reason to magnify our incarnate God; and to exalt our thoughts of him in proportion as he has debased himself for our sakes?--] 2. It opens a way for our reconciliation with God
[Men were indeed accepted of God before Christ's advent in the flesh; but it was through him who was to come, as we are accepted through him who has come~But when Christ was manifested in the flesh, his mediatorial work commenced; and that course of sufferings and obedience, which is the meritorious ground of our acceptance, was begun-It may be said, that, though we are bound on this account to adore him, the angels feel no interest in it: but can we suppose that those benevolent spirits, who minister to the heirs of salvation, and bear them on their wings to the realms of glory, feel no delight in our happiness? Doubtless they do; and are themselves made happier by their sympathy with us,If they rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, they also have reason to adore the Saviour for opening both to us and them such an inexhaustible fountain of blessedness and joy-] 3. It reunites men and angels under one head
[Christ was the Creator and sovereign Lord both of men and angels/But man, by casting off his allegiance to his Lord,
lost also his connexion with angels-Jesus however, by becoming man, gathers together againm both men and angels under himself as their common head:
he comes, as it were, to the very gates of hell, that he may take from thence sinners of the human race to fill the thrones once vacated by the apostate angels—It is by no means improbable that the very same humiliation of Jesus that exalts men to glory, is the source of establishment to the angels that retained their innocence. At all events, the restoration of their Lord to the honour of which man by transgression had deprived him, and their communion with man in the benefits conferred upon him, cannot fail of exciting in their breasts the liveliest emotions of gratitude-Indeed, we see that this is no fanciful idea, since it is realized in heaven, where saints and angels join in one general chorus, ascribing “salvation to God and to the Lamb"_
TO ENFORCE then the injunction we have been consi. dering, we would say 1. Welcome him
[Let not his advent be regarded with indifference; but welcome him with acclamations and hosannas-The captious Pharisees may indeed condemn you; but if you neglect to honour him thus, the very stones will cry out against you] 2. Submit to him
[Jesus comes, not merely to save mankind, but to set up his kingdom in the world—Let your hearts then, yea, " the very thoughts of your hearts, be brought into a willing captivity to him”- Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish:”” and present your offerings before him in token of your allegiance to him, and your unreserved subjection to his will9—] 3. Depend upon him
[He is that nail in a sure place on which are to be hanged all the vessels of his Father's houset-Trust then on him; and let his vicarious sufferings and obedience be the stay and support of your souls-1 4. Glory in bim
[Since he is the boast of all in heaven, let him be the boast of all on earth-Let the frame of your hearts be joyous, exulting, and triumphant—Thus from worshipping him below, you shall be brought to worship him for evermote in heaven]
m 'Ανα-κεφαλαιώσασθαι. Εph. 1. 10.
Isai. xxii. 23, 24. s See Isai. xliv. 23.
n Rev. v. 9, 13 q Matt. ii. 11.
CLXXIV. CHRIST'S EXECUTION OF HIS PASTORAL
Ezek. xxxiv. 16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring
again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick, but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them. with judgment.
THERE is no office under heaven so important as that of ministering unto men the gospel of Christ. But, alas! its importance is too little felt, and its duties are too negligently performed. There is, however, one shepherd, whose care and vigilance are without intermis. sion. He it is, who, many hundred years before he came into the world, spake by the prophet; and declared the manner in which he would execute his office.b
In the words before us we see 1 The different states of Christ's sheep
[All are considered as the sheep of Christ, who by name and profession belong to him, as well “the fat and the strong, who shall be destroyed,” as those who shall be saved.
All without exception, while in their natural state, are
lost," straying from God, and ignorant of the way in which alone they can return to his fold. Some feel an inclination to enjoy his benefits, and at times resolve that they will turn from their evil ways: but they are “ driven away" by the violence of their passions or the fear of man.
Of those that have been brought home to the fold, many, like David, are complaining of griefs and sorrows, more painful than a " broken bone. And all are “ sick” of sin, that loathsome malady which pervades all their powers both of body and soul, and incapacitates them for serving God as they would wish to do.f
There are too many, alas! who are " fat and strong,” in their own conceit.s Were they really in good condition, they should not be “ destroyed.” But, like the Laodiceans of old, they deceive themselves; being really destitute of all wisdom, goodness, and strength, in exact proportion as they fancy themselves possessed of these things.]
a See ver. 2–10. b. Ver; 23.
e John x. 16. d Isai. liii. 6. e Ps. li. 8.
f Rom. vii. 18, 19, 21, 23, 24. Gal. v. 17. & It is in this sense that our Lord speaks of “ the whole,” and. “ the righteous.” Matt. ix. 12, 13.
de Rey, iji. 17.