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so fraught with mystery is the sentiment conveyed as to be beyond the full comprehension of men or angels.
The grand truth here exhibited is, that the originating cause of our salvation was the love of God in the gift of his Son. Even if this had not been so clearly revealed in the bible, the view which is there given of God's nature and character would have led us to a like conclusion. He is there represented as self-existent sufficient to himself alone;' and consequently independent, no less in being than in bliss. He is all-perfect, and therefore all-glorious. His personal felicity being uninfluenced by any thing from without, is necessarily incapable of diminution or of increase. What then, it may be asked, could have moved him to form men upon the earth at first, and when they had fallen from Him, and from happiness, what could have induced him to send down his Son to be their Deliverer? Was it merely that he might thereby found a claim to their gratitude, augment his own grandeur, and promote his own interests? Thy goodness, O creature, extendeth not to Him. He became not more glorious in himself, when he called into existence myriads of intelligent and exalted beings. They were but emanations of the Great Spirit-they were only manifestations of the innate, essential glory that had resided in Him from eternity. And can a man-can the poor worm man-be profitable unto God? Is it any pleasure—any personal benefit to Him, that thou art righteous? Or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him, or what receiveth he at thine hand?' Far less was it from any dread of thy continued enmity and rebellion that he interposed to save thee. Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? Will he enter with thee into judgment? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man-but if thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? Or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?' The combined legions of darkness have long been hurling their blasphemies, and directing their machinations against his throne-but all that shall only redound to the praise of the glory of his justice, which shall be magnified in their everlasting destruction. Was there any obligation on the part of God to give up his Son for us? This will not be maintained; for if in any sense it could be said, that we deserved that Christ should die for us—it might be said with equal truth that we deserved salvation without Christ. If then there was no previous obligation of merit
on our part, or of necessity on his, and if there was no room for the exercise of any selfish motive to influence his determination-in what is it that the mission of his dear Son originated? In what can it have originated, but in his own goodness— his desire to relieve our misery, and secure our happiness-in a word, in his love towards us—a love absolutely disinterested and sovereignly free -a love exercised without any antecedent obligation, and without the possibility of any adequate return?
Let this view of the Father's love serve to counteract certain notions which many entertain of the plan of salvation-notions most derogatory to the character of God, and calculated to affect materially our grateful and devout feelings towards him. They readily perceive the love of the Son in laying down his life for transgressors; but when they think of God the Father's share in the work of redemption, they picture him to themselves as a gloomy, relentless, blood-thirsty tyrant, who could not find it in his heart to love sinners till his own Son had been first sacrificed; whereas the wondrous truth is, that the death of Christ, so far from being the cause of God's love, was just the effect of that love. Christ's death was not intended to excite the divine compassion-any more than it was intended to excite the divine justice, but it was designed to display and illustrate both in a way that never was done before, and so as to shed a brighter lustre over every other perfection of the Deity. But love was at the bottom of the whole;-love was the primary motive of all; love, the purest in its source, yet distinguishing as to its objects, for while it passed by fallen angels, it laid hold on fallen men. Oh! how unlike the God of the gospel, to be represented as if he had waited in calm indifference or stern impatience, until salvation should first be wrought out, and then coldly and reluctantly receiving the sinner to his favour on the bare ground of legal right. Why, what is the most glorious character he sustains, and the title by which he is most honoured? Is it not as the God of salvation—the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?' Did he not so love the world as to give his only-begotten and well-beloved Son-not sparing him, but freely delivering him up to agony and death for us all? Yea, did not He himself take the principal part in the actual infliction of the severest torments which the Son endured? The meek and holy Lamb of God suffered much indeed from the cruelty of men and the malice of devils; but all that was as nothing compared with what in the garden and on the cross proceeded directly and immedi
ately from the hand of his Father God.
Who are they that shall be saved by Christ? They and they only who come unto God by him.' This denotes, in bible language, the first act of penitential faith, leading to the habitual exercise of humble devotion. To both these feelings men are naturally strangers. They are afar off from God;' being alienated from his service and love, and enemies to him in their minds and by wicked works. A consciousness of guilt and pollution, and a consequent dread of his displeasure, make them, like Adam, flee from his presence, and avoid his approach. The very first step then that a wretched creature must take in the way of returning to happiness, is a step towards God, the Author of all happiness. Being made aware of his danger whilst at a dis
Wasistence and unchangeable priesthood. It comprises he stricken, and smitten, and afflicted? It was a description of those who are saved by him, and of God. Was he bruised and put to grief? It an assertion of the boundless extent and perpetpleased the Lord thus to make his soul an offer- ual duration of his saving power. ing for sin, and to lay on the devoted head of the innocent Victim the iniquity of us all. Yes, it was his own Father, whose delight he had been from eternity, and in whose love he had from eternity rejoiced-it was even He who now so darkly frowned upon him, and kindled up against him his burning wrath, and pierced him through with his poisoned arrows, and sank him down with the weight of his avenging curse, and compelled him to drink to the dregs the cup of bitterness and trembling. It was his own Father who, standing over the agonised and dying Son, shut out for a season his cries and prayers, steeled his paternal bosom until the world's crisis should be past, and man's redemption secured and in words, the mysterious and awfully affecting import of which it will take eternity to un-tance from God, and believing in the revealed fold, called upon his justice to arm itself against his best beloved, and not to spare him: 'Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow! Smite the shepherd.' Who that reflects on these things will harbour the injurious thought, that God the Father sacrificed nothing for sinners, and took but a cold and passive interest in their salvation? Will he not rather, whenever he thinks of the precious blood of the spotless Lamb, devoutly remember, and thankfully acknowledge, that by God he was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world -by God he was manifested and given to the death-by God he was raised up and glorified? And all this he will cheerfully ascribe to nothing but what Paul emphatically styles the philanthropy of God our Saviour, or his 'love and kindness towards man.'
If love is to be found no where else, herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' 'We know and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.' 'He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?'
‹ He is able also to save them to the uttermost that
character of God in Christ as a God of mercy, and
so occupied that faith fixes,-it is on Christ so occupied that hope rests. But, whereas the Jewish worshipper, even on the day of atonement, had to stand afar off, with the vail of the temple interposed between him and the inner sanctuary, the devout Christian has free, unrestrained, constant access into the secret of God's presence with his Anointed, and may humbly urge, in Christ's name, at the throne of the earthly grace, the very pleas which the great Intercessor is urging for him at the throne of the heavenly glory.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,' 1 Tim. ii. 5.
THE fundamental truth of revealed religion, that there is but one Saviour, is here connected with the fundamental truth of natural religion, that there is but one God. The latter is a truth which is admitted by all but pantheists or idolaters; it is proclaimed by that unity of design and operation which pervades the Creator's works; and the supposition of there being more than One Infinite Spirit-'of whom, and to whom, and
manifest absurdity. Yet not more true is it that there is only one God, than that there is only one Mediator.
The necessity of mediation between opposite parties arises from their being in a state of variance or enmity; and such is the lamentable state of things between God and man. 'The carnal mind is enmity against God,' and God hath a controversy with every sinner. He is 'angry with the wicked every day'-and the alienation thus produced might have remained perpetual, had not a daysman or umpire appeared to make both at one, by laying his hand upon them both.' But this man shall be our peace,' inasmuch as he maketh peace by the blood of his cross, and preacheth peace by the word of reconciliation, and giveth peace by the sweet influence of his grace. God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses; and men being justified by faith, have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Being an accepted and ever living Priest, Christ is able to save those who come unto God by him to the uttermost—that is, in all conceivable circum-through whom are all things,' would involve a stances of misery and helplessness, and always, unceasingly, even to the end. Unlike the Aaronic high priest, he has no need to renew his great oblation, or to devolve his office upon a successor. 'This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable, an untransferable priesthood,' i. e. a priesthood which can never pass into other hands. And hence the perfection of his sacrifice, and the perpetuity and prevalence of the mediation which he founds on it, qualify him for being so 'mighty to save.' From the lowest depth of guilt he can rescue; from the greatest degree of depravity he can recover; from the farthest point in backsliding he can restore; from the extremest length in wickedness, even from a life-time of transgression, he can redeem: yea, and at the eleventh hour, when the hoary-headed criminal seems about to drop like a rotten and withered branch into the flames of hell, He can pluck the fire-scathed brand from the burning, and exalt the saved sinner to a place in his kingdom and a throne by his side. An idolatrous and bloody Manasseh, an adulterous and murderous David, a cowardly and backsliding Peter, a blaspheming and persecuting Saul, he was able to save 'at their uttermost.' A crucified thief he took with him, 'at his uttermost,' into paradise. Corinthians who were debased by every vice-unrighteous, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners'-he washed in his blood, sanctified through his Spirit, justified by his righteousness. And all these are set forth as proofs, pledges, patterns, of his long-suffering to forbear, his willingness to forgive, his power to redeem. So long as there are in this world sinners to save, there is a Christ to save them; for as his life in heaven can have no end, so his office of High Priest admits of no interruption, and his ability to save of no decay. Is there a sinner reading these pages who can be beyond Christ's uttermost?
And as he died on earth to make atonement, so he lives in heaven to make intercession. when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.' mediation for man in the world of glory is effected through his perpetual and prevalent intercession at God's right hand-an intercession based upon the perfection of the work which he accomplished here below. As the high priest under the law, who was the mediator of the old covenant, went in before Jehovah in behalf of the people, but not without blood, bearing on his breastplate the names of the twelve tribes of Israel;-in like manner, Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, appears continually in the presence of God for us, presenting before the throne the blood of the covenant shed for the remission of sins, and bearing on his heart and on his shoulder the names of his people-on his shoulder that he may
sustain them by his power, on his heart that he may bless them with his love. Whether he needs to mediate for them by express words is a use-He that cometh from above is above all,' John
less inquiry. The blood of Abel had no audible voice, any more than the spheres in the firmament, which nevertheless speak the Maker's praise to men of every tongue. Abel's blood had a voice, and so has the blood of Christ. But it speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. The blood of Abel cried loud for vengeance; the blood of the Lamb slain, seen in the midst of the throne, gently whispers peace. This is the true Israel, who as a Prince hath power with God and with man, and prevails.
IT is of the utmost consequence, that we entertain correct and scriptural views of the person of Christ the Mediator. Now his forerunner, John, here solemnly testifies to the great and essential difference that existed between himself and the Master, in that, while he, like all former divine messengers, was of the 'earth, earthy,' Christ was from heaven above, and coming as the Lord from heaven, is above all.'
Mark here the recognition of a distinction of But if it be a blessed truth that there is a natures in Christ; for the words seem clearly Mediator between us and our offended Sovereign, to imply that he possesses another nature belet it be deeply impressed upon our minds that sides his human. And the same idea is confirmed there is but one. This necessarily results from by a variety of other passages, where there the fact of there being but one God, with whom is no express assertion of his Supreme divinity. we have to do. As he is the infinite and un-What and if ye should see the Son of Man changeable, there is but one sacrifice can meet ascend up where he was before? I went out the demands of his perfect law; there is but one from the Father, and am come unto the world; Intercessor who, upon the plea of that sacrifice, again I leave the world, and go unto the Father. can propitiate his favour. Every saint, however No one hath ascended up to heaven, save he who holy, is a sinner saved by grace; every seraph, came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, however exalted, is but a servant fulfilling his who is in heaven.' To denote his possession of a own appointed work. Other foundation for ac- nature superior to the human, is he not often exceptance can no man lay, save that which is laid, pressly distinguished from men? 'Paul an aposwhich is Christ Jesus. His is the only name tle not of man nor by men, but by Jesus Christ. given under heaven among men whereby (if we 'Not as pleasing men, but as the servants of are to be saved at all) we must be saved. 'I Christ?' 'The law maketh men high priests, but am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man the word of the oath maketh the Son.' What cometh unto the Father but by me.' mystery, indeed, could there have been in the 'Word being manifest in flesh,' unless it was the manifestation of a higher nature than that of mere man—a nature till then invisible?
Rejoice, O Christian! in your having such an advocate with the Father, as Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who urges your suit at the court of heaven in the form of a man, and with the feelings of a brother. Yes! the Mediator is the man Christ Jesus. Men as they rise in honour and power too often lose the recollections and forsake the friendships of their humbler days. But though Jesus the Son of God hath passed into the heavens, we have not there a High Priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but one who feels with us and careth for us. Does Christ live for you in heaven, and ought not you to live for him on earth? Does he represent you before God? And should not you, in your humble sphere, seek to represent him among men? Does he stand and plead your cause with God? And will not you stand up for him before the evildoers, and plead his cause with the workers of iniquity?
But the Baptist here further asserts the preexistence of Christ, or that his superior nature had a being before his appearance in our world. The same sentiment had previously been uttered by John when he said: 'He that cometh after me is preferred before me, (or goes before me) for he was before me.' Witness, too, Christ's own remarkable declaration to the Jews: 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.' Even if that does not imply self-existence, it must certainly denote an existence prior to that of Abraham; for this was the proof which he adduced of his being 'greater than Abraham,' and so the Jews understood him, nor did he contradict the inference they drew from it.
It is farther intimated here, that this higher, invisible, pre-existent nature of the Christ, had its abode in heaven; and lest we might suppose that it was an angelic nature, other passages assure us that it was not the nature of angels, but
a nature far superior to theirs. In describing his incarnation it is said, 'He took not on him the nature of angels,' i. e. the new nature he assumed was not that of angels; the angelic was not his former superior nature, nor was it the inferior nature which he afterwards assumed. Angels, as their name imports, are only messengers or servants; and the Almighty employs, in that capacity, even inanimate creatures, making the winds his messengers, and the flaming fire his ministers.' But unto which of the angels saith he at any time, "Thou art my Son. Sit thou at my right hand!' Unto which of the angels saith he not, 'Let all the angels of God worship Him!'
'He that cometh from above is above all,' because he was before all. He had an existence prior to the foundation of the world. In the beginning was the Word,' even in that beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. He had a glory with the Father before the world was, for the Father loved him before the foundation of the world. The same was in the beginning with God;' he was 'before all things.' These declarations, if they do not explicitly assert his existence from eternity, seem necessarily to imply it; and it is elsewhere set forth in terms as plain and distinct as can be furnished by the language of man. He is that Eternal Life that was with the Father and was manifested unto us.' To him the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews applies the sublime description of the psalmist: "Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands,' (there is the past eternity). "They shall perish, but thou endurest-thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail,' (there is the eternity to come). How is the eternal, independent, necessary self-existence of God the Father set forth in the book of Revelation? By language which is elsewhere in the same book applied to the Lord Jesus Christ: 'I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last.' Connecting all these proofs together, can we now err in acknowledging, that he who came from above is above all, seeing that he is God over all, blessed for ever? Amen.
How consoling to the Christian to know, that his Lord and Saviour came from above!' Did he reveal the character of God? He had been in his bosom from eternity. Did he make known the bliss of heaven? It had been his eternal home. On the other hand, how much does this consideration enhance the responsibility and aggravate the guilt of those who reject him! He is the Lord from heaven!' 'See then that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped
not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.'
'That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father,' John v. 23.
WE have seen the plain testimony of scripture as to a distinction of natures in Christ—the one human, the other superior to the nature of man, superior to the nature of angels-a nature which existed before his manifestation in flesh, yea, before the foundation of the world, even from all eternity. But, in addition to this, the bible contains many intimations, more or less direct, of his true and proper divinity.
How is the Supreme God known and acknowledged by his rational creatures? Is it not by the perfections of his character, and the names that are consequently given to him? Is it not by the works of his hand, and the worship that is consequently paid to him.
Is omnipotence, or the power of doing every thing that seemeth to him good, an essential attribute of Jehovah? Jesus is the Mighty God.' In nothing is the 'exceeding greatness' of the divine power more signally exhibited than in raising the dead. Yet he had power to lay down his own life, and he had power to take it again; and he will raise and change the vile bodies of his saints, and fashion them like unto his glorious body, according to the energy whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Is omnipresence a necessary perfection of the divinity, no less than underived eternal self-existence? Christ's ability to show himself everywhere present is asserted in terms as express as those which the Old Testament had employed in reference to the God of Israel. By Jehovah it was promised: In all places where I record my name I will come unto you, and I will bless you.' And by the Saviour it is promised: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' The same perfection is involved in his omniscience, or the prerogative of knowing all things. Every circumstance in human character and human conduct lies naked and open before him. He knew all men, and needed not that any man should testify to him of man; for he knew what was in man.' He knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who he was that should betray