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grace and salvation, said in the passage last quoted to be given, is called ' eternal life,' and is declared to be promised before the world began.' The existence of the church, the eternal life of its members, and the grace by which that life is attained, were all“ promised before the world began ;' promised, I apprehend, in the covenant which we have been contemplating; and, plainly, an essential part of the providential system relating immediately to the inhabitants of this world.
2. The salvation of the righteous is certain.
If the salvation of the righteous was an original and essential part of the providential system; if it was contemplated, purposed, and resolved on; if it was promised to Christ, as the reward of his labours and sufferings; if it was the condition on the part of the Father in a covenant with the Son; then it is perfectly evident, that it cannot fail; but will certainly be accomplished. The language of God on this subject is, · My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.'
As the salvation of the church is thus certain, the salvation of every righteous man is for the same reason equally certain. Every righteous man is a part of the church; one of the many thus promised to Christ in the covenant of redemption, and assured of the certain attainment of eternal life by the unchangeable promise of God. Let no such man indulge a moment's apprehension that he shall be forgotten of God, either in this life, or in death, or at the resurrection, or at the judgment, or at the final entrance of the church into heaven. He who has given a cup of cold water to a disciple, in the name of a disciple;' he who has consecrated' two mites' to the service of God; he who has willingly befriended the least of Christ's brethren,' is absolutely certain of his reward.
3. We are taught by this doctrine, that the mediation of Christ furnishes a complete foundation for our acceptance with God.
The mediation of Christ was the condition of our acceptance which God himself proposed, and proceeding from his own good pleasure. It was therefore, originally and absolutely pleasing to him. He is the same yesterday, to-day and for
ever. It will, of course, be always and equally pleasing. We are not, therefore, left to the necessity of debating, or even inquiring, whether the satisfaction of Christ is sufficient for all men ? that is, whether there is a quantum of merit, mathematically estimated, on which every man may rely, because it is so great, as to rise to any definite or supposed limit. Independently of all discussions of this nature, every man is assured that, if he is interested in this covenant by becoming one of the seed,' or followers, of Christ, by possessing that
knowledge' or faith which is the condition of justification; he will certainly also be accepted of God, as being one of those whom this promise included.
The number and the greatness of the sins committed by any man, and the degree of guilt which he has accumulated, however discouraging or overwhelming it may prove in the hour of deep contrition, ought in no wise to persuade the penitent to doubt, even for a moment, of the sufficiency of Christ as an expiation for him. One sin only is mentioned in the Scriptures as admitting of no atonement : viz. blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Others are indeed exhibited as peculiarly dangerous, because, acquiring peculiar strength by habit, they conduct men, with few exceptions, to final impenitence and immoveable hardness of heart. But none of these is declared to be in itself beyond the reach of forgiveness. For the sin against the Holy Ghost repentance never existed. He, therefore, who has good reason to believe that he is the subject of faith in the Redeemer, and repentance towards God, has equal reason to believe that his sins are blotted out, and his soul accepted through the atonement of Christ, sufficient for him, and for all others who are like him
With the same confidence may the anxious, trembling sinner rely on the same righteousness as the ground of his own future acceptance with God. The language of God on this subject is, ' Him that cometh unto me,' that is, in this manner, • will I in no wise cast out. The sole concern of every ner ought, therefore, to be the attainment of this evangelical character; the very thing which is intended by coming to God; and not curious inquiries, nor anxious doubts, concerning a point so easily settled in this manner, and so clearly decided by the Scriptures.
AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, WHAT THINGS? AND THEY SAID UNTO
HIM, CONCERNING JESUS OF NAZARETH, WHO WAS A PROPHET, MIGHTY IN DEED AND WORD, BEFORE GOD, AND ALL THE PEOPLE.
LUKE XXIV, 19.
In the preceding Discourse I considered, at some length, the Covenant of Redemption. In the terms of this covenant, I observed, was contained the substance of Christ's employinent, as the Mediator between God and man, and the reward which he was to receive in this character. By the substance of his employment, I intend the things which he did and suffered, alike, while in the execution of the mediatorial office. These things naturally follow the Covenant of Redemption, in a system of theology, and therefore naturally demand our next examination.
In the Scriptures, Christ is frequently spoken of as the Prophet, Priest, and King of mankind. This distribution of his mediatorial character into three great and distinguishing parts is, undoubtedly, the most proper which can be made; and is amply authorized by the Spirit of God. It will, therefore, be followed in these Discourses.
The first, and at the same time the most remarkable, designation of the Redeemer as a Prophet, is found in the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy. In the 15th verse, Moses says to
the Israelites : • The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. This promise, we learn from the verses immediately following, was given to the Israelites, in answer to their petition, at the foot of Mount Horeb : “Let us not bear again the voice of the Lord our God, neither let us see this great fire any more, that we die not.' In answer to this petition, the Lord said unto Moses: They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.'
In this very remarkable prediction we are taught,
(1.) That a Prophet should, at some subsequent period, be raised up in the Jewish church, and of that nation, who should be like unto Moses ; that is, one who, like Moses, introduced a new dispensation, to stand in the place of the Mosaic; as that, at the time of this prophecy, was introduced into the place of the patriarchal dispensation. In the last chapter of Deuteronomy, written, not improbably, by several hands, and closed perhaps by Ezra, it is said, “There arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses.' If this was really written by Ezra, it is a direct testimony, that the Prophet marked out in this prediction, did not arise until after the captivity. In John i. 19–21, we are informed, that the Jews, to wit, the Sanhedrim, to whom belonged the right of inquiring into the authority and commissions of prophets, sent a solemn delegation to John the Baptist, to demand of him an account of his character. They first asked him, particularly, * Art thou Elias ?' and, upon his answering in the negative, asked him again, Art thou that Prophet?'—ó tpoonins; The Prophet, by way of eminence. In John vi. 14, the five thousand Jews whom Christ fed with five loaves and two fishes, under the strong impression of that wonderful miracle said concerning Christ, * This is of a truth that Prophet, that should come into the world. In John vii. 40, we are told, that the multitude of the Jews in the temple, after hearing the discourses of Christ recorded in this chapter, said, 'Of a truth, this is the Prophet.'
The first of these passages assures us that, in the judgment of the Sanhedrim, the Prophet foretold by Moses, who was to be like unto him,' had not arisen when John the Baptist began to preach : and the two last assure us of the same fact, according to the judgment of the people at large. Of course, it is fairly presumed to have been the belief of every preceding age. The two last passages also teach us, that Christ appeared in a character so like that of the expected Prophet, as to be repeatedly' acknowledged in this character by the Jewish people.
(2.) This Prophet was to appear with a divine commission, as an inspired teacher from God: 'I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I command him.'
(3.) His appearance was to be such, as not to alarm or terrify the people of the Jews.
This is evident from the fact, that he was promised in answer to a petition of that people, in which they requested that they might no more hear the awful voice of God, nor see the fire by which Mount Sinai was surrounded. God, approving of the request, answers, that he will raise them up a Prophet from the midst of them ;' one who should be of their brethren;' one, of course, who was to be like themselves ; a man, conversing with them, as friend with friend; who should not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets ;'* but who should be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to preach good tidings to the meek; and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,' + with the still, small voice' of wisdom, truth, and righteousness.
From these things it is evident, that no other prophet sustained all these characteristics but Christ, even his ' enemies themselves being the judges.' That Christ sustains them all is unanswerably certain ; particularly, that he wrought' mighty signs and wonders,' and that he was known of God face to face. St. Peter, in his sermon to the Jews, Acts, iii. has, by directly applying this prophecy to Christ, assured us, that he was the prophet inteuded, and therefore precluded the necessity of any farther inquiry.
In the text, the same character is attributed to him by Cleo