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“ took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses, Matth.
viii. 17.: and was in all points tempted as we are, yet “ without sin;" Heb. iv. 15.
“ As the children are par“ takers of flesh and blood, he also, himself, likewise '" took part of the same;" Heb. ii. 14.
« In the fulness " of time, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman;" Gal. iv. Many are the mistakes of mortals, and wide the extremes into which mistaken mortals run! Some have rashly ventured to deny our Lord's divinity: some -have wildly and fancifully explained away his humanity: but may we, through grace, abide by the Scriptural truth, and be directed in the midst of the path of judgement.
From this mystical union of the divine and human nature in one person, the Scriptures speak of him, thirdly, under the character of a Mediator, the “one " Mediator between God and man." To this idea the names Jesus Christ, which are as ointment poured forth, direct us in their original import. The former, which signifies the Saviour, pointing out the success and efficacy of his undertaking; the latter, which is the same with Messiah, or the Anointed, expressing both his divine appointment thereto, and the complete supply of all grace and power, wherewith he was filled for the discharge of it. Thus much for the person spoken of.
We proceed, in the next place, to consider the design of his appearance in the world,“ to save sinners.” And as the idea of deliverance presupposes a state of distress, it will be necessary previously to inquire into the condition of those whom he came to save; which is indeed emphatically implied in the appellation given them, sinners. Man having broken that law under which he was created, and with which his happiness was closely connected, fell under accumulated rúin. The image of God, in which he was formed, was defaced, and a far
different image set up in his heart, even of him who had seduced him from his allegiance; darkness in the understanding, rebellion in the will, sensuality in the affections; the justice of God threatening a penalty he could neither satisfy nor sustain; the commandments of God still challenging an obedience he had no longer any power to yield. The very gifts and bounties of God, with which he was encompassed, designed not only for his comfort, but his instruction, to lead him, as by so many steps, to their gracious Author, became eventually the occasions of withdrawing him farther from his duty, and increasing, as well as aggravating, his ingratitude. Thus stood man towards his Maker. With regard to his fellowcreatures, self-love and inordinate desires having raised a variety of interfering interests in the breasts of all, peace withdrew from the earth. Every man's heart and hand was set against his neighbour; and violence, rage, envy, and confusion, overspread the world. Nor could he be easier in himself; hurried by restless desires towards things either unsatisfying or unattainable, haunted with cares, tortured with pains, tired with opposition, shocked with disappointment; conscience, like the hand that appeared in Belshazzar's feast, Daniel, v. writing bitter things against him, when outward circumstances allowed a short repose; and vanity, like a worm, destroying the root of every flower that promised the fairest bloom of success. Behold a few outlines of the picture of fallen man! Miserable in his life, more miserable in the continual dread of losing such a life, miserable, most of all, that neither his fancy can feign, nor his fear conceive, the consequences of the death he dreads; which will introduce him to the immediate presence, to the tribunal, of an incensed, almighty, ever-living God!
Such was the state from which Jesus Christ came to
He came to restore us to the favour of God; to reconcile us to ourselves, and to each other; to give us peace and joy in life, hope and triumph in death, and after death glory, honour, and immortality. For he came, not merely to repair, and to restore, but to exalt; not only “ that we might have life,” the life we had forfeited, but “that we might have it more abundantly,” John, X.; that our happiness might be more exalted, our title more firm, and our possession more secure, than the state of Adam in Paradise could boast, or than his posterity could have attained unto, if he had continued unsinning upon the tenour of the first covenant.
Now, could we suppose it possible, that a set of innocent beings, without any default of their own, had sunk into a state of misery, we must confess it would have been great grace and favour in the Lord Jesus to save them. But let us not forget the stress laid in the text upon the word sinners. He came to saye, not the unfortunate, but the ungodly; Rom. v. How then should every heart glow with love to him, who hath thus loved us! If any of us can hear or speak of this subject with indifference or disgust, it is to be feared we are quite strangers to the nature, or the necessity, of that salvation with which God has graciously visited his people. Let us no more uşurp the sacred words of genes, rosity, sensibility, or gratitude, if this astonishing instance of divine goodness leaves us cold and unimpress, ed; especially if to this we join the consideration of the third point I proposed to speak of, By what means Jesus Christ effected this salvation for sinners.
In the passage before us, it is only said, that he came into the world on this account; which teaches us, this was the sole design of his advent; and that, coming on set purpose for this, he would leave nothing undone that
was necessary to accomplish it. He emptied himself of that divine glory and honour he possessed with the Father from eternity. “ He bowed the heavens and
down” to our earth; and that not with an external glory, as a celestial messenger, to constrain the attention and homage of mankind, " but was made of a woman, Gal. iv.; not of high and noble extraction in the judgement of men, “ but in the form of a servant;" born in a stable, laid in a manger, brought up in an obscure and contemptible place, and reputed no higher than the son of a carpenter. “ He was despised and rejected “ of men: there was no form or comeliness in him," Isa, liii., to attract a general regard: on the contrary," he came to his
to his own, and his own received him not,” John, i. Farther, as he was made of a woman,“ he was made under “the law;" the one in order to the other; for this was the way divine wisdom had appointed, and which divine justice required, to make salvation possible to sinners. Eternal truth had pronounced tribulation, wrath, and anguish, upon every soul of man that doth evil. All men, in every age and place, “had corrupted their ways “before God;" yet his mercy had designed, “ that where “sin had abounded, grace should much more abound,” Rom. viii. Jesus Christ was the grand expedient, in wliom“ mercy and truth met together," Psalm, lxxxv. and the inflexible righteousness of God was brought to correspond and harmonize with the peace of sinful man. That justice might be satisfied, truth vindicated, and sinners saved, “ God so loved a lost world,” that, when no inferior means could avail, when none in heaven or earth were willing, or worthy, or able, to interpose," he
gave his only-begotten Son,” John, iii. Jesus Christ, the brightness of the Father's glory, and express image
so loved the world,” that he assumed
of his person,
our nature, undertook our cause, bore our sins, sustained our deserved punishment; and, having done and suffered all that the case required, he is now gone before, "to
prepare a place,” John, xiv. for all that believe in him and obey him. Man lay under a double incapacity for happiness; he could neither keep the law of God in future, nor satisfy for his past breach and contempt of it. To obviate the former, Jesus Christ performed a perfect unsinning obedience in our stead. To remove the latter, he became “the propitiation of our sins;" yielded up his life as a prey into the hands of murderers, and poured forth his precious blood, in drops of sweat in the garden, in streams from his side upon the cross. For this he endured the fiercest temptations of the devil, the scorn, rage, and malice of men, and drank the bitter cup of the wrath of God, when it pleased the Father to bruise him, and make his soul an offering for sin. His love carried him through all; and when he had finally overcome the sharpness of death, he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. In few words, he lived and died for us when upon earth; nor is he unmindful of us in heaven, but lives and intercedes on our behalf. He continually executes the offices of prophet, priest, and king, to his people; instructing them by his word and Spirit; presenting their persons and prayers, acceptable to God through his merits; defending them, by his power, from all their enemies, ghostly and bodily; and ordering, by his providence, all things to work together for their good, till at length they are brought home, to be with him where he is, and to behold his glory.
II. From what has been said, we may justly infer, in the first place, that “this is," as the apostle styles it, “ a faithful saying." When man first fell, God, “ in the midst of judgement remembering mercy,"