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and that at the last day, when he shall come again with power and great glory to judge the world, we may be found the righteousness of God in him who loved us, and gave himself for us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God, even his Father. To whom, in the unity of the eternal Godhead, be glory and praise now and for ever !
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man CHRIST
From the nature of God and the actual condition of the world, it would be utterly impossible, without further information, to deduce the reasonableness, the obligation, or the advantage of any religious duty whatever, on the part of man towards his Maker. That the perfections of Almighty God are all absolute, and without any limitation, deficiency, or qualification whatever, is one of those original, self-evident truths, which are independent of all proof and admit of no more question than the existence and necessary attributes of the Supreme Moral Governor of the Universe. That the condition of man is the very reverse of this is equally evident, from our experience of ourselves and from what observation teaches us of others. Hence, as there can be no point of union between perfection and imperfection in the parties themselves, the claims of natural religion, as it is called, are totally groundless, and all arguments founded on such an assumption are mere nullities, because the thing itself never did and never can exist.
If man is now what his Maker originally created him, and acting now in his every day conduct according to the law at first impressed upon his nature, which must be the case if he has never swerved from God, then he is a guiltless creature, and nothing more or better can be required of him, even by infinite justice. But if this is not the case, if by the common consent of natural reason, and by the higher authority of heavenly revelation, he is shown to be a fallen creature, departed from his original character, separated, in consequence, from God
his Maker, with broken faculties and depraved affections, then is he at once a guilty and a powerless being, without a shadow of help in himself to alter or amend this miserable state, to propitiate God, or to render him any acceptable, much less rewardable service. Hence, if religion has any claims upon us at all, it must be upon the principle set forth in my text; it must be upon this demonstrable position—that if there be a point of union between God as he is and man as he is, it must be found in some third person, whose qualifications are such as fully to meet the claims and demands of the one, and the wants and necessities of the other of the two parties to this awful controversy.
Irrefragable as this position is from the plainest principles of reason, it is, happily, my brethren, put beyond all dispute by the whole structure of the religion we profess, whose fundamental doctrines are the fall and depravation of man by sin, and his recovery by and through a mediator between God and man.
That we should have right views on this subject is, therefore, of the highest importance; because all application on our part to God, either to obtain his favour or to deprecate his wrath, must spring from these two sources; first, a sense of want and exposure on our part ; secondly, some well grounded hope that God is placable and may be sought unto.
Deprive mankind of either of these, I care not which, and you deprive them of all religious motive, obligation, help, and hope. And in proportion as these doctrines are realized in the just extent of their application, or neutralized and perverted by the natural enmity of the carnal mind to their bumbling, yet saving efficacy, will the fruits of genuine religion or counterfeit Christianity be visible. Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. No man cometh to the Father but by me, says our Lord, and I am yet to learn where or how fallen man can obtain any knowledge of God as a GoD of mercy, unconnected with Jesus Christ as the procuring cause of that pardon, grace, and eternal life which is offered to a world of sinners, through faith in his only saving name.
Let us then, my brethren, endeavour to obtain clear and settled views on this most influential subject, that we may be guarded alike from entertaining a hope for which we can render no satisfactory reason, or from trusting to an expectation whose foundation is laid in the sand.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. In furtherance of this object, I will consider,
the First, the nature of our Lord's mediatorial office. SECONDLY, the suitableness of the person appointed.
THIRDLY, our duty and privilege under this provision of the love of God our Saviour.
1. First, the nature of our Lord's mediatorial office.
A mediator, as the word itself implies, means one who interposes between persons at variance, who uses influence of any kind to reconcile and restore to friendly intercourse those who are separated from each other. The office which the Lord Jesus Christ sustains, therefore, is of this kind, and from the condition of human nature, must be in continual operation, that sis, must be exercised so long as any variance shall continue between God and men. Hence we read, that he ever liveth to make intercession for us.
It is, however, by considering the cause and the consequences of the rupture and separation between God and his creature, that we shall best understand and appreciate this relation in which the man Jesus Christ is presented to us.
The cause, then, was sin, manifested by the transgression of an express command of God by our first parents, the representatives of the whole human race; and the consequences were, the loss of God's favour, exclusion from his presence, spiritual death, and exposure to all the penalties previously denounced against disobedience by the law which was broken ; and these effects followed, not singly to the first transgressors, but as they were spared by the mediation of the Son of God, and reprieved from the immediate execution of the sentence, to us also, their descendants. Here I would digress for a moment, my hearers, to obviate a very common ground of objection and unbelief, in considering it unjust to extend these consequences to the unoffending offspring of the first sinners. This, however, as well as all other unbelief, proceeds from not duly considering the subject. As our first parents, on their trial, stood for their posterity as well as for themselves, and we should have reaped the blessed effects of their faithfulness had they withstood the temptation, the justice of God stands clear of all imputation in our sharing in and suffering under the consequences of their sin. As a fallen sinner, we read, that Adam begat a son in his own likeness, as an obedient believer the event would in like manner have corresponded with his condition.
Sin having thus entered into that new created world, which its Almighty Maker pronounced very good, and the consequences denounced against it being inevitable from the truth and justice of JEHOVAH, we have but to ask ourselves, what belp or means there was with the sinner himself to avoid or escape from the curse, to enable us to form some just and proper notion of the mediatorial office of our ever blessed Redeemer.
For in the first place, the justice of God demanded, inexorably, that full satisfaction should be made to the broken law; but this involved the personal destruction of the offender by the suffering of death, and by consequence precluded all exercise of mercy. A substitute, therefore, must be found equal to the extent of this demand, to suffering and overcoming the death denounced against sin. And this substitute presented himself for us in the only begotten Son of God, who took our nature upon him, that through death he might destroy death, and him that had the power of it.
Secondly, sin itself, as that which God abhors, and upon which the purity and holiness of his nature cannot look with the least degree of allowance, was to be put away and banished for ever from the presence of God. But what sinner can undo his own sin as an offence against God? The means for this also were to be found in another, and that other was found in the same Son of God, who afterwards became the man CHRIST Jesus, who for us men and for ou salvation came down from heaven ; who put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, who undertook to bring in everlasting righteousness, and is now carrying on and will finally accomplish this mighty and glorious work, in that new heaven and new earth wherein righteousness shall dwell for ever, while death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire.