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understand the energy of the question, “ What “shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?"
This shews us the importance of our Lord's exhortation, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and “ his righteousness.” Admission into that kingdom, which God has set up among men by the gospel of his Son, the privileges of which consist in “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy “ Ghost;" the holiness and blessings of that kingdom for ourselves; and the peace, prosperity, and enlargement of it in the world ; should be sought by diligence in all appointed means, as our grand objects, with the first and best of our time and affections, in preference to all other things, and with a willingness to venture, or part with, whatever comes in competition with them; even if that should be our estates, liberty, friends, or life itself. We are not even allowed to “ fear them who can “ only kill the body, and after that have no more “ that they can do ;" when this would lead us to incur the displeasure of the Almighty, “who is “ able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” A proper attention to our worldly business and in- . terests is a part of our duty to God, to his church, to the community, and to our families : every thing lawful and expedient may thus be rendered subservient to our grand object: and all things needful will be " added to us.' But men are ruined by reversing this order, and seeking first “ the “ world, and the things that are in the world,” namely, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, “ and the pride of life.”
Even where gross vices and open ungodliness are avoided, how greatly are persons of all ranks,
endowments, and professions, “careful and trou“ bled about many things; instead of attending simply and diligently to the “one thing needful,” and decidedly “choosing that good part which « could never be taken from them!” Men's thoughts, contrivances, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, maxims, wisdom, assiduity, and conversation, are almost wholly engrossed by the perishing vexatious trifles of time. Every vague, strange, and uninteresting report is more attended to than “ the glad tidings of salvation ;" every science is deemed better worth cultivating than the knowledge of God; every question is thought sufficiently important to set the ingenuity of men at work, to give it a satisfactory answer, except it be inquired, “ What must we do to be saved?” Such topics as this excite only astonishment, disgust, and a short silence, till some more congenial subject is started! If a man profess to teach the way to health, to riches, to the enjoyment of life, or how to appear to advantage in company ; assiduous attention and liberal compensation will not be withheld: but they who would instruct men in the way of eternal life must not expect great or general regard, even when they desire no other recompense.
But time and room would fail should we attempt to enumerate the proofs of man's folly and madness, in this respect. Even the very messages of God, respecting judgment, eternity, and the great salvation of the gospel, instead of meeting with a serious regard, are frequently set to music, and profanely employed to vary the species of pleasurable dissipation! Nay, they are often
preached out of ostentation, avarice, envy, or strife; heard as a matter of curiosity or amusement; or contended for in pride, virulence, and furious anger! The grand business of most men seems to be, to avoid the burden of reflection; to cause time to glide away as imperceptibly as possible: and so, apparently, to shorten the span allotted them to prepare for eternity! Well might the Psalmist then say, “Rivers of water run down “mine eyes, because men keep not thy law.” But, o ye giddy sons and daughters of Adam! what will
you think of your present pursuits, when death shall summou you to God's tribunal? What will then your riches, pleasures, decorations, elegancies, honours, or dignities avail you? What comfort will the knowledge of all languages, and arts, and sciences then afford ? What will you think of your present anxious cares, covetings, envyings, repinings, and disputes ; when “the night cometh « in which no man can work ?” “ Seek,” then, “ the Lord while he
be found, call upon him so while he is near : let the wicked forsake his way " and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let « him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy
upon him; and to our God, for he will abun “dantly pardon."
ON THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
The doctrine of a Mediator, through whom a just and holy God deals mercifully with believers, is the grand peculiarity of revelation : it must therefore be of the greatest importance for us to form a proper estimate of the personal dignity of this Mediator. The doctrine, which I shall here attempt to establish from scripture, may be thus stated : · That Jesus Christ is truly and really God, one with and equal to the Father ; being from eternity possessed of all divine perfections, and justly entitled to all divine honours ; yet personally distinct from the Father, and so called “his own Son,” and “ his only begotten Son.” But that, in order to the performances of his mediatorial office, he assumed our nature into personal union with the Deity; and became one with us, truly man, like us in all things, sin alone excepted : and that he is thus God and
man in one mysterious incomprehensible
person; so that “all the fulness of the God“head dwells in him bodily.”
No argument can properly be brought against the doctrine of our Lord's essential Deity, as here stated; from those scriptures which speak of his human nature, his mediatorial office, or his inferiority to the Father in both these respects : for our doctrine implies this, and even absolutely requires it. We need not therefore insist on this part of the
subject. It is generally allowed by all, except deists and atheists, that “ Christ is come in the “ flesh ;" though numbers contend that he could not have come in any other way; and others deem him a mere creature, though of a supra-angelic nature; and maintain that he is called God only in consequence of his mediatorial exaltation. But the idea of a creature, however exalted, being advanced to divinity is so repugnant to all rational principles, as well as to the declarations of Jehovah that “ he knows no God besides himself, and will “ not give his glory to another,” that it will not be necessary to discuss the subject before us with any particular reference to these distinct opinions. It will fully answer the purpose, if we can evince that our Redeemer is by nature “God over all, “ blessed for evermore. At present I shall adduce a few select arguments in direct proof of this point? leaving some other things that belong to the subject, to be considered in the next Essay.
I. The reader will naturally turn his thoughts to those scriptures in which Jesus Christ is expressly called God and Lord. “ Without controversy,” says the apostle, great is the mystery of godli
ness, God was manifest in the flesh.” He allows that the doctrine which he advanced was very mysterious, and that this could not be controverted or denied : but he seems to glory in it on that very account, because he considered it as “ THE GREAT MYSTERY OF GODLINESS.
therefore be sure, that they who would so interpret the words as to render his doctrine scarcely mysterious at all,
11 Tim. ii. 16.