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(Concluded from page 17.)
Bur before we attend to the application of Christ's righteousness to us, it is necessary to obviate an inconsistent consequence drawn, by many, from the above conclusion, viz. that if Christ has made full atonement for the sins of the whole world, then all mankind will be saved. This consequence rests altogether on the absurd idea, that the payment of a debt entitles to a reward: Whereas Christ teaches, that when we have suffered the penalty and done all the law requires, we are unprofitable servants, we have done but our duty. As our surety Christ has paid our debt, both of passive and active righteousness, but he has done no more. He neither loved nor served God more than he ought, therefore, in the eye of law, is an unprofitable servant, he has done but his duty; and can claim no more for us than an exemption from the demands of the first covenant. By obtain. ing our discharge, he opened a way for God to bring in another "Covenant, established on better promises: Wherefore," said the apostle, ye are dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who was raised from the dead." Though the death of Christ brought in universal redemption from the penalty of the first covenant, yet, it gives no claim to gospel salvation for any one. It merely opened a
way for God to offer salvation in a new and better covenant. The law as a covenant of life, has become as a dead husband to us, by the death of Christ, that we may be united to him in this new covenant, as the only way of salvation; but we have no right to his interest, the inher. itance of heaven, until we be married to him in the second covenant. To that we must look for every good, for time and eterty. If we fulfil the condition of this covenant we shall be safe, otherwise, we must abide the con. sequences of disobedience.
Having stated the demands of law on us, as fallen creatures ; and showed that Christ, in our nature and as our covenant head, has answered these demands and delivered us from the law, as a covenant of life, and by his obě. dience, attained to its righteous. ness, we now proceed to inquire, how his righteousness applies to us unto justification of life.
We have no occasion for fine spun, metaphysical arguments on this subject. It is sufficient for my purpose to observe, that our loss and recovery were in the way of a covenant transaction, through a constituted publie head.
While our first parents were the whole of human kind, and as such, the natural and necessary representatives of their future generations, God was pleased graciously to covenant with Adam that if he would faith.
fully do his duty, or, even obey in one particular precept he should be established in life, happiness, and divine favor; that is, be entitled to the heavenly inheritance. But, in case he should eat of the forbidden fruit, dying he should die from father to son, from generation to generation, death temporal and eternal should be his portion.
In like manner, when Christ offered to redeem the forfeited inheritance, and to save that which was lost, by giving his life for the life of the world; the Father, in the covenant of redemption, accepted his offer, on condition, he would not only honor the law with his perfect obedience, as Adam ought to have done, but pay the penalty he inurred by disobedience; in which case, he further engaged to bring in another covenant on better promises than the first, by means of which, he should have a seed, a seed of promise, which should be counted to him for a generation, and to whom, the inheri tance should descend.
With this better covenant we are all concerned, and with this only for the first is taken away. In this, God covenants with man through Christ, to give eternal life to all who believe in Jesus. Faith in Christ, is the sole condition of this better covenant, which, we eminently style the couenant of grace. On this condi
tion the obedience of Christ is the ground of our justification by the law; and on the same condition his death is a standing expiatory sacrifice for the personal sins of every individual. But we may not separate what God has joined together. Christ's obedience and death constitute his right
eousness, as our sponsor, as explained above. Agreeably to which, God declares his righteousness for the remission of sins, that he may be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
Faith in Christ, is of infinite importance. In relation to our justification, it is that without which we cannot be saved. It will not, therefore, be amiss, just to mention here two or three characteristic marks of this faith. "Faith operates by love," not in and through, but by. Faith proceeds from love, as that by which alone it can act. As the waterwheel goes by water, so love to the person, character, and government of Christ, carries round the wheel of faith in all its various exercises. Love in proportion to its strength, produces trust and reliance on Christ, which are the very essence of faith. Hence arises another characteristic, viz. "faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." Trust and reliance rooted and grounded in love, realize and anticipate the promises: the believer is as confident of them, as if they were in actual posses. sion. This is followed by a characteristic-" Faith purifies the heart as God is pure." The more we love, trust, and confide in Christ, so much more shall we strive to be like him. Love assimilates the heart to the object of love. It is impossible it should be otherwise: hence we read that, "Beholding the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord,"
Such is that faith, which is the term of acceptance with God in the covenant of grace. It is a direct act of love and obedience; and expresses a right frame of of spirit. It is the spirit of Christ, and unites us to him, the true vine, as his spiritual branches; and as such, it is the appointed term of adoption into God's family, as heirs and coheirs with Christ, who is accepted and jus. tified: Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." Our faith, however, is not the proeuring cause of righteousness, nor does it work the righteousness of the law; but is that act, by which, we have spiritual and real union to Christ, both in the temper of our minds, and in a Covenant relation, and so, are one in him, as he and the Father are one. In virtue of this union, what Christ has done, as our sponsor or mystical head, we are accounted as doing. As is the vine, so are the branches. Is Christ justified, so are his members, "there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." Abiding and acting in him, we have his obedience accounted to us : It is the obedience of his mystic. al body. Accordingly, St. Paul says, "The law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." The law viewing the believer in Christ, sees no fault and acquits him, and the judge must pronounce sentence of justification.
To sum up the whole in a word, by a divine and gracious appoint ment, our faith constitutes us spiritual members of Christ. He, as federal head of fallen man, has,
by his obedience and death, attained to the righteousness of the law, and is justified. His justification, according to the cove nant of redemption between the Father and the Son, extends to all his spiritual members; therefore, all that are united to him by faith, are justified with him.
May we have grace, in all things, to adorn the doctrines of God our Savior, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.
ON THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST, NO. 9.
IV. CHRIS acknowledges the Father to be the only true God. John xvii. 3.
Answer. Since there is but one true God, each person in the godhead is that one only true God.
But it is not said that the Father only is the true God exclusively of the other persons the divine Trinity; nor will these words of Christ support us in saying so.
V. It is objected that Christ disclaims some perfections of the Supreme God. Now if he wants any perfection essential to the Deity, he is not God in the highest sense.
Answer. As we allow this consequence, so we think it may as justly be concluded, that if Christ has any perfection truly divine, then he is truly God, and does not want any essential perfection. And as we have endeavored to prove that divine perfections are ascribed to him, we will now consider whether any essential perfection is disclaimed by him, or denied to
him. I say, essential perfection of the Deity. For it is allowed that there are personal attributes, such as unbegotten, only begotten, &c. by which the divine persons are distinguished. But the essential attributes of Deity are, we conceive possessed by the Son of God. And we shall now consider what is urged to the contrary.
1. It is said that Christ dis. elaims omnipotency, when he says John v. 19, I can do noth. ing of myself. Surely this is Surely this is not the voice of a God, but of a
Answer. But he says also in the same verse "What things soever the Father doth, the same also doth the Son likewise." This I think is the voice of a God, and not of a mere man. He who
doth all things that the Father doth must be almighty. Besides, it has been shown that he is al. mighty both from his titles and his works.
When Christ says that he can do nothing of himself, his mean. ing may be that he does nothing of himself separately, without the concurrence and co-operation of the Father. They are united in operation, as well as in essence. Or rather, Christ here speaks as Mediator, an office which he holds and executes under the Father, and agreeably to his commandment. But his conde. scending to become the servant of God for our sakes is no evidence that he is not by nature God Almighty. As the Son of God, and Mediator, he received all from the Father. And it was fit, that what Christ received from the Father be ascribed to him, as the Fountain of all power and perfection.
It is objected that Christ disclaimed absolute goodness; re. buking the young man who call. ed him good master; adding, there is none good but one, that is God.
Answer. The words of Christ "Why callest thou me good," seem to have been spoken by way of inquiry, rather than rebuke, and to admonish him that, to call one absolutely good, was a higher expression of honor than was proper for a mere man, and that he should not have called him good master unless he meant to honor him as God. And if Christ had spoken in a way of reproof for his giving him a title, which properly belonged to God alone, kneeling before him in a worshipping posture, while he viewed him but as a mere man, I see not that this implies a disclaim. ing any divine perfections, though he would not receive idolatrous honors from one who believed him to be but a man.
It is also objected that Christ was not omniscient, and therefore was not God in the highest sense. For he owned that he knew not the day, or hour of his second coming, but that this was known to the Father only. Mark xiii. 32.
This seems to be one of the most considerable objections, that I have met with. And it has been supported and pressed with great acuteness and spirit. Let us see if this dignus vindice nodus can be untied.
Here let it be remembered, that it is testified of Christ, that he knew all things. knew all things. The apostles had told him so, nor did he intimate that this was their mistake. It is also certain that he has that knowledge, which qualifies him
to be the Governor and Judge of the world. He has that knowledge which according to the Scriptures is peculiar to God, oven the knowledge of the hearts of all the children of men. But what is alleged in the objection looks like a contradiction to it. How can these seeming contra. dictions be reconciled.
The common answer, (and I know no better) is to this effect, Christ being a true man as well as God, his human nature was subject to the imperfection of a finite being. His knowledge was limited. His human mind at that time knew not the day or hour of his coming. It was not then revealed to him as man. Though as God he knew all things, yet a human mind is not capable of omniscience. And the time of his coming, and the end of the world was not to be known by men, and so was not revealed to Christ as the prophet who was sent into the world to teach mankind. The knowledge which he had as teacher was such, as qualified him to execute this office according to the orders he had received. And he might truly say that as a man, instructed to teach his disciples the words of eternal life, he knew not what they inquired for.
But to this it is strenuously objected,
1. That this distinction of two natures is not intimated in these discourses of Christ.
I answer, The Scriptures testify that Christ is God, and that he is man. This is more than intimation, it is a plain proof that he has two distinct natures. If it is impossible for the same nature to be less than fifty years old, and yet older than Abra
ham, when Abraham had been long dead; if a mere man cannot at the same time be in distant places, in heaven and earth; if every thing could not be made by a mere man who had no existence till long after the world was created; if it is impossible, that a mere man should be God over all, blessed for ever, sustain the peculiar names, titles, and attributes of the Supreme Being, do those works which are pecular to him, and be the object of religious worship to angels and men, then Christ, of whom all these things are affirmed, had a nature distinct from the human. And it is in vain for any to say that this is a mere shift, a cunning invention of men.
2. It is objected, that Christ could not truly say that he knew not the day of judgment, if he knew it as God. For though we may affirm a thing of a person which belongs only to a part of him, yet we cannot truly deny any thing of a person, if it belong to any part of him.
I answer, Christ might truly say that he knew not the day of judgment, though as God he was omniscient, if this had not been revealed to his human understanding, and if it were sufficiently evident that he meant only to disclaim this knowledge in respect of his human mind. Expressions are true, if the intended meaning of them is true, and sufficiently obvious. And the intended meaning of language is often determined, not barely from the words separately taken, but from the words compared with the known character of the speaker, the subject to which they have relation, with other circumstances. Now supposing