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enemies, who are also ours, and completed the edification of his Church. And this is the true state of his kingdom, this the power which the Father hath conferred on him, till he completes the last act by coming to judge the living and the dead.
XVII. Christ gives his servants unequivocal tokens of the presence of his power: but because on earth his kingdom is in some measure concealed under the meanness of the flesh, faith is for a very good reason called to meditate on that visible presence which he will manifest at the last day. For he will descend from heaven in a visible form, in the same manner in which he was seen to ascend; (A) and will appear to all with the ineffable majesty of his kingdom, with the splendour of immortality, with the infinite power of Deity, and with a host of angels, (i) From thence therefore we are commanded to expect him as our Redeemer at the last day, when he will separate the sheep from the goats, the elect from the reprobate; and there will not be an individual of either the living or the dead, that can escape his judgment. For from the most remote corners of the world they will hear the sound of the trumpet, with which all mankind will be summoned to his tribunal, both those whom that day shall find alive, and those whom death shall previously have removed from the society of the living. There are some who understand the words quick, or living, and dead, in a different sense. And indeed we find that some of the Fathers hesitated respecting the exposition of this clause: but the sense we have given, being plain and clear, is far more consistent with the design of the Creed, which appears to have been composed for the common people. Nor is this repugnant to the assertion of the apostle, that "it is appointed unto men once to die." (i) For although they who shall survive in this mortal life till the last judgment, shall not die in a natural manner and order; yet that change, which they shall experience, since it will resemble death, may without impropriety be designated by that appellation. It is certain indeed that "all shall not sleep, but all shall be changed." (/) What is that? In one moment their mortal life will be extin.
(A) Acts i. 11. (i) Matt. xxiv. 30. Xxt. 31. 1 Thess. iv. 16,17.
(h) Heb. ix. 27. (/) 1 Cor. xv. 51.
guished and absorbed, and will be transformed into a nature entirely new. This extinction of the flesh no man can deny to be death. Nevertheless it remains a truth, that the living and the dead will be summoned to judgment; for "the dead in Christ shall rise first: then they which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." (w) And it is very probable that this article was taken from the sermon of Peter, (n) and from the solemn charge of Paul to Timothy, (o)
XVIII. It is a source of peculiar consolation to hear that he will preside at the judgment, who has already destined us to participate with himself the honour of sitting in judgment with him, so far will he be from ascending the tribunal to condemn us. For how could a most merciful prince destroy his own people? how could a head scatter his own members? how could an advocate condemn his own clients? For if the apostle ventures to exclaim, that no one can condemn us while Christ intercedes for us; (p) it is much more certain that Christ himself, our intercessor, will not condemn those whose cause he has undertaken, and whom he has engaged to support. Indeed, it is no inconsiderable security, that we shall stand before no other tribunal than that of our Redeemer, from whom we are to expect salvation; and that he, who by the gospel now promises eternal life, will at the judgment ratify and perform the promise which he has given. The design of the Father in honouring the Son by " committing all judgment to him," (y) was, that he might relieve the consciences of his people from all fear concerning the judgment. Thus far I have followed the order of the Apostles' Creed: because while it comprizes in a few words the principal points of redemption, it may serve to give us a distinct and separate view of those particulars respecting Christ which merit our attention. I style it the Apostles' Creed, but am not at all solicitous to know who was the composer of it. The ancient writers agree in ascribing it to the apostles; either from a belief that it was written and published by their common concurrence, or from an opinion that this compendium, being faithfully collected from
(«) 1 Thess. Iv. 16,17. (n) Acts x. 42. (o) 2 Tim. \v. 1.
(/>) Rom. viii. 34. (?) John v. 22.
the doctrine delivered by them, was worthy of being sanctioned by such a title. And whoever was the author of it, I have no doubt that it has been publicly and universally received as a confession of faith from the first origin of the Church, and even from the days of the apostles. Nor is it probable that it was composed by any private individual, since from time immemorial it has evidently been esteemed as of sacred authority by all the pious. But what we ought principally to regard, is beyond all controversy; that it comprehends a complete account of our faith in a concise and distinct order, and that every thing it contains is confirmed by decisive testimonies of Scripture. This being ascertained, it is of no use anxiously to inquire, or to contend with any one, respecting its author, unless it be not sufficient for any one to have the unerring truth of the Holy Spirit, without knowing either by whose mouth it was uttered, or by whose hand it was written.
XIX. Since we see that the whole of our salvation, and all the branches of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must be cautious not to alienate from him the least possible portion of it. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the name of JESUS, that it is in him; if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his unction; strength, in his dominion; purity, in his conception; indulgence discovers itself in his nativity; by which he was made to resemble us in all things, that he might learn to condole with us; if we seek redemption, it will be found in his passion; absolution, in his condemnation; remission of the curse, in his cross; satisfaction, in his sacrifice; purification, in his blood; reconciliation, in his descent into hell; mortification of the flesh, in his sepulchre; newness of life and immortality, in his resurrection; the inheritance of the celestial kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; protection, security, abundance, and enjoyment of all blessings, in his kingdom; a fearless expectation of the judgment, in the judicial authority committed to him. Finally, blessings of every" kind are deposited in him, let us draw from his treasury, and from no other source, till our desires are satisfied. For they who, not content with him alone, are carried hither and thither into a variety of hopes, although they fix their eyes principally on him, nevertheless deviate from the right way in the diver.
sion of any part of their attention to another quarter. This distrust however cannot intrude, where the plenitude of his blessings hath once been truly known.
Christ truly and properly said to have merited the Grace of God and Salvation for us.
WE must devote an additional Chapter to the solution of this question. For there are some men, more subtle than orthodox, who though they confessed that Christ obtained salvation for us, yet cannot bear the word merit, by which they suppose the grace of God is obscured. So they maintain that Christ is only the instrument or minister, not as he is called by Peter, the Author, or Leader, and "Prince of life." (y) I grant, indeed, if any man would oppose Christ simply and alone to" the judgment of God, there would be no room for merit; because it is impossible to find in man any excellence which can merit the favour of God: nay, as Augustine most truly observes, "The brightest illustration of predestination and grace is the Saviour himself, the man Christ Jesus, who hath acquired this character in his human nature, without any previous merit either of works or of faith." Let any one tell me, how that man merited the honour of being assumed into one person with the Word, who is co.eternal with the Father, and so becoming the only.begotten Son of God? Thus the fountain of grace appears in our Head, and from him diffuses its streams through all his members according to their respective capacities. Every one from the commencement of his faith is made a Christian, by the same grace, by which this man from the commencement of his existence was made the Christ. Again, in another treatise, Augustine says, "There is not a more illustrious example of predestination than the Mediator himself. For he who made of the seed of David this righteous
(.7) Acts iii. 15.
man, so that he never could be unrighteous, without any previous merit of his will, he converts unrighteous persons into righteous ones, and makes them members of that Head," Ike When we speak of the merit of Christ therefore, we do not consider him as the origin of it, but we ascend to the ordination of God, which is the first cause; because it was of his mere good pleasure, that God appointed him Mediator to procure salvation for us. And thus it betrays ignorance, to oppose the merit of Christ to the mercy of God. For it is a common maxim, that between two things, of which one succeeds or is subordinate to the other, there can be no opposition. There is no reason therefore why the justification of men should not be gratuitous from the mere mercy of God, and why at the same time the merit of Christ should not intervene, which is subservient to the mercy of God. But to our works are directly and equally opposed the gratuitous favour of God and the obedience of Christ, each in its respective place. For Christ could merit nothing except by the good pleasure of God, by which he had been predestinated to appease the Divine wrath by his sacrifice, and to abolish our transgressions by his obedience. To conclude, since the merit of Christ depends solely on the grace of God, which appointed this method of salvation for us, therefore his merit and that grace are with equal propriety opposed to all the righteousnesses of men.
II. This distinction is gathered from numerous passages of Scripture. "God so loved the world, that he gave his onlybegotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish." (r) We see, that the love of God holds the first place, as the supreme and original cause, and that faith in Christ follows, as the second and proximate cause. If it be objected, that Christ is only the formal cause, this diminishes his merit more than the words now quoted will bear. For if we obtain righteousness by a faith which relies on him, it is in him we are to seek the cause of our salvation. This is evident from many passages. "Not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (#) These words clearly demonstrate, that to remove every ob.
(r) John iii. 16. (t) 1 John iv. 10