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distinct from his assuming human nature; which one should . think it could not be, if it were necessarily included in it. He was made of a woman, made under the law— made in the likeness of men, he took upon him the form of a servant—* being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient unto death.
As to the second question, Obedience is not all that the law requires of a guilty creature: (and in the place of such creatures our Saviour stood :) a guilty creature is not only obliged to be obedient for the future, but to make satisfaction for the past. The covenant made with Adam had two branches : Obey, and live; sin, and die. Now the obedience of Christ did honour to the preceptive part of the covenant, but not to the penal part of it. Mere obedience to the law would have made no atonement, would have afforded no expression of the divine displeasure against sin ; therefore, after a life spent in doing the will of God, be must lay down his life: nor was ilpossible that this cup should pass from him.
As obedience would have been insufficient without suffering, so it appears that suffering would have been insufficient without obedience : the latter was preparatory to the former.t Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. And such a meetness could not have appeared, but by a life of obedience to God. As a Mediator between God and man, it was necessary that he should be, and appear to be, an enemy to sin, ere he could be admitted to plead for sinners. Such was our Redeemer to the last, and this it was that endeared bim to the Father. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Finally: the sufferings of Christ could go only to the removal of the curse ; they could afford no title to eternal life, which being promised on condition of obedience, that condition must be fulfilled in order to ensure the blessing. Hence
* See Doddrige's Translation of Phil. ii. 7.
t I use the terms obedience and suffering, the one to express Christ's conformity to the precept ot the law, the other his sustaining the penalty of it; though, in strict propriety of speech, the obedience of Christ included suffering, and his suffering included obedience. He laid down his life, in obedience to the Father.
it is'by the righteousness of one that we partake of justification of life.
The great ends originally designed by the promise and the threatening, were to express God's love of righteousness, and his abhorrence of unrighteousness ; and these ends are answered by the obedience and sufferings of Christ, and that in a higher degree, owing to the dignity of his character, than if man had either kept the law, or suffered the penalty for the breach of it. But if Christ had only obeyed the law, and had not suffered ; or had only suffered, and not obeyed; one or other of these ends must, for aught we can perceive, have failed of being accomplished. But his obedience unto death, which includes both, gloriously answered every end of moral government, and opened a way by which God could honourably, not only pardon the sinner who should believe in Jesus, but bestow upon him eternal life. Pardon being granted with a view to Christ's atonement, would evince the resolution of Jehovah to punish sin: and eternal life, being bestowed as a reward to his obedience, would equally evince him the friend of righteousness, i
ON THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.
The forgiveness ef sin, is doubtless one of the most interesting subjects to a sinful creature; and if there be one sin upon which the Divine Being has thought fit to set a mark of peculiar displeasure, by declaring it unpardonable, it is worthy of the most serious inquiry to determine what it is. Perhaps the most likely method of coming at the truth, will be by first taking a view of those passages of scripture, where it is either fully expressed, or implied, and then making, a few remarks upon them.
There is no express mention of the sin ag;iinst the Holy Spirit, under the former dispensation. It seems, however, that there w;is a period in the lives of Cain and Saul, and perhaps of some other*, when they were given up of God to inevitable destruction. The first, or rather the only express mention that we have of it, ia in the Evangelists, where it is applied to the Pharisees, on occasion of their blasphemously asserting, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince ofthe demit. Dr Whithy thinks these passages were only designed to warn them of the sin, and that it was not possible to be actually committed till the pouring -•-•ut of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; and assigns this as a reason, that Christ afterwards prayed for those very persons. But those fo? whom Christ prayed, knew not what they did: they were in the same situation with Saul, while a persecutor; they did it ignorantly. and in unbelief. This, however, was not true of alt his murderers. Those who made answer to Judas, who confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood, See thou to that, could not, I amafrnid, have this plea alleged on their behalf. Itiitrtie", the multitude did it ignorantly, and many of their rulers, as Peter candidly acknowledged; but this, f should thinfe, is more than could be said of them all. It is pretty evident that some of them acted npon the principles suggested by our Lord: This k the heir, come let us kill him. It is no objection to this, that it is said, If they had known him, they would not have crucified the Ijord of glory; for knowledge is not here put for a mere conviction that he was the Messiah, but for that spiritual discernment, which is possessed only by believers, bemg revealed to them by the Spirit, who searchethihe deep things of Qod From certain" passages of scripture, it appears to me that some of the Pharisees were guilty of the unpardonable sin. See1 John ix. 41. and xii. 42,43.
Perhaps the next intimation that is given of this sin, is in Peter's address to Simon Magus: Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God, If Perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. It does not appear that the apostle considered the sorcerer as having certainly committed the unpardonable sin : but it seems he considered it as a matter of doubt, and therefore, with a view fo
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impress upon bis mind the greatness of his wickedness, and the danger he was in, expressed himself in that doubtful manner, which he was not used lo do in ordinary cases.
The apostle Paul seems to have had an eye to lhi9 sin, when speaking of himself; he says, I obtained mercy, became I did it ignorqntly and in unbelief. None will suppose that Saul's ignorance, much less his unbelief, had any thing in it meritorious which could induce the Divine Being to show him mercy: on the contrary, it was sinful, and that for which he reckoned himself the chief of sinners. But it was not accompanied with such circumstances of aggravation as to exclude him from an interest in divine mercy: it was not the unpardonable sin.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews there are several intimations of this sin; particularly in the following passages: It it impossible for those who were once enlightened^ and have tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world lo come; if they shall fall way, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an. open shame.—For if we sin wilfully, after that toe have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses's law died, without mercy, under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace?
Peter also describes the same characters: For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For- it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit a fain; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Lastly: It must be with reference to this sin that John writes in his First Epistle; If any man see his brother sin a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give htm life.—There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it.—We know that whosoever is born of Godsinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
The above are the principal, if not the only passages, in which reference is made to the unpardonable sin. From these, taken altogether, I shall offer the following remarks :—
First: When the scripture speaks of any sin as unpardonable, or of the impossibility of those who have committed it being renewed again unto repentance, we are not to understand them as expressing any natural limitation of either the. power or the mercy of God, nor yet of the efficacy of the Saviour's blood; but merely of a limitation dictated by sovereign wisdom and righteousness.
Secondly: It is not any one particular act of sin that denominates it unpardonable, but the circumstances under which it is committed. The act, in the case of the Pharisees, was uttering blasphemous language against the miracles of Christ; in the supposed case of Saul, it was blasphemously persecuting, and otherwise injuriously treating, the church of Christ; in the case of the Hebrews, it was apostasy from the truth; in the false teachers described by Peter, it was not only perverting the truth, but returning to sensual abominations. These acts being various., the unpardonable sin could uut consist in any one of them in itself considered, but in their being committed under certain circumstances.
Thirdly: The peculiar circumstance under which either of these acts becomes unpardonable, seems to be, the party being possessed of a certain degree of light; and that not merely objective, as exhibited in the gospel, but subjective, as possessed by the understanding. This light, which is attributed to the Holy Spirit, seems to afford the specific reason of the unpardonable sin being represented as committed against him. The distinction which our Lord makes between blasphemy against the Son of man. and that against the Holy Spirit, declaring the one pardonable, and the other unpardonable, seems to consist in this: the former, during his humiliation, might be the effect of ignorance and unbelief; but the