« AnteriorContinuar »
a humble reliance on bis atonement. The great Mediator will then plead our cause, and obtain for us, whatever is needful for present or future happiness. The Father hath committed all things into the hands of Christ. (Matt. xxviii, 18; John v, 22; Ephes. i, 22.) apd when we come to him, and entrust our souls wholly to him, (2 Tim. i, 12.) he gives us the blessings of this covenant even as if it had been made solely and individually for us.
Surely we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For how shall we escape, if we neglect 80 great salvation? It is evidently just and right that those who refuse to receive and submit to so gracious a dispensation, should not have its blessings ; that those who reject the remedy, should remain under the disease. We live now indeed under the full establishment of the new covenant, whether we accept it or not; but we are not partakers of its blessings, unless we are seeking for salvation, as guilty and helpless sinners, through Jesus Christ. Nay, if we reject and persevere in our rejection of this only way of salvation, we shall perish with aggravated guilt, and in a inore tremendous ruin than those who never heard the grace of God.
Thus has God so ordered it, that none shall inherit eternal life, but in the way of repentance, faith, and holiness; and yet none shall boast or glory in his sight. The future blessedness is so proposed and promised, that none can on good grounds hope that they indivi. dually have an interest in it, but as they are partakers of these previous graees; and yet, these being his gifts, we are in all respects saved by grace. The interests of holiness, the glory of God, and the happi
ness of man, are all effectually secured. Faith, repentance, and obedience, have often been considered as CONDITIONS of our salvation. This is true, if it be only meant that they ever accompany our obtaining eternal life. But the author avoids that mode of expression, it being apt to suggest ideas to the minds of the more ignorant, as if there were some merit in our works; something to be done on our part, on the ground of which we might expect something to be done on God's part; or as if there were power in man of himself to do that which is pleasing to God ; both of which ideas are carefully to be guarded against, as directly opposing the plan of the Gospel. It tends also to damp the freedom of a loving heart, and to make our service one of constraint and fear, rather than of voluntary and glad obedience. Are not the advantages of the term condition gained by representing good works, as necessary EVIDENCES of a state of safety and grace, as things that accompany salvation ? (Heb. vi, 9, 10.)* or, according to the scriptural expression, as the fruit of the Spirit.
* Those who have supposed that the new covenant, as a covenant, necessarily implies conditions, do not seem to have duly considered the full signification and extended meaning of the original term, nor its use in places where no conditions are either named or supposable. Gen. ix, 9.-17; Isa. liv, 9, 10; Jer. xxxi, 31--34; xxxii, 37.-41; Ezek. xvi, 60--63 ; Heb. xviii, 8--12. See also Ísa. lv, 3 ; Luke i, 72, 73.
The view above taken does not by any means lessen our obligations to obedience. Our duties are binding on us, as creatures of God, as if we had full power of ourselves to discharge them. Our helplessness and proneness to evil is the consequence of sin, and therefore a fanlt, and not a release from obedience. Nor let any man suppose that he may be negligent or careless; or must sit still and do nothing, till there be some extraordinary divine influence on his mind. The
GREAT COMFORT MAY BE DERIVED FROM THIS DISPENSATION. It is a satisfactory ground of HOPE for every good. That God should, before time began, have planned and fixed such a scheme of grace, and given his Son to effect it, may well fill us with the most cheering hopes. If a man have a real knowledge of the holy character of God, he cannot but see that he is justly condemned and exposed to eternal ruin. · To such a one, the way of salvation, by the only Redeemer, will be unspeakably precious. He will readily see and acknowledge that he can only be saved by a dispensation of free and sovereign grace and mercy. Here, and here only, is a sufficient foundation for all our hopes. Let us say, then, with David, This is all my salvation. 2 Sam. xxiii, 5. The expression is peculiarly strong-ALL my salvation. Many are disposed to trust partly in their works and partly in Christ; but let them learn to depend simply, and exclusively, and entirely on the only Saviour, and to feel that without him they are wholly lost and undone; and in him, and with him, for ever blessed.
It is also an abundant source of most lively Joy. In the world Christians have tribulation. Besides the ordinary sorrows and distresses of life, and besides the afflictions of our families and connections ; the
Apostle takes quite a different view, when he says, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. But if it be asked, how we come to work at all, the Apostle shews us, It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that sheweth mercy. 'And in another place, while he says, I laboured more abundantly than they all, he yet immediately adds, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
prevalence of sinful propensities, and the weakness of our faith, hope, and love, forma peculiar grief and burden to the Christian : but notwithstanding all the heavy and distressing trials and afflictions, to which we may be exposed, the dispensation of mercy in Christ Jesus may still fill us with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Observe the glowing terms by which it is introduced to us—How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! If God, the Sovereign Lord of all, be our friend, our joy, and our strength, if he be engaged to bless us, and we are hoping to be with him for ever, how can we sorrow as those who have no hope? The most important earthly events become insignificant and trifling, when we come to the borders of the grave. Then we need something solid and enduring to give us real satisfaction. We must have the word of God in our favour, and an interest in the covenant and promises of God to give us true joy. That can give joy, the highest joy, even in the prospect of death, judgment, and eternity. It has been the experience of thousands, and tens of thousands; and O that it may be the experience of the writer, and of every reader of these pages, that with Jesus as our Shepherd, we may pass through the calley of the shadow of death, and fear no evil. What can so effectually remove the sting of death as to survey this new covenant, in all its fulness and certainty, as engaging God himself to pardon, justify, and save those that trust in him? While we can never boast in ourselves, nor our own doings, and can derive no hope from our. selves, we may yet, from this glorious Dispensation,
derive full and complete peace and joy. It shews us that we shall soon be in that blessed region, where neither our own sins, for the sins of others, shall any longer harass or distress us. In the hope of this happy state of enjoyment may we forget every sorrow, and may our hearts overflow with the most exalted joy!
It now only remains that we state why our Lord calls the cup in the Lord's Supper, the New Testament in his blood. He calls it so, not only as it is the emblem of that blood, which, as a sacrifice for our sins, obtained all the blessings of this new Dispensation ; but also as that Dispensation was sanctioned by the blood of him who is Lord of all, ratified by the death of him who was in the beginning with God, and was God. The old dispensation was, as we have seen, (chap. i.) ratified by the blood of animals; but the greater magnitude, importance, and permanence of the Christian dispensation, may be discerned by the immensely greater value of the sacrifice which ratifies it. Where is a greater sacrifice to be found than that commemorated in the Lord's Supper? If Moses could refer Israel to the blood of animals, and say, Behold the blood of the covenant ! how much more may Jesus call our attention to the figure of his own blood, and say, This is my blood of the new covenant ; this is the new covenant in my blood. Our Lord, in referring to the new covenant on this occasion, intimates, too, the speedy abrogation of the old; so that we may adopt the words of the apostle on referring to the expressions of. Jeremiah, In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old: now that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away. Our Lord, also, in