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and his death; as may be perceived, not to mention others, from that testimony of John (1 Epist. v. 8), where he states that “there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood.”. For undoubtedly by spirit, he means the Spirit of God, by the power of which it is manifest those miracles were wrought by Christ; and indeed the greatest miracle of the Holy Spirit was the being itself given in the name of Christ to his disciples : the water denotes the purity of his life; as the blood does his sanguinary death. .
What was the innocence of the Lord Jesus's life, and how was the will of God confirmed by it?
The innocence of his life was such, that not only he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, nor could he be convieted of any offence,—but also that he lived so holy a life, that neither before nor since has any one equalled him in holiness ; so that in this he approached the nearest to God himself, and was in respect of it, exceedingly like him. Hence it follows that the doctrine delivered by him was most true; since such holiness could have pertained only to a man truly divine, and imposture and a design to deceive others in religious matters could not have existed in such holiness.
Of what kind were his miracles, and how did they confirm the divine will ?
His miracles were such as no one before him had performed (John xv. 24); and so numerous that John does not scruple to assert (John xxi. 25) that he supposes “if they should be written every one, even the
world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” And the will of God declared by Christ is on this account confirmed by them that God would never have communicated such a power of working miracles, which must needs be altogether divine, to any one, unless he had been sent by him. :
OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
It was such a death as was preceded by various affictions, and was in itself most dreadful and ignominious; so that the Scriptures testify (Heb. ii. 17) that he was on account of it “made in all things like unto his brethren.”
But why was it necessary that Christ should suffer so many afflictions, and undergo so cruel a death?.
First, because Christ, by the divine will and purpose, suffered for our sins, and underwent a bloody death as an expiatory sacrifice. Secondly, because they who are to be saved by him, are for the most part obnoxious to the same afflictions and death.
What was the ground of the divine will and purpose that Christ should suffer for our sins ?
First, that a most certain right to, and consequently asure hope of, the remission of their sins, and of eternal life, might by this means be created for all sinners. “ For if God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. viii. 32.) “And if
while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more being réconciled shall we be saved by his life” (Rom. v. 8, 9, 10). Secondly, that all sinners might be incited and drawn to Christ, seeking salvation in and by him alone who died for them. Thirdly, that God might in this manner testify his boundless love to the human race, and might wholly reconcile them to himself. All which things are comprised in that divine declaration of Christ (John iii. 16), “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
* But what · reason was there that Christ should suffer the same afflictions, and the same kind of death, as those to which believers are exposed ?
There are two reasons for this, as there are two methods whereby Christ saves us : for, first, he inspires us with a certain hope of salvation, and also incites us both to enter upon the way of salvation and to persevere in it. In the next place, he is with us in every struggle of temptation, suffering, or danger, affords us assistance, and at length delivers us from eternal death. It was exceedingly conducive to both these methods of saving us, that Christ our captain should not enter upon his eternal life and glory, otherwise than through sufferings, and through a death of this kind. For as to the former, since we perceive in
his case thot
his case that the termination of that way which seemed to lead to destruction is so happy,—following our leader with the utmost firmness, we enter this way and persevere in it, with the certain hope that the same end remains for us also : and as to the latter, since having himself experienced how heavy, and of themselves intolerable to human nature, such trials are, and being not ignorant of sufferings, he might learn to sticcour the distressed. The former cause of the sufferings and death of Christ is intimated in the words of Peter (1 Epist. ii. 21), “ Christ also suf- · fered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps.” And also in Hebr. ii. 10, where the sacred author asserts that "it became God, in bringing many sons unto glory;" that is, as is to be understood from what follows, by. afflictions and death, 6 to make the captain of their salvation perfect,"" or to conduct him to eternal glory,“ through sufferings "" that thus, the happy termination of their afAlictions, and of a death so dreadful, being perceived, those persons might shake off the fear of death, who through this fear had been all their lifetime subject to bondage. The latter cause is proved by what we read in the same chapter (Heb. ii. 17, 18), that “in all things it behoved Christ to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” And also further on in the same epistle (chap. iv. 15), “For we
have not an high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And (chap. v. 8), “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered:” that is, how hard and difficult soever it was, he was obedient to God in every adversity, in suffering, and a dreadful and ignominious death.
Could not God have caused that believers should not be exposed to afflictions and a violent death? · He could indeed, had he thought proper to change the nature of things. But God has not done this, except sometimes, and that very rarely, in some remarkable cases and for a time; not always nor commonly, as would in this instance be absolutely necessary, if he purposed that believers in Christ should be exempted from afflictions and a violent death: and God has done this the less, where he would as far as possible exercise and prove their faith and their devotion to him. .. .
But why was it absolutely necessary to change the nature of things, if believers in Christ were to be exempted from afflictions and a violent death?
Because believers in Christ are endued with singu, lar piety and innocence of life, and also with patience. Of these, the former naturally cause them to be exposed to the hatred of all wicked men, of whom both the number and the power are the greatest ; SOthat they are vexed by them, and also, if occasion or opportunity offer, put to death: and the latter is even. a greater incitement to the wicked, and furnishes