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CHAP. V. That Salvation which is wrought for
us by Christ, gives us the most fure and certain Hopes of a blessed Immortality. .
. SECT. I. That we must be fav’d by a Saviour, and
what kind of Saviour Sinners want.
INHAT I have hitherto discours’d, con
V V 'cerning the Gospel Evidence of Immortal Life, relates only to those exprefs Promises of Immortality contain'd in the Gospel, and that great Confirmation of them by the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead. But this reaches no farther than the Authority of a Prophet: Whereas the Certainty of our Salvation, which is compleated in Immortal Life, depends wholly upon the Power, Merits, and Authority of a Saviour, as the Scripture every where assures us. The Gospel contains a great many Promises of the Forgiveness of Sins, and Justification, and Eter: nal Life ; but all these Proinises are made to us. in a Saviour.
The first Promise God made to Adam, and in him to all Mankind, after the Fall, was the Pro
mise of a Saviour, that Seed of the Woman which should break the Serpents head. This was the first Publication of the Gospel, to send a Saviour and Deliverer, who should destroy the Kingdom and Power of Darkness, and redeem Mankind from Death. It was this Promise which delivered our firft Parents from present Death, and admitted them to a State of Repentance ; and tho' they were cast out of Paradise, gave them a new Right to that Earth, whereon they liv’d, and new Hopes of Immortal Life. There never was any such Thing since the Fall of Man, as what some call the Religion of Nature, that is, a Religion without a Saviour. All that Mer. cy and Goodness, which God hath ever since the Fall shewn to Sinners, in forgiving true Peni: tents, and rewarding pious and virtuous Men, is owing to this Promise, and to the Accomplishment of it: There was no Promise made be. fore this, nor any since but upon this Foundation. So that whatever Opinion we have of the Divine Goodness, and how much it becomes a good God to forgive true Penitents, and to reward virtuous Men, it is evident, that ever since the Fall, God has confin'd the Exercise of all his Grace and Goodness to a Saviour. .
Thus we know the fundamental Article of God's Covenant with Abraham was the promised Seed, that in bis Seed all the Nations of the Earth faould be blessed; which, as I have largely thewn you, signifies all spiritual Blessings, the Forgiveness of our Sins, and immortal Life, which Jesus Christ, this promised Seed, should bestow upon Mankind. All the Types and Figures of the Law of Moses ; their Tabernacle, and Teme ple, and High-Priest, and Sacrifices; were Types and Figures of Christ, and of the spiria R2
whe Government took this W Princes yet they
tual Blessings of his Kingdom. God renew'd this Promise of the Messias to David, under the Notion of a King that should descend from his Loins, and inherit his Throne for ever: Once bare I sworn by my Holiness, that I will not lie unto David : His Seed Mall endure for ever, and his Throne, as the Sun before me : It shall be established for ever as the Moon, and as a faithful Witness in Heaven, Psalm lxxxix. 35, 36, 37. And we know the Kingdom of the Messias was so gloriously described by the succeeding Prophets, that the Jews expected a great Temporal Prince, who should subdue all their 'Enemies, and put the Government of the World into their Hands. But tho' they mistook this World for the next, a Temporal for a Spiritual Prince ; yet they were so far in the right, that they expected all they hoped for from the Kingdom and Government of their Mesas. ' ...in
This Promife was accomplish'd in the Birth of Christ, that Seed of the Woman, who should break the Serpent's Head; that Seed of Abraham, in whom all the Nations of the Earth Mould be blessed; thąt Son of David, who should inherit his Throne for ever ; whom the Angel named Jefus, a Saviour, for He should fave bis People from their Sins; and he is therefore by Zacharias, in his Prophetick Hymn, called the Horn of Salvation, and by Simeon, the Salvation of God. And I need not tell you, that all the Promifes of the Gospel are made to us only in his Name, and thro' Faith in his Blood ; that in him all the Promises of God are yea, and in him Amen ; for there is no Salvation in any other, neither is there any other Name under Heaven given among Men, whereby we must be saved, Acts iv. 12. But to make us all sensible, what Security this, and this
alone, can give us of our Salvation ; and how Christ answers his Name, and has accomplish'd the Work of our Redemption ; let us first confider what it is to have a Saviour; and what need we have of a Saviour: Which were it well understood, would put an end to many Disputes in Re. ligion, and transport us with the Love and Admiration of that good God, who hath given us his own Son to be our Saviour. . .
The Deists think, there is no need at all of a Saviour, and therefore reject all revealed Religion, and all instituted Worship; for the Light of Nature teaches them to repent of their Sins, and that God will forgive all Penitents; and this is all the Religion they need. But could you convince them, that they need a Saviour, this would bring them back to revealed Religion, and reconcile then to Christianity, which is the only Religion that preaches a Saviour to us..
The Socinian goes a little farther than the Deifts, though as to the true Notion and Design of a Saviour, he believes little of it. He owns the Divine Authority of the Old and New Testament, and believes in Christ as the most excellent Prophet, whom God sent into the World to make the last and most perfect Revelation of his Will for the Salvation of Sinners; that he gave the most holy Laws, and was himself the most perfect Example of them; that he promised Forgiveness of Sins, and Eternal Life, to all who believe and obey the Gospel ; that he died upon the Cross to be a Pattern of Obedience to God, and of all suffering Graces and Virtues ; and that by rising again from the Dead he might give a visible Proof of another Life. All this is very true, but falls vastly short of the true Notion of a Saviour, which does not signify a mere Pro.
pher, Justice : Anda bisaćtion to and
Men, who he
phet, (and all this makes Christ no more, tho the most excellent Prophet) but carries Autho rity, Power, and Victory in its Name. !
Let us consider the State of fallen Man, which will convince us how much we want a Saviour, and what kind of Saviour we want.
As first, By Sin Man has forfeited the Love of his Maker, and Immortal Life, and is become subject to the Wrath of God, and to the Curse of the Law. This is the first, tho' not the only thing to be considered in the Case of fallen Man, as fome seem to think, who know no other use of a Saviour, but to deliver us from the Wrath of God, by making a full and perfect Satisfaction to a natural vindi&tive Justice : And this makes those Men, who believe that God is so good, that he both can and will forgive Sin, without requiring any other Satisfaction but the Repentance of a Sinner, to think that there is no need of a Saviour at all. This is all that the Deist has to say against the need of a Saviour, or the Socinian a. gainst the Necessity of Satisfaction ; that God is so good, that he will be reconciled to penitent Sinners, without a Saviour, or without Satisfaction ; that there is no need of reconciling God to Sinners, but only of reconciling Sinners to God. This has a fair Appearance, because it seems to make a lovely Representation of the Divine Goodness, which is the darling Attribute of Mankind: But it were easy to shew you, how uncertain our Reasonings are from the Divine Nature, without a Revelation. The Notion of à natural vindictive Justice, which others think as essential a Perfection of the Divine Nature, as these Men do Goodness, is thought to prove the direct contrary to what they pretend to prove from the Goodness of God; viz. that God cannot