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CHAPTER I.

THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, BEING, LIKE ITS DI.

VINE AUTHOR, « THE SAME YESTERDAY, TO“ DAY AND FOR EVER," OUGHT TO BE RECEIV. ED AND EMBRACED, JUST AS IT IS REPRESENTED AND HELD OUT IN THE SCRIPTURES OF TRUTH, " WITHOUT ADDING THERETO, OR DIMINISHCC ING FROM IT."

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1 HE truth of this proposition is so evident, as to admit of no sort of doubt in the minds of those who are rightly instructed in the knowledge of divine things : and there cannot be a more agreeable subject of Christian meditation, than to survey the va. rious means and instruments, by which God has been pleased to convey this comfortable instruction to man. For this purpose we are assured, that the same “ God, who at sundry times, and in divers “ manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by “ the prophets, bath in these last days spoken unto

“us “ us by his Son."* The only difference, which is here pointed out to our notice, refers to the times, and to the manners, in which God hath spoken ; for under all this variety with respect to the mode of revelation, the subject was the same, and the speaker the same, the voice of the one true God proclaiming the “ one Mediator between God and men, the “ man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for 66 all.”+ It was in consequence of his giving this allsufficient ransom, that he became that powerful Me. diator, who alone could make peace between hea. ven and earth ; and who, according to the terms of the everlasting covenant of grace and mercy, did of his own free love, and uamerited goodness to man, graciously undertake to make reconciliation for ini. quity, and to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself ; which sacrifice, an apostle tells us, " was verily fore66 ordained before the foundation of the world.”+ Hence it is, that the plan of this glorious design is fo often mentioned in scripture as God's purpose, which he had purposed from the beginning - his “ eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Je« fus our Lord ;'S his “ purpose and grace which “ was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world “ began;"|| which had been foreordained, or predestined in the counsel and decree of the blessed and glorious Trinity, who had been pleased to bind

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* Heb. i. 1, 2. t 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6. \ 1 Peter i. 20.

$ Ephef. iii. 11.' | 2 Tim. i. 9.

themselves by an everlasting covenant to the accomplishment of it. This, we have ground to believe, is the true scriptural notion of predestination; not any absolute, unconditional decree for the salvation of particular persons ; but only God's general purpose aud resolution of sending his Son into the world, so that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, “ but have everlasting life."* With a view to this merciful purpose, the scripture describes, in terms fufficiently adequate to the human capacity, the feveral parts, which the three persons in the Godhead, and man too by their appointment, have to act in this blessed scheme, according to the brief account given of it, by a venerable writer of the primitive church, in these words the Father well pleased, “the Son administering and forming, the Spirit nou“ rishing and increasmg, man himself gradually pro“firing and attaining towards perfection.”+ Such is the beautiful representation, which may be drawn from scripture of the mysterious scheme of salvation provided for fallen man; and of the several parts, which the adorable Three in Jehovah have been gracioufly pleased to assign to themselves in carrying on this mighty work of love and mercy to the huinan race.

ci Known unto God are all his works from the be“ ginning of the world," particularly that which is the crown and glory of all the rest, the redemption

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* St. John ii. 16.

+ Irenzus, book iv. chap. Ixxv,

of mankind by the facrifice and death of his beloved Son. But had not this act of mercy been also revealed and “ made known" to men, as soon as their situation required such a comfortable discovery, they could have had no hope of being reconciled to God; no encouragement to serve the Lord with glad. nefs, or to declare with grateful joy, “ that his mercy “ is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all gene. " rations." It was justly observed by a writer of distinguished rank in this country, “ that if it was 46 the intention of God to pardon man ; to reclaim “ him from his finful state ; to encourage him to

love, fear, and serve his creator, and to restore .“ him to a capacity of performing such acceptable ser“ vice, it was absolutely neceffary, for promoting " that design, to acquaint man with his intentions ; " to give such proof of those intentions as should “ convince and thoroughly persuade those to whom 66 the revelation was made, and to preserve such se evidence of that revelation to mankind, as should “ be fufficient to fupport their faith and hope, and « give them ground to rejoice in the God of their “ falvation."* Now all this has been done in the most complete and fatisfactory manner, by that fame wise and gracious God, in the unity of whose effence we are taught to believe, that “there are " three who bear record in heaven" to the eternal • E2

purpose

See Some thoughts concerning religion, &c. by the late honourable Duncan Forbes, Lord President of the Court of Session,

purpose of man's salvation; and who have not left themselves without witness on earth to that covenanted scheme of grace, mercy, and peace, which was in much compassion exhibited to fallen man, as soon as his deplorable condition called for the comfort which was thence to be derived. The words, in which the inspired historian relates the promise of mercy, are, “ that the feed of the woman should bruise the head

of the serpent ;' that there should, in the fulness of time, be born of the posterity of Eve a Redeemer or Deliverer ; who, by making satisfaction for the fins of men, and restoring them to the love and favour of their offended Maker, should thereby bruise the head, and destroy the power and dominion of that old serpent the devil, who had beguiled our first parents into fin, and gained, as he thought, a signal triumph over them.

Thus early was the gospel preached, and the glad tidings of salvation published to the human race.The account given of it by Moses, is short and concise ; but the revelation itself, as coming from God, was no doubt full and explicit. One thing is obvious, that the change which took place in Adam's condition, as the consequence of his fall, would necessarily lead to a correspondent change in his religi. ous service : and we may reasonably conclude, that such a form of worship would be instituted, as might exhibit his dependence on the covenant of grace en. tered into by the THREE GREAT ones in deity, one of whom was to unite the human nature with his

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