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Christ and his Father, and established by them. And this covenant or eternal agreement, is the highest rule that Christ acts by in his office; and it is a rule that he never in the least departs from. He never does any thing, more or less, than is contained in that eternal covenant. Christ does the work that God gave him to do in that covenant, and no other : he saves those, and those only, that the Father gave him in that covenant to save; and he brings them to such a degree of happiness as was therein agreed. To this rule Christ is unchangeable in his regard; it stands good with Christ in every article of it, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
(2.) Another covenant that Christ has regard to in the execution of bis Mediatorial office, is that Covenant of Grace which God established with man. Though indeed this be less properly the rule by which Christ acts as Mediator, than the Covenant of Redemption, yet it may be called a rule. God does, as it were, make his promises which he makes to his creatures, his rule to act by: i. e. all his actions are in an exact conformity to his promises, and he never departs in the least degree from them, as is the case with man with regard to what they make the rule of their actions. Yet it is not a rule to God in the same sense as a rule is to a created agent, which must be considered as something antecedent to the purposes of the agent, and that by which his purposes are regulated. But God's promises are consequent on his purposes, and are no other than the expressions of them. And the covenant of grace is not essentially different from the covenant of redemption : it is but an expression of it: it is only that covenant of redemption partly revealed to mankind for their encouragement, faith, and comfort. And therefore the fact that Christ never departs from the covenant of redemption, infers that he will never depart from the covenant of grace ; for all that was promised to men in the covenant of grace, was agreed on between the Father and the Son in the covenant of redemption. However, there is one thing wherein Christ's unchangeableness in his office appears: that he never departs from the promises that he hath made to man. There is the same covenant of grace in all ages of the world. The covenant is not essentially different now from what it was under the old testament, and even before the flood; and it always will remain the same. It is therefore called an everlasting covenant, Isaiah. lv. 3.
And as Christ does not alter bis covenant, so he unchangeably fulfils it: he never departs in the least jot or tittle. Though he has given exceedingly great and precious promises to those that believe in him, he ever fulfils them all. Heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, than one jot or one tittle of bis promises shall fail, till all be fulfilled. It is especially on account of his unchangeableness with respect to his promises, that he styles himself, “ I am that I am," and is called “Jehovah," Exod. iii. 14, and vi. 3. Christ revealed himself to the children of Israel, in their Egyptian bondage, by this name, to encourage the people that he would fulfil his promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
5. He is in many respects unchangeable in the Acts which he exercises in his office. He is unchangeable in his acceptance of those that believe in him, and never will reject them; and he is unchangeable in his complacency and delight in them. He is unchangeable in his intercession for his church and people. He ever lives to make intercession. Heb. vii. 25. His intercession before God in heaven is a continual intercession. It is a constant presentation of his will before the Father for the salvation and happiness of those that are his in the virtue of his blood. And as Christ is unchangeable in his intercession, so he is unchangeable in upholding and preserving those that are his, and ordering all things for their good, until they are brought to his heavenly gloгу.
He is constant and unchangeable in taking care of them in all respects, and will hereafter receive them to a constant and unchangeable enjoyment of himself.
APPLICATION. I. We learn from the truth taught in the text, how fit Christ was to be appointed as the surety of fallen man. Adam, the first surety of mankind, failed in his work, because he was a mere creature, and so a mutable being. Though he had so great a trust committed to him, as the care of the eternal welfare of all his posterity, yet, not being unchangeable, be failed, and transgressed God's holy covenant. He was led aside, and drawn away by the subtle temptation of the devil. He being a changeable being, his subtle adversary found means to turn him aside, and so he fell, and all his posterity fell with him. It appeared, therefore, , that we stood in need of a surety that was unchangeable, and could not fail in his work. Christ, whom God appointed to this work, to be to us a second Adam, is such an one that is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and therefore was not liable to fail in his undertaking. He was sufficient to be depended on as one that would certainly stand all trials, and go through all difficulties, until he had finished the work that he bad undertaken, and actually wrought out eternal redemption for us.
II. This truth may be well applied to the awakening of those who profess to be Christians, and this on several accounts. You may be hence assured that Christ will fulfil his threatenings, that he has denounced against unbelievers. There are many awful threateu
ings, which Christ has denounced against wicked men. Christ has threatened wo to this wicked world; Matth. xviii. 17; and has declared concerning all, that do not believe, that they shall be damned. This is that, which Christ gave in charge to his disciples before his ascension, when he sent them forth to preach, and teach all nations. Mark xvi. 15, 16, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." So Cbrist declares that every tree, that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire. Matth. vii. 18. And he has especially threatened an awful punishment to gospel sinners. He has declared that every branch in him that beareth not fruit shall be cut off and cast forth and gathered up and burnt; and that, however wicked men and false Christians may dwell among the godly, as tares grow among wheat, yet when the harvest comes, and the wheat is gathered into the barn, the tares shall be gathered into bundles, and burnt. Matth. xii. 30. And in the explication of the parable, he says, that, at the day of judgment, “ the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, where shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth,” ver. 41, 42. So lie declares in Matthew viii. 21, concerning those visible Christians that say to him, “Lord, Lord,” and that do not do the will of his Father which is in heaven, that he will hereafter profess unto them, that he never knew them, and that he will say unto them, “ Depart from me, ye that work iniquity;" and that those that build their house on the sand shall fall, and that great shall be their fall; and that such as these shall see many coming from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and sitting down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, and themselves thrust out; and he teaches in his parables that unprofitable servants, and those that as professing Christians come to the gospel feast without the wedding garment, shall be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He often denounces wo on hypocrites; and threatens concerning such as begin a life of religion and do not finish, and are not thorough and persevering in it, that they shall come to shame; that those who are foolish virgins, that take their lamps and take no oil with them, shall at last be shut from the marriage when others enter in with the bridegroom, and that when they come to the door they shall find it shut, and shall cry, « Lord, Lord, open to us," in vain ; and that, at the day of judgment, Christ shall separate the righteous from the wicked, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, setting the righteous on the right hand, and the wicked on the left; and that he shall say to the wicked, “Depart, accursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;” and that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment. And particularly he has threatened concerning them that have not a spirit of self-denial, that do not cut off a right hand or a riglit foot, nor pluck out a right eye, that they shall go with two bands, or two feet, or two eyes, into hell-fire, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And that those, that have not a spirit to sell all for bis sake, and that do not in comparison of him hate father, and mother, and wife, and every earthly relative and earthly possession, shall not be acknowledged of him as his disciples. And concerning those, that are ashamed of religion before men, that of them will he be ashamed, before his Father and before the angels : and concerning those that are of a revengeful spirit, and not of a spirit of forgiveness, that they shall not be forgiven; and concerning all that are of a malicious spirit, and not of a spirit of Christian love and meekness, that are of an angry, wra:hful and scornful disposition, that say to their brother, " Raca,” or “ Thou sool;" that they shall be in danger of everlasting punishment proportioned to the heinousness of their crimes. And concerning wordly-minded men he has declared, that 'tis impossible for those that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God. Concerving such he has said, “Wo unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation; and wo unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger;" and concerning such as are addicted to carnal mirth and jollity, he says, “Wo unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep.” And he has abundantly declared concerning gospel sinners, that their punishment shall be far more dreadful than that of the worst of the heathen; that it shall be more lolerable even for Sedom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for them; and he has declared that those, that are once cast into hell, shall in no wise come out thence, until they have paid the uttermost farthing.
Such things as these did Christ threaten against the ungodly, when he was here upon earth. And by the doctrine of the text you learn, that he now is, and ever will be, the same that he was then. He has not at all altered, no, nor ever will; but these dreadful things, that he has threatened, he will surely fulfil. Christ was no more disposed to threaten, than to fulfil his threatenings. Christ is as holy, and his nature and will is as averse to sin now as ever it was; and he is as strictly just now as he was then.
Therefore, let no Christless person flatter himself, that, continuing such, he shall by any means escape punishment. Christ's threatenings are the threatenings of one, that is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and what he has threatened with his mouth, he will fulfil with his hands. When Christ appears at the day of judgment, and you shall stand at bis bar to be judged, you will find bim in judging, just what he was, and just what you
find him in your bibles, in threatening.
Ill. The truth in the text may be applied by way of Reproof.
1. To those that have been heretofore under awakenings, but have now become senseless and careless. This doctrine shows your folly. You act as if Christ were altered, as though he were not now so dreadful a Judge, and his displeasure not so much to be feared, as heretofore. Time was, when you were afraid of the displeasure and wrath of Christ. You were afraid of the dreadful sentence from his mouth, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." And why is it so much otherwise with you now? Is not the wrath of this Judge as much to be dreaded now, as ever it was? Time was, when those threatenings, that Christ has denounced against sinners, were terrible things to you; and why do you make so light of them now? Is this your great Judge grown weaker than he was, and less able to fulfil his threatenings? Are you less in his hands than you were; or do you imagine that Christ is become more reconciled to sin, and has not such a disposition to execute vengeance for it as he had ?
Time was, that you seemed to feel yourself to be in lamentable circumstances that you had not an interest in Christ, and to have a great mind to get an interest in him. You sought it, and prayed to God daily for it, and took considerable pains, and went and asked others, what you should do to obtain an interest in Christ. Why is it that you are so much more careless about it now? Is Christ altered ; is an interest in him less valuable, or less necessary, now, than it was then? Was acceptance with him worth earnestly seeking, and praying, and striving for then, and is it good for nothing now? Did you stand in great need of it then, and can you do well enough without it now?
Time was when you seemed to be much concerned about your having been guilty of so much sin against God and Christ, and, it may be, wept about it in your prayers. But now, you are not concerned about it. The thought of your having so often and so greatly offended him, does not so much trouble you, but that you can be easy and quiet, and have your heart taken up about one vanity or another, without being very much disturbed with the thoughts of your sins. Then you used to be careful to avoid sin ; you were watchful to avoid those things that were forbidden in God's holy word; you were careful that you did not sin by profaning the sabbath, or by unsuitably spending the time in God's house, or by neglecting the duties of