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condition, either of the righteous or the wicked, except as the resurrection will re-unite their bodies to their souls, and display to the whole world the justice and mercy of God in his dealing with them, All purgatories, therefore, whether before or after the day of judgment, are wholly unscriptural ; all reasonings on this subject are yain and presumptuous attempts to remove “ the great gulph which God hath fixed,” calculated to take men off from preparing seriously for that day, when “the wicked shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into eternal life.”
It appears, therefore, that every man lies under a two-fold condemnation for his sins: he is sentenced to various temporal sufferings, to be terminated by death, and to eternal misery in another world: and if any one should object to this, on the supposition that his sins do not merit so tremendous a punishment, I would inquire, whether human legislators and judges ever think the criminals themselves competent to decide on the equity of their statutes and decisions? And whether we are capable of determining the degree of evil contained in rebellion against the authority of the infinite Creator, and what punishment the glory of his name, and the everlasting advantage of the whole creation, may require him to inflict upon transgressors? In respect of the former part of this sentence, alleviations and respites alone can be expected; but we may hope for the entire abolition of the latter, as we live under a dispensation of mercy, through the great Mediator of the new covenant. Of this salvation we may hereafter enlarge ; at present it suffices to say with the Psalmist, “ If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” · The inevitable certainty of death, the uncertainty of the time and manner in which each person shall die, with the manifold troubles and sorrows of life, the turbulency of the passions, the remorse and terrors, and the anguish of the closing scene of wicked men, are no feeble emblems of the confinement, chains, and tortures of a condemned criminal, terminating only in his execution: the miseries which they occasion to each other, aptly represent those scenes which meet the observation of such persons as are conversant with prisons ; in which wretched men have little relief from the anguish of their own minds, except in reproaching and plaguing their companions in guilt: and the dissipated, sensual, and noisy pleasure, by which at other times they stun reflection, and excite transient turbulent joy, resembles the drunken carousals of the criminals, their singing and dancing in their chains, and the infatuated levity of some of them, even to the very moment of execution. But the believer has another prospect opened to his view; he is indeed a criminal, but he is pardoned and reconciled to his prince; a few days he must abide in his prison previous to his regular discharge, but when the other criminals shall be led to execution, he will not only be set at liberty, but admitted to the presence and full favour of his gracious Benefactor, ennobled with the greatest dignities, and enriched beyond expression: in the mean time, the hopes and earnests of such felicity support and solace his mind, and he knows, amidst his pains and sorrows, that “ blessed is he whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
The uncertain continuance of this vain life is the space allotted us by the long-suffering of our offended God, to seek the reversal of that sentence which relates to our final condemnation. To direct our course in this important pursuit, “ to us are committed the oracles of God," " which are able to make us wise unto salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.” Information, counsels, invitations, warnings, and promises, suited to our case, are there given us; means of grace are appointed, in which we may apply for every needful blessing; and especially the Holy Spirit is promised to all who humbly seek and depend on his gracious teaching, sanctifying and comforting influences, and seek these blessings by earnest prayer; so that no man (whatever his sins, habits, temptations, or situation may be) can come short of this salvation, provided he seek for it in the appointed way, and with a
diligence suited to its inestimable value. This is the situation of every man so long as life continues. for that judicial blindness and obduracy, to which many are given up, consists in a total and final neglect, contempt, or abuse of this salvation. But when death removes a man out of this world, his opportunity is over, and his state fixed to all eternity.
We are then criminals, reprieved for a short and uncertain time, by the mercy of our prince, that we may have an opportunity of casting ourselves on his clemency, and seeking a pardon, in a way which for his own glory he hath prescribed. If we avail ourselves of this advantage, the more terrible part of our punishment will be remitted, and the remainder will be counterbalanced by most animating hopes and consolations, sanctified to our greatest good, and soon terminate in everlasting felicity ; but if we neglect so great salvation, our vain and'vexatious worldly pursuits and pleasures will soon issue in final and eternal misery.
Our first great business and interest, therefore, during our present uncertain state, must be to prepare for death and judgment, by seeking “ eternal life, as the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord :” for if we succeed in this grand concern, all inferior disappointments or losses will shortly be most amply made up to us; but if we fail in this respect, our present successes will only serve to aggravate our future anguish. Every pursuit, which is incompatible with this primary interest, must be madness and ruin, however fashionable, reputable, lucrative, or agreeable it may otherwise be. Not only inferior elegances, distinctions, and honours, but even crowns and sceptres, the splendour of courts, the councils of statesmen and senators, the grand concerns of empires, yea “ all the kingdoms of the world, and all the glory of them,” dwindle into utter insignificancy, and fade as a withering Hower, when compared with eternal happiness or misery: “ For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” The soul of man, bearing the natural image of God in its noble powers and faculties, capable of being renewed to his moral image, “ in righteousness and true holiness,” being endued with the capacity of most exquisite pleasure, or most inconceivable anguish, and formed to subsist in happiness or misery, through the countless ages of eternity, is lost, when the favour and image of God are finally forfeited, and when it is condemned to endure his tremendous wrath, and to be given up to the unrestrained fury of all vile affections, in the company of fallen spirits for evermore. This loss is incurred by sin; but the forfeiture is ratified by the sinner's persevering impenitence, unbelief, and disobedience: the pleasure, profit, honour, power, or ease which men seek by continuing in sin, is the price of their souls: they are so infatuated, as thus to sell them for the most worthless trifles; because (like our first parents) they credit Satan's lies more than the truth of God, through desire of the forbidden fruit ; or because they put off the grand concern to a future season, and quiet their consciences (as debtors do their importunate creditors), by fixing on some future time of intended amendment; or because they think their state good, when God's word declares the contrary. Thus their opportunity elapses, and too late they understand the energy of the question, “what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
This shows us the importance of our Lord's exhortation, “ seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Admission into that kingdom which God hath set up among men, by the gospel of his Son, the privileges of which consist in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; the holiness and blessings of that kingdom for ourselves, and the peace, prosperity and enlargement of it in the world, should be sought by diligence in all appointed means, as our grand objects, with the first and best of our time and affections, in preference to all other things, and with a willingness to part with, or venture whatever comes in competition with them, even if that should be our estatés, liberty, friends, or life itself. Nor are we even allowed “ to fear them who can only kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do,” when this would lead us to incur his displeasure, " who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” A proper attention to our worldly business and interests would come in as a part of our duty to God, to his church, to the community, and to our families; every thing lawful and expedient would thus be rendered subservient to our grand object, and all things needful would be added to us; but men are ruined by reversing God's order, and seeking first the world, and the things that are in the world, even “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.”
Even where gross vices and open ungodliness are avoided, how greatly are persons of all ranks, endowments, and professions, “ careful and troubled about many things," instead of attending simply and diligently to the one thing needful, and decidedly “ choosing that good part which would never be taken from them.” Men's thoughts, contrivances, hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, maxims, wisdom, assiduity, and conversation, are almost wholly engrossed by the perishing, vexatious trifles of time. Every vague, strange, and uninteresting report is more attended to than “ the glad tidings of salvation ;" every science deemed better worth cultivating than the knowledge of God; every question is thought to be sufficiently important to set the ingenuity of men at work to give it a satisfactory answer, except it be inquired, “ what must we do to be saved ?" and such topics only excite astonishment, disgust, a short silence, and the starting of some more congenial subject. If a man pretend to teach others the way to health, to riches, to the enjoyment of life, or how to appear to advantage among their companions, assiduous attention and liberal compensation will not be withheldi; but they who would teach men the way of eternal life, must not expect much regard, even if they desire no other recompense.
But time and room would fail, should we attempt to enumerate the '. proofs of man's folly and madness in this respect. Even the very messages of God, respecting judgment, eternity, and his great salvation, instead of meeting with a serious regard, are often set to music, and profanely employed to vary the species of pleasurable dissipation ! Nay, they are often preached out of ostentation, avarice, envy, or strife ; heard as a matter of curiosity or amusement; or contended for in pride, virulence, and furious anger! The grand business of most men seems to be, to avoid the burthen of reflection, to cause time to glide away as imperceptibly as possible, and so apparently to shorten the span allotted them to prepare for eternity. Well might the Psalmist then say, “ Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law.” But, O) ye giddy sons and daughters of Adam, what will ye think of your present pursuits, when death shall summon you to God's tribunal ? What will then your riches, pleasures, decorations, elegances, honours, or dignities avail you? What comfort will the knowledge of all languages and sciences then afford? What will you think of your present anxious cares, covetings, envying, repinings, and disputes, when the night cometh in which no man can work? Seek, then, the “ Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
On the Deity of Christ.
The doctrine of a Mediator, through whom a just and holy God deals mercifully with believers, is the grand peculiarity of revelation ; and it must therefore be of the greatest importance for us to form a proper estimate of the personal dignity of this Mediator. The doctrine which I shall here at
tempt to establish from Scripture, may be thus stated: “That Jesus Christ is truly and really God, one with, and equal to the Father; being from eternity possessed of all divine perfections, and justly entitled to all divine honours; yet personally distinct from the Father, and so called his own Son, his only-begotten Son, &c.: but that, in order to the performance of his mediatory office, he assumed our nature into personal union with the Deity; became one with us, truly man, like us in all things, sin alone excepted ; and that he is thus God and man in one mysterious, incomprehensible Person; so that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily.'"
It is obvious, that no argument can be brought against the doctrine of our Lord's essential Deity, as here stated, from those Scriptures which speak of his human nature, his mediatorial office, or his inferiority to the Father in both these respects; for our doctrine implies this, and even essentially requires it; as an ambassador, though subordinate by office to his prince, is not supposed to be of an inferior nature, or of inferior abilities to him. We need not therefore discourse on this part of the subject : it is generally allowed by all, but deists and atheists, that “ Christ is come in the flesh;" though numbers contend that he could not have come in any other way (which renders the language of inspiration unmeaning, if not absurd); and others deem him a mere creature of some supra-angelic nature, and only called God in consequence of his mediatorial exaltation. But the idea of a creature, however exalted, being advanced to divinity, is so repugnant to all rational principles, as well as to the declarations of Jehovah, that “he knows no god besides himself, and will not give his glory to another," that it will not be necessary to discuss the subject with any particular respect to these distinct, opinions; but merely to show, that our Redeemer is by nature “ God over all, blessed for evermore.” At present I shall adduce a few select arguments in direct proof of this point, leaving some other things that belong to the subject to be discussed in the next Essay.
I. The reader will naturally turn his thoughts to those Scriptures in which Jesus Christ is expressly called God, and LORD. - Without controversy," says the apostle, “ great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. iii. 16). He not only allows his doctrine to be very mysterious, but even appears to glory in it as “ the great mystery of godliness ;" nor could it be controverted or denied, that it was a great mystery. We may therefore be sure, that they, who would so interpret his words as to render his doctrine scarce mysterious at all, do not understand them: but they, who suppose him to mean, that Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us ; that the child born at Bethlehem was the mighty God, as the prophet foretold, consider his proposition both as a great mystery, and as the source, centre, and support of godliness (Isa. vii. 14. ix. 6). It would be superfluous, in this brief attempt, to do more than refer the reader to the wellknown passages to this effect (John i. 1–18; Phil. ii. 5—8; Col. i. 15–17; Heb. i.) and to entreat him to read them with attention, as the word of God, and with earnest prayer to be enabled to understand and believe them ; for it seems impossible for human language to express any sentiment more strongly than they do the Deity of Christ. He, “ who was in the beginning with God, and was God;" " who made all things,” so that " without him was not any thing made that was made;" “ by whom and for whom all things were created, and by whom all things consist,” and who “ upholds all things by the word of his power,” must be “ God over all, blessed for evermore;" for " he that made all things is God,” which surely none but an avowed atheist will deny.
These, and several other passages of this kind, will come again under consideration towards the close of this Essay: and this first argument may be concluded, by desiring the reader to consider what the apostle meant by saying, “ The second man is the Lord from 'heaven," if Christ be only a mere man, or a created being ? (1 Cor. xv. 47.)
Il. Several texts of the Old Testament concerning Jehovah are applied in
the New to Christ. The prophet declares, “ that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered :” this the apostle applies to Christ, (Joel ii. 32; Rom. x. 13); for he adds, “ how shall they call on him of whom they have not heard? or how shall they hear without a preacher ?” &c. Now it is manifest, that Joel predicted the judgments which awaited the Jews for rejecting the Messiah, (Acts ii. 16—21) : but they certainly did call upon Jehovah as the God of their fathers, to deliver them, and yet they were not delivered, because they would not join with those who called on the name of Jesus; and they only who called on him were delivered. As therefore the Scripture cannot be broken, Christ is Jehovah : Paul considered him as such, and the event demonstrated him to be so. The Psalmist says, “ Taste and see that Jehovah is good:” to this the apostle manifestly refers, when he uses these words, “ If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious--to whom coming, as to a living stone,” &c.; and in what follows, the attentive reader will perceive that he applies to Christ what the prophet had spoken of Jehovah God of Hosts himself, (Psalm xxxiv. 8; Isaiah viii. 13–15; xxviii. 16; 1 Pet. ii. 3–8). Isaiah had a most extraordinary vision of Jehovah in his temple ; and the evangelist declares, that he then “ saw the glory of Christ, and spake of him,” (Isaiah vi; John xii. 39—42); and Paul applies to Christ's coming to judgment what the same prophet had written of Jehovah swearing by himself, " that every knee should bow to him, and every tongue confess to God," (Isaiah xlv. 21-25; Rom. xiv. 9–12. Indeed the whole passage referred to, especially the last verse, “In Jehovah shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory," proves that Emmanuel was especially meant, in whom alone believers are justified, and glory (1 Cor. i. 30, 31). Instances of this kind might be easily multiplied; but'I would rest the argument principally on those which follow. Jehovah, speaking to Moses, declared his selfexistent, immutable, and eternal Deity, by saying, I AM THAT I AM; and ordered him to inform Israel, “ that I AM had sent him to them. This Christ expressly applied to himself when he said to the Jews, “ Before Abraham was, I AM.” Had he said, before Abraham was, I was, it would sufficiently have proved his pre-existence to all, who believe him to be truth, or to speak truth; but we cannot affix any meaning to the words, as they now stand, unless we allow him to be the eternal God. This his enemies of old clearly perceived, and therefore they went about to stone him for blasphemy: nor can they, who deem him only a man, fairly dissent from their verdict, however it may be convenient to them to palliate the language in question. Should we render the words “I AM HE,” they are then equivalent to those of Jehovah, “ Before the day was, I am he (Isaiah xliii. 13); and the use of the present tense, with reference to Abraham, who lived so many ages before, perfectly discriminates this passage from all others, in which the same expression is used, either by Lord or any other person (Exod. iii. 14 ; John viii. 58). Indeed, the language of the passage in Exodus, and that of Luke concerning it (Acts vii. 30—37), lead us to consider the eternal Son, the great Angel of the covenant, as the speaker on this occasion: and whoever attentively compares the appearances of Jehovah to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and many others, with the words of the evangelist, “ No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son-hath declared him," will be apt to conclude, that all these were discoveries of that very Person, in the form of God, who afterwards appeared in the form of a servant. Again, Isaiah introduces Jehovah saying, “ I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God." This Christ, appearing in vision to John, expressly and repeatedly claimed to himself (Isaiah xliv. 6; Rev. i. 8, 11, 19, 18; ii. 8; xxii. 13). Now, can any reasonable man suppose, that Jesus, had he been no more than a mere creature, would have used such language of himself, and appropriated the very words by which Jehovah declared his own eternal power and godhead ? (Isaiah xli. 4 ; xliii. 10-12; xlviii. 11, 12.) Finally, Jehovah claims it as his prerogative “ to search the hearts, and try the reins :” and Christ most eme