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able to obey them all more perfectly. The very tendency of every law is to make those happy who obey it: and were any man to obey the laws of Christ as perfectly as they do in heaven, he would already in his own soul possess a heaven upon earth. Let any one who is disposed to complain of the strictness of the Gospel, examine its laws with candour, and see which of them he can reduce: Would he love God with less than all his heart; or his neighbour less than himself? Were he to reduce any one law below its present standard, he would so far give a licence for rebellion throughout all the kingdoms of the earth, and reason for murmuring throughout all the regions of hell, since a lower standard was appointed for others than was ever allowed to them.
But this righteousness is no less visible in the administration of the King, than in the laws by which he governs: for in no one instance is his favour or his frown accorded to any one, but in a strict consistency with equity. On whom did the King ever frown but on account of his transgressions, or more than in proportion to their enormity? or on whom did he ever deign to smile, but on those who humbled themselves before him as guilty, and pleaded his perfect righteousness as the ground of all their hopes? Nay, where did he ever pardon one rebel, till that rebel had cast himself entirely on the merit of his sacrifice, whereby Divine justice had been satisfied, and the law of God magnified? In earth, in hell, in heaven, the righteousness of his sceptre is alike displayed, and to all eternity shall it be acknowledged throughout the whole extent of his dominions.]
Keeping in view the general scope of the passage, as well as our own individual benefit, we would observe by way of IMPROVEMENT,
1. How clearly are the great truths of the Gospel founded on the Old Testament!
[We find nothing in the New Testament which was not predicted in the Old. Hence our blessed Lord and his Apostles continually refer to the Jewish Scriptures in confirmation of their own word. And it is worthy of particular remark, that we never so much as once hear of their enemies controverting or objecting to the construction which they put upon the Scriptures. The true import of the prophecies was, in many respects, better understood then than now; because the Jews, in order to justify their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, have laboured to find out other interpretations of the Scriptures, different from those which their own forefathers acknowledged and approved. And I cannot but regard the very circumstance of the Apostles citing the different prophecies in
the way they did, as a strong presumption, that the Scriptures were understood at that time in the very sense in which they cited them: for, had they not been so understood by the Jews of that day, the citation of them would have been nugatory: yea, worse than nugatory; it would have been absurd in the highest degree; and would have produced the directly opposite effect to that which it was intended to produce. Let any one, with this impression upon his mind, read the chapter from whence our text is taken, and he cannot for one moment doubt the divinity of Christ, or the truth of his Messiahship.]
2. How safely may we commit ourselves into the Saviour's hands!
[Were our King a man only, what confidence could we have in his protection? He could not be every where he could not hear and aid all persons at the same moment: consequently we might be overwhelmed before he could come to our aid. But our King is "the Mighty God," who has all things in heaven, and earth, and hell under his controul; and who has engaged that all his enemies, and ours, shall be put under his feet. Let none then be discouraged because of the number, power, or inveteracy of their enemies: for, if he be for us, none can succesfully be against us. Let the consideration therefore which quieted David's mind in all his troubles, compose and quiet our minds also under every trial that can befall us: "the floods have lifted, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice: the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea:" "The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven 9."]
3. How obedient should we be to his holy will!
[Were it only that we are the work of his hands, we ought to be altogether obedient to his will: but how much more, when, in addition to being our Creator, he has become our Redeemer; and has assumed our nature, in order that we, through his vicarious sufferings, may be made partakers of his kingdom and glory! We must not forget that the throne on which he sits is a mediatorial throne; and the kingdom which he governs is a mediatorial kingdom: and that he exercises his dominion not merely over us, but for us. How happy would the fallen angels be, if they could have one more offer of being received into his kingdom! But this privilege belongs to us only; and to us no longer than during the present short period of our existence upon earth. If we cast not down the weapons of our rebellion now, the day of grace will be past, and we shall
P Ps. xciii. 3, 4.
a Ps. xi. 3, 4.
hear him say, Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me." But methinks we should be constrained by love, rather than by fear. Think, my brethren, what it has cost him to establish his kingdom: what conflicts he has endured for us, that we might be made partakers of his triumphs! It was through his own death that he triumphed over him that had the power of death, and delivered us from his cruel bondage." Give ye then up yourselves to him: and though death should await you for your fidelity to him, fear it not, but rejoice that ye are counted worthy to suffer it for his sake. And know assuredly, that, "if ye suffer with him, ye shall reign with him," and to all eternity "be glorified together" with him.]
CHRIST'S SUPERIORITY TO ANGELS.
Heb. i. 10-12. Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
THE Old Testament speaks much of Christ: the Psalms, in particular, abound with expressions relating to him: and, previous to his coming, the learned Jews, who looked forward to the advent of their Messiah, and longed for his appearance, interpreted them in their true and proper sense. This is clear; because we never find, in any one instance, that the construction put upon these passages by the Apostles of our Lord was controverted, or the application of them to him doubted. The Jews of later ages, in order to weaken the force of these passages as proving the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus, have invented other explanations of them; determining to put any sense whatever upon their own Scriptures, rather than admit the validity of his claims. But it is not to be conceived that the Apostle Paul, at the very time that he withheld the signature of his name from this epistle, (lest, by the mention of it, he should excite the prejudices of his
countrymen to whom he wrote,) should, in the very outset of his epistle, cite passages in a sense which none of his opponents were ready to admit; and that he should go on to build the whole weight of his arguments on passages so adduced, and so interpreted. Yet we find, that he has applied to Jesus many expressions, which, if his construction of them be true, prove, beyond a doubt, not only the Messiahship of Jesus, but the infinite superiority of his dispensation to that which had been established among the Jews. The Jews gloried in the Mosaic dispensation, as having been given to them, not only by the hands of Moses, but through the instrumentality of angels". St. Paul shews them, in the beginning of this epistle, that, however much they might glory in this honour, the Christian had far higher reason to glory; because his religion was revealed by Christ himself, who, both in his nature as God, and in his office as the appointed Mediator between God and man, was infinitely above the angels.
In confirmation of the Apostle's statement, I shall set before you,
I. The majesty of Him by whom the Gospel was revealed
Great and glorious things are spoken of him in the preceding context. But we shall wave all mention of those things, and confine our attention to the passage before us; and notice,
1. The passage cited by the Apostle
[The words in my text will be found towards the close of the 102d Psalm. In that psalm, the writer, personating the Church, speaks of the afflictions under which he groaned, and of the consolations which he derived from contemplating the future glories of the Messiah's kingdom, which should extend over the whole world, and endure for evermore. The person of whom he speaks, he calls "his God:" "I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my years:" and
a Heb. ii. 3. Acts vii. 53. Gal. iii. 19.
b Ps. cii. 1—11.
Ps. cii. 12-28. He speaks of "the heathen fearing the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth beholding his glory and of a people who should be created to praise the Lord." ver. 15, 18, 22.
then he immediately adds, " Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth," and so on. Now, no one ever doubted but the Person whom the Psalmist there addresses, was the God of heaven and earth: and the Jews themselves were wont to interpret the psalm as referring to the Messiah. St. Paul confirms that interpretation, by expressly applying the text to the Lord Jesus Christ. As for saying that he applied the passage to Christ in a subordinate sense, there is no intimation given of any such thing: nor would the passage have been at all to his purpose, if it were not understood in its full sense: for the Apostle's object was, to establish the superiority of Christ above all the angels of heaven: and to have asserted that the Father was superior to them, would have been of no use. It is clear, then, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God, even God over all, blessed for ever."]
2. The sublime truths contained in it-
[The Person here addressed has two attributes ascribed to him; namely, omnipotence, as the Creator of the universe; and immutability, as being ever the same: and both of these belong to the Lord Jesus Christ; for it was He who created all things, both in heaven and earth. If an idea be suggested, that he might have merely been an agent deputed to this work, as any angel might have been; and that the execution of it is not sufficient to prove his Godhead; I answer, that though I will not undertake to say what works God might devolve on a creature, there can be no doubt but that he was God who made the worlds: for it is said, "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God: the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by HIM; and without HIM was not any thing made that was made." And this was no other than the Lord Jesus Christ for the same Apostle adds, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us."
To the same Person, also, is immutability ascribed: as it is said, They (the works of creation) shall perish, but thou remainest and they all shall wax old, as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. Now this, also, is an incommunicable attribute of the Deity! "I, the Lord, change not." To no creature whatever can this perfection be assigned: the highest archangel, if left to himself, would fail, even as myriads of once-holy angels did in heaven; from whence they were expelled for their transgression, and were doomed to an eternity of misery in hell. But to Jesus it essentially belongs; because, though a man, as to
d John i. 1-3.
e John i. 14.