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vretches tottering on the brink of eternal ruin, while in the house of God, while in this house, and while his agonies endured for them, are resounding in their ears, quietly compose themselves to sleep, or busily employ themselves in whispering, amusement, and mirth; forgetful that they have souls to be saved or lost, and destitute of a wish to be interested in the Saviour! Had Christ been as regardless of these miserable beings as they are of him, nay, as they are of themselves, what would have become of them in the day of wrath ?' What will become of them in that dreadful day, if they coutinue to treat Christ as they have treated him hitherto ?
4. It is evident from these observations, that the Gospel alone furnishes a consistent scheme of salvation to mankind.
The Gospel takes man where it finds him, in a state of sin and ruir, condemned by the law of God to final perdition, and incapable of justification, by his own righteousness. In this situation it announces to him a Saviour, divinely great and glorious, divinely excellent and lovely; assuming his nature to become an expiation for his sins, revealing to him the way of reconciliation to God; and inviting him to enter it, and be saved. The acceptance of this expiation it announces from the mouth of God himself. The terms in which we may be reconciled it discloses with exact precision and perfect clearness ; so that he who runs may read;' so that beggars and children inay understand and accept them. Faith in the Redeemer, repentance towards God, and holiness of character, involve them all. They are terms reasonable in themselves, easy to us, and productive of incomprehensible good to all who embrace them. To overcome the stubbornness of our hearts, Christ has commissioned the Spirit of grace to sanctify us for himself, to draw us with the cords of his love, to guide us with his wisdom, to uphold us with his power, and to conduct us under his kind providence to the heavens. In this scheme is contained all that we need, and all that we can rationally desire. The way of salvation is here become a highway, and way-faring men, though fools, need not err therein.'
The religion of the Gospel is a religion designed for sinners. By the expiation of Christ it opens the brazen door which was for ever barred against their return. Here the
supreme and otherwise immoveable obstacle to the acceptance of sinners is taken away. If sinners were to be accepted, it was not possible that this cup should pass from' Christ. The
' next great obstacle in the way of their acceptance is found in their unholy, disobedient hearts, propense “to evil only and continually ;' and the next, their perpetual exposure to backsliding, and to falling finally away. These obstacles, immoveable also by any means on this side of heaven, the Spirit of grace, by his most merciful interference in our behalf, entirely removes. Man, therefore, in the Gospel finds his return from apostasy made possible, made easy, made certain ; actually begun, steadily carried on in the present world, and finally completed in the world to come.
But no other scheme of religion presents to us even plausible means of removing these difficulties. Natural religion, to which infidels persuade us to betake ourselves for safety, does not even promise us a return to God. Natural religion is the religion of law; of that law, which in the only legal language declares to us, . Do these things, and thou shalt live; but the soul that sinneth shall die.' These things, the things specified in the requisitions of the law, we have not done ; and therefore cannot live. We have sinned, and therefore must die. It has been formerly shown, that the law knows no condition of acceptance or justification, but obedience. Concerning repentance, faith, forgiveness, and reconciliation, concerning the sinner's return to God, and his admission to immortal life, the law is silent. Its only sentence pronounced on those who disobey is a sentence of final condemnation.
Whatever we may suppose the law to be, we have disobeyed its precepts. Nothing has been ever devised or received by man, as a law of God, which all men have not disobeyed. Infidels cannot devise such a law as they will dare to call a law of God, and publish to inen under this title, which they themselves, and all other men, have not often disobeyed. From the very nature of law, a nature inseparable from its existence as a law, disobedience to its precepts must be condemned; and if nothing interfere to preserve the offender from punishment, he must of necessity suffer. To what degree, in what modes, through what extent, these sufferings will reach, the infidel cannot conjecture. To his anguish no end appears. Of such an end no arguments can be furnished by his mind,
no tidings have reached his ear, and no hopes can rationally arise in his heart. Death, with all the gloomy scenes attendant upon a dying bed, is to him merely the commencement of doubt, fear, and sorrow. The grave to him is the entrance into a world of absolute and eternal darkness. That world, hung round with fear, amazement, and despair, overcast with midnight, melancholy with solitude, desolate of every hope of real good, opens to him through the dreary passage of the grave. Beyond this entrance he sees nothing, he knows nothing, he can conjecture nothing, but what must fill his heart with alarm, and make his death-bed a couch of thorns. With a suspense scarcely less terrible than the iniseries of dampation itself, his soul lingers over the vast and desolate abyss ; when, compelled by an unseen and irresistible hand, it plunges into this uncertain and irreversible doom, to learn by experience what is the measure of woe destined to reward those, who obey not God,' and reject the salvation proffered by his Son.
In such a situation what man not yet lost to sense and thought, not yet convinced that he has committed the sin which cannot be forgiven, would not hail with transport the dawn of the Gospel; the clear rising of the Sun of righteousness, to illumine his path through this melancholy world, to dispel the darkness of the grave, to shed a benevolent light upon the entrance into eternity, and brighten bis
passage to the heavens.
THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST:
BUT THIS MAN, BECAUSE HE CONTINUETH EVER, HATH AN UN
CHANGEABLE PRIESTHOOD. WHEREFORE HE IS ABLE ALSO TO SAVE THEM TO THE UTTERMOST, THAT COME UNTO GOD BY HIM ; SEEING HE EVER LIVETH TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM.
HEBREWS yu, 24, 25.
HAVING in a series of Discourses examined, as far as I thought it necessary, the personal holiness of Christ, and his atonement for sin; I shall now proceed in the order originally proposed, to consider his intercession.
In the first verse of the text, St. Paul declares, that Christ, in contradistinction to earthly high priests, has an unchangeable priesthood;' or, as the Original more exactly signifies, 'a priesthood which passeth not from one hand to another.' In the last verse he infers from this fact, that he is able to save' his followers to the uttermost; because he ever lives to make intercession for them. The intercession of Christ, therefore, is here declared to be real—to be made for his followers and to be effectual to their salvation. Of course, it claims, in a high degree, our serious attention.
To intercede denotes, originally, to go between one person and another. In its secondary or figurative sense, the only one in which it seems now to be used, it denotes offering petitions in behalf of another; and, in the Scriptures, offering such petitions to God. On this subject we have St. John as a commentator, to direct us. • If any man sin,' says tlie apostle, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' The original word here translated advocate' is wapaxantos. It denotes either a person who in the Roman courts, under the appellation of patronus, attended a client, and in countenancing, advising, and interceding for him, took an efficacious care of his interest: or an agent of one of the states, either allied or tributary to Rome, who took a similar care of the interests of that state before the Roman Government, and interceded, from time to time, with the emperor on its behalf, as those interests demanded. Such is one of the offices assumed by Christ in the Heavens.
It will be seen at a glance, that this subject is merely a scriptural one. All our knowledge concerning it is derived from Revelation only. Reason can add nothing but conjecture to what the Scriptures have taught; and you are not now to learn that additions of this nature are of very little value. The observations which I propose to make concerning it, I shall arrange under the following heads :
I. The character and circumstances of those for whom Christ intercedes :
II. The manner in which his intercession is performed.
Under the former of these heads I observe,
(1.) The text. • Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him: seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. It cannot but be seen, that St. Paul speaks here of no other intercession than that which is made for such as come unto God by Christ.
(2.) The passage already quoted from 1 John ii. 1, · My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' The persons who are here said to have an advocate with the Father, are the persons denoted by the word ' we:' that is, St. John, and those to whom he writes; or whom he here styles little children:' in other words, the children of God.
(3.) Romans viii. 34, · Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died : yea rather, that is risen again : who is even