« PreviousContinue »
ments of Sin. For if the Blood of Bulls and Goats, and the Afbes of an Heifer Sprinkling the unclean, fančtifieth to the purifying of the Flesh; how much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without Spot to God. purge your Confciences from dead Works, to ferve the living God? Chap. ix. ver. 11-15. The Blood of Christ cannot make that not to have been done which was once done; nor that not to be an Offence, which in the Nature of it is an Offence; much lefs could the Blood of a Calf or a Goat. But as, in the one Cate, the Offence notwithftanding the Offender, in virtue of the Sacrifice, was, in View and Construction of Law, or as to all Purposes of legal Privilege, confidered and treated as guiltiefs; fo in the other, we, though Sinners, are, through the Blood of Chrift, accounted as righteous, and as fuch accepted to the Privilege of eternal Life. To the fame Purpose a little after: Almost all Things are by the Law purged with Blood, and without hedding of Blood is no Remiffion. It was therefore neceflary, that the Patterns of the Things in the Heavens jhould be purified with thefe, but the Heavenly Things then felves with better Sacrifices than these, ver. 22, 23. The Patterns of the Things in the Heavens, or of the Heavenly Things, fignify the legal Oeconomy, as jhadowing out the Evange lical, which is the Difpenfation of Things pertaining to a better Life, as the Law was a Difpenfation of Things pertaining to this. And what the Apostle here fays is to this Effect, that the Sacrifices appointed under the one must needs be inferior in Nature and Efficacy to those appointed under the other, inasmuch as the Substance is more worth y than the Shadow. It is to this Purpose he peaks a little below, Chap. x. ver. 1—4. For the Law having a Shadow of good Things to come
can never with thofe Sacrifices which they offered up Year by Year continually make the Comers thereunto perfect. It is not poffible that the Blood of Bulls and Goats fhould take away Sin. To this the Law itself gave ample Confeffion, by the frequent Repetition of its Sacrifices, which the Apoftle alto notes, ver. 2, 3.
Then (fays he) i. e. if the Law had made the Comers thereunto perfect, would they have ceafed to be offered, because that the Worshippers once purged should have had no more, Confcience of Sins; but in thofe Sacrifices there is a Remembrance of Sins made again every Year. But what the Apoftle denies of the legal Sacrifices, that he affirms of the Sacrifice of Chrift, as it follows ver. 11. And every High Prieft flandeth daily minifiring and offering oftentimes the fame Sacrifice, which can never take away Sins. But this Man (Chrift) after he had offered one Sacrifice for Sins, for ever fat down at the right Hand of God, from thenceforth expelling till his Enemies be made his Foot fool. For by one Of fering he hath perfected for ever them that are fanctified. Again, Chap. ix. ver. 24-28. Chrift is not entered into the holy Places made with Hands, which are the Figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the Prefence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the High Prieft entereth every Year into the Holy Place with the Blood of others: But now once in the End of the World bath he appeared to put away Sin by the Sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto Men once to die, but after this the Judgment; fo Chrift was once offered to bear the Sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the Second Time, without Sin unto Salvation. God hath left this Teftimony of his Displeasure against Sin, that all the Sons of Adam are fubject to the Law of Mortality (for otherwife the Threatning, in the Day that thou eateft thereof thou shalt furely die, would have been abfolutely without Effect) But this is but for once, and for a Time; for Chrift is to appear a fecond Time, in order to judge the World, when all Enemies fhall be put under bis Feet; and as Sin is done away by his Sacrifice, fo Death fhall be destroyed by the Refurrection from the Dead.
This is the plain Scripture Doctrine; and without it, it will be impoffible to give a confiftent Account of many Paffages in Scripture relating to Chrift and his Miniary. There are those who confider Jefus Chrift
fimply under the Notion of a Prophet, fent to declare the Will of God, and to leave us an Example of Humility and Patience. But confiftenly with the Scripture Accounts of him this cannot be. For, 1. The Apoftle plainly diftinguishes Chrift from the Prophets. God, who at fundry Times, and in divers Manners, Spake in Time paji unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in thefe laft Days fpoken unto us by his Son, Heb. i. 1. Chrift therefore was not merely a Prophet, but more than a Prophet; and yet if he came only to declare the Will of God to Mankind, in what Refpe&t did he differ from the Prophets that went before him? 2. With refpect to his Nature and Dignity, he was the Son of God, the Heir of all Things, the Brightness of his Father's Glory, and the exprefs Image of his Perfon; HE by whom the Worlds were made, and who upholdeth all Things by the Word of his Fower. This great, this divine Perfon, far above all Angels and every Name that is named, condefcended to take upon himself Flesh and Blood For what? Merely to be a Preacher of Righteousness? An Office which the lowest of the Sons of Men, instructed with Power and Authority from God, might and did execute as fuccefsfully as he! The Apostles were the Preachers of the Gofpel, and more eminently were they fo than Chrift, who if he came for nothing else but to preach, you will not easily reconcile his Office to his high Original, nor account for the fhort Period of his Miniftry; for within the Compafs of about three Years preaching, not to all the World (which by one Man, in fuch a Space of Time, could not be) but to his Countrymen only, all was .finished by his Death. And here arifes a new Difficulty; for 3. Why, it may reasonably be asked, was Chrift crucified? Why did God lay this Burden upon him? Why did it behove Chrift to fuffer? Say what you please, That it was to confirm his Doctrine,
That it was to give an Example of Patience to his Followers; or whatever elfe you can think of, but one; you will never be able to distinguish him in this Refpe&t from the least of his Apoftles, who were all
delivered unto Death for the Gospel fake. Yet St. Paul afks, Was Paul crucified for you? No; Paul was not crucified. But Paul fuffered as much, and was at last a Martyr to his Religion; and his Blood had as much the Virtue of a Teftimony, and an Example, as the Blood of Christ. But Paul's Blood had not the Virtue of a PROPITIATION. This is the true fpecific Difference which makes Sense of the Question, and folves all Difficulties. For it will not be hard to fuppofe, that when the Sins of all the World were to be laid upon one, the Eternal Son of God, both God and Man, might, in the Wildom of God, appear to be the only Perfon qualified to bear them; nor that, when the chief, or rather fole, End of his coming in the Fleth was to die for us, he should, after a very fhort Stay on Earth, through Death, return again to God, and leave the Ministry of the Word to other Hands To proceed :
The Declaration of this gracious Purpose of God to reftore Life and Immortality by or through the Sacrifice of Chrif, is friâtly and properly τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον, THE GOSPEL. The Gospel is good News or glad Tidings; as Luke ii. 10. Behold I bring you GOOD TIDINGS of great Joy, which shall be to all People. What thefe good Tidings were, the following Words fhew;-For unto you is born this Day, in the City of David, a SAVIOUR, which is Christ the Lord. So Acts xiii. 32. And we declare unto you GLAD TIDINGS, that the Promife which was made unto the Fathers God hath fulfilled unto us their Children, in that he hath raised up Je us again.-Be it known unto you therefore, Men and Brethren, that THROUGH this Man is preached unto you the FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and BY HIM all that believe are JUSTIFIED. Greek Word in both thefe Places is Εὐαγελίζομαι, which fignifies (literally) to preach the Goffel, or to bring glad Tidings, which glad Tidings were the declaring Chrift to be the Saviour and Redeemer of the World; the Perfon in whom and by whom the Pro* 1 Cor. i. 13.
mife was fulfilled which was made to the Fathers, i. e. the Promife of the Forgivenefs of Sins, and Juftification unto Eternal Life. But it is carefully to be obferved, that the Offer of Reconciliation by the Gofpel is not an abfolute A&t of Grace, but à Declaration of Pardon and Acceptance to thofe only who believe, under the Qualification of Repentance and good Works. The Scriptures fuppofe a general Defection in Mankind from the Law of God, to which they are called back by the preaching of the Gospel, and all who, qualified by Repentance, fhall accept the Gofpel, and rely upon the Mercies of God in Chrift for Salvation, are, actually, in a State of Reconciliation with God, i. e. their paft Sins are freely forgiven, and they stand intitled to Eternal Life, on Condition of future Obedience. But as without the Gospel all Men were Sinners, fo Faith in Chrift notwithstanding, all are ftill Sinners; for the Gospel doth not qualify us for Perfection. The Gofpel requires Repentance; and Repentance is nothing less than a returning back to the Obedience of the Law from which we have fwerved. But perfect Obedience is no where to be found; no where to be expected, either without the Gofpel, or with the Gospel: The Confequence of which is, that as it is by the Grace of God in Chrift that our paft Sins are forgiven when we come to the Gofpel, fo it is by the fame Grace that our imperfect Obedience is accepted whilft we live under the Gofpel; and to both must be applied what St. Paul fays, Rom. iii. 23, 24. We are juftified freely by his Grace through the Redemption that is in Chrift Jefus. For all have finned and come short of the Glory of God. And this is
what he means when he fays, (ver. 28.) A Man is juftified by Faith (xwgis eglwr vóμx) without the Deeds of the Law: The Apostle's Meaning, Ifay, is not that Obedience contributes nothing to our Salvation, or that we may be faved by Chrift, whether we are obedient or not; but that we cannot claim upon our Obedience, because our Works are not perfect before God. By Faith we may claim the Promises of God, to which