« 上一頁繼續 »
for the Creator to destroy the work of his hands, and it is so represented: The Lord said, I will destroy man, wHOM I HAVE CREATED, from the face of the earth. But to smite his beloved Son, was greater. To be made conformable to this principle, we must not conceive of sin as the weakness, or frailty of human nature, a mere imperfection which a good God must needs overlook. Neither must we give heed to those systems of religion which are founded upon these depreciating notions, which, however they may flatter us for the present, will, in the end, assuredly de. ceive us.
3. The death of Christ presupposes, that there was nothing, in all our doings or sufferings, that could furnish a ground of salva, tion, or a single consideration for which we might be forgiven, Had it been otherwise, Christ would not have died. Men have ever been busily employed in endeavours to propitiate the Deity; some by ceremonial observances, and some by moral; but instead of accomplishing the object, they have only made the case worse, Even those services which were of divine appointment, became, in their hands, offensive ; God was weary of their offerings. Christ is represented as taking the work out of their hands : Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened ; burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said 1, Lo, I come! They were, indeed required as duties for the time, but not for the purpose of making atonement. Not tears, nor prayers, nor alms, nor any other of our doings, will avail as terms of acceptance with God. If we are conformed to the death of Christ, we shall know and feel this to be the case, and shall seek salvation by grace only, through the Mediator. If we are not conformed to the death of Christ in this respect, we have no reason to expect any interest in it.
4. The death of Christ presupposes, that, for mercy to be exercised in a way consistent with the honour of God, it required to be through a sacrifice of infinite value. When the Apostle declares, that it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins, he plainly intimates, that the inherent value of the sacrifice was of essential importance as to its effect. If it were impossible for animal sacrifices to atone for sin, it must be en ac Ver. VII.
count of their insufficiency to demonstrate either the hatred of God to sin, or his love to sinners : but the same reason would apapply tu the sacrifice of Christ, if he were merely a creature. Hence, those who deny his divinity, with perfect consistency deny also bis atonement. But, on the principle of his divinity, his sufferings were of infinite value ; and to this, the scriptures ascribe their efficacy. A careful reader of the New Testament will perceive, that, in exhibiting the value and efficacy of his death, it connects it with the inherent dignity of his person : Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had BY HIMSELF PURGED OUR sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.--We have a GREAT high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus THE SON OF GOD.-The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
The result is, that to be made conformable to the death of Christ, we must think highly of it, and not reduce it to the death of a mere martyr. It is a serious thing to make light of the Saviour, and of the work of salvation : He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, und hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sunctified,an unholy (or common) thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengcance belongeth unto me, I will recompense saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
Let us observe,
II. THE MOTIVES BY WHICH THE DEATH OF CHRIST WAS INDUCED. In these we shall find a blessed example to imitate. They may all be summed up in love ; love to God and men ; love great, disinterested, and unparalleled.
There never was such an example of the love of God, as that which is furnished by the obedience and death of Christ. It was his meat and drink to do the will of his Father. He did not know his nearest relations, but as doing his Father's will. When the bitter cup'was presented to him, he said, Now is my soul troubled ;
and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. What was this but exposing his breast, as we should say to the sword of justice : consenting to be made a sacrifice, that God might be glorified in the salvation of sinners? It was love, working in a way of grief, that caused that affecting exclamation, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? He could endure the cross, and even despise the shame; he could bear to be betrayed, denied, and for saken by his own disciples : but to be forsaken of God, wounded him beyond any thing. O to be made conformable to his death in these things ; to love God, so as to account it our meat and drink to do his will ; so as to reckon his friends our friends, and his cause our cause ; to be willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, for his name's sake ; and to feel the withholding of his favour our severest loss !
As there never was such lore to God, as that which was manifested by Christ, so neither was there ever such love to men. He
and washed us from our sins IN HIS OWN BLOOD. The love of creatures is ordinarily founded on something lovely in the object; but Christ died for us, while we were yet enemies. To be made conformable to his death in this, is to bear good will to men, to seek their present and everlasting welfare in every way that is within our power; and this, notwithstanding the unloveliness of their character and conduct : Love them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. Unbelievers, who know no principle superior to self-love, bave represented this precept of our Lord as unnatural and extravagant. Yet they themselves are daily partaking of his bounty, who causeth his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and his rain to descend on the just and on the unjust. If they were the children of that Being whom they acknowledge, they would in come degree resemble him. Such was the example of Jesus, and such must be ours, if we be made conformable to him.
Let us observe,
III. THE SPIRIT WITH WHICH THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST WERE ENDURED. In this we shall find a model for our spirit. The Lord Jesus was possessed of all the original passions of human nature ; as love, joy, sorrow, grief, anger, indigoation, &c. When roproached and injured, he felt it; his enduring the cross and despising the shame, was not owing to his being insensible to either, but to the joy set before him. The purity of his nature did not extinguish its passions, but rendered them subordinate to the will of his Father. With the greatest sensibility to reproach and injury, he was meek and lowly of heart. Under all the reproaches and false accusations that were preferred against him on his tri. al, he preserved a digoified silence: not a word was uttered tending to save bis life; but, when questioned on the truth of his Messiabship, he, with equal dignity and firmness, avowed it, though he knew the avowal would cost him his life. Nor did the contradiction and abuse which he received from his executioners extinguish his compassion toward them : while they were nailing him to the cross he prayed, saying, Father forgive them: for they know not what they do.
If we observe the spirit of the apostles, we shall find them to have made him their pattern : Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it ; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of all things unto this day. There appears to have been a holy emulation in the apostle Paul to be a follower of his Lord, even unto death. In all that befel him, he kept his eye on Christ: If we suffer, we shall also reign WITH HIM.We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair ; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, ALWAYS BEARING ABOUT IN THE BODY THE DYING OF THE LORD Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. Such was that conformity to the death of Christ, after which he panted with the most vehement desire. Nothing was farther from his thoughts than partaking with him in the work of redemption; but, so far as fellowship in his sufferings was admissible, it was the object of his most ardent desire. to be thus made like him, and like his faithful follow
We proceed to observe,
IV. THE ENDS WHICH THE DEATH OF CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED. In them, though there is much which is peculiar to himself, yet there is also much in which we are made conformable to him.
Did he satisfy divine justice, and thereby open the way of salvation ? Certainly, it is not for us to attempt any thing like this ; but, by believing in him, we acquiesce in what he has done and suffered, and so are made conformable to it. Nor is this confined to our first believing : the more we know of Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, the more we are, in this way, made conformable to his death. The death of Christ will give the impression to the very enjoyment of heaven. The Lamb that was slain will be the theme of the song forever.
Was he manifested to destroy the works of the devel? If we be made conformable to his death, we also shall wage war with them. If we live in sin, we are of the devil, and must needs be at variance with the death of Christ ; sparing that which he was manifested in human nature to destroy. The finished work of Christ upon the cross did not supercede the necessity of our be. ing active in overcoming evil. We must set our feet upon the necks of these spiritual enemies, taking a part in their destruction Neither did it supercede the necessity of our active perseverance in the use of all means by which we may disengage our souls from the entanglements of sin, praying and struggling from under its dominion, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. It is thus that we have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; and which, instead of superceding the death of Christ, is being made conformable to it. From bis having died for sin, we are exhorted to die to it, and to live unto God. We cannot enter into the end of Christ's death, which was to make an end of sin, unless we become dead to sin ; norinto bis resurrection, without rising with him into newness of life.
In waging war with sin, it is necessary to begin with ourselves, but not to end there. If we be made conformable to the death of Christ, we shall be adverse to sin wherever we find it; avoiding all participation in it, through complaisance or worldly interest,