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such as call themselves Christians, originates from their disagree ment on the nature of the divine law, which alone must be viewed as the unerring standard of Christian morality, through every period of time. And although believers in Christ are not under the law as a covenant of works, yet this is invariably binding upon all Chris-, tians as a rule of life. And notwithstanding the gospel requires faith in the Mediator, and repentance towards God, as essential to salvation, which exercises are not enjoined in the moral law; yet the gospel enforces nothing in opposition to this holy rule. This idea corresponds with the following declaration of Christ; “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I come not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily i say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."* And the Saviour sums up the substance of the decalogue in these two commandment-viz: “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He adds, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."' The above confirms the idea that the moral law is designed to be the perpetual standard of Christian practice, under the gospel dispensation. The same is confirmed in the following words of the Apostle Paul: “Do we then make void the law through faith: God forbid.-Yea, we establish the law."}
It hence follows, that the standard of Christian morality is the divine law, which requires of believers perfection in holiness. This idea also corresponds with Christ's command in his sermon on the mount: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."Ş Nor can this fact, that no Christian ever did or ever will attain to perfection in this life, in the least lessen their obligations to be perfect. It is a plain scripture truth, that pious people are criminally guilty before God, and need renewed pardon for all their deviations from his holy law, either in thought, word or deed, and that they daily come to the throne of grace through the Mediator, that they may obtain pardoning mercy for all their shortcomings in duty. It is evident that the idea of their asking forgiveness of God for falling short of a perfect obedience to his holy law, necessarily implies their obligations to keep it perfectly. Håd not good men, when they sin, an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, the fearful curse of God's broken law would lie upon them.
The Apostle Paul evidently kept in view perfection in holiness as the mark, at which he was constantly aiming, though he confesses, that he fell far short of this standard. His words are, “ Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect : but I follow after, if I may apprehend, that for which I am also apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended ; but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, I press
* Matt. y. 17, 18. Chap. xxii. 37-40. Rom. iii. 31. Matt. v. 48.
toward the mark, for the prize of my high calling in Christ Jesus."** He doubtless here alludes to those games or races, that were practiced by the ancient heathen, in which the garland or prize that should be the reward of the victor, was set up at the end of the race. Paul then addresses the Hebrew church ; “ Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection.”+
The christian course is to be a continued progress in grace. Thus Peter exhorts ; “ But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” He also exhorts christians “To give all diligence, to add to their faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity." And it is always to be remembered, that the standard of christian practice must be essentially the same in every age of the world. It cannot be varied, with the maxims and fashions of men. As Christ is immutable, his law's must be so. “ One Lord, one faith, one baptism." That regenerating change by the spirit of God, which makes sinners new creatures, and which lays a foundation for the christian temper and practice, will continue to be of the same nature essentially, to the end of time. The strait and narrow path of truth and holiness, which leads through the gate into the New Jerusalem, can never become broader. The terms of discipleship proposed by Christ in the gospel, which require sinful men to renounce their wicked courses, their ungodly lusts and self-righteous dependencies ; and to forsake their nearest relatives, their worldly possessions, and even life itself when called, for his sake, are the same in every christian age. The duties of self-denial, sobriety, temperance, holy zeal in Christ's cause, as well as watchfulness and fervent prayer, will always continue to be essential for the maintaining an acceptable obedience, and a meet preparation for the kingdom of heaven. Every believer in Christ is bound to improve his time and talents, wholly in the service of God. To walk by faith, not by sight, and to be pressing daily toward perfection as the mark. Nor is he to rest satisfied with any past attainments in grace. But he must persevere in “ running the race set before him, in fighting the good fight of faith :"-yea, his whole life should be a constant journey towards heaven, until he has finished his course, and his Lord shall call him off from his labours, to enter among the spirits of just men made perfect.
ON THE SONSHIP OF CHRIST. IT has long been a sentiment of very general belief in the christian church, that the term “ Son of God," is expressive of the supreme glory and dignity of our blesseil Redeemer; and that it imports that divine relation to the Father, in which his highest character consists. The term, however, is considered by some as
* Phil. ii. 12, 13, 14.
Heb. vi. 1.
2 Pet. iii. 18.
applicable to Christ in his mediatorial character only ; and that it is not expressive of his divine nature. It is certainly important that christians understand the true import of this glorious title. In order to determine which of these sentiments accords with the divine testimony, a candid consideration of the following passages and. observations is humbly requested.
It appears from Matt. ii. 17.-xvii. 5. John i. 34.-ii. 18.-vi. 69.-ix. 35.-xi. 27. Acts viii. 37.-ix. 20. Rom. i. 4. 1 John iv. 15.-v. 5.—X. 13, &c. that the “ Lord from heaven," is presented to a lost world, as the great and glorious object of faith, in the character of " the Son of God.” When the Father bears testimony concerning him, it relates wholly to this character. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.” The forerunner of our blessed Saviour also says, “ I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.” So our Saviour himself required and approved the faith of perishing souls in the same truth. “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" This was his highest claim in the presence of his opposers. On this their charge of blasphemy was founded.—John x. 36. This was the good confession of his disciples which received the benediction of their divine master. « Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”—Matt. xvi.16, 17. John vi. 69.-xi. 27. It was also the theme of their preaching. Saul “preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God." Acts ix. 20.—2 Cor. i. 19. For the general knowledge and belief of this important and precious truth, the gospel of the grace of God is recorded in the scriptures. “ These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”—John xx. 31.
It is also worthy of particular observation, that in the text last quoted, and in other passages, salvation is connected with a spiritual understanding and cordial belief of this truth ; and condemnation with the rejection of it. “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”—John iii. 36. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.”—1 John iv. 15. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?" i John v. 5. On the profession of faith in this truth the primitive christians were baptized. Acts viji. 37, 38. .
Now let us seriously consider whether Jesus Christ, when he is exhibited to a lost world as the great object of faith, is not.exhibited in his highest and most glorious character ? If this is admitted, it must also be admitted that the phrase “ Son of God,” is expressive of that character. Let us also consider whether we are not required to believe in the divine and highest character of Jesus in order to be saved by him. If so, it certainly follows that the phrase under consideration, imports his highest character, for “whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.”—1 John iv. 15.
The first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews illustrates this important truth. It is evidently the design of the inspired Apostle
in this chapter, to set forth our adorable Redeemer in his highest dignity and most glorious character. He represents him, verse as the Creator of the world. Verse 3, as the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person. Verse 4, as being much better than the angels. Verse 6, as the object of their worship. And verse 8, as God. But it appears from verses 2 and 3 that it is in the character of Son, that he is the Creator of the world, and the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. If then his creating the world, if this brightness and express image of the Father's glory denote divinity, the title of Son must denote the same. And why is he so much better than the angels ? Because he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. But what is this excellent name? It is the “Son of God." This is evident from verse 5. “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, thou art my Son,” &c. But if this name is applicable only to his humanity, it must rather signify that he was made “a little lower than the angels ;” and the inspired Apostle appears wholly to have failed in his proof, verse 5, which he evidently considers as conclusive. And in what character, we may ask, were the angels commanded to worship him. We should certainly suppose, in his highest character. But it appears from verse 6, that it was as the “ Son of God.” “When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him." Particularly let it be remarked, that in verse 8, the very highest title by which our Saviour is or can be designated, even the title of God, is predicated on his divine Sonship, and is applied to him in that character. “ Unto the Son he saith, Thy throue, O God, is forever and ever."
Mr. Fuiler in his essay on this subject, justly remarks,“ The glory of the only begotten of the Father, and the glory of the Word, are used as convertible terms, as being the same: but the latter is allowed to denote the divine person of Christ, antecedent to his being made flesh; the same, therefore, must be true of the former. “ The Word was made flesh, and we beheld his glory;"' that is, the glory of the Word, “ the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John i. 14. John i. 18. “No inan hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” It will be admitted that the perfect knowledge which Christ has of the Father's, counsels, by which he is qualified to be the prophet of his people, is proof of his divine nature, but the passage shews that he possesses this knowledge as the “ Son of God," dwelling in the bosom of the Father. The efficacy of his priesthood, is also ascribed to his being the “ Son of God." “ We have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God." Heb. iv. 14. “ The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin.” If then there is any divinity in his priesthood, to give virtue to his sacrifice, that divinity is in the name of the < Son of God.” So also when he is exalted as King on the holy hill of Zion, the decree is declared, “ Thou art my Son," &c. And when we are required to be reconciled to his government, we are commanded to « kiss the Son," &c. Ps. ii. 7, 12. It is evident from John xvii. 1, 2, that the power by which he reigns over all, and gives eternal life to his people, he possesses as the “ Son of God.” John mi. 16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here the Apostle exhibits to us the great love of the giver, by setting forth the excellence of the gift. But all this excellence is comprised in the phrase, “ his only begotten Son." This phrase must therefore include the highest character of our blessed Redeemer, or it is totally inadequate for the Apostle's purpose to set forth the great love of God toward us in “his unspeakable gift.” John xvii. 5. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” The manifest truth in this passage is that the Son possessed glory with the Father before the world was, and consequently that these relations then subsisted. But if the term « Son of God,” is not expressive of the Redeemer's highest character, it follows that the “Son of God," so far from possessing glory with the Father before the world was, has not yet existed two thousand years!
It is remarked by the author before quoted, that “God is frequently said to have sent his Son into the world." John vii. 18.X. 36.' 1 John iv. 9, 10. But this implies that he was his Son, antecedent to his being sent. To suppose otherwise, is no less absurd than supposing that when Christ is said to have sent forth his twelve disciples, they were not disciples, but in consequence of his sending them, or of some preparation pertaining to their mission. “Moreover ; to say that God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” is equal to saying that the Son of God assumed human nature : he must therefore have been the Son of God before his incarnation." “ Christ is <alled the “ Son of God," antecedent to his being “ manifested to destroy the works of the devil :" but he was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, by taking upon him human nature ; consequently he was the Son of God antecedent to the human nature being assumed. There is equal proof, from the phraseology of 1 John lii. 8, that he was the « Son of God," antecedent to his being “ manifested to destroy the works of the devil,” as there is from that of 1 Tim. iii. 16, that he was God," antecedent to his being “manifested in the flesh;" or from 1 John i. 2, that“ that eternal life which was with the Father,” was such antecedent to his being “ manifested to us." It has been frequently suggested, that the ground of Christ's Sonship is given us in Luke i. 35, and is no other than his miraculous conception. « The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." It is true that our Lord was miraculously conceived of the Holy Spirit, and that such a conception was peculiar to him ; but it does not follow that by this he became the Son, or “only begotten Son of God.” Nor does the passage in question prove any such thing. It may be a reason given why Christ is called the Son of God; but not why he is so. Christ is called the Son of God as raised from the