صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

SER M. scend to a fimple remission of our debts; yet so, 111. that, saving his right and honour, he did stoop lower

for an effectual abolition of them. He would make good his word, not to let our trespasses go unpunished; yet so, that by our punishment we might receive advantage. He would manifest his detestation of wickedness in a way more illustrious, than if he had persecuted it down to hell, and irreversibly doomed it to endless torment.

But how might these things be effected? Where was there a Mediator proper and worthy to intercede for us? Who could presume to solicit and plead in our behalf? Who should dare to put himself between God and us, and offer to screen mankind from the divine wrath and vengeance? Who had so great an interest in the court of heaven, as to ingratiate such a brood of apoftate enemies thereto? Who could affume the confidence to propose terms of reconciliation, or to agitate a new covenant, wherewith God might be satisfied, and whereby we might be saved ? Where, in heaven or earth, could there be found a priest fit to atone for fins so vastly numerous, so extremely heinous ? And whence should a facrifice be taken, of value sufficient to

expiate for so manifold enormities, committed against Alaviay aú, the infinite Majesty of Heaven? Who could find out het nie. the everlasting redemption of innumerable fouls, or lay

down a competent ransom for them all? Not to say, could also purchase for them eternal life and bliss ?

These are questions, which would puzzle all the wit of man, yea, would gravel all the wisdom of angels to resolve: for plain it is, that no creature on earth, none in heaven, could well undertake or. per. forin this work.

Where on earth, among the degenerate fons of Heb. vii. Adam, could be found such an high priest as became us, boly, harmless

, undefiled, separate from finners and how could a man, however innocent and pure as a seraphim, so perform his duty, as to do more than

ix. I 2.

[ocr errors]


merit or satisfy for himself? How many lives could s E r M. the life of one man serve to ransom ; seeing that it ift. is asserted of the greatest and richest among men, that None of them can by any means redeem bis brother, Pfal. xlix. or give to God a ransom for him.

And how could available help in this case be expected from any of the angelical host; seeing (beside their being in nature different from us, and thence improper to merit or satisfy for us; beside their comparative meanness, and infinite distance from the majesty of God,) they are but our fellow-servants, and have obligations to discharge for themselves, and cannot be solvent for more than for their own debts of gratitude and service to their infinitely-bountiful Creator ; they also themfelves needing a Saviour, to preserve them by his grace in their happy state?

Indeed, no creature might aspire to fo august an honour, none could atchieve fo marvellous a work, as to redeem from infinite guilt and misery the noblest part of all the visible creation: none could prefume to invade that high prerogative of God, or attempt to infringe the truth of that reiterated proclamation, I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is n10 Ifa. xliii. Saviour.

Hof, xiii.4. Wherefore, seeing that a supereminent dignity of person was required in our Mediator, and thať an immense value was to be presented for our ransom ; seeing that God faw there was no man, and wondered Isa. lix. 16. (or took special notice) that there was no intercesor ; LXX it must be his arm alone that could bring salvation ; none beside God himself could intermeddle therein.

But how could God undertake the business? Could he become a suitor or interceffor to his offended self? Could he present a sacrifice, or disburse a satisfaction to his own justice ? Could God alone contract and stipulate with God in our behalf ? No; surely man alio must concur in the transaction : some amends must ifrue from him, fomewhat must be paid out of our stock : human will and confent


11. xlv, 21.



iv. 15:

serm. must be interpofed, to ratify a firm covenant with

us, inducing obligation on our part. It was decent and expedient, that as man, by wilful transgression and presumptuous felf-pleasing, had so highly offended, injured, and dishonoured his Maker; fo man allo, by willing obedience, and patient submission to God's plealure, should greatly content, right, and

glorify himn. Ephef. i. 8.

Here then did lie the stress; this was the knot, Leuken: 78. which only divine wisdom could loose. And so inTit. iii. 4. deed it did in a most effectual and admirable way; Rom: v. 8. for in correspondence to all the exigences of the John vi. 38. case, (that God and man both might act their parts Hoth i. 2. in saving us) the blessed eternal Word, the only Son Heb. v. z. of God,

by the good-will of his Father, did vouchsafe to intercede for us, and to undertake our reEphef. i. 6. Conft. A- demption ; in order thereto voluntarily being sent poft

. viii. down from heaven, assuming human flesh, subjecting 1 Tim. ii. himself to all the infirmities of our frail nature, and

to the worst inconveniences of our low condition: Heb. ix. 15. therein meriting God's favour to us, by a perfect Col. i. 22. obedience to the law, and satisfying God's justice by

a most patient endurance of pains in our behalf; in completion of all, willingly laying down his life for the ransom of our fouls, and pouring forth his blood in facrifice for our Gins.

This is that great and wonderful mystery of godliness, (or of our holy religion) the which St. Paul here doth express, in these words concerning our blessed Saviour; Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a fervant, and was made in the likeness of men : and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled bimself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

In which words are contained divers points very observable. But seeing the time will not allow me to treat on them in any measure as they deserve, I fhall (waving all the rest) infift but upon one partie



Tit. ii. 14.

1 Tim. iii.



cular, couched in the last words, Even the death of S E R M. the cross a; which by a special emphalis do excite us to consider the manner of that holy passion, which we now commemorate; the contemplation whereof, bardzy N as it is most seasonable, so it is ever very profitable.

savpi. Now then in this kind of passion we may consider divers notable adjuncts ; namely these: 1. Its being in appearance criminal. 2. Its being most bitter and painful. 3. Its being most ignominious and Nameful

. 4. lis peculiar advantageousness to the designs of our Lord in suffering. 5. Its practical efficacy.

1. We may consider our Lord's suffering as criminal; or as in semblance being an execution of justice upon him. He (as the Prophet foretold of him) was Ifa. liii. 12. numbered among the tranfgrefors; and God (faith St.zi. Paul) made him fin for us, who knew no fin : that is, God ordered him to be treated as a most fioful or criminous person, who in himself was perfectly innocent, and void of the least inclination to oflend.

So in effect it was, that he was impeached of the highest crimes; as a violator of the divine laws in John v. 18. divers instances; as a designer to subvert their reli- x: 30, &c. gion and temple ; as an impostor, deluding and fe- Matt. xxvi. ducing the people; as a blasphemer, assuming to 61. xxvii. himself the properties and prerogatives of God; as a Luke xxiii. seditious and rebellious person, perverting the nation, satı. xxvii. inhibiting payments of tribute to Cæfar, usurping 63. royal authority, and styling himself Christ a king : in Cont. A. a word, as a malefactor, or one guilty of enormous naxcta's. offences ; so his persecutors avowed to Pilate, If, 0. said they, he were not a malefactor, we would not bave delivered him up unto thee. As such he was represented and arraigned ; as such, although by a sentence wrested by malicious importunity, against the will and conscience of the judge, he was condemned, and accordingly suffered death.

Now whereas any death or passion of our Lord, as being in itself immensely valuable, and most precious in the light of God, might have been fufficient


Joha xviii.

vi. p. 194.

SER M. toward the accomplishment of his general designs, III. (the appeasing God's wrath, the satisfaction of di

vine justice, the expiation of our guilt ;) it may be enquired, why God Thould thus expose him, or why he should choose to suffer under this odious and ugly character x? Which enquiry is the more confiderable, because it is especially this circumstance which crofseth the fleshly lense and worldly prejudices of men, so as to have rendered the Gospel offensive to

the superstitious Jews, and despicable to conceited Orig. c. Gentiles. For fo Tryphon in Justin Martyr, alSąlvii

. P: though, from conviction by testimonies of Scripture, 368. Aug. he did admit the Messias was to suffer hardly, yet 10. 28. Cy. that it should be in this accursed manner, he could ril. c. Jul. not digest. So the great adversaries of Christianity

(Celsus, Porphyry, Julian) did with most contempt

urge this exception against it. So St. Paul did ob1 Cor. i. 23. serve, that Christ crucified was unto the Jews a stum

bling-block, and into the Greeks foolishness. Wherefore to avoid those scandals, and that we may better admire the wisdom of God in this dispensation, it may be fit to assign some reasons intimated in holy Scripture, or bearing conformity to its doctrine, why it was thus ordered. Such are these.

1. As our Saviour freely did undertake a life of greatest meanness and hardship, so upon the like accounts he might be pleased to undergo a death most loathsome and uncomfortable. There is nothing to man's nature (especially to the best natures, in which modesty and ingenuity do survive,) more abominable than such a death. God for good purposes hath planted in our constitution a quick sense of difgrace; and, of all dilgraces, that which proceedetli from an imputation of crimes is most pungent; and being conscious of our innocence doth heighten the

* Cur si Deus fuit, et mori voluit, non faltem honesto aliquo mortis genere affectus est ? &c. Lact. 4. 26. Juft. M. Dial. p. 317.

smart ;

« السابقةمتابعة »