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we have in great measure depraved and put off; and let us put on bowels of mercy towards those that are in misery, and be ready to relieve the poor for his fake, who being rich, for our fakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.
To conclude : Let us imitate him in that which was his great work and business here upon earth, and which of all other did best become the Son of God; I mean, in his going about doing good, that, by giving glory to God. in the highest, and by endeavouring, as much as in us lies, to procure and promote peace on earth, and goodwill anìongsł men, we may at last be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, through the mercies and merits of our blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.
“ Almighty God, who haft given us thy only begot « ten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this “ time to be born of a pure virgin, grant, that we being
regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and
grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit, “through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth « and reigneth with thee and the fame Spirit, ever one “ God, world without end. Amen,"
S E R M ON
Concerning the sacrifice and satisfaction of
H E B. ix. 26. But now once in the end of the world haih he appeared to take away fin by the facrifice of himself.
Mong many other great ends and reasons for which
to dwell amongst us, this was one of the chief, that, by a long course of the greatest innocency and the greate it sufferings in our nature, he might be capable to I 3
make a perfect expiation of fin : But now once in the end of the world, é di ouvtensia tūv aiavor, in the conclusion of the ages, (that is, in the last age of the world, which is the gospel-age), hath he appeared to take away fin by the sacrifice of himself.
The general design of God in fending his Son into the world, was, to save mankind from eternal death and misery, and to purchase for us eternal life and happiness. So the author of our salvation himself tells us, john iii. 16. that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, Mhould not perish, but have everlasting life.
Now, in order to the procuring of this falvation for us, the impediments and hinderances of it were to be removed. These were, the guilt, and the dominion of sin. By the guilt of sin we were become obnoxious to the wrath of God, and to eternal condemnation; and by the defilement and dominion of it we were incapable of the happiness of heaven, and the reward of eternal life.
To remove these two great hinderances, two things were necessary; the forgiveness of sins part, in order to our deliverance from the wrath of God, and the eternal torments of the next life; and the reformation of our hearts and lives, to make us capable of eternal life and happiness in another world. And both these, if God had so pleased, might, for any thing we certainly know to the contrary, have been effected by the abundant mercy and powerful grace of God, without this wonderful method and dispensation of sending his Son in our nature to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. But it seems the wisdom of God thought fit to pitch upon this way
and method of our salvation; and no doubt for very good reasons; amongst which these three seem to be very obvious, and very confiderable.
1. To vindicate the honour of his laws, which, if fin had gone altogether unpunished, would have been in great danger of falling into contempt. For if God had proclaimed a general pardon of fin to all mankind, without any testimony of his wrath and displeasure against it, who would have had any great veneration for his laws, or have believed in good earnest, that the vio
lation of them had either been so extremely offensive to him, or fo very dangerous to the finner ?
Therefore, to maintain the honour of his laws, rather than sin should pass unpunished, God would lay the punishment of it upon his only begotten Son, the dearest person to him in the world; which is a greater testimony of his high displeasure against fin, and of his tender regard and concernment for the honour of his laws, than if the finner had suffered the punishment due to it in his own person.
2. Another reason of this dispensation, and that likewise very considerable, was, that God might forgive fin in such a way as yet effectually to discountenance and dif. courage it, and to create in us the greatest horror and hatred of it; which could not have been by an absolute pardon, without any punishment inflicted, or fatiffaction made to the honour of his justice. For had fin been so easily forgiven, who would have been sensible of the great evil of it, or afraid to offend for the future?
But when God makes his own Son a sacrifice, and lays upon him the punifhment due for the iniquities of us all, this is a demonstration, that God hates sin as much, if it be possible, as he loved his own Son. For this plainly shews what sin deserves, and what the finner may justly expect, if, after this severity of God against it, he will venture to commit it.
And if this facrifice for fin, and the pardon purchafed by it, be not effectual to reclaim us from sin, and to beget in us an eternal dread and deteftation of it; if we fin wilfully after fo clear a revelation of the wrath of God from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteoufness of men, there remains no more sacrifice for fin, but' a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indigna. tion to consume the adversaries. For what could God do more to testify his displeasure against fin, and to discountenance the practice of it, than to make his only Son an offering for fin, and to give him up to be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities? In what clearer glass can we at once behold the great evil and demerit of sin, and the infinite goodness and mercy
of God to ners, than in the sorrows and sufferings of the Son of God for our lins and for our fakes ?
3. Another reason of this dispensation seems to have been a gracious condescension and compliance of almighty God with a certain apprehension and persuasion, which had very early and universally obtained among mankind, concerning the expiation of sin, and appeasing the offended Deity, by the facrifices of living creatures, of birds and beasts; and afterwards by human sacrifices, and the blood of their sons and daughters; by offering to God, as the expression is in the Prophet, their firstborn for their transgresion, and the fruit of their body for the sin of their souls.
And this notion of the expiation of sin by facrifice, whether it had its first rise from divine revelation, and was afterwards propagated from age to age by tradition; I say, from whence soever this notion came, it hath, of all other notions concerning religion, excepting those of the being of God and his providence, and of the recompences of another life, found the most universal reception; and the thing hath been the most generally practised in all ages and nations, not only in the old, but in the new discovered parts of the world.
And indeed a very great part of the Jewish religion, which was instituted by God himself, seems to have been a plain condescension to the general apprehension of .mankind, concerning this way of appealing the offended Deity by sacrifices; as it was also a figure of that great and efficacious facrifice which should in due time be offered to God to make atonement once for all for the Lins of all mankind.
And the Apostle to the Hebrews doth very particularly infilt upon this condescension of God to them in the dispensation of the gospel. And whereas they apprehended fo great a necessity of an High Priest, and of facrifices, to make expiation for the sins of the people, that it was an established principle among them, that without flaedding of blood
there was no remifion of fins, God was pleased to comply so far with these notions and apprehensions of theirs, as to make his own Son both a priest and a sacrifice, to do that once for all which their own High Priest pretended to do year by year.
And from hence the same Apostle takes occasion to recommend to them the new covenant, and dispensation of
the gospel, as having a greater and more perfect High Prielt, and a more excellent sacrifice, than were the High Priests and the sacrifices under the law; the Son of God having by one facrifice of himself obtained eternal redemption for us, and perfected for ever them that are fanctified.
And this apprehension prevailed no less in the Heathen world, and proceeded to the sacrifices of men, even of their first-born. And with this apprehension, not to countenance, but to abolish it, God was pleased to comply so far, as to make a general atonement for the fins of mankind by the death of his son, appearing in our nature to become a voluntary sacrifice for us : God permitting him to be unjustly put to death, and his blood to be shed by the malice of men, in appearance as a malefactor, but in truth as a martyr; and accepting of his death as a meritorious sacrifice and propitiation for the fins of the whole world, that by this wise counsel and permission of his providence he might for ever put an end to that barbarous and inhumane way of serving God which had been so long in use and practice among them : the Son of God by the voluntary sacrifice of himself having effected all that at once, and for ever, which mankind, from the beginning of the world, had in vain been endeavouring to accomplish by innumerable and continual facrifices; namely, the pardon of their fins, and perfect peace and reconciliation with God.
For thefe ends and reasons, and perhaps for many more as great and considerable as these, which our shal. low understandings are not able to fathom, the wisdom of God hath pitched upon this way and method of delivering mankind from the guilt and dominion of fin by the facrifice of his Son. And to this end it was requisite, that he should appear in our nature, and dwell amongst us for some considerable time, that, by a long course of the greatest innocency, and of the greatest fufferings in our nature, he might be capable of making a perfect expiation of sin.
So that two things were requisite to qualify him for this purpose; perfect innocency and obedience, and great sufferings in our nature, even to the suffering of death, Both these the scripture declares to be necessary qualifications of a person capable to make expiation of lin; and