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hence Christ is said to be all in all. To the honour and dignity of presiding at the head of the gospel dispensation, as extended to the whole world, he attained through his sufferings and death, and possesses his present exalted station as the reward of his having perfectly obeyed.
Under these views the death of Christ stands connected with the dispensation of the gospel, and, thus viewed, it is an event of great magnitude and importance it has a bearing upon the principal facts, doctrines, and privileges of christianity; it is associated with the general system, and comes into argument in many practical points of view; nor is it easy for us to overlook the obligations we are under to him for dying to confirm so many blessings to us.
The connection of the death of Christ with the salvation of men.
WHEN the salvation of men is ascribed to the death of Christ, we are not to consider his death abstractedly, but in connection with various other important circumstances, in fact with the whole of the gospel dispensation. His death may be considered as including the whole of his testimony, because it finished and confirmed it and as
for the whole of his ministry and obedience, because it was the completion of both.
His death has a connection with the salvation of men, as he endured all his sufferings with a view to the effecting of their deliverance, and submitted to death in order to the attainment of that power and authority in the exercise of which he does actually save them, by the gospel. As the reward of his obedience, he is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. As he patiently endured all his sufferings that he might make known salvation to mankind, and obtain, as a reward, the authority and power of communicating it to the world, and as his death was the grand confirmation of the gospel, it may well be said that we are saved through his death. Had not he submitted to die we know of no way in which salvation would have come to the gentiles, of no person who would have been invested with power and authority to communicate it. It is certainly true that God could have opened a way, he could have appointed a suitable person for the purpose; but this is only saying, he could have done what he has actually done in the appointment of Jesus Christ. The person whom God had raised up and appointto be a Saviour must have been anointed with the holy spirit and with power, he must have been the Messiah, he must have had a divine mission, he must have been qualified for the work, he must have been obedient as Jesus was, have performed the same work, in order to his receiving the same reward. We are not capable of conceiving how a
different method could have been adopted consistently with all the circumstances, and the greatest good of the moral system; for God will ever raise to the highest dignity, and honour with the execution of the most important services, the most worthy. Jesus is the person who hath proved himself worthy of the trust committed to his hands and, as our salvation is the object of it, we are under very high obligations to him.
As it is an unquestionable fact that sinners are actually saved by the gospel, the death of Christ stands connected with their salvation, as that which has confirmed to them the gospel and all its blessings. Suppose a man should set up a claim to a large estate, and to establish that claim in a court of law, present an unsealed deed or writing; he would be told he could claim nothing upon the ground of that writing, because, whatever it might express, it had never been confirmed, of course was not valid: suppose, instead of presenting any writing, he should merely present a detached seal, fairly impressed, and on the ground of that make his claim ; he would be told he could claim nothing on that ground, for the seal could express nothing, prove nothing, unless affixed to a writing which expressed what it was intended to confirm. Even so the gospel, had it not been ratified by the death of Christ, would have been no ground on which the gentiles could have claimed the privilege of being fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of faith; and the death of Christ, detached from the gospel, of the truth and validity of which it is
an attestation, would be like a seal not attached to any writing, on the ground of which nothing could be claimed. But suppose the man claiming the estate, should present in court a writing which expresses his title, signed and sealed, when the contents of the writing were understood, he might lay his finger upon the seal, and say,' on the ground of this seal I am entitled to the estate,' because the seal would establish the validity of the writing. Just such is the gospel: it comes to us confirmed and ratified by the death of Christ, and its blesings are frequently mentioned in connection with his death simply, though they are enjoyed through an understanding of the truth and its influence on the heart, because his death has confirmed to us that truth, and the privileges connected with it.
The death of Christ is connected with our salvation as we are called in order to the attainment of it, to be conformed to his death, figuratively, to be crucified with him, to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God. Christians are said to be planted together in the likeness of his death, that they may be also in the likeness of his resurrection. It is only as we attain to the same spirit of self-denial, and crucifixion of the flesh in its affections and desires, which he manifested in his sufferings and death, that we can attain the actual enjoyment of salvation. His death has to do with our salvation, as, when duly considered in all its circumstances, it has a tendency to influence us to entire submission to the will of God, and all those dispositions towards men, which will
greatly promote our deliverance from evil. Christ having learned obedience, and being made perfect, through sufferings, became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him. In consequence of his obedience to death, he was invested with authority to dispense present salvation to sinners who repent and believe the gospel, and eternal salvation, hereafter, to all the obedient. And if we would attain eternal salvation we must be conformed to his death; as he hath suffered for us in the flesh we must arm ourselves with the same mind, that we may cease from sin: we must be content to suffer with him, if we would reign with him; to suffer reproach, to have our names cast out as evil, for our attachment to truth and righteousness; to bear injuries patiently, without personal resentment, and to render good for evil: we must be willing to be crucified with him to all the evil principles, ungodly maxims, corrupt interests, and wicked practices of the age in which we live. Under these views the death of Christ stands connected with the salvation of men.