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But the words which I have particularly sclected lead to subjects which constitute the basis of all true religion, and I shall beg leave to introduce them with some general remarks.
i. Every institution, whether human or divine, is founded on certain principles which give direction and efficiency to such institutions.
2. These principles spring from the reason, propriety, or necessity that such institutions should be formed ; that such principles should not only be their basis, but ramify themselves through all the rules and regulations formed for the proper conducting of such institutions.
3. These institutions are formed to promote or accomplish a particular end; and such an end as justifies the motives, and sanctions the means and energies which are required to be brought into action for their accomplishment.
If the institution be divine, it is founded on the perfections of God; and must necessarily partake of his wisdom, his goodness, holiness, and truth. He wills it, because he sees it to be right and proper. His will revealed, is the expression of his ineffable wisdom, holiness, goodness, and truth. Whatever he wills, must be right and just in itself, and consequently acceptable to all the attributes and perfections of his nature.
RELIGION is the institution of God; it expresses his will, it manifests his perfections; and as it concerns man, for whose sake alone the institution itself was formed, and exists, it strongly points out the benevolence of its Author, because it is framed for the present and eternal good of the human race.
In the verses before us, the apostle lays down the principles of this institution; the end which it proposes; and the means to be employed for the accomplishment of this end.
The DIVINE PURPOSE is first summarily declared: 1. God wills that all men should be saved ;
2. And, in order to this, that they should come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Truth which is to be known and acknowledged, is next produced in its essential principles.
1. There is one God.
3. This Mediator is particularly characterized, as “The man CHRIST JESUS."
4. What he did as Mediator, is next declared, “He gave himself a RANSOM for all.” And,
5. This system of truth is to be testified to men in due and proper times, that they may acknowledge it, and be finally saved. Of these in order.
1. The purpose of God is declared: He wills that all men should be saved : this will or desire, is founded on the following principles. 1. He is the Creator of all. 2. He made of one flesh and blood all the nations of men, to dwell on the face of the whole earth. 3. He made man in his own image and likeness, that he might be happy. 4. In this original purpose and creating act, he had in view all the posterities of that one human pair which he created. None were created but Adam and Eve: all the rest came by natural generation from those troo. There was no distinction of original families, created at different times, or for different purposes : two persons only were created, and whatever was designed for them, was necessarily designed for the whole of their posterity, all of whom were seminally included in this first and only created pair ; being properly and physically a part of themselves, and continued partakers of their being. And as God intended that man should spring from man after this creation, so he considered them as one stock, ome family, of which himself was the father and the head : and however he might, in his providence, scatter them over the earth, assign them different habitations, and different bounds to those habitations; yet, in reference to their immortal spirits, and their eternal states, he made no distinction; but, as declared here, willed the salvation of all: for “all men” necessarily takes in the whole posterity of the first pair; and that posterity is a continuation and extension of the being of the human stock. It cannot appear strange, therefore, that God should will all men to be saved; because this necessarily follows from his willing the salvation of any: for human nature has not been divided, and every portion of it falls equally under the merciful regards of the Father of the spirits of all flesh.
When God purposed the creation of man, he willed his luappiness; and therefore gave bim such a kind of being, endued with such capacities and perfections, as could be brought into intimate communion with himself, and were capable of receiving such influences or emanations from the divine perfections as to constitute an incredible sum of intellectual happiness. When man sinned, and lost by transgression that righteousness and true holiness which constituted the “image of God," in which he was created, and so lost his happiness, and became sinful and miserable; God, who is an invariable source of benevolence toward his intelligent offspring, willed his salvation ; which implies his deliverance from that state of darkness, sinfulness, and misery into which he had fallen, his restoration to the divine favour, by being again made partaker of the divine image, and consequently his restoration to that state of happiness which he had lost by sin. Therefore, his "willing the salvation of all men” is only a consequence and revealed expression of that will or divine determination, that the human creature, which he had designed to make should be a happy being. And as he was originally happy, because he was holy, so God designed to restore him to holiness that he might repossess that happiness which was his portion in the beginning of the creation of God. Whatsoever new forms this design might assume, or through whatever new circumstances it was necessary to be manifested, it was still essentially the same in itself; and invariable in respect of its object.
II. But, in order that this design might be accomplished, it was necessary that it should be revealed : and that God, its author, should be glorified, it was necessary that he should be made known: and that man, its object, should be duly affected by it, it was requisite that his state, danger, and obligation should be fully declared. And this has been done by the Spirit of God in Moses, in the prophets, and in the writers of the New Testament. In these the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith ; God is made known to man; and man is brought to an acquaintance with himself. This revelation contains the only system of pure theology; the only rational account of the being and perfections of God,-of good and evil, of justice and injustice,-of the immortality of the soul,—of a future state, -of the general resurrection,-of that worship which God requires,--and of the way in which man may be restored to the favour and image of God. The outlines of these important doctrines were revealed in the Old Testament : the particulars and fulness are brought to light by the New. This revelation is termed the TRUTH ; and the New Testament particularly, the Truth of God, and the truth of the gospel. Truth is the contrary to FALSITY.
Truth has been defined the conformity of notions to things,—of words to thoughts ;-it declares the thing that is, and as it is. Whereas falsity, in all its acceptations, is that which is not ;—what is pretended to be a fact, but either is no fact, or is not represented as it really is.
The revelation of God to man, in reference to his salvation, is the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth. It bears a strict conformity to the perfections of the divine nature. It inspires such notions as are conformable to the things of which they are the mental ectypes; and describes its subjects by such words as are conformable to the thoughts they represent.
The revelation of God is the mind of God made known to men, and the mind is not truer to itself, than the inspired writings are to the mind and purpose of God.
Truth is sometimes put in opposition to what is imperfect, emblematical, and representative : so, in these words of the evangelist,_"The Law was given by Moses; but grace and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ.” (John i. 17.) The Mosaic law was a representative system ; it was “the shadow of good things to come, and not the very image.” (Heb. x. 1.) The gospel is the
substance, in it all the outlines are filled up, the representations and types of the law are fulfilled by the exhibition of their realities. The law made nothing perfect :-it pointed out by shadows and similitudes those better things which were yet to come; and thus it was the truth, the fulfilment of the sacrificial system, which offered only représentative victims : but the gospel brought in and exhibited the true sacrifice; that Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Now, this truth contains especially the following grand fundamental principles :
1. There is one God.--There is one self-existing, infinite, eternal being ; possessed of all possible perfections, and of each in an infinite manner; an eternity of perfections, and each perfection absolutely so. He is so perfect that no perfection is wanting; and so absolutely perfect that no perfection can be added. This God is the good being, the fountain of goodness, the source of blessedness. As evil is a privation and imperfection, it cannot exist in him. It has been brought into creation, but it is not of him ; though he permits it, he has not produced it.
“No evil can from Him proceed;
'Tis only suffer'd, not decreed : As darkness is not from the sun,
Nor mount the shades till he is gone." As he is infinite, omniscient, absolute, and eternal, he can be but one. For there cannot be two infinites, nor two eternals. There can be but one that inhabits eternity; there can be but one who filleth all things; and who is the creator, possessor, and preserver of all. This is the first principle of truth, and is the foundation of all religion, all science, all wisdom, and all that can be called TRUTH.
This most august, and most perfect of all beings, and the source whence all existence is derived, is here termed Ewone nuwe 80s, our Saviour God,--the God who saves man, and the only being who can save : for the salvation of a lost world is a work which an all-powerful and infinitely good God alone can effect. And such is his goodness, such his love to man, that he assumes this character, and will be known by this name. In this character fallen man needs him most; and in this character he is most prominently exhibited in his own word. He that cometh to him, (professes to worship him,) must know that he is, that he is the sole author of existence, and that because he is good and the saving God, he is “the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." They seek him in order to be saved : and they have salvation in consequence of seeking him ; which is a reward or recompense, not of debt, but of grace; for God the saviour does all things for his own name's sake.
There are attributes which now belong to God, which are not essential to bis nature. He is merciful; but before the fall of man this could not have been one of his attributes. In like
manner, he is long-suffering. He is the forgiver of iniquity, transgression, and sin: in a word he is God our saviour. "But although all these spring from his infinite goodness, which ever was and must be an essential attribute of bis nature, yet it was only in consequence of sin entering into the world, that his innate essential goodness became necessary to be expressed by these manifestations and their concomitant acts. Man is a sin. ner and therefore he needs a saviour :-Man has destroyed him. self; but in God is his help. Man cannot give a ransom for his own soul, but his saving God has found out a ransom.
2. The second principle mentioned by the apostle, as contained in that truth which is necessary to the salvation of the world, is, “ There is one mediator between God and men.”
The word mediator (Meditas) signifies a middle person ; one that stands between two parties, either for the sake of introducing them to each other that they may become acquainted; or of reconciling them to each other, who were before at enmity. In no common case can a man become mediator, who is not acquainted with both parties, and has not the confidence of each. 'T'he parties requiring a mediator in the case before us, are God and MEN.
(1.) Men who had sinned against God, and rebelled against their sovereign ; and so had committed a capital offence, for which they were justly exposed to such an exile and punishment as should banish them from the presence of God, and from the power of his glory for ever, and consign them to everlasting perdition.
(2.) God, their creator and sovereign, from whom they received their being, and to whom their allegiance was invariably due ; but against whom they had sinned, and from whom they had deeply revolted. These fallen spirits God willed to save, and redeem from impending ruin. Such was the nature of their sin, and of his holiness, that the original union in which man's happiness consisted could not possibly be restored, unless God could become such a one as man, or man be restored to the divine image, and thus be brought into that state of union with him, which he had in the beginning. Man who was a rebel, and not even a penitent, could not expect to be restored to favour ; and man who was a sinner and full of impurity, could not expect to be brought into this union, which could not take place without such a moral change as it was utterly impossible he should work in himself.
3. This mediator is particularly characterized as the man Christ Jesus.
God, who willed the salvation of this fallen creature, found out a suitable mediator: for “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him