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brethren, “Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.-Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you, to will and to do, according to his good pleasure.” Oh, what an encouragement is this! God worketh in you! My grace is sufficient. My strength perfected in weakness. I can do all things, through Christ, who strengtheneth me. Wherefore, beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord ; forasmuch as the scripture assures you, your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
These things are good and profitable to men.-Nay, but if our goodness extendeth not unto God, if our works cannot be our justifying righteousness—the only motive is taken away, which some men will allow to be efficacious : to ascertain the sincerity of our faith ; to be profitable to our fellowmen; to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour; to be instrumental in extending his kingdom, are feeble inducements to good works, unless they are considered as the ground of acceptance and basis of salvation !!!
And who are they that are the most violent in this abuse of the gospel of Christ ? Men who oppose all attempts to spread Christianity in India, and retail the grossest calumnies against those who are engaged in that noble design: men who seem to think the theatre a better school for virtue than an evangelical ministry : men who often quote without concern, the most horrid of all oaths, introduced in the darkest ages of popery, dropping indeed the divine name, which originally acknowledged the deity of our insulted Saviour, and retaining only the token of the genitive case, as if they meant to hiss at the wounds and blood and death of him in whom we trust for eternal salvation ! Refute them by your lives, beloved brethren.
Put to silence the slander of these foolish and miserable men; and pray that God would give to all the opposers of his blessed gospel, repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.
Let the poorest of you, who are placed in the humblest stations in life, show that they are zealous for good works. If you can do nothing great, nothing shining, nothing which will get you extensive applause, you may make those under
whom you are stationed sensible that your religion does you no harm ; that it makes you happier than they are, if they know not God; and that it makes you diligent and faithful, patient and submissive, chaste and temperate. And though they may occasionally sneer at you, they shall inwardly respect you ; and God may dispose the most unfeeling to pity you, whenever you shall particularly need it.
Let those that are in superior stations, improve their superior advantages. Exert yourselves for God. Use every talent he has given. Use all your influence to do good. Do not ask, What must I do? but rather, What may I do for God ?
Let those that are rich, mind the charge in 1 Tim. vi. 17-19. Value riches as an advantage to do good. Dread the thought of having your good things in this life only ; of having your blessings turned into a curse. Beware lest
your riches should be cankered, and the rust of your gold and silver be a witness against you. Do not heap treasure together, merely to be turned into sulphur and coal in the last days. Let not a narrow penurious idea of your duty in this respect, exclude you from the honor and pleasure of doing good to the bodies of men, of relieving their present necessities, and especially of contributing to their eternal welfare, by aiding the noble efforts made to spread the gospel at home and abroad, by sending Missionaries and Bibles into every part of the globe.
CHRIST A COMPASSIONATE HIGH PRIEST.
HEB. iv. 15. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
The church of the Hebrews was exposed to a great fight of afflictions, having to endure the violent opposition of their unbelieving countrymen. The author of this Epistle had been once the ringleader of their persecutors, and well knew
the spirit of the party he had left, whose fiercest enmity hę himself had now to encounter. He labors, therefore, to fortify his brethren against the temptations to apostasy, to which he knew they were exposed : which he does in this Epistle, by showing the relation of all the Mosaic institutions to Christ; by setting forth his dignity and glory ; maintaining the superiority of the new dispensation to the old introductory economy; stating the awful consequences of rejecting or forsaking the Saviour; and displaying his allsufficiency, tenderness, and faithfulness, to all those who should steadfastly adhere to him.
Though our situation is not in all respects like theirs, yet our duty is substantially the same, and the encouragements held forth to them are such as we equally need, and which we are as fully warranted to appropriate to ourselves. Christ Jesus stands in the same relation to his people in every age ; who are alike bound to hold fast their profession, and authorized to believe that he has the tenderest concern for their welfare.
Let us notice,
This is sufficiently declared in the preceding verse. And surely we cannot reasonably doubt what is his real nature and dignity. Jesus, the Son of God, who is so in a peculiar and most exalted sense : by claiming which title, the Jews understood him as making himself equal with God. John x. 36. xix. 7. God's own, only-begotten, beloved Son. He is, indeed, really a partaker of human nature; which he voluntarily assumed, being made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death. Heb. ii. 9. 14. 16. But if he were a mere man, what particular knowledge could he have of our individual weaknesses, wants, and distresses? What rational comfort could we derive from an application of these words to any one of the ancient saints,-Noah, Abraham, David, or Paul ? Or, suppose it were some one who had ever lived in England ; say Edward the Sixth ; or any divine, of whatever stamp? What could any created spirit do for you ? Or, what could Enoch or Elijah do? The utmost that could be ascribed to them would be, a recollection of what was to be endured on earth, and a general sense that
whatever human beings now lived there, and feared God, would often be in pitiable circumstances, and would need that relief which they could not impart.
But the consideration of the wonderful constitution of the person of Christ, is that on which the efficacy of his mediation depends : especially, as his whole interposition in our behalf was rendered successful by the sacrifice he offered for us, as a great high priest. Which leads us to consider,
Secondly, The office he sustains, of a high priest.
He is a priest, not merely allusively, or metaphorically ; but really and truly ; yea, super-eminently; as having actually and completely effected that, which former priests only did typically. It is the office of a priest to represent them acceptably before God, who, by reason of sin, could not appear before him in their own persons. He was therefore ordained of God, to act for man, in things pertaining to God, especially in offering a sacrifice for sin; in making reconciliation for the sins of the people; in averting divine displeasure from the offender. Therefore it was needful that he should be free from all contamination of sin ; holy, harmless, undefiled, without spot or blemish ; a partaker of our nature, but no partaker of our guilt : while the dignity of his person gave infinite value to his sacrifice. God could not be a sacrifice; he could not suffer; though he who is God was to be sacrificed for us in human nature, and has redeemed us to God with his blood. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree.
His blood cleanses from all sin. He has obtained eternal redemption for us. As every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, therefore of necessity this priest must have somewhat to offer. Hence the Son of God assumed a nature that could suffer and die. And, as the offerer brought his sacrifice to the altar, where it was slain by shedding its blood ; and then its flesh, while it was yet warm, was laid on the altar and consumed ; so Jesus Christ went up voluntarily and resolutely to Jerusalem, well knowing all that should befal him there; and with the greatest readiness of mind, zeal for the divine glory, abhorrence of sin, and pity for sinners, in obedience to his Father's will, offered himself a vicarious sacrifice to God. Thus he made
real atonement for sin, bearing the punishment due to transgressors, when he suffered in the garden, and on the cross. He redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us. And after being " delivered for our offences, he was raised again for our justification ; and ever liveth to make intercession for all them that come unto God by him.” The prevalence of this intercession depends on his acceptable oblation. He passed through the visible heavens, as the high priest on the day of atonement passed through the vail, into the holy of holies, to present the blood of the sinoffering, which he was enjoined to sprinkle on and before the mercy-seat. Let us consider,
Thirdly, The manner in which he discharges this office; namely, with a fellow-feeling, or tender sympathy and compassion.
When the Apostle says, he is not one who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he means to affirm that, he is one who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Not because he has slight thoughts of our guilt, or supposed any excuse could be made for our disobedience : not because he does not know our criminal defects and departures from God, since we have tasted how gracious he is. He is acquainted with all, and will rebuke and chasten those he loves. But having freely loved us, and bought us with his blood, and brought us to know and love him in sincerity; he loves his own unto the end. He constantly cares for us, and pities us under all the troubles and trials of this life. He himself is perfectly free from sin ; no temptation could ever contaminate him ; but he knows in what a world we live, to what temptations we are exposed, and how they affect us. He had compassion on us, when we were ignorant and out of the way: he sought us when wandering from God; he brought us out of our lost, perishing condition, into his fold. He knows our present defects, and knows how to detect and amend them. He pities us under the pressure of natural evil, and that notwithstanding the defilements of moral evil. He sees how the various vicissitudes of time are suited to detect the remaining corrupt dispositions, which are still found, even in the regenerate ;