صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

ments, and induces cheerfully to submit to his authority and dominion.

Thirdly : It pulls down pride and self-righteousness, disposes the soul to rely upon Christ alone, and to glory in him as the Lord our righteousness.

Fourthly : It prostrates the soul before sovereign grace. All believers are willing grace alone should be exalted, and have the sole and entire praise of our salvation.

Fifthly : It pacifies the conscience, by a sense of pardoning mercy; assuring us that God can be eternally glorified in a sinner's salvation.

Sixthly: It makes provision for the supply of all our wants. For it hath pleased the Father that in Christ all fulness should dwell, whence we receive grace for grace.

Seventhly : It stimulates to every duty, and strengthens for it. Nothing is so powerful a motive to obedience. The love of Christ constraineth us. His grace is sufficient.

Eighthly : It powerfully supports under every trial, while we consider for whom it is that we suffer, and what the issue of these sufferings will be.

Ninthly: It powerfully mortifies indwelling sin; moderates unruly desires and bitter passions. While we behold the Saviour's glory, we are transformed into his likeness, and excited to abhor all iniquity.

Tenthly : The doctrine of the cross insures victory over every foe. This is the victory which overcomes the world, even faith. By the cross the Christian is crucified to the world, and enabled to triumph over both its smiles and its frowns, and the violence of persecutors. Rom. viii. 37. Rev. xii. 11. Over Satan, death, and the grave. 1 Cor. xv. 54. Death shall be swallowed up in victory.

Eleventhly : The doctrine of the cross preserves from final apostacy. It excites to perseverance, and insures it by promise.

Twelfthly: It reveals and insures eternal glory. Christ has brought immortality to light, merited it for us, promised it, taken possession of it for us, given the earnest of it.

Examine, To which class do we belong ? the saved, or the perishing ? those who feel the power of the gospel, or those that account it foolishness?

[ocr errors]

We may learn from hence, that the ruin of those who perish is wholly of themselves. The fault is not in the gospel, but in them that reject it. All the particulars mentioned, imply a faulty cause in the sinner. The carnal mind is enmity against God, hence blind to the divine glory, and unwilling to admit the just claims of his holy law. They are addicted to self-flattery, under the denomination of lawless self-love ; given to vain excuses, full of a self-justifying disposition, pride, vain confidence, idolatry, love of the world, of carnal ease, often of sensuality; no taste for the true heaven, &c. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

We may learn also, the need of divine influence to render the gospel effectual. Such things as have been mentioned are sufficient to make this necessary. And they who are saved will acknowledge, that it was not their better dispositions, but the Spirit of God, who induced them cordially to embrace the gospel. It came, not in word only, but in the Holy Spirit.

We infer also, the certain perseverance of real believers. We are saved, already.

We may also determine, what is the genuine gospel. Not barely a new system of moral philosophy, confirmed by the death of its founder. Had Jesus been merely a philosopher, who died for the truth, why should the preaching of his cross be foolishness, any more than Socrates's bowl of hemlock juice?

XCVII.

THE RELATION OF CHRIST TO BELIEVERS.

1 Cor. i. 30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

There are two objects generally kept in view by the writers of the New Testament, and especially by Paul, in his Epistles; to which his attention is peculiarly directed in this passage, and in the context; viz. To secure the whole glory

of the salvation of sinners to God alone, and show that the praise belongs to him exclusively, and that the gospel is so contrived as to make this manifest, and to prove that no flesh has room to glory in his presence : and also to display the exceeding riches of the divine glory, which shines forth in the redemption of sinners, and to prove that God is highly exalted therein, having acted every way worthy of himself, and displayed all the excellencies of his nature.

It is the peculiar commendation of the gospel, that it glorifies God in the highest, while it publishes peace on earth, and expresses the most disinterested benevolence to men. Nor is God glorified in such a way as to imply any alteration or amendment of his moral character, as might be to the honor of any earthly prince to become more humane and gentle than he was, though that would imply a previous imperfection, or defect of character : but the divine glory is uniform and consistent, though the displays of it to his creatures admit of advance or increase. But, not to enlarge on these observations now, to which we may have occasion to recur by and by, I propose to consider,

FIRST, The close and intimate connexion between Christ and believers, and the cause of that union. Of him are ye in Christ Jesus.

Surely this phrase intimates that there is a wonderful union between Christ and his people. A mutual inbeing of Christ in them, and they in him; as he suggested in his last prayer, I in them, and they in me: thus they are most completely one. Now, surely this is no accidental, unknown affair, common to all who happen to be brought up under a general, lax profession of Christianity. Nor founded upon any outward ceremony performed by others, without the knowledge or consent of the party, who is supposed to have the benefit. But though it originates with Christ, and not with us, yet it cannot be known, nor pleaded, nor the benefit of it be claimed till it becomes mutual, and then it is a cordial, voluntary, spiritual union. Christ dwells in the heart by faith, imparts light, peace, purity, and liberty to the soul. So that the believer is led to unite with Christ as being one with him in sentiment; he falls in with Christ's

ideas. One with him in law, as represented by him, and accordingly he depends on him as his surety. One with him in disposition, conformed to his image. One with him in privilege and interest. Meanwhile, the Apostle affirms that this union is entirely owing to divine appointment, influence, and operation. It is of God that we are in Christ, and of God that he is made unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. God and grace must have the praise. Though the union is mutual, yet it cannot be justly ascribed to the wisdom, merit, good will, or power of the creature. For in ourselves we were folly, guilt, pollution, and weakness. We neither could contrive, deserve, desire, or effect so great salvation, nor such a blessed method of obtaining it, as union to Christ. We must own that it originated in divine wisdom, and that we were too foolish to have thought of such a plan. It was owing to divine love, that ever a Saviour was provided, and not to our merit or goodness, nor on our application. Indeed, we were too unjust to have devised, or to approve of so righteous a salvation, securing all the rights of deity. It was owing to his influence that ever this union became mutual; we were too unholy to relish so pure and holy a salvation. It was owing to his power that we were rescued at first from our spiritual enemies, and are not brought again under their dominion ; for we were too much enslaved to aspire after this complete redemption : for our very wills and affections were in bondage to sin ; and now we have no power to stand as of ourselves.

Thus it is of God alone, that we are in Christ Jesus. He provided a Saviour, unasked and unimplored. He revealed him, who would otherwise have been unknown. He brought us to close with him, and acquiesce cordially in his method of salvation. And I may add, he keeps us from wandering from him again, and so drawing back unto perdition.

SECONDLY : The invaluable benefits resulting from this connexion, which are also attributed to the same cause with the union itself. “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” They are here comprised under four heads.

First : Christ is said to be made unto us wisdom. We are under his instructions as our divine teacher : believers are disciples of Christ; scholars in his school. They prize that knowledge which is attained from him alone, above all other knowledge. The Apostle speaks of the excellence of the knowledge of Christ; that is, not only what he taught ministerially, but what is especially confirmed by the import of his mediation, and of which he himself is the principal . object. The knowledge of God, both as a righteous governor, and as God of all grace.

Some of them may know but little else; God having chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and all of them account all things but loss, for the excellency of this knowledge. It is from his cross we derive all our best ideas of God; that is, the most just and true; most beautiful and lovely; noble and glorious; full and complete ; encouraging and endearing ; sanctifying and transforming. He is to be acknowledged also as our teacher, by his word and Spirit; nor may we own any master but him. It is our wisdom to sit daily at his feet and seek instruction.

Secondly: Christ is made unto his people righteousness. All believers are interested in his suretyship, and considered in him, as the client is one with his patron; and thus are entitled to the benefit of his obedience and death. Christ has displayed and satisfied the righteousness of God; he has shown it to be fully consistent with the salvation of the believer; yea, he has made it so by his perfect and meritorious obedience, which is placed to the account of every true believer: hence he is called

“ the Lord our righteousness," and the believer, being justified by faith, has

peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made righteous, even the righteousness of God in him.” God showed his abhorrence of sin, in his treatment of Christ; and now he will show his love to righteousness in his treatment of the believer. Nothing short of perfect righteousness can justify us before God : no sinner can therefore be justified before him, but by the righteousness of another imputed to him ; even the righteousness of Christ, received and pleaded

« السابقةمتابعة »