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greater light, there is also greater liberty. The people of God, in ancient times, being under tutors or governors, to use the words of Paul,* though sons, diflered not from servants; but now they are sons freed from every restraint, and in full possession of their privileges. The different states of mind arising from the two dispensations, are pointed out in the following words: “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”+ Lastly, the present dispensation is distinguished from the past by its extent; the one having been confined to the nation of Israel, at least after the formal separation from other nations, at the time of the Exodus, but the other embracing as its object the whole human race. Hitherto it has not been universal; but its limitation has not arisen from its nature, as was the case with respect to the Jewish economy, nor from any express prohibition, but from the inactivity of Christians, and from the secret arrangements of Providence, which fixes the times and the seasons for accomplishing its own designs. “ Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,' was the command of Christ to his Apostles ; and ere long, God will have respect to his covenant, the covenant which he made with his Son, and “will give to him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.”
The great design of the administration of the covenant of grace, is to impart its benefits to those for whom they were intended. It is accomplished by the preaching of the gospel, in which salvation is offered to sinners; and hy the power of the Spirit, who works faith in the hearts of those who were chosen in Christ to eternal life. It is only by faith that we can obtain an interest in the covenant; agreeably to the solemn declaration, “ He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” | As the descendants of Adam came under the obligation of the covenant made with him, by successively entering upon existence; so men become connected with the covenant which was made with Christ, by being born into the world of grace.
It concerns every person, therefore, to inquire, whether “God has made with him an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.” It is an inquiry intimately connected with his eternal welfare, for by this covenant alone salvation can be enjoyed. How shall this important point be ascertained?
First, He who has entered into covenant with God, is a convinced and awakened man; for, although its benefits are offered to all, none but those who feel their need, will accept of them. Peace with God, which the covenant has established, will be prized and sought by those alone, who, conscious of guilt, dread his displeasure and vengeance. By the secure and careless world, the proposal of reconciliation is disregarded. Conviction of sin, by the application of the law to the conscience, is the first step in the process, by which men are excited to take hold of God's covenant, that they may make peace with him. Secondly, He who has entered into this covenant, “ has fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before him.”'S This is a description by an Apostle, of those who have an interest in the promises, and in the strong consolation which flows from them. They have fled from the wrath of God, which pursued them according to the tenor of the first covenant, to the Mediator of the second, whose blood speaks better things than the blood of Abel. In the next place, Ile who has entered into this covenant, has founded his hope of salvation upon the righteousness of Christ, by which it was fulfilled. If this was the condition of the covenant, he alone who consents to it, can have any right to the promises; those who go about to establish their own righteousness, in vain expect to enjoy its blessings, and are guilty of an impious attempt to disannul the eternal agreement between the Father and the Son. • Gal. iv, 2. † Rom. viii. 15. # Mark xvi. 16.
Heb. vi. 18.
This is the tendency of the doctrine of the merit of good works, in the mildest form in which it can be proposed. Allow that they are performed by the assistance of grace, and that nothing is required but sincere obedience, still it is a new condition, totally different from the original one. The admission of any thing, however qualified, even of faith itself, as the ground of our accep tance, is subversive of the covenant of grace. The notions of some men may be confused, and their expressions inaccurate, while the exercises of their hearts are humble and evangelical ; they may seem to trust in their own righteousness, while before God they renounce it as utterly insufficient; but, if there is any man who distinctly and deliberately depends upon it, as he betrays the spirit, so he is under the authority of the old covenant, which ministers condamnation and death. “ As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse." Lastly, He who is in covenant with God, is a holy person; for this, we have seen, is its first promise: “I will put my laws in their minds, and in their hearts will I write them.” It found him a sinner, but it has made him a saint. Its design, to re-unite men to God in the bonds of friendship, could not be accomplished without the sanctification of our nature ; between which, in its unregenerated state, and a Being of infinite purity, there is a mutual repugnance, and communion is impossible. The promises of the covenant not only furnish motives to obedience, but hold out that aid by which the people of God are enabled to perform it. And it is the character of believers, that they do not rely upon their own powers, and attempt to serve God in their own strength, but depend upon his grace, which works in them both to will and to do; and that they ascribe to him all the praise of their success.
To the man who perceives in himself those evidences of his interest in the covenant, we may say, • Hail, thou that art highly favoured of the Lord, the Lord is with thee. Thy sins are pardoned, and thy immortal welfare is secured; happy thou, and it shall be well with thee. “ 'The lines are fallen to thee in pleasant places; yea, thou hast a goodly inheritance; for God is the portion of thy cup." † Tossed and amicted thou mayest be in this sinful world, but thou shalt not perish, for the covenant is sure and everlasting. The price of thy redemption is paid. Eternal life is thine by right, and, ere long, it shall be thine in possession. The power which created all things, and upholds them, will protect thee from dangers ; and the truth, which is more stable than the everlasting mountains, is pledged to realize thy hopes. “My corenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.” 'I
ON THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF CHRIST.
A Mediator between God and Man necessary-General Observations on the Office of Mediator
--Christ's Qualifications for the Office-Reconciliation to God, the effect of Mediation-In what nature Christ is Mediator-He is not Mediator for Angels–Commencement and Duration of his Office.
There was not a Mediator in the first covenant, because man being in a state of innocence was acceptable to his Creator, and having a pure conscience, was not disturbed by those terrors which haunt his guilty descendants, and make them recoil from intercourse with the Just and Holy One ; yet, it was • Gal. ii. 10. † Ps. xvi, 6.
# Ps. lxxxix. 34-36.
condescension on the part of God, to enter into a federal transaction with his own creature to whom he owed nothing, and whose obedience he might have demanded, without stipulating any reward ; and by making a covenant with him, he lessened, as it were, the natural distance between them, and put a veil upon his glory, the full splendour of which, even a spotless being could not have been able to endure.
Since the introduction of sin, the necessity of a Mediator has been generally felt and acknowledged. It was a consciousness of their own meanness, and unworthiness to approach the Supreme Being, the Lord of heaven and earth, which first gave rise to the idolatry of the Gentiles. Conceiving the celestial bodies to be animated, dazzled by their splendour, and believing that they had nearer access to the Deity, and greater influence with him than the inhabitants of this inferior region of the universe, they paid religious homage to them, in the hope that through their patronage, they should be recommended to the notice of the Father of all. In process of time, they imagined an order of invisible beings, to whom the office was assigned of carrying the prayers of men to the Gods, and bringing commands and blessings from the Gods to men. “God," says Plato, “ does not mingle in familiar intercourse with mortals, but all intercourse and conversation with him are maintained by means of demons," as those fancied beings were called. They conjoined with them those persons who had been distinguished upon earth by their virtues and illustrious achievements, and were exalted to the rank of demi-gods after their death.
Moses was the mediator of the covenant which God made with the Israelites at Sinai, and hence the law is said to have been given by the hand of a mediator."'* The interposition of a third person between that people and the Lawgiver was soon found to be necessary. The appearance of JEHOVAH amidst blackness, darkness, and tempest, filled the whole camp with alarm, and his voice issuing from the midst of devouring fire, so terrified them, that they said to Moses, “ Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”+ How could they but tremble, in whose ears his holy law was proclaimed, and whose consciences told them that they had often transgressed it! The mediation of Moses consisted in his acting as an internuncius, or messenger, between God and the Israelites. God did not speak again to them with an audible voice; Moses published his commands; and as he spoke for God to the people, so he spoke for the people to God, presenting to him their promises and vows, and requests.
Jesus Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant, and the office as sustained by him, is to be understood in a higher and more perfect sense. He is not merely a prophet, who has spoken to us in the name of God, and an interces sor who recommends our petitions to him, but, by the sacrifice of himself, he has removed the obstacles which prevented our friendly correspondence; and while by his death he reconciled God to the guilty, by the influence of his grace upon their hearts, he reconciles the guilty to God.
A Mediator is one who intervenes between two parties at variance, and makes peace. The original word is ueritas, which signifies, • uste Eu duo av, qui medius inter duo stat, vel est. Unitarians, consistently with their principles, understand it to mean simply a messenger, a person sent by God to declare his will and his promises. But, although it does not admit of a higher sense in its application to Moses, it signifies much more when Christ is designated by it, as will appear, I trust, from what will be said in this lecture, and from the subsequent illustration of his priestly office. The word Mediator does not occur in the Old Testament, except in the translation of the Seventy, who render these words in Job, “ Neither is there any days-man (an old word for umpire) between us, that might lay his hand upon both," in the following • Gal. iii. 19. † Exod. xx. 19.
# Job ix. 33. Vol. I.-66
manner, Eιξε ην ο μεσιτης ημων, και ελεγχαν και διακευων ανα μεσον αμφοτερα», «I wish that we had a mediator attentively hearing and judging between both.” The Hebreu nusid, is a judge or arbiter, employed in settling a dispute, and deciding who has the right side of the question. The passage refers rather to an umpire than a mediator.
The necessity of the mediation of Christ, arises from the existence of sin; which being contrary to the nature and the will of God, renders those who have committed it obnoxious to his displeasure. As they had no means of appeasing his anger, the interposition of another person was requisite 10 atone for their guilt, and lay the foundation of peace. This is the great design of his ollice; but it extends to all the acts, by which sinners are actually brought into a state of reconciliation, are fitted for holding communion with God, and are raised to perfection and immutable felicity in the world to
It comprehends the particular oflices which our Saviour is represented as sustaining, the prophetical, the sacerdotal, and the regal; and it is by executing these that he completely performs the duties, and realizes the character of a Mediator. There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."* These particular offices will be afterwards considered in their order. In the present lecture, I shall confine myself to some general observations. My purpose is to inquire what are the necessary qualifications of a mediator between God and man, and to shew that they are all found in Him, to whom this character exclusively belongs.
In the first place, a Mediator is necessarily a different person from either of the parties whom it is his design to reconcile ; he can neither be the party which is oflended, nor the party which has given the offence. The party offended may forgive the offence; but in this case a mediator is not wanted, so far as he is concerned. The party offending may be sorry for his conduct, and earnestly desire that peace may be made ; but he may have no access 10 the party offended, or the latter may reject his advances, because he does not deem the proffered satisfaction to be adequate. In this case, a third person must interpose to adjust the difference, by the proposal of terms in which both will acquiesce.
It will be said, How could Jesus Christ be a Mediator, since it is certain that he was not in a state of neutrality, but was the party offended, being one with the Father and the Spirit? for, if we hold the common doctrine of the Trinity which teaches that all the Divine persons subsist in one undivided essence, we must believe, that they were all displeased at the sin of man, and th the penalty denounced upon hin
had the sanction of their common authority. It is acknowledged that, according to this view, he whom we call Mediator must be considered as Lawgiver and Judge, and that, instead of expecting him to interpose in our favour, we bad every thing to fear from his vengeance. Have we not reason to believe that it was he who appeared in paradise after the fall, and pronounced the doom of the whole human race upon our guilty progenitors ? But let us remember, that the Scriptures introduce us to the knowledge of an economy or arrangement among the persons of the Godhead, by whieh different characters and offices are assigned to each, and new relations are sustained by them towards one another, and towards us. The law, for the violation of which we are condemned, is the law of the Father. He appears in the character of the Supreme Governor of heaven and earth. It is against him that the offence has been committed; it is his justice which demands the punishment of the guilty; and with him remains the power to extend mercy to them, and to prescribe the terms upon which it will be exercised. _The Son having resigned, if I may speak so, those prerogatives to the Father, (resigned them, I mean, for this special purpose,)
. I Tim. ii. 3.
has assumed a different character. He does not pursue the claims of justice against sinners, but stands forth as their friend, to rescue them from their perilous situation, and to give such satisfaction as their offended Sovereign may demand. Thus, in this economy, he is distinguished from the Father, and is as closely related to us as the surety is to the person for whom he has become responsible. But, although between him and men an intimate connexion subsists, he is not one of them, considered as offenders ; such union would have totally disqualified him for his office. A partaker of their nature, and even of its intirmities, he was perfectly free from that pollution with which it is stained in every other individual. “ He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,”—so separate that he could approach to God in their name, and was looked upon by the Holy One with entire approbation. This point will afterwards come under our notice.
In the second place, A mediator must be independent, and master of hiniself. He must possess full ability for the duties of his office, and a full right to exert that ability in whatever way the design of the office may require. If it be necessary, in order to effect a reconciliation, that he should give satisfaction by sufferings and death, it is evident that he must have absolute power over himself; because those who are subject to the authority of another, cannot dispose of themselves and their services without his consent.
Hence we perceive that, in the present case, a mere creature could not have been mediator, because something was required which a creature was not at liberty to give by his own spontaneous deed. Angels and men are the property of the Creator, which cannot be alienated without sacrilege. They must wait his command before they venture to engage in any enterprize not comprehended in the original law of their nature. In particular, it should be considered that the life of man is his gift, and is not to be thrown away or surrendered, whatever good might be anticipated from the sacrifice, without the permission of the Giver. And here we may remark, that the substitution of one life for another, could not be justly admitted by a human government, for this obvious reason, that what the substitute had no right to give away, his superiors could have no right to accept. That the offer was voluntary, would not alter the case, because mere willingness and moral power are iwo things totally different. As our life is not our own, so our faculties are instruments with which we are furnished for the service of our Maker; and the exertion of them for any purpose not commanded or permitted, is a waste or an abuse, for which we are reprehensible. We may not trifle with our happiness, although it may be thought, that if we choose to suffer we are unwise, but not criminal; for it flows from the Divine bounty, and as it should be thankfully received, so it should be carefully preserved, and only parted with when duty calls, and an act of self-denial is demanded for the glory of God. Into the office of Mediator between God and man, which required the sacrifice of ease and lise itself, no mere creature, although otherwise qualified, (which, however, was impossible,) could have intruded without presumption. He had not the requisite power, the power to lay down his life, and the power to take it again. But this power belonged to Jesus Christ, who was indeed bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and, if he had possessed no higher nature, would not have been a fit person to mediate between heaven and earth ; tut, while the Scripture traces his human genealogy, and calls him the son of David, it is careful to inform us that he was also the Son of God. As a Divine person, he was not under the control of superior power, he was subject to no law, by which his activity was confined to a particular sphere; he might interfere wherever his wisdom and benevolence pointed the way. He could stoop from his dignity, and draw a veil over his glory. Having assumed our nature, he might employ it as the instrument of accomplishing any service which would promote the