« PreviousContinue »
1 TIMOTHY II. 5.
“ For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man
The superior excellence of Christianity as a religion precisely accommodated to the wants of mankind, has been admitted by all persons of penetration and candour. Yet we suspect, that the real ground of this superiority is not so generally understood. The distinguishing merit of the gospel consists, not so much in the doctrinal truths which it inculcates, and the ethical precepts which it delivers, as in the circumstance, that these truths and these precepts are founded on a well-authenticated statement of facts, admirably fitted to illustrate and enforce them. Other systems of religion are either composed of fables, which, besides being incredible and absurd, have no relation to the conduct of human life, or else built on visionary speculations and refined discussions which have nothing in them to interest and benefit the heart of the former description is the popular theology in all pagan countries, while to the latter class we may refer the theology (if it can be so called) of those who, in both pagan and Christian countries, reject the established creed, and undertake to theorize for themselves on the nature of the Divine Being, and the various duties of his intelligent creatures. Now, Christianity differs essentially from both these kinds of religion, inasmuch as it nests on real occurrences highly interesting in themselves, and peculiarly adapted at once to render us acquainted with our duties, and to urge us to their performance. Its practical influence is identified with the moral tendency of its doctrines, and these doctrines, instead of coming to us in the form of abstract propositions, are exhibited in the shape of tangible facts.
Our hearers are probably now prepared to anticipate the remark, that the text before us points to one of those cardinal facts, on which it has been just said, that Christianity is founded. We are here presented with no array of arguments to demonstrate the necessity of a “ Mediator between God and men." We are simply assured, that such a Mediator exists in the person of “the man Christ Jesus." In other portions of the inspired record we are furnished with a detail of various circumstances connected with this fact, and calculated both to render it sufficiently intelligible, and to invest it with the highest degree of interest. The Old and New Testaments are replete with incidents which throw the brightest historical splendour over the great and fundamental truth asserted in this passageThere is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
It is not our intention this morning to enter into a critical exposition of these words. There is but a single term in the sentence, respecting the precise import of which there can be any difference of opinion. We allude to the original noun rendered in the common version, Mediator. You will not, however, understand us as intimating, that there is really ground for much diversity of sentiment as to the true meaning even of this word. Its etymology is sufficiently expressive of its literal signification, while its sense, as applied to Christ, is determined by the general doctrine of the mapired record in relation to the character and offices of this glorious personage.
The first truth asserted in the text, is that of the divine unity. There is one God. On this point, however, we do not propose to detain you with many observations, since it is obviously introduced by the inspired writer in this place, merely as an incidental and auxiliary proposition. As such we would here take the liberty of bestowing a transient remark upon it. That there is one God, and only one God, is a truth which we are entitled to infer from the harmony every where discoverable in the constitution of the universe. We behold, as far as the range of our observation extends, a singleness of design, which seems to imply that the fabric of nature is the production of one intelligent mind. And when we reflect more maturely on the subject, we think we can discern, that there is a manifest absurdity in supposing the existence of two beings possessed of infinite perfections—two beings concerning whom it may be affirmed, that they are both the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the greatest, the wisest, and the best. But after all, we must concede, that the deductions of reason on this point, do not yield to the mind the same satisfaction which flows from the clear and positive assurances of revelation. We would cheerfully exchange a thousand metaphysical arguments for one well-established and conclusive declaration, such as we have in the text.
There are those who imagine, that the mediation of Jesus Christ, as generally held by Christians, is at variance with the unity of the Supreme Being. Now, we are bold to say, that this is altogether a misapprehension of the matter. We deny, in explicit terms, that the idea of a plurality of divine essences is involved in the common method of understanding and explaining the mediation of the Son of God. The advocates of this method believe that there is that there can be-but one Deity. Yes, and they believe this as strictly as do any of those who would advance, by the assumption of an appropriate appellation, an exclusive title to the doctrine of the divine unity. While they acknowledge their inability to comprehend how God can be both one and three, they feel themselves under the necessity either of admitting that such is the fact, or else of rejecting the sacred Scriptures as unworthy of their credence or regard. Their ingenuity can suggest to them no other alternative.
But the truth on which we would mainly remark, is, that “there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." This truth, we have just said, is not incompatible with the doctrine of the divine unity. It is, therefore, properly connected, in the passage before us, with the assertion, that God is one.
The appointment of Jesus Christ to officiate as a Mediator between the Sovereign of the universe and the intelligent inhabitants of earth, is to be viewed as the primary and fundamental fact of Christianity. This is the grand basis on which all the doctrines and duties of our religion are founded. It was to be expected, then, that the opponents of the gospel would direct their strength against this cardinal truth. We accordingly find, that no peculiarity of the Christian system has been so often, so variously, and so resolutely assaulted, as that wbich relates to the necessity and the actual provision of a Mediator. Let us, then, see whether reason, when modestly and legitimately interrogated on the subject, has any thing to urge against this distinguishing doctrine of the New Testament.
It has been well observed by one of the master spirits of the former century, that the whole analogy of nature, ins tead of furnishing a presumption against the general notion of a Mediator between God and men, is calculated to confirm such notion. “We find,” says the author alluded to, “ that all living creatures are brought into the world, and their life in infancy is preserved by the instrumentality of others; and that every satisfaction of it, some way or other, is bestowed by the like means." The Sovereign of the universe, then, evidently conducts the affairs of his stupendous empire through the instrumentality of others. He carries on his vast system of government not immediately but mediately. There is not a single department of creation with which we have had an opportunity of becoming acquaioted, where we do not behold the plans of the invisible Deity developed, and his designs accomplished, through the medium of subordinate agents. This is the case in both the physical and the moral world. Now, if the principle of mediation thus obtains to the utmost verge of our observation, we are surely warranted in concluding, that it may, and probably does obtain in those districts of nature which lie beyond the sphere of our observation.
And, brethren, when we look calmly and seriously at our present condition, have we not reason to believe that unless we are saved through the instrumentality of a Mediator, we shall not be saved at all? We know, that since we became capable of moral action, we have repeatedly violated the divine law. We feel, that our conduct has been opposed to the dictates of an internal monitor which at once prescribes our duty, and reproaches us for the violation of it. We are moreover sensible, that misery is the inevitable consequence of sin. Our own personal observation and experience are amply sufficient to convince us, that pain and suffering of various kinds and degrees, are annexed as inseparable concomitants to a tenor of deportment at variance with the admonitions of conscience. In short, we are aware, that we have incurred the