Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

are

mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins, Isa. xliii. 25. and, that we may consider this in its utmost extent, the apostle says as much as can be expressed in words, which is the consequence of God's being a covenant-God to his people, when he tells them, All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ;

all
yours,

1 Cor. iii. 22. II. Man could not have been made partaker of these invaluable blessings contained in this covenant, without the interposition of a Mediator; for he no sooner rebelled against God, but he was separated from his presence and deprived of all those blessings, which he might otherwise have expected; and, on the other hand, the holiness and justice of God obliged him to testify his displeasure against him, whereby he was utterly excluded from all hope of obtaining any blessings from him : the perfections of the divine nature rendered it necessary that a satisfaction for sin committed, should be insisted on; and this could not be given by man in his own person, nor could he reasonably expect that God should receive him into favour without it, as having rendered himself guilty in his sight, and so liable to condemnation. Therefore, since he could do nothing that had any tendency to repair the injuries which he had offered to the divine justice, if ever he have access to God, and acceptance in his sight, it must be in and through a Mediator ; which leads us to consider what we are to understand, by a mediator, and what was to be done by him, in order to the procuring this favour.

A mediator, in general, is one who interposes between two parties that are at variance, in order to make peace; and this he does, either by endeavouring to persuade the party offended to lay aside his resentment, and forgive the injury, which is a less proper sense of the word ; or else by making an overture of satisfaction, as an inducement hereunto. In the former sense it would have been an affront to the divine Majesty, and an injury to his justice, for any one to desire that God should be reconciled, without a satisfaction given ; in the latter, we are to understand the word Mediator, when applied to Christ, in this answer. He is not therefore herein to be considered barely as a Mediator of intercession, as pleading that God would remit the debt, out of his mere sovereignty or grace ; but as a Mediator of satisfaction, or a Surety, entering into an obligation to answer all the demands of justice. In this respect, he is the Mediator of the covenant; whereas, when he is sent, by God, to reveal, or make known the blessings thereof to man, he is styled, The Messenger of the covenant, Mal. iii. 1. It was possible for a mere creature to perform the work of a mediator, in this lower, and less proper sense of the word; or, provided satisfaction were given to the justice of God, to intercede with him for the sinner, or intreat him to turn away from the fierceness of his wrath, which sin deserved, in which sense Moses is styled a mediator, and in no other *; so some understand that text, as spoken of him, when the apostle says, Gal. iii. 19. of the law, that it was ordained by angels, in the hand of a mediator t; and, agreeably hereunto, Moses says, I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord; for you were

afraid, by reason of the fire, Deut. v. 5. and elsewhere, after Israel had sinned, in worshipping the golden calf, he says, You have sinned a great sin, and now I will go up unto the Lord: peradventure, I shall make an atonement for your sin, Exod. xxxii. 30. not that he was to be accounted a mediator of satisfaction, for the atonement he hoped to make, was by entreaty, or humble supplication, that God would not destroy them, as they had deserved. This I call a less proper sense of the word Mediator ; whereas, in this answer, Christ is styled a Mediator, in the same sense in which he was a Redeemer, or Surety, for man, or made a proper atonement to procure reconciliation between God and man by his blood, of which more will be considered, when we speak concerning Christ's priestly office.

III. It is a very great instance of grace, that God should admit of a Mediator, who might have exacted the debt of us in our own persons; and, we being unable to pay it, might have punished us with everlasting destruction. That he was not obliged to admit of a Mediator, will appear, if we consider the nature of the debt due from us, who were obliged to perform perfect obedience, or else to suffer punishment, and therefore he might have refused to have allowed of this to be performed by another, in our stead : in this case, it is not like as when pecuniary debts are paid, which cannot be refused by the creditor, though paid by one that is surety for the debtor. But, since this will be more particularly considered, when we speak concerning the satisfaction which Christ gave to the justice of God, as our great High-Priest, all that we shall add, concerning it, at present, is, that it was an instance of that

grace, displayed in the covenant, in which Christ is considered as a Mediator of satisfaction.

IV. The grace of God farther appears, in that he not only admitted of a Mediator, but provided one. It was impossible for fallen man to find out any one that would so much as plead his cause, or speak a word in his behalf, till satisfaction were first given ; and no mere creature could pay unto God a ransom that was worthy of his acceptance, or available, to answer the end designed thereby. If the best of creatures had under

* Such an one is more properly called Internuncius, than Mediator. # Vid. Bez. and Whitby in loc.

which was

[ocr errors]

taken the work, it would have miscarried in his hands : How deplorable and hopeless then must the condition of fallen man for ever have been, if God had not found out the expedient himself to bring about our redemption ! this was a blessing unthought of, unasked for by him. I will not deny but that man might have some ideas of the givinity and glory of the second Person in the Godhead, as the doctrine of the Trinity was revealed to him, while in a state of innocency, as it was necessary that it should be, in order to his worshipping of each of the divine Persons, and I doubt not but he retained some ideas hereof when fallen. But it may be questioned, whether he knew that it was possible for the Son of God to be incarnate ; or suppose, for argument-sake, we allow that he had some idea of the possibility thereof ; yet he could never have known that he was willing to submit to this astonishing instance of condescension, and thereby to put himself in the sinner's room, that he might procure that redemption that was necessary for him. This mystery of the divine will was hid in God, and therefore could never have been known by him without revelation, and consequently would not have afforded him any matter of relief in his deplorable state. How wonderful therefore was the grace of God, that he should find out this expedient, and lay help on one that is mighty, or provide one to do that for him, which none else could have done!

And to this we may add, that it was no less an instance of divine grace, that God the Son should consent to perform this work for him : his undertaking it, was without the least force or compulsion; for that would have been inconsistent with his consenting to become a Surety for us, and, as such, to suffer in our room and stead, since all punishment must either be deserved by him, that bears it, or else voluntarily submitted to: The former of these can by no means be said of Christ; for a personal desert of punishment is inconsistent with his spotless purity, and would have rendered the price, laid down by him for our redemption, invalid; therefore he voluntarily condescended to engage in this work. He gave his life a ransom for many; and this is considered as a peculiar display of grace in him, as the apostle expresses it, Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet, for your sakes, he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich, 2 Cor. viii. 9.

V. This Mediator being provided for man, without his desert or expectation, we proceed to consider him as offered to him, and, together with him, life and salvation. This is the great design of the gospel, to discover, or make an overture hereof to him; without this, the gospel could not be preached, nor a visible publication made of the grace of the covenant con

tained herein : but, since the overture of grace, or the call of God to accept of, and embrace Christ, as offered in the gospel, is more particularly considered under a following answer *, we shall reserve the farther consideration of this matter to it.

VI. It is farther said, in this answer, that the grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in his requiring faith, as the condition to interest believers in Christ. This expression may be allowed of, or excepted against, according to the method ta, ken to explain it, which we shall endeavour to do, and therein shew in what sense we deny the covenant of grace to be conditional ; and then enquire, whether there be not another sense, agreeable to the divine perfections, in which these words may be understood, and other expressions, of the like nature, frequently used by divines, in which faith is styled a condition thereof; and accordingly we shall enquire,

1. What we are to understand by a person's having an interest in Christ. This implies our having a right to claim him, as our Mediator, Surety, Advocate, and Saviour, and with him all those spiritual blessings, which are purchased and applied by him to those whom he has redeemed; so that such an one may say, upon good grounds, Christ is mine, together with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in him.

Here let it be considered, that it is one thing to say, that Christ is the Redeemer and Saviour of man, or, in particular, of his elect, who are given to him for this end ; and another thing for a person to say, he is my Redeemer or Saviour : the former of these is a truth, founded in scripture-revelation ; and accordingly every one may say, as Moses expresses it, Yea, he loved the people, Deut. xxxiii. 3. or his peculiar chosen people; or, as the apostle says, Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, Eph. v. 25. But he, who has an interest in Christ, has a right to claim him, as his Saviour, and therefore may say, with the apostle, He loved me, and gave himself for me, Gal. ii. 20. This I rather choose to express, by a believer's having a right to claim him as his Saviour, than his being actually enabled so to do, inasmuch as many have an interest in Christ, who are des. titute of that assurance, which would give them a comfortable sense thereof in their own souls.

2. We are now to consider how faith is said to be required, as the condition to interest us in Christ; or how far this

expression may be qualified and explained, without asserting any thing derogatory to the glory of God, or the grace of the covenant. The word condition, though often used when we speak of contracts between man and man, as an essential ingredient therein, is not so plainly contained in those explications of the covenant of grace, which we have in scripture; and, whenever we use it,

See Quest. lxvii. Vol. II.

Bb

with a particular application thereunto, we must understand it in such a sense, as is agreeable to the divine perfections. Therefore, that we may compare these two senses of the word condition together, in order to our determining how far it may be used, or laid aside, in explaining this doctrine, let us consider,

(1.) That in human covenants, in which things are promised on certain conditions, these conditions are supposed to be possible to be performed, otherwise the promise, depending thereon, is rendered void, and it contains no other than a virtual denial to make it good. Thus the king of Israel did not, at first, understand the message sent him by the king of Syria, requiring of him to heal Naaman of his leprosy, as a condition of peace and friendship between them; and the inference he makes from it was, that he had a design to seek a quarrel against him ; ara his reasoning would have been just, had it been

intended in this sense, since the condition was not in his own power. Moreover, if a master should tell his servant, that he would give him a reward, in case he would perform the work of ten days in one, he would conclude nothing else from it, but that he was resolved not to give him any thing. Now, to apply this to our present purpose, we must consider whether faith, when it is a condition of the covenant of grace, be in our own power or no. There are some external acts thereof, indeed, which are so ; but these are too low to be deemed conditions of salvation, or of the blessings of the covenant of grace; and

for those acts which are supernatural, or the effects of the exceeding greatness of the power of God, though they are inseparably connected with salvation, yet they are not in our power; so as that we may conclude, that they are proposed as conditions, in the same sense as those things are said to be, that are supposed to contain this ingredient in them. In this respect, the covenant of grace,

grace, as to the conditionality of it, differs from the covenant of innocency, in which perfect obedience, which was the condition thereof, was so far in man's power, that he could have performed it, without the superadded assistance of divine grace: but when, on the other hand, perfect obedience is considered, as a condition of fallen man's entering into life, in which sense our Saviour's reply to the young man's question, in Matt. xix. 17. is understood by many, this is a plain intimation that eternal life is not to be obtained this way, inasmuch as the condition is impossible.

(2.) When conditions are insisted on, in human covenants, it is generally supposed, that though it be possible for the person, that enjoins them, to assist, and enable him, who is under this obligation, to perform them, yet he will not give him that assistance ; for, if he does, the contract can hardly be reckoned conditional, but absolute; thus if a creditor should tell an in

« PredošláPokračovať »