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Heb. ii. 17
It is not easy indeed to enumerate the magnificent titles with which he is adorned in scripture : The Alpha and Omega,—The first and the last,—The Prince of the king's of the earth,—The King of kings, and Lord of lords, The King of glory,--and The King of saints. What mighty works are subscribed to him in creation and providence! We are told, “ He shall reign till all enemies " are brought under his feet.” The propriety of his fa. crifice as the Son of man, and the purity of his facrifice as the Holy one of God, are taken notice of in scripture ;
“Wherefore in all things it behoved him " to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a “ inerciful and faithful high priest, in things pertaining to
God, to make reconciliation for the fins of the people. Heb. ix. 13, 14. “ For if the blood of bulls, and of goats, " and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanc“tifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more “ shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, " offered himself without spot to God, purge your con“ science from dead works to serve the living God ?" To this you may add the continued fulness that dwells in him; John i. 16. “ And of his fulness have all we received, * and grace for grace.” Col. i. 19. “ For it pleafed the
Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.” What is this, my brethren, but to encourage and embolden finners to put their trult in him, and to carry home with power this truth, which I shall give you in the words of the Holy Gholt? Heb. vii. 25. " Wherefore he is able " also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God
by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercellion for " them."
II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed, which was, to consider the extent of this propitiation, founded on the last clause of the text: “ And not for ours only, - but also for the fins of the whole world.” In general, when we remember that this epistle was written chiefly to the converts of the circumcision, it may convince us, that in all probability this expression was intended against the great and national prejudice of the Jews, of which we fee very frequent notice taken in the New Testament. As
they had the oracles of God committed to them, as for the wife purposes of his providence he had separated them from other nations, and the Messiah was to descend from them according to the flesh, they apprehended that all the blessings of his reign were to be confined to themselves : therefore they are often given to understand, that the pur. pose of mercy was far more extensive, and that Christ came with a view to fulfil that promise made to the father of the faithful, Gen. xxii. 18.“ In thy seed shall all the “ nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obey. “ed my voice.” The expression in the text then un. doubtedly implies, that redemption through the blood of Christ was to be preached to finners of the Gentiles; that as he had been the Saviour of all ages by the efficacy of that facrifice which he was to offer in the fulness of time, so that the virtue of it was not to be confined to the house of Israel, but to belong to sinners of every nation under heaven.
I am sensible, my brethren, that very great controver. fies have been raised in another view, as to the extent of Christ's death, and the import of this and other such general expressions in the holy scriptures. In this, as in most other debates, matters have been carried a far
greater length than the interest of truth and piety requires; and, as is also usual, they have arisen from an improper and unskiiful mixture of what belongs to the secret counsels of the Most High with his revealed will, which is the inva. riable rule of our duty. Without entering, therefore, into these debates, which are unsuitable to our present employ. ment, or rather giving my judgment, that they are for the most part unnecessary, unprofitable, or hurtful, I shall lay down three propositions on this subject, which I think can hardly be called in question, and which are a sufficient foundation for our faith and practice.
1. The obedience and death of Christ is of value fuffi. cient to expiate the guilt of all the sins of every individual that ever lived or ever shall live on earth. This cannot be denied, since the subjects to be redeemed are finite, the price paid for their redemption is infinite. He suffered in the human nature, but that nature intiinately and perfonVOL. I.
ally united to the divine : so that Christ the Mediator, the gift of God for the redemption of finners, is often called his own and his eternal Son: Rom. viii. 32. “ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,
ow shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Such was the union of the divine and human nature in Christ, that the blood which was the purchase of our redemption is expressly called the blood of God, Acts xx. 28. “ To feed the church of God, which he hath purcha" sed with his own blood.” This is the great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, in which all our thoughts are loft and swallowed up.
2. Notwithstanding this, every individual of the human race is not in fact partaker of the blessings of his purchase; but many die in their fins, and perish for ever. This will as little admit of any doubt. Multitudes have died, who never heard of the name of Chrift, or falvation through him ; many have lived and died blafpheming his person, and despising his undertaking ; many have died in unbelief and impenitence, serving divers lufts and pafsions; and if the scripture is true, he will at last render unto them according to their works. So that if we admit, that the works of God are known to him from the begin. ning of the world, it can never be true, that, in his eternal counsels, Christ died to save those, who after all that he hath done, shall be miserable for ever. " He is a rock, “ his work is perfect.” His design never could be frustrated; but, as the apostle Paul expresses it, Rom. xi. 7. “ The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blind“ ed." But,
3. There is in the death of Christ a sufficient foundation laid for preaching the gospel indefinitely to all without exception. It is the command of God, that this should be done : Mark xvi. 15. “ And he said unto them, Go
ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
creature.” The effect of this is, that the misery of the unbelieving and impenitent shall lie entirely at their own door: and they shall not only die in their fins, but shall fuffer to eternity for this most heinous of all fins, despising the remedy, and refusing to hear the Son of God; Heb. X. 26, 27. “ For if we sin wilfully after that we have receive “ed the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more “ facrifice for fins, but a certain fearful looking for of judg
ment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the ad“ versaries.” Let us neither refufe our assent to any part of the revealed will of God, nor foolishly imagine an opposition between one part of it and another. All the obscurity arises from, and may be resolved into the weakness of our understandings; but let God be true, and every. man a liar. That there is a sense in which Chrilt died for all men, and even for those who perish, is plain from the very words of scripture ; 1 Tim. iv. 10, For therefore “ we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in " the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially 66 of those that believe.” 1 Cor. viii. II. “And through
thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom “ Christ died ?” Thus it appears that both in a national and personal view, Christ is “ the propitiation for our “ fins; and not for ours only, but also for the fins of the “ whole world."
III. I proceed now in the last place, to make some practical improvement of the subject for your instruction and direction. And,
1. From what hath been said, let us be induced to give praise to God for his mercy to lost sinners revealed in the gospel. Let us particularly give him praise for Christ Jesus, his unspeakable gift : “ Herein is love, not that we “ loved God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be " the propitiation for us."
While we remember, with abafement of foul, the holiness and justice of God, which required satisfaction for sin, let us allo remember his infinite compassion, who was pleased himself to provide“ a lamb for the burnt offering.” Let us at the same time give praise to the tender-hearted Saviour, who gave his life as an offering “ of a sweet“ smelling favor” to God. Redeeming grace shall be the theme of eternal gratitude and praise in heaven. After all our trials and dangers are over, we shall then, with unspeakable delight, ascribe the honor of our victory to him, saying, Rev. v. 12. “ Worthy is the Lamb that was “ flain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and
strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” Why should we not also attempt to give him praise in his church on earth ? for he, having finished his own work, and entered into his glory, hath give us an assured prolpect, that we also shall overcome in his strength; that he will come again, and “ receive us to himself; that where " he is, there we may be also.”
2. You may see from what hath been said, that such as are yet unrelated to this Saviour are in a state of fin, and liable to divine wrath. Hear and receive this truth, how. ever unwelcome to the secure, however distasteful to the carnal mind. If it were not so, this propitiation which God hath set forth would have been altogether unnecessary. Let us beg of him who hath ascended up on high, to fend down, according to his promise, his Spirit to convince the world of fin. How many affecting and striking proofs have we of this, both in our character and ftate! and yet how difficult to make us fenfible of it! What is to be seen in the world at present, or what do we read in the history of past ages, but one melancholy scene of dif. order, misery, and bloodthed, succeeding another? Is not this the effect of human guilt ? And do we not, by mutual injuries, at once demonftrate our own corruption, and execute the just judgment of God upon one another ? May not every person discover the latent fource of these flagrant crimes, in the pollution of his own heart, his aversion to what is good, and his proneness and inclination to what is evil? And yet, alas ! how difficult a matter is it to make the heart humble itself, and plead guilty before God : to make us fensible, that we are transgrefors from the womb, and inexcusable, in this transgression; that the threatening of the law is moft juft, “ Cursed is every one that con. “ tinueth not in all things written in the book of the law " to do them ;” and that it is of the infinite mercy of God, that the execution is suspended, or any hope given us of being able to avert it?
Yet this, my brethren, I will repeat it, and I beseech you to attend to it, is certainly the case by nature, with