« 前へ次へ »
believed on in the world, received up into glory.” • Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,' and for the sake of accomplishing his work as a Saviour, · became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. But death could not hold him. He was never its prisoner; but only a voluntary captive. And having accomplished his object in dying, he arose, with all power in heaven, and on earth. Then, he was justified in the spirit.' The truth of his declarations was demonstrated; and his claims as Messiah established forever. In this condition, as conqueror of earth and hell, he was seen of angels.' Multitudes beheld him. Chosen witnesses were sent to declare his resurrection, and preach the unsearchable riches of his grace, not to Jews only, but to Gentiles ;—to all nations. And although they did not see him, and had no ocular demonstration of his resurrection, yet he was believed on;" and by vast multitudes, even after he was received up into glory.” And although “not seen,” he was “ loved." To all that believed on him he was “ precious;" the “ chief among ten thousand;" “ altogether lovely." And this has been the case with all who have believon him, down to the present day. They have been ready to cry, with Thomas, “ my Lord, and my God;" with Paul, to “ count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus ;” and with Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, to cry,“ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
These persons wherever found, have united together; that, not as individuals only, but churches, they might “serve the Lord Christ;" and thus support the truth, that “God was manifest in the flesh.” · In view of this truth, thinking men have always been disposed to ask, why was he manifest in the flesh ? The church has answered, in the language of the Holy Ghost, “ That he might be a merciful, and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people ;" and,“ such an high priest,” say they, " became us.” “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray ;-and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 66 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” “ And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.”
The moment this is believed, another question arises, Why was he the propitiation for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world? And the answer of the church is, “ That God might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth.” He hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin, (a sin offering,) for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' And there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.' The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made them free from the law of sin and death. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” And. " he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” No sooner is this heard as the declaration of God, and believed, than the question arises, What will be
the condition of those that believe not ? And the church answers in the language of God, · They shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on them.' • He shall send forth his angels, and gather out of his kingdom all that offend, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” “They shall go away into everlasting punishment;' •and the smoke of their torment ascendeth forever and ever.
Such is the truth, which on the declaration of God, and in the connexion in which he has revealed it, the church of the living God supports.
III. How does the church support this truth?
1. By believing it. The church believes, that “ God was manifest in the flesh ;" and that although he knew no sin, he was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; that when he died for all, all were dead;' and that • he died for all, that they who live should not live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them, and rose again.' • The church believes, that all who repent, look unto him as the Lord their righteousness, and by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality, shall obtain eternal life. And that all who are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in them that believe.' And as the character of the church is such as to give her belief influence, by believing this truth, she supports it in the world.
2. The church supports this truth by openly professing it. Ever since God was manifest in the flesh the church has openly professed this truth; before the Jew and the Greek, the Barbarian and the Scythian, the bond and the free. This confession has been published, and read by the learned, and unlearned. It has testified to men of all classes and generations, the great mystery of godliness;' and directed their minds with greater or less clearness, to those momentous truths which it involves, upon the practical belief of which depends the salvation of men.
This long chain of evidence, commencing with the testimony of God, and carried forward by the testimony of fifty generations of men; men too, of whom the world was not worthy, and who loved the truth more than life itself, has given it great influence in the world. And although this good confession has been assailed by the moralist, and the profligate; the infidel, and the scoffer; the Jew, and the pagan; and all the host, in every generation, who have denied the Lord that bought them;' yet the church has never renounced it. And while she has existence she never will ; for she hears a voice saying, "Hold fast that thou hast, and let no man take thy crown.'
3. The church supports this truth by the preaciing, and ordinances of the gospel.
When the Saviour ascended on high, leading captivity captive, he gave gifts to men. To some he gave apostles"; to some, prophets ; to some,
evangelists; and to some, pastors and teachers. These were all for the increase and prosperity of the church; till her members should - all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The grand means of accomplishing this, was to be the preaching and ordinances of the gospel. Hence his ministers were commanded to go forth, and preach, not themselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord; not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. This truth, which they were required to preach, is that of which the church is “the pillar, and the ground.” And the church has always had ministers, who have preached it. And although it has been a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others, it has been the wisdom, and the power of God to the salvation of all who have believed.' Nor has this number been small. Relying upon his promise, and determining to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified, his ministers not counting life dear to them, have gone forth, in the plenitude of their weakness, and his strength, conquering, and to conquer. Satan and his legions, driven out from strong holds, which they had fortified for ages, have surrendered their captives, and retired in dismay before this band of martyrs, as they waved in holy triumph the banners of the cross. Songs of deliverance have echoed from ten thousand hearts; and ten thousand times ten thousand