« PreviousContinue »
them into thy favour. Thou canst not, however, I well know, as moral governor of intelligent beings, extend thy mercy to any sinful creature, without showing an encouragement to vice and disobedience throughout thy vast dominions, except they prove themselves worthy of such a blessing, by a real concern for their past misconduct, and a sincere intention of acting ever hereafter entirely under thy guidance; nor could, indeed, any intelligent being be capacitated for enjoying the happiness designed for them, without cultivating those amiable dispositions that must lay the foundation stone of future bliss. But those objects of my affection, in whose behalf I plead, do most deeply lament their former ingratitude, are anxiously disposed to seek thy favour, and resolved to regulate their future lives by my example, and the precepts I imparted to them. While I was with them, I kept them in the paths of virtue ; (John xvii. 12;) but now they are left to encounter great and complicated dangers, (many of them entirely for my sake,) without my presence to animate and encourage them: 0 let us send them such comfort, such assistance, by which they may be enabled to overcome them all. For I do not pray for their removal from this state of trial, but that they might be preserved from all evil in their passage through it. (John xvii. 15.) I cannot but be touched with a peculiar feeling for their infirmities, having myself been so lately encompassed with them. (Heb. iv. 15, v. 2.) () consider the sacrifice I made of my own happiness when I went to seek and to
save them that were lost, (Luke xix. 10,) and those sufferings that I endured for thy honour and their salvation; and let them not be unavailing. They have loved my precepts, and believed that I proceeded forth, and came from thee; and that it was thou who didst send me to them. (John xvii. 8.) Had they not done this, my injunctions could have had but little influence; but now all their hope of future bliss rests solely on my promise of obtaining thy pardon for them; they may indeed be said to live by faith in me. (Hab. ii. 4.) Thou canst not, thou wilt not suffer these hopes to be disappointed; I know I shall prove their prevailing advocate, for me thou hearest always. (John xi. 42.) O may their former offences be removed out of thy sight; look not any longer at them, but on me; for I have fulfilled all righteousness. (Matt. iii. 15.) Let me prove a saviour, a redeemer to them : for the sake of my merits, may their transgressions be buried in oblivion, and they received into thine everlasting favour.
The conduct just described under the circumstances stated, appears perfectly rational, and the most complete similitude will be found between it and the plan represented in the Scripture, as adopted by the Supreme Being, for our restoration to his favour.
When we commenced the writing of the foregoing supposed intercessionary address, it was not intended to have inserted any quotation from the New Testament; but while pursuing the arguments that reason seemed to dictate, and
finding them in such perfect unison with those therein adduced ; to prevent the repetition of tracing in this instance a comparative coincidence, we have, towards its conclusion, interwoven those rational persuasives which the subject suggested, with the motives recorded by St. John, as urged by Christ himself, for our acceptance by the parent source of all perfection.
The original proposition, namely, on what ground so polluted a creature as man can hope to be received to the favour of an infinitely pure and perfect being, has hitherto been principally answered by abstracted reasoning; from whence we have inferred, that our only prospect of acceptance must rest on the hope, that if no one of our mortal race did fulfil all righteousness, that some good being would kindly undertake in our nature to do so for us; and that we might be finally received to the Supreme favour, through the merits and intercession of the benevolent personage who should accomplish this great exploit. We will now compare this conclusion with the assertions of Scripture, and put the question in New Testament language.
Q. How was the propitiation made for our sins ?
A. The apostle John resolves this inquiry by asserting, That if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and that he (that is, his righteousness,) is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 1.) The apostle Paul informs us, that God has declared his acceptance of the righteousness of Christ for the
remission of sins that are past; and authorises him to declare, at this time, his righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus. (Rom. iii. 25, 26.) Not to have ordained an atonement for unavoidable frailty, would have been an omission utterly inconsistent with the justice and faithfulness of God; but an assurance is given, that both these attributes would be eminently exercised towards our sinful race; and that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. (1 John i. 9.). It was also an act of justice due unto himself, for He is a jealous God, who will not suffer his name to be polluted, or give his glory unto another, as He had created man for his glory, (Isa. xliii. 7; xlii. 8,) to have it clearly demonstrated to every order of intelligents throughout his boundless empire, that man not only could, but did, fulfil his will in all things; which essential requisition Christ himself announces by the following declaration : Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. By the which will (having been perfectly obeyed) we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all, (Heb. x. 9, 10 :) that body of flesh and blood that had fulfilled all righteousness; and which now ever liveth to make intercession for us. (Heb. vii. 25.) The converts of Zion are redeemed with righteousness. (Isa. i. 27.) He is the Lord our righteousness. (Jer. xxiii. 6.) The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake; and has blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins. (Isa.
xliv. 22.) Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee. (Isa. xliv. 22.) Sing, 0 ye heavens ; for the Lord hath done it : shout, ye lower parts of the earth : break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. (Isa. xliv. 23.) Man was the work of God's hands, and God has now been glorified by man. (Isa. lx. 21.)
We shall now acknowledge our conceiving the arguments already submitted to the opinion of the reader, (and many more will be found in the following pages ;) the harmony that exists between the conclusions resulting therefrom, and the assertions contained both in the Old and New Testaments, (the former having been wrote so long before the publication of the latter, and handed down to us by the professed unbelievers of the Christian religion ;) as presenting so ample a testimony to our reason and understanding, that they appear to us, exclusive of the many other internal and external evidences that offer their attestation to its truth, so very convincing as to lay the most rational foundation on which to ground our belief in Christianity. We are, however, fully aware that the plan of man's redemption, just adumbrated, may be considered as wholly improbable to have entered into the human mind, had not revelation previously appeared in the world.
But should this opinion be ever broached, it would, at the same time, propound the most incontrovertible evidence in support of its truth