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voluntary actions, and the baneful consequences resulting from them, is it not evident that the guilt of every unconverted sinner is alarmingly great! Has not even the believer daily much reason for humiliation, on account of his want of greater zeal and more extended usefulness? Must he not exclaim with the psalmist: "Cast me not away from thy presence, O Lord! and take not thy Holy Spirit from me?" whilst he acknowledges the blood of Christ as the only ground of his justification, and unites with the redeemed in heaven in ascribing "blessing and honour and glory and power, unto him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb for ever and ever."
OF THE SON OF GOD (AND HIS MEDIATORIAL Work).
They likewise teach, that the Word, that is the Son of God, assumed human nature, in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary, so that the two natures, human and divine, inseparably united in one person, constitute one Christ,who is true God and man, born of the virgin Mary; who truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried, that he might reconcile the Father to us, and be a sacrifice not only for original sin, but also for all the actual sins of men. He likewise descended into hell, and truly arose on
the third day; and then ascended to heaven, that he might sit at the right hand of the father, might perpetually reign over all creatures, and might sanctify those who believe in him, by sending into their hearts the Holy Spirit who governs, consoles, quickens and defends them against the devil and the power of sin. The same Christ will return again openly, that he may judge the living and the dead, &c. according to the Apostolic creed.
They in like manner teach, that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works; but that they are justified gratuitously for Christ's sake, through faith; when they believe, that they are received into favour, and that their sins are remitted on account of Christ, who made satisfaction for our transgressions by his death. This faith God imputes to us as righteousness.
I. General remarks.
The third article describes the mediatorial work of the Redeemer in a historical manner, by enumerating the several oc
currences embraced in it. It teaches us the incarnation of the Son of God, the union of the two natures of the Saviour in one person, his sufferings and death, his descent to the world of Spirits, his resurrection and ascension, and the mission of the Holy Spirit. These incidents constitute that glorious display of redeeming love, which the angels of heaven beheld with amazement, which now fills the heart of every christian with gratitude and his lips with praises, and in the realms of celestial bliss will be the theme of his song throughout the revolving ages of eternity. The fourth article expresses the relation to the law of God, sustained by the returning sinner, at a certain stage of his preparation for heaven. It therefore relates to a part of the third article, and may more advantageously be discussed in connexion with it.
This glorious work of divine benevolence is the only ground on which salvation is offered to any individual of the human family. It is the foundation of the whole plan of salvation taught in the word of God, and has been the subject of much attention, as well as the theme of much discussion. It is doubtless desirable to every reflecting Christian to have some definite views of that scheme of mercy, to which he owes his happiness both in time and eternity. Nay, does it not betray a stupidity of soul unbecoming our rational nature, to be indifferent on a subject, into which angels desired to look, and which constitutes the science and the song of heaven ?
II. The Plan of Salvation through Christ.
In describing the mediatorial work, the sacred volume employs three kinds of terms; first specific, literal descriptions of the individual acts of the Saviour, such as his birth, teaching, miracles, sufferings, death, &c: Secondly, abstract terins more or less general in their nature and expressing also the influence of these
merits on the relations of man to the divine law, as atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, redemption, &c.; and thirdly, figurative language more or less general, such as, giving liberty to the captive, opening the prison to them that were bound, bruising the serpent's head, &c. Different Christian writers, in endeavouring to simplify and systematize their ideas on this subject, have pursued various methods; some preferring one, and others another of the above terms, to designate the whole work; some regarding several of them as synonymous, and others attributing a peculiar signification to each. Whilst a large portion of divines has divided the entire work of the Redeemer into the three offices of priest, of prophet, and of king, This singular want of uniformity could not fail to envelope the subject in much confusion, and renders some observations on it the more necessary in this place.
In order, then, to obtain clear views of the merits of the Saviour, which constitute a cardinal feature in the Scripture plan of salvation, it will be necessary to take a glance at that entire plan itself, in its various relations and circumstances. When we examine the sacred volume, we find that two entirely different methods of obtaining salvation, have been prescribed by God The one existed in his state of original innocence, and the other in his depraved condition after the fall. usually termed the covenant of works, the latter of grace.
The Covenant of works, or plan of salvation prior to the
The former is
The Scriptures contain but little information on the specific circumstances of Adam, prior to the fall. It is evident, however, that the situation and relations of man in his primitive innocence, were those of a perfect moral government. Its features were the following:
a) The law under which he was placed was just, and salutary in itself. This was the moral law, together with some
positive injunctions, such as, to exercise dominion over the different animals,1 to observe the sabbath, to till the garden of Eden, and not to eat of the forbidden fruit.1
b) Suitable sanctions were attached to this law, viz. life, as the reward of obedience, and death, as the punishment of transgression.
c) The Lawgiver was an authorized one, God himself.
d) The subjects of this government had sufficient knowledge of the law, and every requisite ability to fulfill it.
As the provision for a pardoning power in human governments, is confessedly based on their imperfection, on the belief that their punishments cannot be exactly apportioned to every shade of guilt, and on the possibility, in some instances, that a person convicted may still be innocent; such a provision, tending so directly to multiply crimes and destroy the influence of the law could not belong to the perfect government of an omniscient God. If the exercise of this power is the prolific source of incalculable evils in governments including only a few millions of subjects; its effects would be inconceivable in the moral government of God, which embraces not only the family of man, but also the countless hosts of heaven, and thousands of other worlds. Of this entire universe God is the moral governor, and as such under a natural obligation, to sustain the influence of his laws for the welfare of his creatures. The penalty of its violation must therefore inevitably have fallen on our first parents, if the God of mercy had not made some ex
1 Gen 1: 28. And God blessed them and said-have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
2 Gen. 2:3. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it &c.
3 Gen 2: 15. And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress (till) it and to keep it.
4 Gen. 2: 17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.