Page images

be prevented by divine goodness. God saw all involved in

[ocr errors]

sin, and guilt, and ruin, by Adam's first sin: And so he provi ded a Savior for all; that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Should not PERISH.-He viewed all mankind. as sinful and guilty....lost, undone, and perishing, i. e. exposed to the wrath of God, and curse of the all the miseries of this death itself, and to the pains of hell forever: And he gave his only begotten Son to be a Savior;

That whosoever BELIEVETH in him-i. e. that ventures upon his atonement....his worth and merits....his mediation and intercession, for divine acceptance; so as to be thence emboldened to return home to God, upon the invitation of the gospel. That all such should not perish-but

Have EVERLASTING LIFE—i. e. the everlasting in-dwelling of the holy spirit, as a sanctifier and comforter, to be a neverfailing spring of a new, a spiritual and divine life-everlasting union and communion with Christ, and the everlasting favor and enjoyment of God through him.

Thus we have, in these words, a brief view of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. And from them we may learn, (1.) That God, the great Governor of the world, considered mankind as being in a perishing condition, i. e. sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless, and undone. (2.) That it was merely from motives within himself, that he has done what he has for their recovery out of this state. (3.) That he has constituted his Son a Mediator, Redeemer, and Savior, that through him sinners might be saved. (4.) That he has appointed faith in Christ, to be the condition of salvation. Here, therefore, I will endeavor to show,

I. Upon what grounds it was, that God, the great Governor of the world, did consider mankind as being in a perishing condition, i. e. sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless, and undone.

II. What were the motives which excited him to do what be has done for their recovery.

III. What necessity there was of a Mediator and Redeemer, and how the way to life has been opened by him whom God has provided.

IV. What is the true nature of saving faith in him: And so, by the whole, to explain the nature of the gospel, and of a genuine compliance therewith: And in the last place,

V. Will consider the promise of everlasting life to those who believe.



I. I am to show upon what grounds it was, that God, the great Governor of the world, did consider mankind as being in a perishing condition, i. e. sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless and undone. That he did consider mankind as being in a perishing condition, is evident, because he gave his only begotten Son, that they might not perish who should believe in him. If we were not in a perishing condition, his giving his Son to save us from perdition, had been needless: and his pretending great love and kindness in doing so, had been to affront us to make as if we were undone creatures, when we were not; and as if we were much beholden to him for his goodness, when we could have done well enough without it: And the more he pretends of his great love and kindness, the greater must the affront be. So that, however we look upon ourselves, it is certain that God, who sees all things as being what they are, did actually look upon us as in a perishing, lost, undone condition: And if he considered us as being in such a condition, it must have been because he looked upon us as sinful, guilty, justly condemned, and altogether helpless; for otherwise we were not in a perishing condition. If we could have helped ourselves a little, we should not have needed one to save us, but only to help us to save ourselves: but our salvat, in scripture, is always attributed wholly to God; and God every where takes all the glory to himself, as though, in very deed, he had deserved it all....(Eph. i. 3-6, and ii. 1

-9); so that it is certain, God did look upon mankind as be ing in a perishing condition, sinful, guilty, justly condemned, and altogether helpless: and, considering us in such a condition, he entered upon his designs of mercy and grace; and therefore he every where magnifies his love, and looks upon us as infi nitely beholden to him, and under infinite obligations to ascribe to him all the glory and praise, even quite all: That no flesh should glory in his presence—but he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord....I. Cor. i. 29, 31.

It is of great importance, therefore, that we come to look upon ourselves as being in such a perishing condition too; for otherwise it is impossible we should ever be in a disposition thankfully to accept gospel-grace, as it is offered unto us. shall rather be offended, as thinking the gospel casts reproach upon human nature, in supposing us to be in such a forlorn condition as to stand in a perishing need of having so much done for us ;-as the Jews of old scorned it, when Christ told them, If they would become his disciples, they should know the truth, and the truth should make them free. They took it as an affront, and were ready to say, "What! Just as if we were in bon"dage! Indeed, no. We were never in bondage to any man: "We have Abraham to our father, and God is our Father; but "thou hast a devil".... John viii. 31-48. They would not understand him....they were all in a rage: And so it is like to be with us, with regard to the methods which God has taken with us in the gospel, unless we look upon ourselves as he does wretched and poor, blind, and helpless, lost, and undone. It is the want of this self-acquaintance, together with a fond notion of our being in a much better case than we are, that raises such a mighty cry against the doctrines of grace, through a proud, impenitent, guilty world.

And since God does thus look upon us to be in such a perishing condition, and upon this supposition enters on his designs of mercy and grace, here now, therefore, does the qution recur, Upon what grounds is it that he considers us as being in such a perishing condition?....Grounds he must have, and good grounds

too, or he would never thus look upon us. If we may rightly understand what they are, perhaps we may come to look upon ourselves as he does; and then the grace of the gospel will begin to appear to us in the same light it does to him.-The grounds, then, are as follow:

1. God, the great Governor of the world, does, in the gospel, consider mankind as being guilty of Adam's first sin, and, on that account, to be in a perishing condition. In Adam all died, (I. Cor. xv. 22); but death is the wages of sin, (Rom. vi. 23) therefore, in Adam all sinned; for by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, i. e. sinned in Adam....(Rom. v. 12); for (ver. 19.) by one man's disobedience many were made sinners: And, accordingly, by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation: and hence all are, by nature, children of wrath....(Eph. ii. 3.)

OBJ. But how can we be guilty of Adam's first sin? It was he committed it, and not we: and that without our consent, and a long time before we were born.

ANS. Adam, by divine appointment, stood and acted as our public head: He stood a representative in the room of all his posterity; and, accordingly, acted not only for himself, but for them. His sustaining this character rendered him a type of Christ, the second Adam, who has laid down his life in the room and stead of sinners: And his being spoken of in scripture as a type of Christ, with respect to this character of a public head, proves that he did actually sustain such a character.... (Rom v. 14): And, therefore, as, by the obedience of Christ, many are made righteous; so, by the disobedience of Adam, many are made sinners-(ver 19,) i. e. by the imputation of Christ's obedience, believers become legally righteous-righteous in the sight of God, by virtue of an established constitution; and so have the reward of eternal life: So, by the imputation of Adam's first sin, his posterity, by ordinary generation, became legally sinners-sinners in the sight of God, by virtue of an established constitution, and so are exposed to the punishment of

eternal death, the proper wages of sin. Now, it is true, we did not PERSONALLY rise in rebellion against God in that first transgression, but he who did do it was our representative. We are members of the community he acted for, and God considers us as such; and, therefore, looks upon us as being legally guilty, and liable to be dealt with accordingly-and so, on this account, in a perishing condition: But, perhaps, some will still be ready to say, "And where is the justice of all this?" Methinks the following considerations, if we will be disinterestedly impartial, may set the matter in a satisfying light:

(1.) That the original constitution made with Adam, as to himself personally considered, was holy, just, and good.

(2.) That if all his posterity had been put under the same constitution, one by one, from age to age, as they came into being, to act for themselves, it had also been holy, just, and good.

(3.) That it was, in the nature of the thing, in all respects, as well for our interest, that Adam should be made our public head and representative, to act not only for himself, but for all his posterity, as that we should each stand and act for himself singly ; and, in some respects, better.

(4.) That, in such a case, God, as supreme Lord and sovereign Governor of the whole world, had full power and rightful authority to constitute Adam our common head and public representative, to act in our behalf.-Let us, therefore, distinctly consider these particulars :

(1.) It is to be noted, the original constitution made with Adam, (Gen. ii. 17.) as to himself personally considered, was holy, just, and good, as will appear if we consider the circumstances he was under, antecedent to that constitution or covenant: For,

In the first place, antecedent to that covenant-transaction, he was under infinite obligations, from the reason and nature of things, to love God with all his heart, and obey him in every thing. From the infinite excellence and beauty of the divine nature, and from God's original, entire right to him, as his creature, and absolute authority over him, as his subject, did his infinite obligation so to do necessarily arise. It was was

« PreviousContinue »