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satisfy God. Those that deny the satisfaction of Christ, and talk of his dying to confirm the truth, and give us an example of meekness, patience, and self-denial; affirming these to be the sole ends of his death, do not only therein root up the foundations of their own comfort, peace, and pardon, but most boldly impeach infinite wisdom. God could have done all this at a cheaper rate: the sufferings of a mere creature are able to attain these ends: the deaths of the martyrs did it. But who by dying can satisfy and reconcile God? what creature can bring him an adequate and proportionable value for sin? yea, for all the sin of all the redeemed, from Adam to the last that shall be found alive at the Lord's coming? Surely, none but Christ can do this.
4. Christ's priesthood implies the necessity of his being God-man. It was necessary he should be a man, in order to his suffering, his compassion, and the application of his righteousness and holiness to men. Had he not been man, he had no sacrifice to offer, no soul or body in which to suffer. The Godhead is immortal, and above all those sufferings and miseries which Christ felt for us. Besides, his being man fills him with bowels of compassion, and a tender sense of our miseries: this makes him a merciful and faithful High Priest, Heb. 4: 15, and not only fits him to pity, but to sanctify us also; for "he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are both of one." Heb. 2: 11, 14, 17. And equally necessary was it that our High Priest should be God, since the value and efficacy of his sacrifice results from thence.
5. The priesthood of Christ implies the extremity of his sufferings. In sacrifices, you know there was a destruction, a kind of annihilation of the creature to the glory of God. The shedding of the creature's blood, and burning its flesh with fire, was but an umbrage, or faint resemblance of what Christ endured when he made his soul an offering for sin.
6. It implies the gracious design of God to reconcile us at a dear rate to himself, in that he called and confirmed Christ in his priesthood by an oath, and thereby provided a sacrifice, of infinite value, for the world. Sins, for which no sacrifice is allowed, are desperate sins; and the case of such sinners is helpless: but if God allow, yea, and provide a sacrifice himself, how plainly doth it speak his intentions of peace and mercy! These things are manifestly pre-supposed, or implied in Christ's priesthood.
This priesthood of Christ is that function wherein he comes before God, in our name and place, to fulfill the law, and offer up himself to him a sacrifice of reconciliation for our sins; and by his intercession to continue and apply the purchase of his blood to them for whom. he shed it all this is contained in that important Scripture. Heb. 10: 7-14. Or, more briefly, the priesthood of Christ is that whereby he expiated the sins of men, and obtained the favor of God for them. Col. 1: 20, 22; Rom. 5 10. But because I shall insist more largely upon the several parts and fruits of this office, it shall here suffice to speak this much as to its general nature ; which was the first thing proposed for explication.
II. The necessity of Christ's priesthood comes next to be considered. It was, according to the Scriptures, necessary, in order to our salvation, that such a Priest should, by such a sacrifice, appear before God for us. This appears from two principles, which are evident in Scripture that God required full satisfaction, and that fallen man is totally incapable of tendering him any such satisfaction; therefore Christ, who only could, must do it, or we perish.
1. God required full satisfaction, and would not remit one sin without it. This will be clearly proved from the nature of sin, and from the veracity and wisdom of God.
Such is the nature of sin that the sinner deserves to
suffer for it. Penal evil, in a course of justice, follows moral evil. Sin and sorrow ought to go together; there is between these a necessary connection. The wages of sin is death." Rom. 6:23.
The veracity of God requires it. The word is gone out of his mouth; In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Gen. 2: 17. From that time man was instantly and certainly obnoxious and liable to the death of soul and body. The law pronounces him cursed "that continues not in all things written therein to do them." Gal. 3: 10. Now, though man's threatenings are often vain and insignificant, God's shall surely take place; not one tittle of the law shall fail, till all be fulfilled." Matt. 5:18. God will be true in his threatenings, though thousands and millions perish.
The wisdom of God, by which he governs the rational world, admits not of a dispensation or relaxation of the threatenings without satisfaction: for, as well no king, as no laws for government; as well no law, as no penalty; and as well no penalty, as no execution. To this purpose one observes, "It is altogether unfitting, especially to the wisdom and righteousness of God, that that which provoketh the execution, should procure the abrogation of his law; that that should supplant and undermine the law, for preventing of which alone the law was before established." How could it be expected that men should fear and tremble before God, when they should find that his threats against sin were vain? So then God required satisfaction, and would admit no treaty of peace on any other ground.
Let none here object, that reconciliation upon this only ground of satisfaction, is derogatory to the riches of grace; or that we allow not God what we do men, namely, to forgive an injury freely, without satisfaction. Free forgiveness to us, and full satisfaction made to God by Jesus Christ for us, are not things inconsistent with
each other, as in its proper place shall be more fully shown. And as for denying that to God which we allow to men; you must know, that man and man stand on even ground: man is not capable of being wronged and injured by man, as God is by man: there is no comparison between the nature of the offences. Besides, man only can freely forgive man, in a private capacity, so far as the wrong concerns himself; but he ought not to do so in a public capacity, as he is judge, and bound to execute justice impartially. God is our Law-giver and Judge; he will not dispense with violations of the law, but strictly demands complete satisfaction.
2. Man can render to God no satisfaction of his own, for the wrong done by his sin. He finds no way to compensate and make God amends, either by doing, or by suffering his will.
Not by doing this way is shut up to all the world; none can satisfy God, or reconcile himself to him in this way; for it is evident our best works are sinful; "All our righteousness is as filthy rags." Isa. 64: 6. And it is strange any should imagine that one sin should make satisfaction for another. If it be said, that not what is sinful in our duties, but what is spiritual, pure, and good, may ingratiate us with God;-it is obvious to reply, that what is good in any of our duties, is a debt we owe to God, yea, we owe him perfect obedience; and it is not imaginable how we should pay one debt by another -cancel a former by contracting a new engagement. If we do any thing that is good, we are indebted to grace for it. John, 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:5; 1 Cor. 15: 10. In a word, those that have had as much to plead as any now living, have utterly given up all hope of appeasing and satisfying the justice of God. It is likely that holy Job feared God and eschewed evil as much as any of you; yet he saith, "If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove
me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul; I would despise my life." Job, 9:20, 21. It is probable that David was a man as much after the heart of God as you; yet he said, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man be justified." Ps. 143:2. It is likely that Paul lived as holy, heavenly, and fruitful a life as the best of you, and far, far beyond you; yet he saith, "I know (or am conscious to myself of) nothing, yet am I not hereby justified." 1 Cor. 4:4. His sincerity might comfort him, but could not justify him. And what need I say more? The Lord hath shut up this way to all the world; and the Scriptures speak it plainly: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. Rom. 3:20. Compare Gal. 3:21;
And as man can never reconcile himself to God by doing, so neither by suffering: this is equally impossible; for no sufferings can satisfy God, but such as are proportionable to the offence we suffer for. And if so, infinite suffering must be borne: I say infinite, for sin is an infinite evil, as it wrongs an infinite God. Now sufferings may be said to be infinite, either in respect to their weight, exceeding all bounds and limits; the letting out of the wrath and fury of an infinite God: or in respect to duration, being endless and everlasting. In the first sense, no creature can bear infinite wrath, it would swallow us up. In the second, it may be borne as the damned do; but then, ever to be suffering, is never to have satisfied. So that no man can be his own priest, to reconcile himself to God by what he can do or suffer. And therefore, one that is able, by doing and suffering, to reconcile him, must undertake it, or we perish. Thus you see plainly and briefly the general nature and necessity of Christ's priesthood.
INFERENCE 1. This shows the incomparable excellency