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perished. These, and other instances which are upon record, proclaim aloud to what an extent the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; and consequently they present to those who are thus benefited by the piety of others, with the most powerful motives to imitate their example.
In like manner was the Son of God, the appointed medium of spiritual blessings, to all those who believe and repent; that they may become heirs of God, and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ." Those who truly repent will reform; and their reformation must consist in "denying all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and living soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world." When he laid down his life for his flock, it was to purchase to himself a peculiar people; but their peculiarity consists in being zealous of good works. The merits, the superior merits, of the author and finisher of our faith, are not a covering for moral deformities; but they are calculated to inspire us with a "faith which worketh by love;" "which overcometh the world," which purifies the conscience from dead works, which qualifies us for happiness, and renders us diligent to make our calling and election sure, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.*
To conclude, if mere speculation be of so little importance, what shall we say of that faith, which boldly turns the grace of God into licentiousness? This is crucifying the Lord afresh, and putting him to open shame. It is making him the patron of vice, and the minister of sin. "If, (says St. Paul), while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is Christ the minister of sin? God forbid." If sin be at any time hateful to the Deity, it must be hateful at all times. If it be in its, very nature a disqualification for happiness, no man can be happy until his sinful propensities be subdued. To believe the contrary is to believe an impious absurdity. Such a faith must originate from a corrupt heart, or from an understanding peculiarly weak. It is not faith; it is the idiotism of credulity attempting to consecrate depravity.
On the Exaltation of Christ.
THE preceding offices, which the scriptures have ascribed to Christ, relate to the state of humiliation and suffering in which he was placed during the years of his public ministry, and by which it was terminated; we shall now consider that Exaltation which was the result, and the reward.
There are, in the Old Testament, many predictions concerning the Exaltation of Christ. These, like all those future events which are to take place by the intervention of human agency, were expressed in obscure and figurative language, otherwise the freedom of human agency would have be destroyed. There were also many predictions concerning the Humiliation of that great Prophet, who was to arise and redeem Israel; but the spirit of national ambition diverted the public attention from these statements, and fixed it on that which was more
flattering to their pride. The figurative language of the ancient prophets, induced the Jewish nation to hope, that the deliverance would be of a temporal nature. Nor was it probable that they would think otherwise; for as they were not conscious of the bondage of sin; as they cared little about a future state of existence, concerning which nothing was absolutely promised, or clearly revealed; and as they were, at the period to which some of the prophecies pointed, under the Roman yoke, it was natural to expect that this Prince and Saviour would enable them to regain their liberty, and restore to them a splendour, equal to that which they had enjoyed in the days of Solomon.
It was through the medium of these expectations, that the Saviour was enabled to lay the foundation of his spiritual kingdom by imperceptible degrees; and without those commotions which would have been opposite to its nature and object. It was by virtue of these prepossessions, that so much attention was paid to him by the people in general, when he appeared among them as a prophet sent from God, working miracles to prove the divinity of his mission; otherwise they might all have been of the same opinion with his enemies,
who accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. If the peculiar nature of his kingdom had been fully declared, their prejudices must have operated in a direc tion, that would have been inimical to its establishment.
We are in this instance, also, presented with an evidence, that the ignorance and prejudices of men are made subservient to the important plans of their Creator. The Supreme Director is at perfect liberty to communicate the degree of knowledge to his creatures which he may deem the most proper. He permits them to reason from what they know, and he does not restrain them from drawing wrong conclusions; but he takes advantage of their very ignorance, and renders it conducive to their future good.
Their expectations of a temporal Messiah, who should lead them on to victory and to glory, diffused a knowledge of his mission, and rendered him the object of popular attention. But chagrin at their disappointment created him many enemies, and finally conducted him to the cross, through the ignominy of which it was ordained that he should ascend to a throne.
Jesus Christ did not hastily remove such prejudices, from his immediate disciples and fol