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PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS. 219
descendants inherit a sinful nature—that the heart or inward disposition of the natural man is infected with sin, and ever prone to evil—that unregenerate men are in a condition of darkness, alienated from the life of God by the ignorance which is in them, and incapable of understanding Divine Truth by their own wisdom —that they are under the dominion of Satan—that they are dead in trespasses and sins, and universally sinners, as is amply proved by the historical, as well as the didactic, parts of Scripture—and finally, that being sinners, they are all guilty before God, and justly liable to the Curse Of The Law.
What, then, are the practical conclusions to which these premises are calculated to conduct the awakened sinner? He must surely be convinced, that if he continues under the influence of his fallen nature, misery and destruction are his certain allotment. He beholds his deep moral degradation: he confesses that his enemy has triumphed over him: he knows that he is utterly unable, by any strength or wisdom of his own, to escape from the dominion of Satan, and from the bitter pains of eternal death. Stricken with the sight of his iniquities, he trembles under a sense of the divine displeasure, and in the awful expectation of judgment to come; and he is sensible that he can entertain no hope of his soul's salvation,except in the spontaneous,unrestricted,unmerited, mercy of God. Yet, while an indistinct view of that mercy may cast some gleams of consolation over his path of darkness, he perceives not how it can be reconciled with the divine justice: he remembers the corruption and defilement of his own heart, and the perfect holiness of his Creator; and he still shrinks from the all-searching eye, from the pure and pene
trating presence, of the Judge of all flesh. While such is his mental condition, he is prepared to pour forth his sorrows in the language of Job: " If I wash myself in snow-water, and make myself never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. (God) is not a man as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment; neither is there any Day's-man betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon ns both!" Job ix, 30—33. He prays for a clean heart: he hungers and thirsts after righteousness; but he is inwardly persuaded, nevertheless, that he stands in need of some powerful and perfect Mediator, who can bear the weight of his iniquity, and perform for him the work of reconciliation. In the bitterness of his soul he exclaims, A Saviour, or I die—A Redeemer, or I perish for ever!
With how much eagerness and delight will he then receive the well-authenticated tidings, that such a Mediator has been appointed—that such a Saviour and Redeemer has been freely bestowed—that now "mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other"—that God has given " His Only-begotten Son," and that "whosoever believeth" in Christ "shall not perish, but have everlasting life!"
ON THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF JESUS CHRIST.
.having considered the lamentable condition of man, in his fallen and unregenerate nature, and having briefly adverted to the fact, which forms the centre and spring of the whole dispensation of the Gospel— that God sent his Son into the world to save sinners— it is natural for us to press forward, with no slight degree of eagerness, to the examination of those passages of Scripture, which unfold to our view the person and nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. Diversified and numerous as those passages are, and relating to a variety of different points, they will, nevertheless, be found very remarkably to harmonize together—to elucidate and confirm one another; and it will now be my endeavour to arrange a selection of them, in such a manner, as will, it may be hoped, produce on the mind of the reader a clear and useful impression of the whole subject.
The clue which I propose to follow in making this attempt, is the history of the Son of God, as it is revealed to us in the Bible; for, I apprehend, that the order of his history is the natural order of the subject before us; and, the more closely we follow the
222 CHRIST IN HIS PREEXISTENCE.
natural order of any subject we may be investigating, the more satisfactorily and explicitly will that subject be opened to our understanding. Now, the revealed history of the Sou of God admits of being divided into three principal parts—his preexistence—his abode upon earth—and his reign in glory; and, while I hope not to forget the circumstances and results of our Lord's humanity, it will be my principal object to adduce, in connection with each of these successive divisions, the testimonies borne by the sacred writers to the great doctrine of his deity.
ON CHRIST IN HIS PREEXISTENCE.
When we open the New Testament, and peruse the various statements contained in the four Gospels respecting the qualities and powers, the discourses and actions, of the Founder of our religion, we cannot fail to perceive that he was an extraordinary and wonderful being; and it is with irresistible force that the inquiry presents itself to our minds, Who was he, and what was his nature? The narrations of the four evangelists afford abundant evidence that he was born, lived, and died—that he was endowed with those physical and intellectual properties which we ourselves possess—that his body was a human body, and his mind a human mind; and therefore we cannot with any reason refuse to allow, that he was really and absolutely man. But did he possess any other nature besides the nature of man? Were his conception and birth the commencement of his being; or did he exist in some higher character and condition
HE CAME FORTH FROM GOD. 223
than those which appertain .to mankind, before his conception and birth took place?
To these inquiries, we shall have little difficulty in returning an affirmative answer, when we have calmly reflected on the declarations of the Sacred Volume, that Jesus proceeded forth from God—that in other words, he was the "Lord from heaven:" I Cor. xv, 47. "I proceeded forth," said our Saviour to the Jews, "and came from God" (or more literally, I proceeded forth from out of God and am come9;) "neither came I of myself, but he sent me:" John viii, 42. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from (or from out of) heaven,1 even the Son of man which is in heaven:" John iii, 13. "For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me:" vi, 38; comp. 41. 51, &c.
It cannot, with any colour of probability, be pretended that these expressions were applied by our Lord to his own circumstances, only on the principle, that he was the messenger of God, and was invested (however eminently) with the prophetical office; for no such expressions are ever employed in Scripture to describe the mission, either of the prophets or of the apostles. Among the inspired servants of the Lord, an exalted place was unquestionably held by John the Baptist, who was a burning and "a shining light," and " more than prophet," and yet the distinction between John and Jesus Christ was this; that John was of the earth, earthly—Jesus Christ from above, from heaven. "He must increase," cried the Baptist, "but I must decrease. He that cometh
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