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And Christ, as a Prophet, teaches this article to his people so efficaciously, that they acquiesce in this method of salvation.
5. He reveals to us that he is a full and sufficient Saviour, able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, Heb. vii. 25. So that his own people cordially embrace him as their only Saviour, and accept him as their sole Redeemer, looking for expiation of guilt, pardon of sin, and peace with God, only from and through him.
6. He teaches, that we must have union with him through faith, or else wo can have no benefit by his blood, 1 John v. 12. “ He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life :' that is, ho that is united to Christ is spiritually alive, and shall not come into condemnation; but ho that is not united to him is still under the curse, and the wrath of God abideth on him. It is by being in Christ, united to him, that we escape condemnation, Rom. viii. 1.
7. Christ teaches us, that we must believe in, and receive him as our only Saviour and Redeemer, resting upon him alone for life and salvation. Hence it is said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'
8. Another part of the will of God that Christ reveals to us is our sanctification ; and we are told, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.' Holiness of heart and life is absolutely to qualify men for the enjoyment of God in heaven, as no unclean thing can enter the celestial abode.
III. I come now to shew how Christ reveals this will of God for salvation, namely, by his word and Spirit, jointly or together; for both are absolutely necessary for attaining that end.
First, Christ reveals this by his word. This is the external revelation of it, without the knowledge of which no man can be saved. The personal Word of God teaches us by his word written or preached, or extraordinarily revealed. So there are three ways of Christ's teaching by his word.
1. The word extraordinarily revealed, as appears from Heb. i. 1. and Gen. iii. 15. which method having long ago ceased, we need not enlarge upon it.
2. By the word preached; which has been managed two ways, wherein the kindness of the Divine Teacher appears,
(1.) By his own personal preaching, Heb. i. 1. in the days of his flesh, when he went about the work of preaching the gospel to the Jews, for which cause he is called the minister of the circumcision,' Rom. xv. 8. putting a glory on the ministerial calling, by himself performing that office. He spake as never man spake. An hea
venly authority and majesty appeared in his preaching, which attracted the attention of his hearers, and forced them to acknowledge that he was more than a human being. (2.) By his ambassadors in his name.
So he exercised his prophetical office.
[1.] Before his incarnation, under the Old Testament, 1 Pet. iii. 19. instructing his church sometimes by extraordinary teachers, the prophets; sometimes by ordinary teachers, or both. And this he did both before and after the word was written: for although before the scripture the church was supplied by extraordinary revelation, yet all were not so taught, but many were trained up by the external teaching of the patriarchs; as appears from Abraham's practice, Gen. xviii. 17, 19.
[2.] After his incarnation, by the apostles, who are infallibly guided, and to this day by ordinary ministers, by whom Christ still exercises his prophetical office, Eph. iv. 11. and so he promised to be with them, Mat. xxviii. ult. In this respect they have that awful hedge set about them, 'He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.' On this ground he obligeth people to repair to them for clearing, from the word, the matters of salvation, sin, and duty to them, Mal. ii. 7. 'They should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.'
3. By the word written, John xx. 31. These things are written, that ye might believe,' &c. Thereby it is that the prophets and apostles, and all the inspired writers, being dead, yet speak to us, and Christ by them, to shew us the will of God for our salvation. Thus was the church taught from the days of Moses, and in this manner it is taught to this day. We need not say, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' or 'who shall descend into the depths ?' that is, for the revelation of the method of salvation. The word is nigh to us, it is among our hands. To that, Christ sends us to know his mind, Isa. viii. 20. 'To the law and to the testimony; yet not to justle out men's teaching from it, Eph. iv. 11, 12.
Yet the word itself is not suficient to teach us the will of God for our salvation. Not the word preached; for even most of those who heard him that spake as never man spake, were not bettered by his preaching; as appears from John xii. 37, 38. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, 'Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? Nor yet the word written, for the same reason; nor that extraordinarily revealed, as in the case of Balaam. See 1 Cor. ii. 14. The natural man receiveth
.not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. There is a darkness over the minds of men which nothing but omnipotence can remove. Therefore,
Secondly, Christ teaches his elect, who are taught to salvation by his Spirit, who joins internal illumination to external revelation. · He opened the understandings of the two disciples who were going to Emmaus, 'that they might understand the scriptures,' Luke xxiv. 45. Thus all the elect are taught of God, and so come to Christ; and thus have they always been taught. Ye must not, however, understand these as two different ways of Christ's teaching to salvation, in those that are capable of both; for the word is that by which the Spirit teacheth still. These God has joined, Isa. lix. 21. “ As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.' John xvi. 13, 14. 'When he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for ho shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever ho shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.' Thus the teaching of the elect is begun, and thus it continues to the end.
Indeed the word hath a mighty power and efficacy upon the hearts of men. It enlightens their mind, awakens their consciences, convinces of sin, and can effectually convert and change them. But this is only when it is managed by the Spirit's hand. All its power and efficacy is from him. The virtue of the word is not from itself: it doth not work in a physical way, as natural agents do, for then the effect would naturally follow, unless it were miraculously hindered. But this spiritual efficacy is in the word, as the healing virtue was in the pool of Bethesda, of which it is said, John v. 4. 'An angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.' This efficacious power is not naturally inherent in the word at all times, but only communicated to it at some special seasons. Many times the word is purely and plainly preached, but no gracious effect follows. It proves but like the beating of the air, which makes no impression upon it: none are awakened, convinced, or converted by it. Neither is the power of the word communicated to it by the instrument that manageth it: for saith the apostle, 1 Cor. iii. 7. Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God
that giveth the increase.' Ministers are nothing, they have no power or strength of their own sufficient for such a purpose as this is. The apostle doth not mean here, that they are useless instruments, and altogether unnecessary, but that they are insufficient of themselves, to produce such mighty effects. It worketh not as it is the word of man, but as it is the word of God. Ministers may say of the ordinary, as Peter said of the extraordinary effects of the Spirit, Acts iii. 12. ' Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk ! All the power and efficacy of the word is derived from the Spirit of the Lord. It is said, 1 Thess. ii. 13.' When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.' When the word of God is sot home by the Spirit, then it is mighty to enlighten the minds, convince the consciences, and humble and break the hearts of sinners. Then it proves as a hammer to break the rock in pieces. And it is said, John xvi. 8.' When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.' The word made use of there signifies conviction by such clear demonstration as compolleth assent. It not only convinceth men in general that they are sinners, but it convinceth them particularly of their own sins, and of all the heinous aggravations of them. It sets sin before the eye of conscience in all its aggravating circumstances and fearful consequences, as committed against the holy and righteous law of God, clear light, regrets and checks of conscience, manifold mercies and favours, God's long suffering, Christ's precious blood, many warnings of judgments, the reward and wages whereof, by the verdict of a man's own conscience, is death, even eternal death and damnation.
It may not be improper hero to touch at the excellency of Christ's teaching, and shew you that it far transcends the teaching of all others.
1. He teacheth plainly and perspicuously. When he was upon earth, and preached the gospel unto men, he taught them by parables and similitudes, he clothed sublime and spiritual mysteries with earthly metaphors, and thereby adapted them to the low and dull capacities of men, and spake so familiarly about them, as if he had been speaking earthly things. And, according to his own example, he would have his ministers to preach,' using great plainness of speech,' as the apostle Paul tells us he did, 2 Cor. iii. 12. and 'by manifestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, 2 Cor. iv. 2. Yet he does not
allow them to be rude and careless in their expressions, pouring out rude, indigested, mean, sordid, and methodical words, nauseous and ungrateful to the ears of men. No; a holy, serious, and grave expression suits the lips of Christ's ambassadors. And what man ever spake more weightily, logically, and persuasively, than the apostle Paul, by whose pen Christ hath admonished us to beware of vain ostentation, and swelling words of vanity; but he would have us stoop to the understanding of the meanest, and not to give the people a comment darker than the text. He would have us rather to prick their consciences than tickle their fancies, and break their hearts rather than please their ears. Christ was a very plain preacher, and he not only opened truths to the understanding, but opened the understanding also to perceive them. He takes away the vail from the heart, and causes a heavenly light to shine into the soul, and darts a clear beam from heaven into the mind. Christ's teachings are fully satisfying. The soul doubts no more, staggers or hesitates no more ; but fully acquiesces in what Christ teaches. It is so well satisfied therewith, that it can venture all upon the truth of what it hath learned from him.'
You may see what is said with respect to this, Prov. viii. 8, 9.' All the words of my mouth are in righteousness, there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.'
2. Christ teaches fully. He gives us a full and clear revelation of the will of God with respect to all things which concern our happiness, either in this life or in that which is to come. That is spoken of Christ which we have, Psal. xl. 9, 10. 'I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy loving kindness, and thy truth from the great congregation. He hath given us a perfect rule of faith and obedience, in nothing defective or superfluous, but comprehending the whole duty of man. The scriptures contain the counsels of God, which he hath graciously sent to redress the miseries of the fall; and therefore it is said by the apostle, Acts xx. 27. 'I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. He hath kept nothing back from men that was needful to be known in order to their salvation. Hence saith he, John xv. 15.' All things that I have heard of my father I have made known unto you.' And it is said, 2 Tim. iii. 15. that 'the holy scriptures are able to make as wise unto salvation.' Christ hath plainly shewed us wliat course we are to take, that so we may obtain the friendship and