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jah had his failings. Jonah was not guiltless. David was a “sinner.” Isaiah was “a man of unclean lips.” And so with all the
So that the instruments of God's communications to the fathers were imperfect and fallible. To say the most, they were but servants; worthy servants it is true, but still servants. They could lay claim to no superhuman excellence.
But“ in these last days God hath spoken to us by his Son.” Not an inferior creature, but his co-equal Son, was the medium through whom the Gospel was given. Certainly this was the most dignified messenger that ever trod our world. Not only was he superior to the prophets, but he was clothed with all the majesty of the God of the prophets. He was the Creator of all things, and the heir and proprietor of all things. He was not only free from all those imperfections with which the prophets were chargeable, but he was “ holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” and free from all guile—“the brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of his person.” And though he was reproached as a drunkard—a friend of publicans and sinners-a deceiver of the peopleone possessed with a devil; yet, all his actions, teachings, and the prodigies which marked his path give the lie to the foul calumnies heaped upon him, and demonstrate to angels and to men the worshipful, majesty of his character. This, my hearers, is the honored instrument of the new economy. His own hallowed lips gave utterance to the blessed truths of the Gospel. His own heavenly footsteps have been manifest on the earth, to teach erring mortals the way of life. The hills of Palestine have given echo to his voice as it was listed for our spiritual instruction. For “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
This is one of the strong points of the Gospel's superior excellence, and which we will find further developed as we proceed in the Epistle. Whilst the revelations of God were delivered to the ancients by servants, the Gospel was delivered by the Son. Proph'ets were frail creatures; Christ was the all-perfect Creator. Prophets were all pensioners of Divine bounty; Christ was and is the source of all blessedness. Prophets were mere men; Christ was “God manifest in the flesh.”
But the superior excellence of the Gospel may be still further seen, in the place which it occupies in the sublime arrangements of God for the accomplishment of his eternal purposes. You will observe that the apostle speaks of the Gospel dispensation as “these last days.” Called the last days, because occurring at the close of the Jewish hierarchy, but more particularly, because not to be succeeded by any further institutions of grace. This is the last and better covenant. Everything which preceded it was instituted with reference to it, and was only preparatory to its introduction. The Gospel is the complete embodiment of all the purposes of God with man. Without it, all former dispensations are perfectly idle and unmeaning. What was the significance of the promises and covenants made with the patriarchs, if they did not centre in the New Testament institutions ? What were all the bloody rites and ordinances of the Mosaic economy, without the great sacrifice of Calvary? What the meaning of all those rapturous prophetic visions, if the kingdom of the Messiah were stricken from the annals of time? Nay, the Savior's cross is the great centre of all religious institutions, and upon which they all depend for their significance and efficacy. It is this which draws a chain of unity through all the pious observances from Adám down to his remotest generations. Everything preceding it, slowly but securely paved the way for its erection; and upon the blood-stained brow of Calvary were converged all the hopes and interests of the entire family of man. With the cross, all is harmonious and consistent ; without it, all is dark and indefinable. Without the cross, the patriarch kneeling before his rudle altar, and the successors of Aaron brightening the incense flame amid the blazing grandeur of the Holy of holies, is all meaningless and holy trifling. Without the cross, the enrapturing songs of Israel's inspired bards, and the visions of the exultings of the redeemed in their final rest, are all the senseless reveries of severed brains !
The Gospel of Christ then is to be looked upon as the finishing matter, which gives significance and virtue to all other dispensations. It is the grand keystone of the wide arch which spans from eternity to eternity. Adam's eyes and hopes were centred on it, and the eyes and hopes of all the pious who lived before the Savior's coming. And from the remotest ages of time to come, every devout human worshiper will look back to it as bis only depend
ance for the enjoyment of the favor of the Almighty. It is the sole link which unites man to the throne of God. And by thus taking into consideration the importance of the place which it occupies, we cannot but ascribe to the Gospel a surpassing excellence and glory. The institutions of the ancients only compare with it, as the light of the moon compares with the brightness of the noonday sun—as the dim twilight of morning with the full blaze of a perfect day. God's communications to the fathers served them only as the star of Bethlehem did the Eastern Magi; they merely led the way to the Savior. But the Gospel places us at once at his feet, and within the hearing of all his heavenly instructions. And though we have no law graven by the hand of Deity on tables of stone; we have it written on the more imperishable tables of the heart and of the mind. Though we have no such a temple as rendered Jerusalem the praise of the whole earth; we have one built up of “ living stones,” which wears a radiance far brighter than golden spires and gilded domes, where penitents find an ark, and wandering prodigals a joyful welcome and a peaceful home. Though we have no Shekinah hovering in visible grandeur over the mercy seat; yet we have the Spirit of the Eternal ever brooding over each ransomed soul, and creating in every christian's breast a little heaven!
Such, my hearers, is the superior excellence of the Gospel of Christ, and of the dispensation of it under which we live. What a blessed privilege is ours ! I fear that we have not yet learned duly to appreciate it. I fear that we do not sufficiently prize our spiritual advantages, nor properly estimate our freedom from those long nights of gloom and burdensome ritual exactions which passed over former generations. Let us then carefully lay to heart these few reflections, and henceforth endeavor to be more grateful to God for the marvelous light and liberty he has made it our privilege to enjoy. And may our gratitude not be only a dead letter, or something which remains housed up in the heart and never reaching the surface; but a gratitude which leads to activity, and which speaks out in works of charity, honesty, and practical godliness.
Let us carefully remember too, that increase of privilege always brings with it an increase of responsibility. The Scriptural rule is, to whom much is given, of him much will be required. As our
advantages are great, a corresponding degree of holiness will be exacted in our lives and conduct. See to it then that all our superior blessings be well improved. And in the great day of final reckoning, may it be the portion of us all to be bailed by him that sits upon the throne as “faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Heb. i. 3. Who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his per
bon, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down ai the right hand of the Majesty on high.
ATHEISM and superstition are weapons in the hands of Satan, which have only been 100 successfully used against the christian religion. But these are not his most formidable arms, nor are they the most difficult to be resisted. There are other and more deceitful instruments at his command, much more subtle in their operations and threatening much greater mischief. There is in the world a system of error, which seems to be extracted from the very essence of reason and religion, and to proceed from the very bosom of truth and virtue., A system which, under the mask of piety and lofty pretensions to learning, would secretly undermine the very foundations of Christianity, and drain the very life-blood of our holy religion, I speak now of that system of Divinity which is characterized by its low views of the mediatorial work, and which tends to degrade the Savior from his proper and eternal Deity to the rank of simple creatures. The text comes in direct conflict with such views. It contains a brief but magnificent account of the infinite majesty of the great Redeemer's character; “Who, being the brightness of his (Father's) glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."
These words obviously teach the Divine nature of Jesus Christ. This will be the more clearly perceived by some explanation of the phrascology employed by the apostle. And in speaking of Christ's Divine nature, the expression is to be understood in a higher sense than where it is declared that believers are “partakers of a Divine nature. This is predicated of believers, because they are constituted in a likeness to God, and because they are admitted to a blessedness resembling that of God. But when we ascribe a Divine