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selves, splendid privileges will only expose us to greater shame. Like Zacharias, when Gabriel came from heaven to assure him he should be the father of one of the most excellent of the prophets, we shall fall into disgrace, and incur the displeasure of God.
At length, when the illustrious babe was brought to be circumcised, his father's mouth was opened, his tongue was loosed, and, full of the Holy Ghost, he prophesied, saying,
LUKE i. 68.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people.
To redeem, signifies to purchase the deliverance of captives, by paying down a ransom-price,, through which alone they obtain their liberty. None, therefore, but the wretched and enslaved, as common sense teaches, can need this mercy. Since the Israel of God then are visited, and redeemed,. it follows, that they are naturally in a most miserable condition. The word of truth affirms, and universal experience proves, they are so, till they receive the benefit of redemption.
Before this blessed hour of deliverance, infernal selfishness, and enmity against the truth and government of God, possesses them.
Sensuality, pride, impatience, anger, hatred,
This totally corrupt and wicked state, I
Compared with this natural character of man, the unsearchable riches of grace shine to the highest advantage. For, instead of destroying his people, when in a state so guilty, so detestable, the Lord God hath visited and redeemed them.
ON THE MISTAKE OF ASSERTING MAN'S NATIVE
THIS doctrine, taught by Zacharias, proves their error who conclude men are born
innocent and good, as Adam was created. Such a supposition impeaches the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself, as slanderers of mankind, and blasphemers of God. For they unanimously assert the ruin of us all, as a race of sinners by birth. Upon this melancholy truth, they found the absolute necessity of redemption; which indeed must sink into nothing but a very violent and absurd metaphor, if we are not in a fallen, lost condition. For what absurdity could be grosser, than to affirm, that men naturally upright, in peace with God, fully possessed of power so to continue, or to recover themselves if they did sin, were yet visited in such a state, and redeemed from it?
Besides, you can no sooner embrace this delusion, that man is not fallen, and lost, than you will take offence at the name of a Redeemer. You will grow jealous of the high honours constantly paid to him,, and instead of being thankful for his explaining more clearly the nature of religion, and revealing a future state, which you allow he has done, you will feel a disposition to quarrel continually with him, and his apostles, for speaking in the manner they do of his ever-blessed person, his glorious work, and salvation.
Observe further, the fatal effect of this mistake. Instead of being animated with love to God, and his service, by inestimable benefits vouchsafed already to a creature vile and sinful: you can receive nothing better from God on this side the grave, than a set of moral rules, with a declaration that the due observance of them may possibly be rewarded in another world, whilst much more probably your violation of them may destroy your soul. In this view of things, what certain blessing is there granted at all?
How much more beneficial and consolatory is the doctrine which Zacharias, with all the inspired writers, teaches! The redemption of sinners by the Lord God, from a state 'equally infamous and miserable....which challenges the most devout and thankful acceptance, as the chief of all the mercies of God; that every believer in Jesus, whilst he obeys and adores his precepts, as an infallible prophet, might triumph also in the greatness of his salvation, as a complete Redeemer,
ON THE REDEMPTION OF THE CHURCH.
THE people of God are those, whom the Father gave to Christ....a multitude out of
every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue....in number as the sand upon the seashore. They are distinguished by this title of highest honour, on account of God's special favour towards them, their devotedness to his service, and love of his truth. All these were redeemed by the blood, and made righteous by the obedience of Christ. When he expired on the cross, he delivered them from the wrath to come....he bruised the serpent's head....he made sure, in the way of holiness, the salvation of every member of his mystical body, the church.
The following scriptures, in their natural, obvious sense, establish this glorious truth. "By the one offering of himself, this man (Christ) for ever perfected them that are sanctified," Heb. ix. that is, separated by the choice of God, and consecrated to his service, "This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies become his footstool." In grateful remembrance of this complete redemption, the church is represented as breaking forth into the following joyful strains,...." We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." The ministers of Christ are charged to animate the faithful, in the midst of all their sufferings, with words