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men but Jesus Christ; and that there is salvation in no other.' There is, therefore, something in Christ wholly different from any thing in these men; and that something constitutes his peculiar and essential character as the Saviour of mankind. As Christ is expressly declared to have been the propitiation for the sins of men;' to have made his soul an offering for sin,' and to have redeemed us with his blood;' and as we are said to have redemption, even the forgiveness of our sins, through faith in his blood;' it is unanswerably evident, that in this wonderful particular he differs totally from all other persons of whom we have any knowledge. To disbelieve his atonement, therefore, is to refuse belief in his peculiar, distinguishing, and essential character, as the Saviour of mankind. Of course, this scheme shuts out all the benefits of Christ's redemption, and places mankind again under law. But by works of law no flesh can be justified;' and, therefore, by this scheme no flesh can be saved.
There are, indeed, Unitarians of both these classes who acknowledge the atonement of Christ, but who yet in effect deny it by the necessary consequences of their leading principles. Concerning these men I have no more to say at present, than that the hearts of some persons are sounder than their heads; and that, although their leading principles by their proper influence destroy the hopes of salvation, yet, as all errors which are imbibed are not obeyed, and, as among such errors the leading principles of men may, for aught I know, be sometimes included, I am disposed to entertain better hopes concerning them than I should feel myself authorized by these principles, considered by themselves, to indulge.
3. Practical unbelief also equally cuts off the hope of sal
We become partakers of the benefits of Christ's redemption only by exercising evangelical or cordial faith in him, as the Redeemer. It is to no purpose that we believe the several records given us in the Scriptures concerning his incarnation, life, preaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and exaltation. It is to no purpose that we believe him to be a divine person, the real and all-sufficient Saviour; able,' willing, and faithful, to save unto the uttermost all that will come unto God by him.' This and all other speculative faith is to no purpose, if we stop here. It is indeed a step toward salvation, and a
necessary step, but it is one step only; and, if no more be taken, we shall never arrive at the end of the Christian progress. In addition to this, we must with the heart confide in Christ, and his righteousness, and cheerfully trust our souls in his hands. This the practical unbeliever does not; and, so long as he continues to be of this character, cannot do.
Let every practical as well as every speculative unbeliever, then, remember that by his own choice, by his voluntary refusal to receive Christ as his Saviour, he cuts himself off from justification, and consequently from immortal life. Every one of these men has broken the law of God, and sinned against him in innumerable instances of great and dreadful iniquity. Every one infinitely needs forgiveness and salvation. At the bar of God how terrible will be the remembrance of this voluntary perdition, this suicide of the soul?
Repent, therefore, every one of you, and believe on the name of the the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. Repent now. Behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation.' If repentance, if faith, be not now your duty, they can never be. Now, therefore, if you intend ever to hear his voice, even while it is called today, harden not your hearts.' Boast not yourselves of tomorrow, for you know not what' evils another day may bring Now you are called to repentance, faith, and holiness, and invited to eternal life. To-morrow you may be summoned to the grave, and to the judgment. To-day you are before the mercy-seat, surrounded with blessings, in the presence of a forgiving God, and at the feet of a crucified Saviour. Tomorrow, nay, this very night your souls may be required of you; your probation ended, your account given, the final sentence pronounced against you, and your souls consigned to suffering and sorrow which shall know no end !
THE CHRISTIAN SYSTEM
GROUNDED ON THE RELIGION OF NATURE, AND
DIVINITY OF CHRIST.
PROOF FROM THE NAMES GIVEN TO HIM.
FOR WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO, IN THAT IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, GOD SENDING HIS OWN SON IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH, AND FOR SIN, CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.
ROMANS VIII. 3, 4.
FOR GOD, SENDING HIS OWN SON IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH, AND OF A SIN-OFFERING, HATH CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH (THE THING IMPOSSIBLE TO THE LAW, BECAUSE IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH :) THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW MAY BE FULFILLED BY US, WHO WALK NOT ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, BUT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT.
DR. MACKNIGHT'S TRANSLATION.
IN my last Discourse I endeavoured to show, that man could not be justified, and of course could not be saved, by works of law. The plain and necessary result of the establishment of this doctrine is, either that he cannot be saved at all, that is, he cannot be happy in a future existence; or
that he must be saved by some other than the legal dispensation. The Scriptures inform us, that the latter part of this alternative is the true one; and declare, that salvation, or future happiness, is attainable by man. This subject then, infinitely interesting to every child of Adam, this subject, boundlessly great, sublime, and glorious; immensely honourable to God, and inestimably beneficial to man, becomes the next object of our inquiry.
It ought, perhaps, to be observed here, and certainly ought to be remembered, that our preceding investigation has been confined chiefly to what is commonly called the religion of Nature. By this I intend the same with that which was the religion of Adam in Paradise; or, generally, the religion of beings placed under law only. The truths to be believed and the duties to be done by beings, placed under the law of God, constitute the system, which we call natural religion. This religion is found nowhere clearly explained and solemnly sanctioned except in the Scriptures. In them it is presented to us in its perfect form, and with its proper lustre. In all the exhibitions of philosophy it is defective, mutilated, and deformed, with superadded features, created only by the imperfect reasonings, and wild imagination, of man. In the Scriptures it is disclosed in its native beauty, freed from every defect and every mixture.
On this system Christianity, properly so called, is erected. By Christianity I intend The religion of fallen beings; & religion furnishing effectual means of redemption from their apostasy, guilt, and punishment, and of, their restoration to the favour of God, to virtue, and to future happiness. The means provided for this end, the truths to be believed and the duties to be done by such beings, in order to their escape from sin, condemnation, and misery, and their attainment of justification, holiness, and happiness, constitute the sum and substance of the Christian Religion.
To such beings as we are, fallen from the favour of God, polluted with immoveable guilt, and destined to die for ever, under the law which we have broken, such a religion is plainly of infinite importance. From the bare contemplation of the subject one would think, that the tidings communicated by such a religion must be welcome to mankind beyond degree. Every thing which they need, every thing which they can rea
sonably wish, every thing which can purify, adorn, or bless them, which can make them useful and comfortable here, or happy and glorious hereafter, it announces from the mouth of God. By such beings it ought certainly to be received as ' tidings of great joy unto all people.'
In the text the great and commanding doctrines of this religion are briefly declared; and these are the following:
I. That it was impossible for the law to condemn, or, in other words, destroy sin in men, while in the state of nature, or under the legal dispensation.
II. That God has accomplished this great work by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, as an offering for sin.
III. That this was done in order that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled by those who, under the influence of the Gospel, live lives of new obedience.
It will be easily seen, that these three great propositions contain the substance of Christianity; that they teach our ruined condition under the law; our recovery by Christ; and our duty and obedience in the Christian character.
The first of these propositions, that it was impossible for the law to destroy sin in man while in the flesh, or to furnish redemption to apostate beings, has been already considered at length in the preceding Discourses. This is the state in which Christianity found man, and took the charge of his concerns. On this state Christianity is erected, as on its proper foundation; and but for this state appears, in my view at least, to have neither use, explanation, nor meaning.
The second proposition is now to become the subject of discussion. As it is a proposition of vast extent, and contains a great many particulars of vast importance, demanding severally a minute examination, it will furnish an ample field for many Discourses.
In this proposition it is asserted, that God has accomplished the great work of destroying sin in man by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, as an offering for sin. The inquiries excited by this assertion are:
I. What is the Character of the Person thus sent?
II. What has he done?
III. How has he destroyed sin in man?
In this order I propose to consider these highly interesting subjects.