Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” St. Paul establishes this point by an incontrovertible chain of argument, in the contrast which he draws between the Jewish High Priest, and the high priesthood of Christ. They could not continue by reason of death; they offered oftentimes the same sacrifices which could never take away sin; they offered for themselves as well as for the people; they entered every year into the holy place with the blood of others: “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." “ For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” “ He is made a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” This expression for ever, is to be understood in a restricted sense, and not as contradicting what has been said of the temporary duration of the heavenly priesthood. Christ's mediatorial kingdom is everlasting as to its effects. They contiņue for ever; but the period of its operation will remain only so long as there exists for it a necessity, that is, till all things are brought into subjection to him. This is intimated in various passages, and plainly in the following. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” If he be expecting or waiting for this period, it is manifest that this period will bring with it, the consummation of his purposes. The termination of Christ's reign is distinctly foretold by the Psalmist. “The Lord (Jehovah) said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” It is, therefore, a subsisting government, for as the Apostle says,

“ We see not yet all things put under him.”

During its subsistence, and till the promised period shall arrive, not only is Christ's mediatorial and priestly character to be conspicuously sustained, but all the enemies of his Church are to be severally and finally put down.

“ For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” The words declare a necessity for his kingly government over men, he must reign;" and the period of its cessation, “till he hath subdued his enemies."

Whoever knows any thing of the history of the Church needs not to be informed, that it has, from its first foundation to the present hour, been struggling with difficulties of various kinds, which it has, by patience and perseverance, successively overcome. This conflict is prophetically alluded to by our blessed Lord in various passages, especially in his last conversation with his disciples; and

and is farther, very distinctly noticed, in the different epistles which they wrote, and in the book of Revelation. The superintending power and providence of Christ, as supreme head of the Church, was promised, as we have seen before,* on the eve of his return into heaven, and has ever since been clearly displayed in the various triumphs of his suffering Church. In what way he exercises this superintendency, it is not all material' to enquire. If it generally concurs with the ordinary events of human life, and seems, like the operations of nature, to depend on the agency of merely secondary causes, that does not hinder it from being his holy work and will, for miraculous interpositions have long ago ceased. The fact is formally announced to us, that “he is head over all things,” and “by him all things consist.” Nothing, therefore, transpires upon the earth, nothing occurs in all the immensity of space, but it is within his immediate jurisdiction, and under his absolute control. The time is coming, when this authority of Christ, which is disputed by some, and denied by others, will be universally acknowledged, and his government will be made complete by the “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” “But of that day and hour knoweth no man.” It is among “the times which the Father hath put in his own power.” Till then, the devils in the regions round about us, and ungodly and abandoned men upon the earth, are suffered, with some restrictions, to prosecute their respective designs. The power of evil spirits was undoubtedly crippled by our

* See last Discourse, page 307, &c.

crippled by our Lord's ministration. We read not since his resurrection, of the same influence prevailing in the world, as was notoriously conspicuous before that astonishing event. And both

from history and from prophecy, from what has been already done, and what is declared shall assuredly come to pass, we may certainly infer, that the overthrow of the empire of Satan, and consequently of the dominion and influence of sin, is a gradual and progressive work, which will not be finally completed till “the day of Christ.” That this work cannot be accomplished at once, seems entirely consistent with all God's dispensations for the deliverance of the world. The law of Moses was not given of two thousand five hundred years after the creation, and Christ did not come and suffer till one thousand five hundred more from the promulgation of the law. Reasons, of what we call necessity, no doubt, exist, for this gradual and successive display of God's resistance to the power of sin, rather than for a sudden and total subjugation of it to his rule and discipline, and however difficult such views of providence may be to human apprehension, yet when we come to be admitted to a higher sphere of knowledge, and to understand more of the divine will and the divine operations, these reasons will be both obvious and satisfactory. “ The last enemy .that shall be destroyed is death.” Satan, we are told, has the power of death, by which all of us have been brought under his iron yoke. The destruction of this power by the general resurrection will be the breaking up of the empire of Satan, and the final overthrow of every enemy of Christ. It was the prophetical view of this most blessed period, which led the enraptured Prophet to cry out in the name of the Messiah, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: 0 death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.”

A great and momentous change, therefore, is yet to take place in the moral world. Not only the parts of it which now acknowledge his authority, but every other part and every person in it, are to be brought into subjection to Christ; and this, chiefly, it is presumed, by the same means which have hitherto contributed to the advancement of this object, namely, by the progress of true knowledge and the gospel of Christ. As men become more and more civilised and enlightened, they must naturally become more awake to the vast concerns of their religious duty. They must see and feel, that of all things in the world, religion is the most important, the most needful, the most valuable; that nothing they ever heard of or conceived is at all of equal or comparable moment; and that to enjoy its privileges and to obtain its promises, is the true way to happiness and rest. As this view of life and death and of eternity gains possession of the mind, the love of sin and wickedness must abate, and Satan's empire and authority grow less and less extensive, till, at length, his influence will cease, his power fall away, and himself and his angels and all who have obeyed him in the flesh, and died his servants, will be gathered together, and brought to judgment, when the everlasting sentence will be pronounced by their" most merciful and long-suffering Judge, and

« ÎnapoiContinuați »