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its privileges and blessings, its grace and glory, as it was in due time to be unfolded more fully and clearly by the eternal Word of JEHOVAH, made flesh, and the Spirit of truth and holiness poured out, in all his plenitude of gifts and graces, upon the first disciples and ministers of the divine Emmanuel. When this fulness of time was come,” and that same God," who, at sundry times, and in divers manners," had formerly spoken to his ancient people by the prophets, had in these last days sent forth his Son, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, with credentials and powers, such as no other divine messenger ever was, or will be invested with, then the gospel, which in former ages had been exhibited in types and shadows, rather shaded than revealed, was manifested in all its glory, and appeared
« Fall orb'd in ito whole round of rays complete.”
It arose upon the world with healing in its wings, and shone forth in all its beauty, splendour, and importance. “The Day-spring from on high visited us, to give light to them that sat in darkness, and in the region of the shadow of death, and to guide their feet into the way of peace.". It is this last, clearest, and fullest revelation of the divine will, respecting our salvation, that is most properly and emphatically termed the gospel, and that is here chiefly meant ; as also, in divers other passages of the New Testament, which you may examine at your leisure.
3. The gospel, considered in this view, has respect to all the offices sustained by its glorious Author. In reference to his prophetic office, it is a revelation of truths, including doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatenings, more clear and full than any preceding discovery. These truths, as they are of a spiritual and divine nature, and concern chiefly, if not wholly, spiritual and divine things, so they are to us the most important that can be imagined. They, 1st, respect God the FATHER, whose nature and attributes, especially his moral attributes, as his holiness, justice, truth, mercy, and love, have been abundantly more plainly and fully revealed to mankind, by Christ and his apostles, than ever they were before. “ No man hath seen God," says St. John, “ at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the FATHER, he hath declared him.”
“ The Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true. And we are in him that is true.” They shall know me," says God, speaking of gospel days, “ from the least to the great
est.”. They regard, 2dly, the Son of God, whose person and offices, humiliation and exaltation, grace and glory, are exhibited and displayed, by himself and his evangelists and apostles, as they neither were, nor, in the nature of things could be, before his manifestation in the flesh. They concern, 3dly, the Spirit of God, not indeed so much with respect to his nature and essence, as his office in the church, and his operations in the souls of men, in order to their salvation. These are revealed much more at large, and with abundantly greater evidence, in the New Testament than in the Old, and we see with much more clearness than the Jews did formerly, how he enlightens, quickens, strengthens, sanctifies, and comforts, his people, and by a variety of gifts and graces, prepares them for, and gives them a pledge and earnest of, eternal felicity and glory. The truths of the gospel, 4thly, respect ourselves. They reveal to us our fall in Adam, with the sinfulness and guilt, the depravity, weakness, and misery, entailed upon us thereby, in a much clearer and fuller manner than they were known to the Old Testament saints. In the meantime, our redemption by Christ, with the nature and properties, causes and effects of that salvation which is by faith in him, is also manifested and displayed in all its love and power, glory and extent, in this same gospel. Here we learn also, the will of God concerning us, viz. what he requires us to know, to believe, to experience, to be, to do, to suffer, and to enjoy. The immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the conflagration of the world, the final judgment of men and angels, and the restitution of all things, are among the important and astonishing discoveries, exhibited to our view in this ever-blessed gospel.
4. Again, in reference to his priestly office, the gospel implies a free and sincere offer of privileges which Christ hath procured for us by his death, and received, in consequence of his ascension into heaven. What these privileges are, I need not now take up your time in endeavouring to show. You, my brethren, are well apprized, that remission of sins, the favour and friendship of God, and adoption into his family, whereby we become his sons and daughters, are among the first and principal of them. These prepare the way for others, such as our heavenly Father's peculiar care and protection, an ample provision for the supply of all our wants, temporal and spiritual, with an assurance that all things, even affliction and death, shall work for our good. . Add to this, that Christ has procured for us, and in his gospel offers to us, “fellowship with God," through the eternal Spirit; which, as it implies a title to, and, in some degree, at least, a meetness for, the happiness reserved for us in the heavenly mansions, so it is also an earnest of that happiness in our hearts. These blessed privileges of the gospel to be enjoyed here, are, you know, to be crowned with the everlasting vision and enjoyment of God hereafter, when his people shall be admitted to see his face and behold his glory, so as to be transformed fully into his likeness, and possessed eternally of his felicity
5. Once more : if the gospel be considered in reference to the kingly office of Christ, it implies the promulgation of a variety of laws, enforced with sanctions the most momentous and awful that can be imagined, even with promises of happiness, and threatenings of misery, infinite and eternal. All these laws are wise and. hoty, just and good. They enjoin repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to our possessing any, even the first of the fore-mentioned privileges, remission of sins, or justification before God. And upon those that are justified, and thereby furnished with the main-spring of obedience, love, they inculcate the uniform practice of piety and virtue in all their branches, directing us in every part of our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, and " teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world ;. looking for the blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
6. That these laws of Christ make a part, and an important part of the gospel, is evident, from this consideration, that Christ is as certainly a King, as he is a Prophet, or a Priest, and requires our obedience, as much as our faith or confidence. As his prophetic office, in the execution of which he reveals great and important truths, would be of no advantage to us, if we did not, believe him nor his priestly office, whereby he atones for our sins, and procures for us inestimable privileges, if we did not trust in him: so neither is his kingly office of any avail to us, if we do not obey and serve him. fle is a Lawgiver and a Judge, as well as a Saviour: and while we apply to him, and depend on him for eternal salvation, we must remember he is the author of it, only to those that obey him.” We are, therefore, “not without law to Gọd, but under the law to Christ,” who, when we stand at his judgment-seat, “ will render to every man according to his deeds, and give eternal life only to those, who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality." Whereas,
to those that do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, he will render "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.” From all which it is manifest, as St. John testifies, that they only are “ blessed that do his commandments, inasmuch as they alone have a right to the tree of life, and shall enter in through the gates into the city."*
Hence it is, that in the parallel passages, by two of the other evangelists, our Lord is represented as giving the same or a like charge in different words. In Luke it is, “ That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations," and in Matthew, “Go ye, and disciple all nations-teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."I The commands or laws of Christ, therefore, are a part of the gospel, or glad tidings published unto us.
And that they may manifestly appear to be such, God hath promised, under the new and better covenant, to write them on the hearts" of his people.g
7. If this be the nature of the gospel, it will not be difficult to say, what is implied in preaching it. It is undoubtedly, first, to teach the truth which it reveals. This must be done clearly, in language intelligible to all, even to the most ignorant and illiterate; and, if possible, with such a judicious arrangement of matter, and distinctness of method, that while lower truths, and such as are more easily understood, make way for, and prepare the mind to receive those that are higher, and of more difficult apprehension, all may be easily and lastingly remembered. Again, it must be done fully. Nothing that will be profitable to our hearers, must be kept back from them, but the whole counsel of God must be declared, at least, as far as concerns their salvation, present or eternal. And if we have not opportunity, during the short time of our residence with a people, to enter upon and discuss the controverted and less important truths of Christianity, we must at least take care to explain to them, and enforce upon them, its leading and essential doctrines. Further: these truths must be taught affectionately. We must instruct our people as a father instructs his children whom he dearly loves, and whose welfare in time and in eternity he has at heart. Love to them, and an earnest desire for their salvation, must be the spring of all our dis
Our preaching in public, and our exhortations in private, must flow from this principle; and the affection of our hearts must manifest itself in all our words and actions.
* Rey. xxii, 14.
+ Luke xxiv. 47. I Matt. xxvii, 20. Jer. xxxi. 31. and Heb. viii. 6.
must speak as those that “ have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, remembering, that we ourselves, also, are compassed about with infirmity," while at the same time, we rejoice in the increasing knowledge and holiness of those that “ receive the truth in the love of it.”? Once more : we must inculcate these truths diligently; as St. Paul enjoins Timothy,* charging him “ before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ," to observe this injunction. We must so preach the word as to be “ instant in season and out of season :” must convince, reprove, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine ” Yea, and in order hereto, as the apostle further observes, must watch in all things, that we may let “no fair occasion pass unheeded by,” but may discern and embrace every favourable opportunity, whether in private or in public, of communicating knowledge. We must be ready to endure afflictions and hardships of every kind, in the prosecution of our work, not counting our ease, our honour, our liberty, or our lives, dear unto ourselves, so we may but “do the work of evangelists, make full proof of our calling, finish our course with joy, and the ministry we have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
8. To preach the gospel is, secondly, to exhibit the privileges which it offers. This must be done freely. They must be tendered to mankind, as the Scripture speaks,“ without money and without price.” Our hearers must be given to understand, that remission of sins, acceptance with God, adoption into his family, regeneration, entire sanctification, and even eternal life, are all the gifts, the free, undeserved gifts of God, through Jesus Christ, and are offered to them without any regard to their merit, yea, notwithstanding their demerit. They must be made sensible, “ that not by works of righteousness which they have done, but according to his mercy, God will save them, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, “and therefore that, unworthy, guilty, and deserving of condemnation and wrath as they are, they are welcome, nay, are invited and urged to receive these blessings. Now as men are very averse to believe this doctrine, and yet, amidst the trials and troubles of this present life, have great need of the support and consolation it affords, these privileges must be offered them frequently. This should make one part, perhaps I may say, the principal part, of almost every ser
* 2 Tim. iv. 11.