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command required, and never was guilty of any sin of omission. And it was perfect with respect to the principle from which he obeyed : His heart was perfect, his principles were wholly right, there was no corruption in his heart. And it was perfect with respect to the ends he acted for : For he never had any by ends, but aimed perfectly at such ends as the law of God required. And it was perfect with respect to the manner of performance : Every circumstance of each act was perfectly conformed to the command. And it was perfect with respect to the degree of the performance : He acted wholly up to the rule. And it was perfect with respect to the constancy of obedience : He did not only perfectly obey sometimes, but constantly, without any interruption. And it was perfect with respect to perseverance : He held out in perfect obedience to the very end, through all the changes he passed and all the trials that were before him.
The meritoriousness of Christ's obedience, depends on the perfection of it. If it had failed in any instance of perfection, it could not have been meritorious : For imperfect obedience is not accepted as any obedience at all in the sight of the law of works, which was that law that Christ was subject to ; for that is not accepted as an obedience to a law that does not answer that law.
2. The next thing I would observe of Christ's obedience is, that it was performed through the greatest trials and temptas tions that ever any obedience was. His obedience was attended with the greatest difficulties, and most extreme abasement and sufferings that ever any obedience was ; which was another thing that rendered it more meritorious and thank worthy. To obey another when his commands are easy, is not so worthy, as it is to obey when it cannot be done without great difficulty.
3. He performed this obedience with infinite respect to God, and the honor of his law. The obedience he performcd was with infinitely greater love to God, and regard to his authority, than the angels perform their obedience with. The angels perform their obedience with that love which is perfect, with sinless perfection : But Christ did not do so, but he performed his obedience with much greater love than the angels do theirs, even infinite love ; for though the human nature of Christ was not capable of love absolutely infinite, yet Christ's obedience that was performed in that human nature, is not to be looked upon as merely the obedience of the human nature, but the obedience of his person as God man; and there was infinite love of the person of Christ manifest in that obedience. And this, together with the infinite dignity of the person that obeyed, rendered his obedience infinitely meritorious.
II. The second distribution of the acts of Christ's obe dience, is with respect to the different parts of his life, wherein they were performed. And in this respect they may be divided into those which were performed in private life, and those which were performed in his public ministry.
1st. Those acts he performed during his private life. He was perfectly obedient in his childhood. He infinitely differ ed from other children, who, as soon as they begin to act, begin to sin and rebel. He was subject to his earthly parents, though he was Lord of all, Luke ii. 51. He was found about his Father's business at twelve years of age in the temple, Luke ii. 42. He then began that work that he had to do in fulfilment of the mediatorial law, which the Father had given him. He continued his private life for about thirty years, dwelling at Nazareth in the house of his reputed father Joseph, where he served God in a private capacity, and in fol. lowing a mechanical trade, the business of a carpenter.
2dly. Those acts which he performed during his public ministry, which began when he was about thirty years of age, and continued for the three last years and an half of his life. Most of the history of the evangelists is taken up in giving an account of what passed during these three years and an half; so is all the history of the Evangelist Matthew, excepting the two first chapters. So is the whole of the history of the Evangelist Mark; it begins and ends with it. And so also is all the gospel of John, and all the gospel of Luke, excepting the two first chapters ; excepting also what we find in the eyangelists concerning the ministry of John the Baptist. Christ's
first appearing in his public ministry, is what is often called his coming in scripture. Thus John speaks of Christ's coming as what is yet to be, though he had been born long before.
Concerning the public ministry of Christ, I would observe the following things. 1. The forerunner of it. 2. The manner of his first'entering upon it. 3. The works in which he was employed during the course of it ; and, 4. The manner of his finishing it.
1. The forerunner of Christ's coming in his public ministry was John the Baptist : He came preaching repentance for the remission of sins, to make way for Christ's coming, agreeably to the prophecies of him, Isa. xl. 3, 4, 5, and Matt. iv. 5, 6. It is supposed that John the Baptist began his ministry about three years and an half before Christ; so that John's ministry and Christ's put together, made seven years, which was the last of Daniel's weeks; and this time is intended in Dan. ix. 27. “ He will confirm the covenant with many
for one week.” Christ came in the midst of this week, viz. in the beginning of the last half of it, or the last three years, and an half, as Daniel foretold, as in the verse just now quoted : 6 And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”
John Baptist's ministry consisted principally in preaching the law, to awaken men and convince them of sin, to prepare men for the coming of Christ, to comfort them, as the law is to prepare the heart for the entertainment of the gospel.
A very remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God attended John's ministry; and the effect of it was, that Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, were awakened, convinced, went out to him, and submitted to his baptism, consessing their sins. John is spoken of as the greatest of all the prophets who came before Christ : Matth. xi. 11. “ Among those that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist ;" i. e. he had the most honorable office. He was as the morning star, which is the harbinger of the approaching day, and forerunner of the rising
The other prophets were stars that were to give light
in the night; but we have heard how those stars went out on the approach of the gospel day. But now the coming of Christ being very nigh, the morning star comes before him, the brightest of all the stars, as John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets.
And when Christ came in his public ministry, the light of that morning star decreased too; as we see when the sun rises, it diminishes the light of the morning star. So John the Baptist says of himself, John iii. 30. “He must increase, but I must decrease." And soon after Christ began his public ministry, John the Baptist was put to death ; as the morning star is visible a little while after the sun is risen, yet soon goes out.
2. The next thing to be taken notice of is Christ's entrance on his public ministry, which was by baptism, followed with the temptation in the wilderness. His baptism was as it were his solemn inauguration, by which he entered on his ministry ; and was attended with his being anointed with the Holy Ghost, in a solemn and visible manner, the Holy Ghost descending upon him in a visible shape like a dove, attended with a voice from heaven, saying, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matth. iii. 16, 17.
After this he was led by the devil into the wilderness. Sa tan made a violent onset upon him at his first entrance on his work; and now he had a remarkable trial of his obedience ; but he got the victory. He who had such success with the first Adam, had none with the second.
3. I would take notice of the work in which Christ was employed during his ministry. And here are three things chiefly to be taken notice of, viz. his preaching, his working miracles, and his calling and appointing disciples and ministers of his kingdom.
(1.) His preaching the gospel. Great part of the work of his public ministry consisted in this ; and much of that obedience by which he purchased salvation for us, was in his speaking those things which the Father commanded him ..... He more clearly and abundantly revealed the mind and will of God, than ever it had been revealed before. He came from Vol. II.
the bosom of the Father, and perfectly knew his mind, and was in the best capacity to reveal it. As the sun, as soon as it is risen, begins to shine ; so Christ, as soon as he came into his public ministry, began to enlighten the world with his doctrine. As the law was given at Mount Sinai, so Christ delivered his evangelical doctrine, full of blessings and not curses, to a multitude on a mountain, as we have an account in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew.
When he preached, he did not teach as the scribes, but he taught as one having authority ; so that his hearers were astonished at his doctrine. He did not reveal the mind and will of God in the style which the prophets used to preach, as not speaking their own words but the words of another; and used to speak in such a style as this, “ Thus saith the Lord;" but Christ, in such a style as this, “ I say unto you,” thus or thus ; “ Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He delivered his doctrines, not only as the doctrines of God the Father, but as his own doctrines. He gave forth his commands, not as the prophets were wont to do, as God's cominands, but as his own commands. He spake in such a style as this, “ This is my commandment," John xy. 12. « Ye are my friends, if ye
do whatsoever I command you,” ibid 14.
(2.) Another thing that Christ was employed in during the course of his ministry, was working miracles. Concerning which we may observe several things.
Their multitude. Besides particular instances, we often have an account of multitudes coming at once with diseases, and his healing them.
They were works of mercy. In them was displayed not only his infinite power and greatness, but his infinite mercy and goodness. He went about doing good, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and the proper use of their limbs to the lame and halt ; feeding the hungry, cleansing the leprous, and raising the dead.
They were almost all of them such as had been spoken of as the peculiar works of God, in the Old Testament. So with respect to stilling the sea, Psal. cviï. 29. 6 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still." So as to