« AnteriorContinua »
pofe it was ordained; and what benefits and advantages are to be expected from it. Now if any one goes to the holy communion without confidering the reasons of that ordinance, and the very great concern he has in it; or without understanding the neceffity and advantage of a Redeemer, he will certainly go with indifference, and of courfe return without that benefit, which he might otherwise hope for and expect. Therefore,
2. That this, O my foul! may not be our own cafe, it is neceffary that we should well confider what account the holy fcriptures have given. us of the condition we are in, not only with refpect to this life, but alfo to that which is to come. We are there affured, that we are finners by nature, and that, as fuch, God cannot take pleasure in us; and that, fhould we happen to die before we are reftored to his favour, we shall be feparated from him, and be unalterably miferable to all eternity. This confideration neceffarily leads us to inquire, how the nature of man came to be thus difordered, and prone to evil. For we must not imagine that the infinitely good God ever created man in fuch a ftate of corruption as we now fee and perceive him to be in; but that he must have fallen into this deplorable condition fince
he came out of the hands of his Creator, the juft and great God; of which we have the following account.
3. Our firft parents Adam and Eve, from whom fprang all mankind, were created in the image of God, that is holy and innocent, having a perfect knowledge of their duty, a command over their will and affections, a power, inherent through God's appointment, to do what they faw fitting to be done in this their happy condition they were placed, in paradife, as in a state of trial, with a promife of hap pinefs and immortal life, if they would continue to love, fear, honour, and obey their Creator: and they had alfo an exprefs warning of the dreadful confequences of any future difobedience, and departing from their duty.
4. Yet for all this warning, thro' the temptation of the devil, (as St. Paul defcribed the fallen ftate of man, and we have found by fatal experience,) there was a law in their members, warring against the law of their mind; that the good, which they would, they did not; but the evil, that they would not, that they did at this, they tranígreffed the commands of God; and, by fo doing, they did not only forfeit their right to the promife of eternal life and happiness, but they alfo contracted fuch a
blindness of the understanding, fuch a diforder in their will and affections, that all their pofterity feel it to their forrow, being made thereby fubject to fin, the punishment whereof is death and mifery eternal.
5. Nevertheless the greatnefs of this punishment, inflicted upon our firft parents, and their pofterity, enables us to judge of the nature and aggravation of their fins; for God, being infinitely juft and holy, could not inflict any punishment greater than their fins deferved: nay, after all this, God, of his great goodnefs, provided fuch a remedy, as that neither they, nor any of their pofterity, should, on account of their fall, be eternally miferable, except it was their own fault, and wholly owing to themselves..
6. God, therefore, in confidering of a Redeemer, one of the feed of the woman, who fhould make full fatisfaction to the divine juftice for their tranfgreffion, and who fhould bruise the head, or break the power of the ferpent (the devil) who tempted them to fin; in confidering (I fay) of this promifed feed, God entered into a new covenant with them, by way of remedy for what was paft and could not be undone; which covenant was this, that upon condition of their hearty repentC
ance and fincere obedience hereafter, they fhould be reftored to the favour of God, and after death, to that of life and happinefs, which in their ftate of innocence, was promised to them without ever tafting of death, which privilege they had forfeited by their difobedience. And,
7. Now, O my foul, that we may be fully convinced of the neceffity and blefsing of a Redeemer, we ought to know and confider, that our Saviour and Redeemer did not come till after mankind had been tried in all conditions; in a ftate of innocence, under his own reason, and under the law given by Mofes; all which methods of Providence, thro' the perverfe will of man, had been rendered ineffec tual for the amendment of the world. And : because God decreed, that without shed ding of blood there could be no remiffion of fin; and it being impoffible that the blood or life of any creature, or of any mortal > man, could atone for, or take away, the guilt and punishment due to fin; our gracious God, both to give to mankind the greatest token of his love, and at the fame time to fhow how great his hatred to fin is, by the greatnefs of the punishment it required, fent his only Son to be a propitiation for our fins, that is, to make fatisfaction to his juftice, and to take
take off the juft displeasure which he had declared against finners. Upon this,.
8. Jefus Chrift his Son, (bleffed for ever be his goodness!) knowing how dreadfully fad the condition would be of all fuch, who fhould live and die under the displeasure of God, and what unconceivable happiness they would deprive themfelves of; moved with compaffion for fo great a calamity, undertook to obtain their pardon; and in order to this he clothed himself with our flesh, that, as man, he might make a full and fuitable fatisfaction to the divine juftice, offering himself a facrifice for the fins of the whole world; and, for the joy of delivering fo many millions of fouls from mifery, he endured the death of the cross, and all the afflictions leading to it, which we find recorded in the holy gospel: And,
9. It is by this worthy facrifice, that all mankind are reftored to the favour of God, and put into a way and ftate of falvation; God having for his Son's fake, promifed to pardon all fuch as fhall repent of and forfake their fins, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance; and alfo to give his Holy Spirit to all fuch as fhall fincerely defire him; and laftly, to make them eternally happy after death, if during this fhort ftate of trial, which is deC 2