« PreviousContinue »
On the nature and design of the Mediatorial Office,
sustained by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tue mediation of Christ, between a holy God and sinful men, has an immediate connexion with every part of that religion which bears his name: and all, who call themselves Christians, should, with the greatest care and diligence, seek an accurate and adequate knowledge of this interesting subject, as far as they can deduce it from the sacred Scriptures. It is therefore intended in this Essay to make some observations on mediation in general ;-to explain the nature and ends of our Lord's mediation in particular;—to show in what respects he, and none else, was qualified to sustain such an office ;-and to prove from Scripture, that he is a Mediator, according to the import of that term as here explained.
The interposition of a mediator in the affairs of men implies, that some difference, or ground of difference, subsists between the two parties: it supposes, that, at least, one of them has cause of complaint or resentment against the other; and that consequences, injurious to one or both of them, or to those connected with them, may be apprehended, if the controversy be not amicably terminated. To prevent these effects, some person, either of his own accord, or at the request, and by the appointment, of one or both of the contending parties, interposes; and endeavours, by his authority, influence, or good offices, to effect a pacification, on such terms as are supposed to be equitable, or at least not materially injurious to either side: for if a mediator should take great care of the rights and interests of one party, and evidently neglect those of the other; he would be justly condemned, as acting inconsistently with the design and nature of his office. He should, therefore, behave as the friend of both parties; accommodating the differences according to the justice of their claims, and in a manner as satisfactory to each of them as can consist with equity and impartiality.
In some cases a superior in station or power may assume the office of mediator, and by authority induce the contending parties to accept of the terms proposed to each of them. In others, the end may be accomplished by argument, remonstrance, or persuasion : and this is nothing more than convincing both parties, that they ought to make, or accept of, such concessions, for the sake of peace and their mutual good, as are equitable and reasonable; and then inducing them to act Vol. V.
according to the dictates of their understanding and conscience. But sometimes, especially when one party is much inferior to the other, or has been highly criminal or injurious, the office of a mediator chiefly consists in prevailing with the offeuded superior to accept of such concessions and satisfaction as the other can make; and not to proceed against him with rigour, though he deserves it: and if this can be effected, it only remains for him to prevail with the inferior, or criminal party, to make the required concessions. A mediator, however, on some occasions, out of great love and pity to the offender, may offer to make compensation at his own expence for the injuries done; in order that the other party may, without loss or dishonour, lay aside his purposes of inflicting deserved punishment. Various qualifications are necessary
person, who sustains the office of a mediator between two parties at variance, in any of the cases which have been stated; but our attention must principally be fixed
upon the last; as it doubtless most accords with the interesting subject, which it is intended to illustrate. Should any one interpose between a sovereign prince and his rebellious subjects, in order to prevail with him to show them mercy; it is obvious, that he should himself be free from all suspicion of in the least favouring their rebellion ; otherwise his interposition would render him the more suspected. He ought likewise to be a person of that rank and character, or to have performed those important services, which entitle him to the confidence of his sovereign, and tend to render it honourable for him, at his instance, to pardon those that deserve punishment. Every one must perceive the absurdity of a criminal undertaking to mediate in behalf of his associates in guilt; nor could an obscure person, of suspected or exceptionable character, and on no account entitled to the affection or confidence of the prince, attempt such an interposition, without manifest impropriety. If a company of men, in these circumstances, were desirous of conciliating the favour of their offended Lord; they would naturally turn their thoughts to one of his chief nobles, to some person that had rendered signal services with great renown, or to his principal favourite ;' or even to his beloved son, if they had any prospect or hope of obtaining his good offices. And if such a mediator could be engaged in their behalf, with so firm and cordial an attachment to their cause, as to say with Paul, when he mediated with Philemon for Onesimus, “ If they have wronged “thee, or owe thee aught, put that on mine ac
count, I will repay it;:” and if he really were competent to make good such an engagement, his interposition would have its utmost advantage for
But no mediator can be fully authorized for his
Acts xii, 20.
· Philem. 18, 19.
office, unless, by one means or other, both parties allow of his interference: at least his mediation cannot have its due effect, till they both accede to his termis, or plan of accommodating their differ
For if one party authorize him to propose certain terms to the other, as the utmost that he will yield; the whole must yet be frustrated, and the dissention perpetuated, should these terms be pertinaciously rejected; except when the mediator acts also as an umpire, and compels the parties to accept of his prescribed conditions. There is likewise an evident propriety in a mediator's standing in such a relation to each of the parties, as to lay a foundation for his being considered as an equal friend to both of them, in all respects, in which their rank, or the justice of the cause, will admit of it: so that there may be no reason to suspect, that a person, thus situated, will sacrifice the interests or rights of one party, from a partial regard to the other.
These observations concerning the office of a mediator, as well known among men, may enable us to understand more clearly the doctrine of Scripture respecting the mediatorial office of Emmanuel: and we may very properly argue from them, in something of the same manner that Paul did from the office of high priest among the Jews, when he wrote to them concerning the High Priesthood of Clirist. This indeed was a divinely appointed type and shadow of the subject,