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gressors. But let the great possibility, the lamentable frequency of being, or of becoming, a thoughtless, and, therefore, an unfeeling, inactive believer in the Redeemer's sacrifice, induce us to reflect upon it, again and again, that, by the blessing of God, we may rightly estimate its incomparable value, and be effectually stimulated to secure that absolution and life eternal which it has placed within our reach ; which, indeed, nothing but our own indolence and perverseness can prevent us from obtaining. So we shall not be looking forward to an uncertain futurity-as though, at death, we were going we knew not where, or, at the great day of account, were to be judged we knew not on what principles ; in the fear, rather than the hope, of immortality. But in humble confidence, we shall anticipate the full result and consummation of the love of God, so wonderfully revealed and pledged to us in the gift of his Son, to be the propitiation for our sins ; taking to our hearts the divine testimony—“As it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time unto salvation."*
* Heb. ix, 28.
I JOHN 11. 1, 2.
And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous : and he is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The office which is here ascribed to Jesus Christ, and which he is elsewhere, in numerous passages in the Scriptures, represented as sustaining—that of our Advocate with the Father, or Mediator between God and man*adds a powerful, and, indeed, decisive confirmation of the strictly vicarious and expiatory nature of that sacrifice, or propitiation, which he is declared to have offered for the sins of the whole world. To make this evident, we can hardly take a more effectual method than that of laying before you, and subjecting to examination, the reason assigned for the appointment of Christ as our Mediator and Advocate, by those who reject the commonly received doctrine on the subject. Indeed, we may take occasion to observe that there is scarcely any thing better calculated to confirm our conviction of this article of our religionand, it might be added, of some others also which our own Church, and the generality of Christians, regard as essential and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel—than those expositions of the Christian system, which are offered as substitutes for the established creed, and amendments upon it. If the question be, strictly, whether those doctrines be deducible from the Scriptures, there is often no better counterpoise to the objections brought against them by our opponents, than their own explanations of the language which is cited to prove and illustrate them.*
* The title of Mediator is, strictly, of more comprehensive import than that of Advocate ; but the distinction is of no moment to the argument in this discourse. It may here be proper to remark, that a student of the Scriptures should be very cautious in affixing a precise, restricted signification to the words which he finds in them; as, unquestionably, some of the most important are used in more than one sense. That they are so, is commonly acknowledged ; but then it follows, and this is frequently overlooked, that an accurate knowledge of the doctrines of Scripture is not to be sought, or conveyed, by stringent definitions of its terms.
* The weakness of a cause is not unfrequently judged to have been made more apparent by the ability of its advocates.
That Jesus Christ is represented in the sacred writings as our Mediator and Advocate, that we are instructed to offer our prayers to God in his name, and encouraged to expect for his sake, the acceptance of our worship and obedience, are facts which cannot even be disputed, and which it would be superfluous to insist upon. Now, we perceive a substantive ground, an adequate reason for such a representation of Jesus Christ, in the vicarious nature of his humiliation and sufferings; in their inherent virtue to atone for our sins, and the consequent efficacy of his mediation. But in what manner do our opponents account for the designation of Christ as our Mediator and Intercessor with God ? What is the cause which they allege for the representation which the Scriptures have given of the part which he fulfils in the Divine economy; and by which they endeavour to supplant our persuasion that our sins were imputed to him, and expiated by him—that he suffered and died as a substitute for the guilty ?
One of the most intelligent, if not distinguished of their writers, * explains it in the following manner :-" In human transactions, “ it is usual to employ some intermediate
* Dr. Cogan. Works, vol. v. p. 251.
“ person to promote a reconciliation between “ discordant parties. .... Where great offences “ have been committed, which are calculated “ to excite strong resentments, such an Inter“ mediate is disposed to act as an Advocate “ and Intercessor in favour of the offending “party..... We may farther remark, that it “ is frequently deemed a maxim of prudence, “ in a mind possessing warm benevolence, to “ render reconciliation apparently difficult ; “ and to impute its immediate success to the “ interference of a friend. This has a natural “ tendency to render the adverse party more “ cautious in the future. Benefits too easily “ conferred are seldom estimated according to " their value; but the most obdurate trans“gressor would perceive, that reiterated “ offences are insults committed against the “ persons principally offended, and his friendly “ mediator. The Being whom all men have “ offended cannot be moved by entreaties, nor “can his eternal purposes be changed. He “ it was that sought reconciliation. It was “ his own act to send his only-begotten Son “ to be a propitiation for our sins. Yet, in “ his conduct towards his moral offspring, he “ represents himself as conforming to the “ principles and dispositions of human agency,