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But the text concludes by an affirmation, that unto them who look for the appearance of our Saviour, he shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
It could not be the design of our Apostle, to teach the people, that on the second appearance of our Saviour, he should be more perfect, but that he should appear without those sins, which he had borne in his own body on the accursed tree, and the reason - is obvious, he had previously put them away, by the sacrifice of himself.
The Apostle Paul, in the tenth chapter of this same Epistle to the Hebrews, proceeds to say, “ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never, with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.” It is upon this insufficiency of the law, that the Apostle bases his assertion, that by the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified. Our LORD commencing his humiliation saith, “Sacrifices and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me."
And this body, prepared for the Redeemer, was the body, the head of which was sick, and the whole heart faint. This body is that very identical body, which having sinned, and come short of the glory of God, fell in the first Adam, and was prepared for the second, that he might take away its sinful character, that he might heal its wounds, that he might cure its diseases, that he might remove all its infirmities, and restore it to primeval rectitude. The royal Psalmist faithfully says, speaking by the spirit of God; yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion, I will declare the decree : the Lord hath said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. And says David, ask of me, and I will give thee, the heathen for thine inheritence, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. But David is not alone in his testimony, the magnitude of God's kingdom is a theme of rapture, both to prophets and apostles. It is said to be a holy kingdom. The prophet Daniel, ii. 44, speaks energetically, “ And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed : and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Again, vii. 14, “ And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages,
should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
From the Epistle to the Hebrews, we learn, that although the God of Israel had himself established the ceremonial law, yet, having done its office, performed its figurative part, and being incompetent to the accomplishment of his will, which will was the salvation of mankind, he had no pleasure therein. In burnt offerings and in sacrifices for sin thou hast no pleasure; although they are offered by the law.
But Jesus came to do the will of God, by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ Jesus once for all. This offering was effectual, both as to quality and quantity, for although our illustrious high Priest, was offered but once, yet having been offered up to death, he dieth no more ; under the law, the high Priests continued daily ministering in the sanctuary, and offering those self-same sacrifices which can never do away sin ; how soul satisfying the contrast. This man, after he had once offered himself a sacrifice for sin, set down on the right hand of God, expecting until his enemies should be made his foot-stool. Yea, verily by one offering he hath perfected forever those who are sanctified. Sanctification is as we have frequently said, strictly speaking, purification. It would be idle to talk of a sanctified sinner; people do not sufficiently consider, they would be shocked were we to tell them of a sanctified murderer, or a sanctified thief; yet we are taught to think, and to say, that whoso offendeth in one point, is guilty of all, and why indeed should we consider the breach of the sixth, seventh, or eighth commandment, as a more heinous crime, than the breach of the ninth or tenth ? Yet we tolerate him who slandereth his neighbour, and him who coveteth his possessions, assigning him a place among those who are sanctified.
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, (not simply for sin, but for sins, for all sins, committed by all sinners, at all times, and in all places,) forever set down on the right hand of God; on the right hand of the divine nature. The right hand is the place of honour and trust; sitting is an attitude of rest, therefore as God delighted in mercy, he called the place of his rest, the mercy seat. On the mercy seat God fixed his rest. Here, said he, I will abide forever. Mercy shall be built up
forever. Divine attribute of my God, thou art indeed the helpless sinner's theme, his daily plea, and thou shalt be my abiding plea, until my latest breath, until my soul escapes to the world of spirits, and then, and there, I will carry on the song, and it will be forever new.
Yes, he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. If he, as the Lamb of God, took away the sins of the world, then in the same place, and in the same manner, the world of mankind were sanctified. We pronounce every individual, whose sin by the grace of God, is taken away, completely sanctified; we do not hesitate to say, that all such individuals are perfect, even as their father who is in heaven is perfect; and the excellency of this salvation, of this sanctification, is its durability; for those who are sanctified, those who are saved, are perfected forever, for they are saved with an everlasting salvation; and although they are not as happy, they are, however, as secure as if they were already in heaven. To this truth, the Holy Ghost beareth witness; let us seriously attend to his testimony; it is our interest so to do, for it is altogether in our favour. Thus runs his evidence, and as it is the Holy Ghost who thus testifieth, we are assured he cannot bear false witness. Jeremiah xxxi. 31, 32, 33, 34;
“ Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah :
“Not according to the covenant, that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
“ But this shall be my covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." I will remember their sins no more. There is, in the language of revelation, a divine benignity. My Bible is my treasure ; I cannot for a moment relinquish it; it is my life ; its words are pure words; I contrast its excellency
with the doctrines and traditions of men, and I stand astonished at its immeasurable superiority. Should it be asked, if the writers of holy writ were not men, I answer, yes; but they were men divinely inspired; they spake as moved by the Holy Ghost. “But how are we to know they were moved by the Holy Ghost? Are there not thousands whose testimonies are at variance with the doctrines of scripture ?” There is one evidence of the divinity of the sacred writings, that I confess, has great weight with me. The sacred writers preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. God made choice of the prophets and apostles, as his servants to deliver his mind to the children of men; and he gave them power to say, to do, and also to suffer for his name sake. “Aye, so they said, and so may others say." Yes, but there was power given them to do what no one else did, and to these deeds they appealed. “They are gone, and we see not the evidences of which you speak.” Their testimony continues, and will continue to the end of time; and when we reflect upon the characters of those who have assisted to preserve this sacred Book, who have translated and handed it down to us; when we recur to the natural and deep rooted enmity, which they so strongly evince to the leading doctrines of the sacred Oracles, I am constrained to say, that think the holy writings contain no miracle more wonderful than their preservation; and, blessed be God, there is an internal conviction of the truth and divinity of holy writ, that bestows upon the distinguished individual, by whom it is possessed, enduring peace.
Much is said of prejudice and bigotry, and as an old man, I beg to be forgiven, if I again declare, I am prejudiced in favour of those divinely inspired pages, which constitute the volume of my treasures. I am pained, whenever I hear professors of faith in the christian religion, speaking lightly of the Bible, or doing or saying any thing which may directly or indirectly, contribute to weaken its authority.
It is said, there are various opinions formed of the Bible, even by those who consider its divine origin as unquestionable ; and I have conversed with many who have professed to believe in the Bible, but then they have taken leave to make it speak their own language. “A great part of the Bible, it is asserted, will not admit of being taken literally, and what upon such occasions are we to do?” Search the scriptures carefully, diligently search
them; compare scripture with scripture; let one passage explain another, and you may then give them a literal reception; they will support each other.
“ Why, this may do for private individuals. But you will never see all men of one mind; men will not agree.” Well then, if they be wise, they will agree to differ.
But we will return to our blessed Apostle, our unerring expositor, who, having pointed out to the Hebrews the incalculable advantages they derived from the change of their dispensation; having dwelt upon the superiority of the new and living way to these paths of death, to which the administration of condemnation under the law immediately tended, proceeds in language beautifully and solemnly impressive, thus to exhort his brethren—"Let us draw near with a faithful heart," not deceitfully professing to believe the testimony of God, that it is the only rule given for our direction in religious matters, while we refuse to abide by its decision. Let us draw near with a true heart, with a heart established in the belief of the truth as it is in Jesus, in the full assurance of faith.
Much has been said, and much will be said of the faith of assurance; and as it relates to the faith generally brought into view, I wonder not, that this faith of assurance is so rare. But the christian's faith is a faith which admits not of doubt, and such who are acquainted with, and have this faith, never doubt. The faith of the christian is the faith of God, which is as perfect as his words and works.
Although we cannot read the Bible without reading much of the faith of God, the faith of Christ, yet is the value, the importance, the perfection of these faiths rarely contemplated. The promises, we are told, were made to Jesus, and if they were, he either believed these promises, or he did not. But if they be made to him, and he believe them, and if he be indeed the head of every man, then eternal praises be to the God who created, who redeemed, and who preserveth us. We have a full assurance of the performance of these promises; we are exhorted to run with patience the race set before us; we are directed to look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Vol. III. 6