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us deliverance from eternal death, and a title to eternal life!
Again, hence learn the obligations which believers are under to devote themselves unfeignedly to the service of God in Christ. The eternal Father willingly gave his dear and only Son to submit to the hardest service for you : and if the only-begotten of the Father, served as a bond-servant for your consolation and salvation, is it not reasonable, that you should bind yourselves to serve for his glory, and the glory of God in him ? If in the character of an honorary servant, he serves you with nications of grace sufficient for the supply of all your wants, or in other words, dispenses abundance of grace to you, does it not lay you under the firmest obligations to employ this grace in serving him ? If he willingly served in obedience to the law as a covenant for you, ought not you with delight to serve in obedience to the law as a rule, for him ?
Further, the true Christian may hence learn his duty and exercise. His spiritual exercise, daily, should be to take that perfect work which the Lord Jesus Christ finished in the character of a bond-servant, and in the hand of an appropriating faith, to present it to God, as the only ground of his title to eternal life, and then, from life already received, to serve God in the habitual exercise of every spiritual grace, and performance of every present duty. To live by faith on the finished service of Jesus Christ, and from life received, to serve God by an uninterrupted course of evangelical obedience, comprehend all the duty and exercise of the true believer.
From what has been stated, you who are believers may see what reason you have to abound in thanksgiving and praise to the God of all grace. He hath laid on One who is mighty : he hath sent his only-begotten Son to endure all those sufferings, and to perform all that work which were necessary to give you a title to eternal life. Ought you not, then, to break forth in holy transports of joy and praise for such wonderful loving kindness ? Some, it may be, will say, “we are sensible that we ought to be thankful for Jesus Christ,
and for the arduous service which he performed in the room of sinners; but our fear that we are not personally interested in that service renders such a duty very difficult to us? Doubtless, if ye labour under prevailing doubts of your personal interest therein, you will find it very difficult to abound in thanksgiving. But is it true that ye have no saving interest in Christ, or in the work performed by him? If a man have no part in Christ's service which he finished in the character of a bond-servant, that man is a bond-slave of Satan, and a servant of sin. But if you can say, that you are not, as formerly, the slaves of Satan and the servants of corruption, it is a good evidence that you have a special interest in Christ's finished service. Now, examine yourselves
upon this point. Are you indeed servants of sin ? Do you habitually follow the motions of indwelling sin, whithersoever they lead you ?
follow them with the full consent of your heart ? Do
take pleasure in following them? And are you secretly offended with the law of God, because it forbids you to yield to them? Do ye seldom know what it is to make the smallest resistance to motions of sin in your heart ? If this be the case with you, it is indeed a sign that ye are the servants of sin, and have no part in Christ, as the servant of his Father. But, on the contrary, do you, in the strength of promised grace, habitually strive against the stirrings of corruption in your souls, and resist them? When sin is prevailing at any time in you, does it prevail against you, and not with you? When it prevails in the unregenerate, which it always does, it prevails with the full consent of their minds, and inclination of their hearts; but when it prevails in the regenerate, it does not prevail with them, but against them. “Iniquities," says the holy psalmist, "prevail against me;" that is, they prevail against the disposition or tendency of my renewed nature, against my prayers, my resolutions, and all my endeavours to resist them. Now, when sin is prevailing, does it prevail against you? When it prevails, are you filled not only with sorrow for it, but with indignation against it? The oftener it prevails, does your indignation against it increase? Do you reckon indwelling sin your heaviest burden, your sorest plague? Do ye long to be completely delivered from it ? and do you set a high value on that part of Christ's salvation which consists in deliverance from the power of sin ; or at least, are you grieved that you do not set a higher value upon it ?' If it be so with you, instead of being servants of sin, ye are the servants of righteousness, and are personally interested in Christ's fulfilling all righteousness as a bond-servant. But though ye have good reason to be thankful for such a comfortable evidence of vital union with Christ, yet beware of making this, or any other evidence that you have, a ground of right to renew your exercise of confidence in him for salvation : I say, a ground; for though your evidences and experiences are special encouragements to the exercise of particular trust in the Saviour, yet they are not the grounds of trust or confidence in him. Saving faith is grounded, not on feelings or experience, but on Divine faithfulness, in the indefinite offers and promises of the blessed Gospel. Christ, with his righteousness and fulness, is in the Gospel freely offered to you, as sinners of mankind; and the gracious offers and absolute promises of his Gospel constitute an ample warrant for you, as sinners in yourselves, to trust in him for his whole salvation. Trust in him, then, at all times and with all your heart, for all those renewed supplies of grace which will enable you to walk with him in newness of life, and to serve him in newness of spirit.
In conclusion : As to you who are trying to serve God in order that he may serve you, be convinced, I entreat you, that you shall never perform any acceptable service to him till you come to Christ, his righteous Servant, and cordially rely on his finished service for all your right to justification and to sanctification. O believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; so shall you enter the bond of that gracious covenant of which he is the blessed Head; for then, and not till then, shall you be capable of yielding that evangelical and spiritual service to God which is the obedience of faith.
ON THE SURETISHIP OF CHRIST.
“By so much was Jesus made a Surety of a better testament.”
HEB. vii. 22.
In the preceding context, the apostle, when treating of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, represents the superior excellence of him as a Priest, above the priests under the ceremonial law. In order to evince his superiority over them, the apostle represents him, not only as descending from a different tribe, not only as appointed to his office by an immutable law, which he denominates “the power of an endless life,” not merely as having an unchangeable priesthood, and power to save unto the uttermost, but as invested in his office with peculiar solemnity. The Levitical priests were installed in their office without an oath ; whereas, in the verse immediately preceding my text, Jesus is represented as constituted a Priest with the irrevocable solemnity of the Father's oath. God is said in Scripture to have repented of some things; but we never read, that he repenteth of any thing about which he hath interposed his oath. As the law of the Levitical priesthood was afterwards to be repealed, and the office itself abolished, those priests were installed without an oath ; but, to intimate the excellence and perpetuity of the priesthood of Christ, he was constituted a Priest with an oath. Now, says the apostle, in the 20th verse, and
in my text, which are evidently connected together, “ Inasmuch as not with. out an oath he was made priest ; by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” The meaning probably is, that as he was constituted our Great High Priest with an oath, to intimate the perpetuity of his office, so was he made a Surety ; the one being as irrevocable as the other : or rather, the meaning is, that in proportion to the transcendent excellence of his, above the Levitical priesthood, in its nature and form of instalment, he was constituted Surety. The word in the original, which is here translated a surety, properly signifies one who draws nigh. Jesus our great Redeemer, having in the council of peace, drawn near, having engaged his heart to approach unto God, presented himself as Surety for the objects of his everlasting love. A surety is one who becomes bound for another, either for his payment of a debt, or for his performing of a deed; one who undertakes as a sponsor for another, or engages to pay or do for him what he cannot pay or do for himself. Now, such a surety is our great High Priest. He undertook in the everlasting covenant, to be responsible to the law and the justice of God, for that boundless debt which others were originally bound to pay ; and therefore he is said in the text to have been “ made a Surety of a better testament.”
In further discoursing on this delightful subject, it is proposed, through Divine aid, First, To inquire, Who they are for whom Jesus became surety? Second, What it was for which he became bound as a Surety? Third, To speak of the better testament of which he was made Surety ; and, Fourth, Of the solemnity with which he was installed in his office.
I. First, then, I am to inquire who they are for whom Jesus became Surety. And,
1. He did not become Surety for God, that he would perform his promises to believers. God hath no need of a surety to secure the fulfilment of his promises ; for he not only will not, but cannot lie. Nor can he have a surety : for in the nature of things, a surety is supposed to be a person of more ability and credit than he for whom he engages ; or at least, he ought to be one who is provided to secure against any defect or failure which may be found in him for whom he is surety: neither