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and the highest happiness of his offspring, inseparably conpected and manifested in the Gospel of eternal life.
The beginning of the creation of God, in whom it pleased the father that all fullness should dwell, who occupies, by the merciful appointment of our all wise creator, the high office of mediator between God and man, has obtained, among many other titles of honour and distinction, the name of FAITHFUL,
The faithfulness of Christ is seen in his having no will or • work of his own, but attending to the will and work of his father, according to his words. "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. Again, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” The will of the father, as testified by Jesus, admits of the loss of none of all the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth, who are given to Christ, but embraces their being raised up at the last day, .
As co-workers with Christ, those whom he has called to the ministry of reconciliation, and chosen as vessels of honour to communicate the things of the kingdom to the many heirs of salvation, by the faithful discharge of their duty, obtain the high honour of being called FAITHFUL ; as it is written, “And they that are WITH HIM, are CALLED, and CHOSEN, and FAITHFUL."
The first and the last, who was dead and is alive, ever having a watchful care over the ministry of his word, noticing the peculiar circuinstances of his servant, the minister of the Church in Smyrna, directed the solitary lover of his cross to communicate this encouraging, promise to this suffering Angel of his Church : “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.'
Not less numerous, nor less weighty, are the circumstan. ces which require faithfulness in the ministry of divine grace in these last days of Antichrist, when the Church is coming up from the wilderness of error, than when encouragement was needed for the promotion of the gospel in the Churches of Asia,
The foregoing observations not only evince the propriety of the application and use of our text, on this solemn and joyful nccasion, designed for the establishment of one, whom we consider as called, and chosen, and faithful, in the innportant work of the ministry, in this favoured section of the redeemer's heritage, but mark, with much precision, the evangelical path in which the doctrine of the text may be traced.
In further laboring this subject, arguments will be directed to the following particulars.
1st. An illustration of the inportance of faithfulness in the work of the ininistry, will be attempted; and
2:1. The promised reward, noticed in the text, considered.
1st. It is conceived that no higher consideration of the importance of faithfulness in the work of the ministry, can. be urged, than that of the faithfulness of God, of which mention has been made. In this work of God's faithfulness, nothing was omitted which could render the scheme of the gospel more extensive or more sure in its benefits.
Could it be found in the plan of the Gospel, that our incorruptible inheritance rested on conditions at the disposal of any moral agency, at all subject to the imperfections of creature nature, the faithfulness of God would be out of the question. But blessed be God forever! He "hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." This is the record in the archives of heaven, “God hath GIVEN unto us eternal life ; and this life is in his Son." And here it is just to observe, that this gift of eternal life in Christ, to the world of mankind, was not pursuant to any act of the mediation of the Son ; but all acts of his mediation are pur. suant to the establishment of that gift in' hins, as will be seen directly.
Corresponding with the vast and merciful designs of our heavenly Cather, above noticed, we find the promise of universal salvation in Christ, made to Abraham, the father of the faithful : on which promise the chief of the apostles made the following comments. The scriptures,
foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed. When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise ; but God gave it to Abraham by promise." What is the apostle's conclusion ? “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering i for he is fuithful that promised.”
2dly. The faithfulness of the captain of our salvation, in Iris process of mediation, ought to be noticed as a high consideration of the importance of faithfulness in the ministry of his grace.
The whole of this mediation, as has been noticed, is pursuant to the eternal purpose of God, purposed in himself, in the salvation of man : and not, as has been too generally taught and believed, the cause which induced our heavenly father to be thus merciful to his offspring. The unscriptural doctrine of God's being reconciled to his creatures thro' Christ, frequently expressed in supplicating the Deity to lift on us his reconciled countenance, while it is marked with the contradiction of changing an unchangeable being, supposes the infirmity to have existed in God, which the mediation of Christ was designed to cure in us. This infirmity is alienation from the life of God, through the ignorance there is in us. Toremove this ignorance, destroy this alienation, and to reconcile the world to God, was the great object of the mediation of the Saviour. To this object, as a faithful and true witbess, his labours of love, in preaching the word of the kingdom, in miracles of mercy, in suffering and death, in his resurrection from the dead, in his ascension into heaven, the descent of the holy ghost, and his abiding with his chosen ministers of peace unto the end of the world, were all directed.
If, contrary to this argument, it be contended that all those mediatorial acts were designed to placate the Deity towards man, it most surely supposes that the will to do this work origioated in the mediator and not in the father. But Jesus says expressly, “ I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” The will of the father, which Jesus came to do, is thus expressed: "And this is the father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins. For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil. For as the father hoth life in himself, so hath he given to the son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour ; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. The Son of Man came to seek and to save that
which was lost. And thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sixs" For the accomplishment of this great work, all power in heaven and in earth was given to Christ.
Where is the unhallowed hand that would put forth a finger to point to a single item of all this vast work, and presumptuously say, it will fail at last ?: Will a lover of the cross say this ?' Will the called, the chosen, and the faithtul, who are with Christ, say this ? I.et it rather be said, as it is written, “He shall see of the travel of his soul and be satisfied.”. “Brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus ; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye. be wearied and faint in
your minds. 3dly. As when our blessed Saviour was on earth, it was necessary to oppose all the moral virtues with all their dis vine energies, to the opposition which came, like an over. Rowing torrent, fed by a thuusand streams, against the truth, so is the case at the present day. Then stood up, to oppose the gospel, the high priest, the doctors of the law, the Phar, isees with their broad phylacteries, the ready Scribes, the Sadducees, with the whole ecclesiastical power of an apostatized Church. The vengeance of excommunication from the Synagogue awaited the unhappy victim of their religious zeal, who dared to confess Christ. And wherein does the present opposition differ from that, except in forms and names? The pride of popularity then swelled the unsanctified heart of the religious bigot, who thanked God he was not like other men; the religion of the day, like a loose garment, corered the extortionous worldling, and their painted sepulchres, full of dead men's bones, were reverenced as friends and ministers of God. And who will attempt to show wherein that popular religion which denies the scriptural doctrine of universal justification through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, in the present day, differs from the old doctrine of the Pharisee? The more opinionated those blind guides became in the vain notion that they were the peculiar, favorites of heaven, the more they found it in their liearts to lavish the curses of the law, which they had made void by their traditions, on those whom they styled singers. And surely it requires but little sagacity to discover the same abomination in antichristian opposition to the gospel now.
It has been suggested that the divine energies of all the moral virtues were necessarily put in operation, by Christ, against the enmity which persecuted he truth which he preached ; and surely the necessity of faithful exertion is no Jess in the days in which we live. If prayers, watchfulness, meekness, patience, vigilance in labour and painful sufferings, were the characteristics of the saviour's travel, labour and ministry, what reason can be given why a different way should be travelled by the ministers of his grace in the present age of the Church? If, in reply, it be argued, that no civil authority can now be directed by ecclesiastics against the religion of the gospel, it is happily granted as it respects the tolerant government of our favoured country, but why should not this circumstance be improved to urge the necessity of faithfulness in the ministry of reconciliation ? It surely ought to encourage the labourers in the vinevard of the Lord, when they see the earth swallowing up the flood of persecu. tion which heretofore issued from the mouth of the Dragon. Can it be a reasonable excuse, for unfaithfulness in labour, to urge that but little danger appears to oppose? The same spirit manifests its disposition in ecclesiastical governments, in many instances, . now, which formerly, when coalesced with civil power, used whips, dungeor:s and the stake to main, tain the abominable pride of infallibility. And it is against this spiritual wickedness in high places, that divine wisdom directs the gospel warfare.
Though it would be far from just to insinuate that the Sa.. viour was disposed to indulge the profane in their irreligious lives,as a reason why he was so sparing of heavy denunciations against them, it is evident that he viewed the Church as the great and mighty strong hold, where his adversary had fled as his last resort. Against this fortress, therefore, he directed the majesty of his arm, Fearful woes and alarming warnings were ministered to that rebellious house. That church was the Edom where his garments were to be stained, and where his victory was finally glorious. Sin in the present day, and ever since the Christiáo apostacy, has taken shelter in the Church ; sitting in the temple of God; shewing himself to be God. Possessing this strong hold, he directs his unmerciful thunders of condemnation against those who do not subscribe to his magna charta. This city is to be burnt with fire. Let those who are chosen to bear arms against it, be faithful.
4thly. As has been observed, the faithfulness of Christ is