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tween them. May the Lord incline your hearts to follow up this conviction, that, when sickness and death shall overtake you, whether in the spring, the summer, or the autumn of life, you may be found abounding in the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise and glory of God,
XIX.) JESUS CHRIST THE ONLY FOUNDATION, &c.
JESUS CHRIST THE ONLY FOUNDATION OF FAITH
AND HOPE IN EVERY AGE.
1 CORINTHIANS, III. 11.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is
laid, which is Jesus Christ.
A RELIGION devised by men, a system of philosophy, or a code of laws, will undergo, in the course of a few centuries, very great alterations, in consequence of new discoveries, and changes in opinions and manners. In the scriptures we see a system of religion, of which not one fundamental article has been changed during the long period of several thousand years. Its influence has, indeed, been different at different periods, and it has been conducted through various modes of administration to its present state under the pure and perfect dispensation of the gospel; yet its nature and character have been invariably the same. In the writers, whether of the Old or New Testament dispensation, we meet with the same representations of the character and perfections of the Deity; the same plan proposed for the restoration of sinful man to the divine favour; the same views of the nature and blessings of redemption, though in one place the language may be figurative, and in another plain ; and we see all the exceeding great and precious promises of both concentrating in one glorious object_even in Christ, the only hope of glory. So that, in contemplating the church of Christ, we behold a building fitly framed together, and growing up into a holy temple in the Lord; and are constrained to say, with the apostle, Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
All that I propose at present is,
I. To give you a short sketch of the history of revealed religion; from whence it will appear, that the faith and hope of believers, in every age of the church, have been built upon one and the same foundation—even upon Jesus Christ, the Rock of ages, the only hope of glory, the sum and substance of the whole word of God. And,
- 11. To deduce a few practical inferences from the subject.
. I. In opening the sacred volume we are informed, in all the simplicity of historic narration, of Adam's creation, his original innocence and happiness, his transgression of the prohibitory command, and the consequent fall and misery of the human race, whose covenant head and representative he was. The remedy provided for their recovery is also announced in that first prophetic promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head: a promise which involves in it all the subsequent blessings of the gospel dispensation. At this early
period sacrifices seem likewise to have been offered, both as a type of the Saviour revealed to our first parents, and as an evidence of their faith in him. No other satisfactory reason can be given for the death of those animals, with the skins of which our; first parents were clothed; for Abel's presenting unto God the firstlings of his flock; and for the universal prevalence of sacrifice in religious worship, even among the heathen nations. And here it may be proper to remark, that the reason why Abel's sacrifice was accepted, whilst Cain's was rejected, seems to have been, that the one offered it in faith of the great atoning sacrifice which it re-, presented ; whilst the other, who may be considered as the father of deism, did not acknowledge the necessity of a vicarious sacrifice, and, therefore, brought a thank-offering only. Abel paid a proper regard to the will of God, Cain disregarded it ; and the consequence was, that while Abel's faith in the promised seed was imputed to him for righteousness, the unbelief and will-worship of Cain were the grounds of his rejection. · The promise made to our first parents was, at different times, and under different forms, renewed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with certain additional circumstances illustrative of its nature and import. To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. The father of the faithful rejoiced to see the day of Christ, and he saw it and was glad. His whole history, and particularly that part of it which relates to the sacrifice of his beloved son Isaac, was a striking figure of the Christian dispensation. He, and all the ancient patriarchis, died in the faith, not having received the promises, that is, in their actual accomplishment; but having seen them afar off, they were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth. It was Christ in the promises that inflamed their love, animated their zeal, and enabled them to rise superior to cruel mockings and scourgings, to bonds, imprisonments, and death. They looked for a better country, that is an heavenly, and had respect to the recompense of reward.
If we pass from the Patriarchal to the Mosaical dispensation, and attend to the means by which the gospel, in its early or infant state, was preserved, and afterwards promulgated to the world at large, we perceive the sovereign wisdom displayed in the selection of the Jews from the surrounding idolatrous nations. They were separated from the other nations that they might serve the living and true God, and prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah. Hence all their sacrifices, rites, and ceremonies, had a spiritual and ultimate reference to the gospel dispensation. And from the resemblance in many respects between the types and the antitypes, between the sacrifices under the Old Testament, and the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we see how well the former was adapted to shadow forth and introduce the latter. The ordinance of the passover was an expressive emblem of the nature and effects of the death of