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Of the Gospel.


The Gospel-the good tidings, or joyful message of Salvation, through the merits and mediation of the only-begotten Son of God-was first preached" among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," immediately after the divine Author and Finisher of our faith had ascended to the right hand of his eternal Father; and had sent down from thence the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, to qualify those whom he had chosen as the eye-witnesses of his ministry, and sufferings, and exaltation, for the arduous office of Apostles;-for the performance of his last command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."

The word Gospel is ordinarily used in the above derivative sense, comprehending the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, as they are delivered in the books of the New Testament: but sometimes it is restricted to the history, the acts and discourses of Jesus Christ, during his sojourn upon earth.

§ 2. The Gospel proclaims the grace, or favour, of God to man in Christ; it publishes the everlasting Promise of human Redemption, which was incon

ceivable by unassisted reason, and only to be made known by divine Revelation: that Promise in which God affirms that he will freely, and not on account of any merit or worthiness of our own, but solely for the sake of his well-beloved Son, remit the sins of those who believe in this Son; granting them the benefit of imputed righteousness, and accepting them as reconciled and pleasing in his sight:-that Promise in which the Son of God engages to console and quicken the hearts of believers by the Word of the Gospel ; to free those who embrace the Promise from eternal death; to make them the temples of God by the gift of the Holy Spirit, sanctifying their lives, and creating within them new and holy dispositions; and to insure the inheritance of eternal life to such as sincerely believe that these blessings are only to be obtained through him,-that in no other name than His is salvation to be sought.

§3. The Evangelical Promise contained in the declaration of the Almighty to our first Parents, immediately after their fall, that the Seed of the Woman should bruise the Serpent's head, that in the fulness of time, the Messias should destroy the dominion of the Tempter, was handed down through successive generations; believed by the Patriarchs; and recorded by the Prophets, who predicted and prepared for its fulfilment. To those, therefore, who lived before the promulgation of the Gospel by Christ and his Apostles, faith in its promises, yet unaccomplished and partially revealed, was of the same obligation, as belief in the entire Gospel, and reliance in its promises clearly displayed and incontrovertibly confirmed, has been and now is to all those who have lived and

are living since its publication. The Promise of the Gospel was to the Fathers what the Gospel is to us, "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."

§ 4. The Gospel requires Faith, Repentance, and Obedience. Although the promises of remission of sins, and of all other benefits contained in it, are freely given, yet these promises are to be accepted and applied by Faith. The term freely does not exclude Faith, but the condition of worthiness: it transfers the meritorious cause of the benefit from us to Christ. Nor does it exclude Repentance, but the supposition that Remission of Sins and Justification are purchased by Repentance. Nor does it exclude Obedience; but only teaches that it is the worthiness of Christ, and not of our obedience, on which we must depend. The promises of the Gospel are free, in order that their benefit may be certain; but it is necessary to discriminate between precepts and promises, as well as between those promises which, though freely given, are made conditional, and those which are unconditional.

The summary of Evangelical precepts consists of these particulars :-that by Repentance we deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; that in obedience to the will of God, we live soberly, in the performance of our duty towards ourselves, righteously or justly towards our neighbour, and godly towards our Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, in the present world, our state of actual probation ;—and that, in the assurance of Faith, we look for that blessed hope of the immortality which has been conditionally promised

to us, when the Son of Man shall come in glory to judge the quick and the dead.

5. The very denomination of the Gospel, the dispensation of grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ, not only implies the benign nature of its doctrines, but also its dissimilarity to the Law, which was given by Moses.

The nature of the Gospel is not be confounded with that of the Law; nor evangelical, with legal perfection. The Gospel, indeed, is not properly a Law, but a declaration of good tidings; namely, of the method of salvation: it is, however, sometimes called the Law of Faith, as it points out the way by which the sinner may come to God; and, like the Mosaic Law, has its peculiar promises and precepts. It differs from the Law of Nature, that law which was written originally in the heart of man, inasmuch as the Gospel was given to man in a state of wretchedness and sin, the Law of Nature was imposed upon him when happy and upright; this required the righteousness of works, that sincerity of faith; this promised immortal life, that salvation; this depended on human strength, that on divine grace. Again, the Jewish Law could not justify, but by its perfect fulfilment; for although it had its promises, yet were they made on this condition. On the other hand, the Gospel requires repentance and good works as conditions of salvation, but its promises are given, not for their merit or perfection, but for the sake of Christ. It offers remission of sins to him who cannot satisfy the obligations of the Law, on account of the satisfaction of Christ which was made for the sins of the whole world. The promise of the Gospel, not having for its

cause or source the condition of perfect fulfilment of the Law, is gratuitous in consideration of the Saviour's entire obedience. The Law required perfect obedience, but conveyed no power to effect it; the Gospel demands no more than it enables us to perform. The former is therefore styled the ministration of death, the letter which killeth, while the latter is called the ministration of the Spirit, the Spirit which giveth life. Such are the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel which distinguish it both from the Law of Nature, and from the Law of Moses.

§ 6. That part only of the Law of Moses, which may be denominated the moral Law, which is contained in the Decalogue, and which was not peculiar to the Jewish people, but was only a digest of the Law of Reason and Conscience, common even to the Heathens, remained in force after the coming of the Messias, and the promulgation of the Gospel. The civil polity, the ceremonial or ritual code, all that related to the Jews, as the peculiar people of God, were abrogated, when the types, figures, and prophecies, were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The curse, but not the obligations of the Moral Law, was at the same time removed. The condemnation of the Law was taken away, but the Law itself retained, because it is subservient to the Gospel; because it convinces men of sin, and of the dreadful wrath of God denounced against it; because it humbles and casts down transgressors, in order that they may be raised and supported by the power and influence of the Gospel. The Gospel, therefore, does not abolish but confirms the Moral Law; for it points to the execution of the threatenings of the Law in the Cross

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