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HEB. XIII. 8.
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and
To ascertain by competent authority the gracious plan, on which a fallen creature may be restored to his lost inheritance of a blissful immortality; by regularly marking the progress, by which divine wisdom has gradually unfolded that plan to the world ; must be admitted to be the most important employment of the human understanding. Every other subject, which may from time to time occupy the mind, however useful in itself, however advantageous to society, when compared with this, the most beneficent, the most sublime that imagination can suggest, sinks into insignificance.
With respect to what is called natural Religion, the case is different. For natural Religion (should we admit that there is such a thing,) being supposed to be born with us, renders consequently all seeking beyond ourselves, for the origin and progress of it unnecessary. Hence it may be, that this idol of the imagination has been so often set up and worshipped; because the pride of man is flattered by the consideration of its existence being derived, from what has been generally, though improperly, called the natural powers of the human inind.
But Christianity is to be seen in a very different light. The particulars of it, which are many and wonderful, are not only for reign to our nature, but could never have been known, had they not been communicated to us from some quarter, and by some means exterior to ourselves. Hence they become a proper subject for examination to all, who have that regard for the Christian Religion, which the importance of it demands. As a person who finds himself in possession of a good estate, will not only think it necessary to know the ex
tent and profits of it; but will also wish to learn at what time, and by what conveyance it came first to his ancestors; and through what intermediate steps, the succession to it has devolved on him ; so is. the case (to compare great things with small) with regard to the benefits of Christianity; which, by those who have a just sense of them, will always be esteemed the most valuable possession: a possession not acquired by our own industry, or for which we stand indebted to the virtue or industry of our ancestors; but a possession derived originally from its Divine Author; and conveyed down to us by ways and means of that Author's appointment; and under the direction of his providential care. To make ourselves therefore acquainted with the particulars of it, must constitute a most interesting employment: particulars which, if not absolutely necessary to be universally known, cannot fail to strengthen the confidence of the parties to whom they are known, in their title to the inheritance in question.
The words of the text may be taken in two senses; but senses which have a close
connection with each other: either as they refer to the transcendent dignity of our Blessed Lord's Person; or to the uniform tendency of his Doctrine. In both these senses it may be properly said, that “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
It is my present purpose to confine myself to the latter of these senses; considered as containing the following position; That the doctrine of Salvation through Christ was, and is, and always will be the same, independent of the imaginations of wayward and sinful men.
6. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning.”—They are known unto man, only so far as that God has been pleased to reveal them ; and to furnish him with a capacity to understand them. But this Revelation being derived from a divine origin, must be uniform and consistent: because that Being “ who seeth the end from the beginning ;"
" who hath shewed the former things what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; and hath declared things to come;" cannot possibly contra,
dict himself. The time is coming, when a review of all those parts of Revelation which relate to the office of the promised Messiah in the Old Testament, compared with the acts of Jesus, recorded in the New, will prove to the confusion of every species of infidelity, that in Christ they have all been punctually fulfilled: when in consequence of the veil of type and prophecy, which for wise reasons has been thrown over the Scriptures, being removed, it will be clearly seen, that ever since the Church had a being in the world, Christ was the teacher of it, and the object of Faith to its members; and that on this account He is called “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” That in fact He is the sum and substance of both Testaments; which do not differ from each other with regard to Him, considered as the principal subject of both, but with regard to the manner of his being exhibited under each. Under the Old Testament, by Sacraments and visible signs which pointed to Him as yet to come; under the New Testament, by such as commemorate and declare him already come. Hence it