|Meditate upon these things.| -- 1 TIM.4:15.
MY DEAR SISTER:
The subject of this letter is intimately connected with that of the last; and in proportion to your faithfulness in the duty now under consideration, will be your interest in the word and worship of God. Religious meditation is a serious, devout and practical thinking of divine things; a duty enjoined in Scripture, both by precept and example; and concerning which, let us observe,
1. Its importance. That God has required it, ought to be a sufficient motive to its performance. But its inseparable connection with our growth in grace magnifies its importance. It is by |beholding the glory of the Lord,| that we are |changed into the same image.| And how can we behold his glory, but by the spiritual contemplation of his infinite perfections? Again: the word of God is |a lamp to our feet;| but if we do not open our eyes to its truths, how can they guide our steps? It is only by the practical contemplation of these truths, that our souls can come into communion with them, drink in their spirit, and be guided by their precepts. Hence, the intimate connection of this devout exercise with growth in grace.
2. The time and manner of Meditation. It should be constant. Our minds and hearts should be so habitually fixed on heavenly things, that, after having been necessarily employed about our worldly affairs, our thoughts will voluntarily revert back to spiritual things, as to their proper element. Their tendency should be upward. Speaking of the godly man, David says, |in his law doth he meditate, day and night.| |O how love I thy law,| says the Psalmist; |it is my meditation all the day.| You may, perhaps, find it profitable to select a subject every morning for meditation during the day; and whenever your thoughts are not necessarily occupied with your ordinary employments, turn them to that subject. Labor after clear and practical views of the truth; and see that your heart is affected by it. One of the most difficult points of Christian experience is, to keep the mind habitually upon heavenly things, while engaged in worldly employments, or surrounded by objects which affect the senses. Satan will be continually seeking to divert your mind; but do not be discouraged by his assaults. The Bible saints were fervent in spirit, even while engaged in business; and we have accounts of pious persons in every age, who have been like them. A heavenly mind is worth the labor of years. Do not rest till you obtain it. Meditation should also be mixed with the reading of God's word. It requires the closest meditation to understand the Holy Scriptures, and apply them to our hearts.
But, it is also necessary to set apart particular seasons of retirement for fixed and holy meditation. This position is warranted by Scripture. Holy men of old embraced the most favorable opportunities for this devout exercise. Isaac went out into the field to meditate in the stillness and solemnity of the evening. David sometimes chose the calmness of the morning. At other times, he fixed his thoughts in holy meditation, during the wakeful hours of the night. |I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches.| |Mine eyes prevent the night-watches, that I might meditate in thy word.| But, lest the adversary should get the advantage of you, fix upon regular seasons for this sacred employment. Select some subject, and think upon it deeply, systematically, practically, and devoutly. System is a great assistance in everything. We can never obtain clear views of any complex object, without separately viewing the various parts of which it is composed. We cannot see the beautiful mechanism of a watch, nor understand the principles which keep it in motion, without taking it in pieces, and viewing the parts separately. So, in contemplating any great truth, which contains many different propositions; if we look at them all at once, our ideas will be confused and imperfect; but if we separate them, and examine one at a time, our views will be clear and distinct. Our meditation must be practical, because every divine truth is calculated to make an impression upon the heart; and if it fails of doing this, our labor is lost. Make, then, a direct personal application of the truth, on which your thoughts are fixed. But, our meditations must also be devotions. They must all be mixed with prayer. As an example of what I mean, examine the 119th Psalm. There the Psalmist, in the midst of his meditations, was continually lifting up his soul in prayer. His devout aspirations are breathed forth continually. Your success in this exercise, and the profit you derive from it, will very much depend on the manner you observe this direction.
3. The subjects of Meditation. The word of God furnishes abundant matter for meditation. This was the constant delight of the Psalmist. The 119th Psalm consists almost entirely of meditations upon the word of God. But, in our regular seasons of fixed and solemn meditation, you will find assistance and profit from fixing your mind on some particular portion of divine truth; and carrying it out in its various relations and applications. That these subjects may be always at hand, without loss of time in selecting and arranging them, I here suggest a considerable variety of topics, with references to passages of Scripture calculated to illustrate or enforce the subjects. It is not designed that you should confine yourself strictly to these, but to use them as an aid to your own efforts. They are intended as mere suggestions, and are therefore both imperfectly stated and partially carried out; One great difficulty, in this exercise, is, always to be able to fix the mind on some portion of truth, in such a manner as to secure variety, and to contemplate truth in its proper proportions. And probably this kind of meditation is often neglected, for want of time to select a subject, and fix the attention upon it. If Christians were always in a lively frame, perhaps this would not be necessary. The mind would spontaneously revert to spiritual things. But, humiliating as is the fact, it is nevertheless true, that our minds are often dull upon those subjects which ought always to operate as the touchstone of spiritual feeling. Yet, as right feelings can be produced only in view of truth, the way to overcome this dulness is to direct the attention to objects calculated to call forth these emotions.
I have arranged these subjects in such a manner, that, if taken in course, they will lead to the contemplation of divine truth, with some reference to its proper proportions, although they do not completely cover the ground. Any particular topic, however, can be selected, according to the circumstances or inclination of the individual. Many of the subjects are divided under various heads; and, in some cases, one or two heads may perhaps be found sufficient for one season of meditation.
I. CHARACTER AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.
1. Self-existence -- being underived. How this can be proved from reason. How this truth is recognized in Scripture. Ex.3:14. Rev.1:8. Jer.10:10. Dan.6:26. All other existence derived from him. Ps.33:6. John 1:3. Col.1:16, 17. Heb.11:13.
Practical Reflections. (1.) Ps.53:1, f.c., (2.) Isa.29:16, l.c.45:9, 10. Rom.9:20, 21. (3.) Ps. c.3, 4. Isa.43:7. Dan.5:23, l.c.
2. Eternity and Immutability of God. How one of these involves the other. How these attributes can be discovered by reason. How by Scripture. Gen.1:1. Deut.32:40. Ps.90:2.102:24-27. Mal.3:6. Heb.13:8. Jas.1:17. Rev.1:4.22:13.
Consider these attributes separately: -- (1.) Eternity -- being without beginning or end -- ever being. (2.) Immutability -- subject to no change in his manner of being, his perfections, his thoughts, desires, purposes, or determinations.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How God appears to us in view of these attributes. (2.) How necessary they are to the character of the Supreme Ruler. (3.) How these attributes make God appear to the sinner. (4.) How to holy beings. (5.) What encouragements to prayer. Suppose God were changeable in his character, feelings, and purposes, what confidence could be reposed in his promises? (6.) What feelings these attributes should inspire.
3. Omnipresence and Omniscience of God. (1.) Contemplate knowledge without limit, and presence without bounds. (2.) How these attributes are manifest from the works of creation. (3.) How declared in the Word of God. Ps.139:1-12. Jer.23:24. Ps.147:5. Isa.40:28.
Solemn Thoughts. (1.) In what light God is manifested by these attributes. (2.) How necessary these attributes to the Supreme Governor and righteous Judge of all. (3.) No individual so small or unimportant as to escape the attention of such a being. Matt.10:29, 30.
Practical Reflections. (1.) Danger of forgetting or losing a sense of the presence of God. Ps.9:17.50:22. (2.) What feelings should be inspired in view of these attributes. Ps.4:4. Heb.4:13. (3.) How sinners should feel in view of them. Job 34:21, 22. Prov.5:21.15:3. Jer.16:17. Amos 9:2, 3. (4.) What emotions these attributes should excite in the hearts of God's children.2 Chron.16:9, f.c. (5.) How these attributes will appear in the day of judgment.
4. Omnipotence and Independence of God. (1.) How the omnipotence of God is manifested by the works of creation. Job, chapters 38-11. Reflect on the works of creation as a whole, and minutely and particularly, and also how they were made. Gen.1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26. (2.) How the independence of God is manifested by his works. Creative power must be underived. (3.) How the omnipotence of God is displayed, in his upholding and governing all things. (4.) How this attribute is declared in Scripture. Gen.17:1.18:14. Matt.19:26. (5.) How omnipotence proves independence.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How God is hereby qualified to be the Supreme Ruler. (2.) The condition of sinners, while they remain at enmity with such a being. Deut.32:41. (3.) How Christians should feel, in view of this. Ex.32:32. Rom.9:2, 3. (4.) What they ought to do. Acts 20:31. Jas.5:20. Jude 23. (5.) Feelings of those who can view such a being as their Friend and Father. Rom.8:28, 38, 39.1 Cor.3:22, 23. (6.) Appropriate emotions on contemplating the omnipotence of God. Job 11:7, 8.26:14. Ps.145.
5. Benevolence of God. God is essentially benevolent.1 John 4:8. (1.) How the benevolence of God is exhibited to us by the light of reason. (2.) How by his works of creation and providence. (3.) By Revelation. First, by direct assertion. Exod.34:6. Ps.145:9. Nah.1:7. Matt.5:45. Second, by the character of his law. Ps.19:7, 8. Matt.22:37-39. Rom.7:12. Third, by the work of redemption. John 3:16, 17.
Inferential Thoughts. (1.) The benevolence of God without bounds. (2.) Always active (3.) It constitutes his whole moral character. (4.) A being of infinite benevolence must prefer the greater good to the less, and the supreme good above all. (5.) Such a being must love the same disposition in his creatures, and hate the opposite.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How odious selfishness must be in the sight of God. (2.) Sinners directly opposed in their characters and feelings to God. Exod.20:5, l.c. Rom.8:7. (3.) The exceeding great evil of sin, as committed against infinite benevolence. (4.) The ingratitude and baseness of sinners. (5.) What the goodness of God should lead them to. Isa.30:18. Rom.2:4. (6.) What emotions the contemplation of the goodness of God should excite in the hearts of his children. Ps.118. Isa.63:7. Eph.5:20. (7.) How we may apprehend the goodness of the Lord. Ps, 107:43.
6. The Justice of God. (1.) What justice is: First, as exercised by intelligent beings, whose relations will admit of mutual giving and receiving; Second, as exercised by a ruler towards his subjects; Third, as relates to all actions, with reference to the general good. (2.) Which of these relations God sustains to the universe. (3.) The disposition which would lead him to act justly in all these cases. (4.) How God is just as respects himself (5.) As respects his creatures. (6.) How the justice of God may be seen from the light of reason, and from the system of his providence. (7.) How from the Sacred History. (8.) The positive declarations of Scripture. Deut.32:4. Isa.45:21. Zeph.3:5. Rev. 15:3. (9.) From the revelation of a future day of righteous retribution. Eccl.12:14. Acts 17:31.2 Cor.5:10.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How, by this attribute, God is qualified to be the Supreme Governor. (2.) How terrible this renders him to the wicked. Exod.34:7, l.c. Heb.10:20-29.12:29. (3.) How suffering the guilty to go unpunished, without satisfaction and reformation, would be doing injustice to the universe. (4.) Why we ought to look with complacency and delight upon this attribute.
7. The Truth of God. (1.) His veracity; or a disposition always to speak according to the real state of things. (2.) Faithfulness; or a disposition to conform his actions to previous declarations of his Word.
(1.) How the truth of God may be proved by reason. First, from his Benevolence. Second, from his Independence and Immutability. Third, from the excellence of truth and the turpitude of falsehood. Fourth, from the estimation in which truth is held by the intelligent creatures he has made.
(2.) How proved from the Scriptures. First, by direct declarations. Exod.34:6, l.c. Ps.117:2.146:6, l.c. Second, by the accordance of the histories recorded in Scripture with the facts substantiated by other evidence. Third, by the predictions of events which have since been fulfilled. Fourth, from the doctrines contained in his Word. Fifth, by the agreement of Scripture with itself. Sixth, by the fulfilment of promises, threatenings, covenants, &c., recorded in his Word. Seventh, other proofs, as they may be suggested to the mind.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How God is qualified by this attribute to be the moral governor of intelligent creatures. (2.) How necessary is faith to acceptance with God. Heb.11:6. (3.) How odious to a God of infinite veracity must be the sin of unbelief.1 John 5:10. (4.) How terrible to the wicked this renders the threatenings of God's word. (5.) How valuable his promises to the righteous. (6.) At what an infinite expense God has sustained his truth, while pardoning rebels doomed to die. Ps.85:10. Rom.3:26.
8. The Mercy of God. (1.) What mercy is. (2.) Contemplate mercy as a disposition inherent in the Divine character. (3.) The only way in which mercy can be exercised by Him, towards those who have merited anger and punishment, consistent with the moral rectitude of his character, and the great ends of his government. Ps.85:10. Isa.53:5, 6, 10. Acts 4:12.5:31. Rom.3:25, 26. (4.) How this attribute is manifested in his providence. Matt.5:45. (5.) How in his Word. Neh.9:17. Ps.3:8. Matt.5:7. Rom.5:6. (These two may embrace several subdivisions.) (6.) Consider whether by the light of nature we could discover any possible way for God to exercise mercy towards the guilty.
Practical Reflections. (1.) The loveliness and glory of this attribute. (2.) How we should feel in view of it. Ps.118. (3.) The great guilt and danger of indulging an unmerciful or cruel disposition. Prov.11:17, l.c.21:13. Mark 11:26. Jas.2:13. (4.) The advantage of being merciful. Ps.18:25. Prov.11:17, f.c. Matt.5:7. Mark 11:25.
9. The Wisdom of God. (1.) What wisdom is. How it differs from knowledge. How from cunning or subtilty. Whether that is wisdom which does not design to accomplish a good end. Whether this is a natural or moral attribute, or both. (2.) How the wisdom of God is manifested in the works of creation. Ps.104. Prov.3:19. Examine particular objects and see how exactly everything is fitted for the end for which it is designed, and that a good end; such as the seasons; day and night; provision made for the wants and for the comfort and pleasure of men and animals; the body and mind of man; the laws which govern the material world, carried put in a great variety of ways; in the infinite variety, and yet extensive and convenient classification, of objects; human languages; moral agency of intelligent beings, &c. (3.) The wisdom of God, as exhibited in his Word; First, its perfect adaptation to the wants of the world; its variety of authorship, style, matter, manner, &c.; Second, the truths revealed; particularly the plan of redemption. Rom.11:33.
Practical Reflections. (1.) Ps.48:14. (2.) The folly of setting up our own reason in opposition to the word of God. Isa.40:13, 14. Rom.11:34, 35. (3.) The folly of self-conceit. Prov.26:12. (4.) From whom all wisdom comes. Prov.2:6. (5.) What is the only true wisdom. Job 28:28.
1. The Decrees of God. Doctrine: That God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass.
Proved, (1.) By reason. Otherwise, he would work without a plan, and could not certainly know what would take place hereafter; which is inconsistent with the idea of infinite wisdom. Acts 15:18. (2.) From Scripture. Job 23:13. Isa.46:10. Jer.10:23.
This doctrine does not destroy the freedom and accountability of the creature. Acts 2:23. This is not to be understood in any such sense as to make God the author of sin. Jas.1:13. If the will of God is done, the greatest possible good will be accomplished. Ps.119:68, f.c. How we ought to feel, in view of this doctrine. Phil.4:4. Duty of submission. Luke 22:42. Jas.4:7.
2. The Sovereignty of God. Doctrine: That God rules the universe, according to his own pleasure, independently and without control, giving no further account of his conduct than he pleases.
Proved, (1.) By reason: First, his will the greatest good; Second, he has power to accomplish it; Third, if he fails to accomplish his will, he will be under constraint, which is inconsistent with the idea of an infinite being. Were he to fail of accomplishing his own will, he would not be qualified for a righteous governor. (2.) From Scripture. Ps.115:3. Dan.4:35. Eccl.8:3, l.c. Job 33:13.
Reflections. (1.) God does not act arbitrarily, without sufficient cause, or merely for the sake of doing his own will. His actions are controlled by a supreme desire for the greatest good, and always founded on the best of reasons. (2.) The consummate folly of those who resist his will. (3.) The feelings with which we ought to regard the sovereignty of God.1 Chron.16:23-31. Ps.97:1. (4.) How terrible this doctrine to sinners. Ps.99:1. Isa.33:11. (5.) What ground of confidence, comfort, and joy to the righteous. Ps.15:6. Hosea 14:9. Rom.8:28.
3. Human Depravity. (1.) How extensive. Rom.3:23. Corroborated by facts. (2.) How great in degree. Gen.6:5. Rom.3:10-18. (3.) From whom derived. Rom.5:12-19. (4.) How hereditary depravity becomes personal. Ps.58:3. (5.) How human depravity manifests itself. Rom.8:7. John 3:19, 20.5:40. Acts 7:51. Gal.5:19-21.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How we ought to feel, in view of our own depravity. Ezra 9:6. Job 42:6. Ps.38:1-7.51:4, 17. Dan.9:8. (2.) The necessity of regeneration. Heb.12:14, l.c. (3.) How this load of guilt may be removed. Matt.11:28-30.1 John 2:1, 2. (4.) What it will bring us to, if we do not obtain deliverance from it. Rom 6:23, f.c.
4. Regeneration. (1.) Its nature.2 Cor.5:17. Eph.4:24. (2.) Its author. John 3:5, 6. (3.) Influence of the Spirit; how exerted; not miraculous John 3:8. (4.) Man's agency in the work of regeneration. Isa.55:6, 7. Acts 2:38.16:31. Phil 2:12, 13.
5. The condition of fallen man. (1.) Alienation from God. Job 21:14, 15. Rom.1:28. Eph.2:1, 2. (2.) Exposure to his wrath. Deut.32:35, 41. Ps.7:11, 12. John 3:18, 36. Eph.2:3. (3.) Personal misery. Isa.57:20, 21. Misery the natural consequence of sin. Jer.2:19.
Practical Reflections. (1.) How Christians should feel, in view of this subject. Isa.51:1.1 Cor.15:10. (2.) How they should feel, in view of the condition of the impenitent. Rom.9:1-3. (3.) How act. Acts 20:31, l.c. Rev.22:17. (4.) The necessity of a mediator between God and man. Gal.3:10.
6. The plan of Redemption. (1.) Why sin could not be pardoned without an atonement. Gen.2:17. Dent.27:26, compared with Deut.32:4, l.c. Heb.9:22. (2.) What a mediator is. Job 9:33.2 Cor.5:18, 19. (3.) Why it was necessary that our mediator should be God. (4.) Why, that he should be also man. (5.) Why it was necessary that he should obey the law. Isa.42:21. Gal.4:4, 5. (6.) Why, that he should suffer. Gal.3:13.4:4, 5. Heb.9:22, 28. (7.) Why, that he should rise from the dead. Rom.4:25.1 Cor.15:17.1 Pet.1:21. Heb.7:25.
Practical Reflections. [1.] How the love of God is manifested in the provision of such salvation. John 3:16. Rom.5:8. [2.] How we should feel and act in view of the amazing love of Christ.2 Cor.5:14, 15. [3.] What effect his love should have upon sinners. Zech.12:10. Rom.2:4. [4.] How Christians should feel, in view of the ingratitude of the impenitent. Ps.119:136, 158.
7. Justification [1.] What justification is. [2.] Why we cannot be justified by the law. Rom.3:23. [3.] The nature of all our good works, religious exercises, duties, &c. Luke 17:10. [4.] The ground of justification. Isa.53:11. Acts 13:39 Rom.8:3, 4. [5.] The instrument or medium of justification. Rom.3:28. [6.] The effects of justification. Rom.5:1-5.8:1-4.15:13.1 Pet.1:8.
8. Adoption. [1.] What adoption is. Exod.2:9, 10. [2.] Through whom believers are adopted. Gal.4:4, 5. [3.] How their adoption is manifested to them. Rom.8:15, 16. Gal.4:6. [4.] To what adoption entitles them. Rom.8:17. Gal.4:7. [5.] What was the moving cause of adoption.1 John 3:1. [6.] What emotions this should excite in the hearts of Christians.
9. Sanctification. [1.] What sanctification is. Rom.6:6, 11 -- 13.8:13. [2.] By whom believers are sanctified. Rom.8:13, l.c.15:16, l.c.1 Pet.1:22. (3.) The instrument of sanctification. John 17:19. (1.) The procuring cause.1 Cor.1:2.6:11. Heb.10:10. (5.) The importance of sanctification, or growth in grace. John 15:8. Col.1:9-12. (6.) How we are to strive for sanctification. Phil.2:12, 13.3:13, 14. (7.) How we may secure the aid of the Holy Spirit. Luke 11:13. Rom.8:26. (8.) How Christ regards us, when we are not making progress in holiness. Rev.3:15, 16.
10. Death. (1.) Its certainty. Heb.9:27. (2.) The uncertainty of life. Jas.4:14. (3.) The shortness of life. Ps.90:3-10.1 Cor.7:29-31. Bring death near, and commune with it; try to enter into the feelings of the death-bed. (4.) How we should live in view of the subject. Luke 12:33-40. (5.) The folly of laying up treasures for ourselves in this life. Luke 12:16-21. (6.) How death will appear to such. Isa.33:14. (7.) How death appears to those who |set their affections on things above.| 2 Cor.5:6, 8. Phil.1:23. (8.) The support which such have in the hour of death. Isa.43:1, 2.1 Cor.15:54-57.
11. Heaven. (1.) Heaven a place. John 14:2, 3. Heb.9:24. (2.) The glory of heaven. Rev.21:22, 23. (3.) What constitutes the blessedness of heaven to the righteous. [1.] Freedom from sin, and sinful associations.2 Cor.5:2-4. Rev.21:27. [2.] Freedom from pain, and all evil. Rev.21:4. [3.] Exercise of holy affections.1 John 4:16. [4.] The company of holy beings. Heb.12:22-24. [5.] The immediate presence of God, and such communion and fellowship with him as will make us like him. Ps.17:15. Isa.33:17, f.c.1 John 3:2. [6.] The presence of Jesus, as our Redeemer, to whom we are indebted for all this glory. John 17:24.1 Thess.4:17. Rev.5:9. (4.) The employments of heaven. [1.] The contemplation of the infinite perfections of God, and the glories of his moral government. Rev.19:1, 2. [2.] Rendering cheerful obedience to his will. Ps.103:20, 21. Matt.6:10.22:30. [3.] Singing his praises. Rev.5:9. [4.] And we may suppose holy conversation. (5.) Contemplate this state as existing forever, with the continual increase of the capacity for enjoyment, and the discoveries of the divine character, his government and works.
12. The Resurrection. (1.) What signal will usher in the glorious morn.1 Cor.15:52.1 Thess.4:16. (2.) What will follow.1 Thess.4:16, l.c. (3.) What will come to pass in regard to the saints which shall then be alive on the earth.1 Cor.15:51.1 Thess.4:17. (4.) With what bodies the saints will arise.1 Cor.15:42-44, 50, 53, 54. (5.) To whom the saints will ascribe their victory and triumph, in that day.1 Cor.15:57. (6.) How the wicked will rise. Dan.12:2.
13. The Judgment. (1.) This awful ceremony is to take place at a certain time, fixed in the councils of eternity. Acts 17:31. (2.) It will come suddenly and unexpectedly. Matt.24:36-39. (3.) Who will be the judge. Matt.25:31. Rev.20:11. (4.) Who will stand before him to be judged. Rom.14:10. Rev.20:12. (5.) In respect to what they will be judged. Eccl.12:14. Matt.12:36. Rom.2:16.2 Cor.5:10. (6.) By what rule they will be judged. John 7:21. Rom.2:2. (7.) How any will be able to stand this awful test.1 John 2:1, 2. (8.) What separation will be made. Matt.25:32. Consider this in its application to friends, and those who have in any way come under our influence. (9.) The final award of the righteous. Matt.25:33-36. (10.) What state of feeling is indicated by their answer. Matt.25:37-39. (11.) The final sentence of the wicked. Matt.25:41-43. (12.) What state of feeling is indicated by their answer. Matt.25:44.
14. The World of Woe. Contemplated for the purpose of arousing the attention to the condition of the impenitent. (1.) The place itself -- the prison-house of the universe. Matt.25:46. (2.) In what manner it is described. Isa.33:14. Matt.13:42, f.c. Rev.20:14. (3.) What will constitute the misery of that dread abode. [1.] The consciousness of guilt. Rom.3:19. [2.] The recollection of mercies abused. Rom.9:22. [3.] The company that will be there. Matt.25:41. Rev.21:8. [4.] The wrath and curse of Almighty God. Rom.2:8, 9. [5.] The reflection that this misery is to have no end. Mark 9:14. (4.) What will be the employments of that place. Matt.13:42.24:51. How we ought to feel, in regard to those who are exposed to this awful doom. Matt.22:39. (6.) What we should do for them. Jude 23, f.c.
III. CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
1. It is unlike that of any other being in the universe
2. A mysterious complexity in his character, which we call a union of two natures -- a combination of attributes, all of which can neither be ascribed to men, nor to angels, nor to God. Gen.19:10. Num.24:17. Job 19:23-27. Ps.2:7, 12, c.1. Isa.6:1-3.9:5, 6.28:16.15:10-12, 21 -- 25. Ps.22: 6. Isa.49:7.52:14.53:2, 3.
3. Christ is a man. Phil.2:8. John 1:14. Luke 21:39. Heb.2:17.5:8.
4. He is God. (1.) The Scriptures represent Christ as pre-existing, in a glorious character, before he appeared in this world. John 1:1, 2.3:13.6:38.17:5. Heb.1:10. (2.) They represent that, in passing from that state to this, he suffered a humiliating change.2 Cor.8:9. Phil.2:6, 7. (3.) The Scriptures directly assert that he possessed a superhuman nature. Heb.1:4, 6. Col.2:9. (4.) This superhuman nature is divine -- the names of God are ascribed to him -- the attributes of God are ascribed to him -- he is represented as performing the works of God. Com. Luke 1:16, 17, with Isa.40:3, and Isa.6:1-3, with John 12:41. Rom.9:5. John 20:28.1 John 5:20.1 Ti.3:16. John 1:2. Rev.22:13. Isa.44:6. Acts 1:24. John 2:24. Jer.17:10.1 Kings 8:39. Matt.9:2.18:20.28:20. John 10:15. Isa.44:24. Gen.1:1. Heb.1:10. Jer.10:12. Col.1:16. John 1:3. Phil.3:21. John 5:21. Rev.1:5, 6. He performed miracles in his own name. He was worshiped by inspired men who knew his character; and the Scriptures encourage such worship. Acts 7:59.2 Ti.4:18.2 Cor.12:8. Acts 1:21.1 Thess.3:12.2 Thess.2:16. Phil.2:10. Heb.1:6. Rev.5:8-14.
Contemplate the character of Christ in its moral and practical relations; (1.) As illustrating or exhibiting the character of God; (2.) As confirming and sustaining his moral government, while it admits the exercise of mercy; (3.) As the medium through which all our duties are to be performed; (4.) As the foundation of our hopes.
IV. NAMES AND OFFICES OF CHRIST.
1. Saviour. (1.) What salvation is. (2.) Why we need a Saviour. What it is to be lost -- carry out the figure in imagination. Matt.18:11. (3.) From what Christ saves us. Matt.1:21. (4.) How he saves us from sin. Acts 15:8, 9. (5.) His willingness to save. Matt.11:28-30. John 6:37, l.c. (6.) His Ability to save. Heb.7:25. (7.) The expense of this salvation. Rom.5:7, 8. (8.) The ingratitude of neglecting so great salvation. Heb.2:2, 3.
2. Redeemer. (1.) What it is to redeem -- contemplate the figure, and form a clear perception of the condition of captives taken in war, and held in slavery. (2.) Our condition by nature. Rom.6:13, f.c.16, 20.7:14, l.c. Gal.3:10. (3.) How Christ has redeemed us. Gal.3:13. (4.) The price paid for our redemption.1 Peter 1:18, 19. (5.) How we should feel in view of this. Rev.5:9, 10. (6.) What this should lead us to do.1 Cor.6:20.
3. Prophet. (1.) What a prophet is. (2.) How Christ teaches his people. John 1:18, 5:39.16:13, 14. (3.) What encouragement we have to go to him for direction, in all cases of doubt and difficulty.1 Cor.1:30. James 1:5. (4.) With what feelings we must receive him as our great Teacher. Matt.18:3, 4.
4. Priest. (1.) What a priest is. Heb.5:1, 2. (2.) Why we need a priest. Deut.27:26. Rom.3:20. (3.) How he was qualified to become our priest. Heb.5:7-9.7:26-28.4:15. (4.) How he has made atonement and reconciliation for us. Heb.9:11-14, 28. (5.) How this is rendered available to believers in all ages. Rom.8:34. Heb.9:24.7:25. (6.) What benefits believers may derive from his intercession. Rom.5:2. Heb.4:16. (7.) The sympathy of Christ with believers. Heb.4:15.
5. King. (1.) What a King is. (2.) In what sense Christ is our king. Eph.1:21, 22. (3.) The nature of the control he exercises over us. Matt.11:30. Rom.6:9-22.11:17.2 Cor.10:5. (4.)The need we have of such a king. Matt.12:29. (5.)Our duty to him as subjects.2 Cor.10:5.
6. Mediator. (1.) What a mediator is: one that undertakes to make reconciliation between two parties at variance. Job 9:33. We are at variance with God. Ps.7:11. Ro.8:7. (2.) What qualifications are required in a mediator. [1.] He must be the mutual friend of both parties. Christ both God and man. John 1:1, 14. The mutual friend of both. Luke 3:22. Heb.2:16, 17. [2.] He must be able to render satisfaction to the injured party. Christ has done this. Isa.12:21. Gal.3:13. He must be able to bring back the offender to his duty. This Christ is able to do. Rom.6:1-14. (3.) How we may become reconciled to God.2 Cor.5:18, 19.
7. Advocate and Intercessor. (1.) What an advocate is: one that manages a cause for another at court, and undertakes to procure his justification and discharge. If his client is prosecuted for debt, he must show that the debt has been paid; if for crime, he must show some reason why he should not be punished. Jesus Christ can show both, in regard to us.1 Peter 1:18, 19.1 Cor.6:20. Isa.53:5. What an intercessor is: one that undertakes to present the petitions of a criminal at the bar of his offended sovereign. When a petition is presented for pardon, the person presenting it must become responsible for the future good conduct of the criminal. Christ has become our surety. When he asks for undeserved favor to be bestowed upon the criminal, it must be on the score of his own merits. Jesus can present our petitions with assurance on this ground. How blessed are they who have such an Advocate and Intercessor at the throne of heaven! Rom.8:34. Heb.7:25. How we may come to the throne of grace through his intercession. Heb.4:16. No worship acceptable, which is not offered through the intercession of Christ. John 14:13. Acts 4:12. Eph.5:20.
8. Friend. What is implied in a friend. [1.] He must be able and willing to help us. Christ is both able and willing to help all who come to him. Heb.7:25. Matt.11:28-30. John 6:37, l.c. [2.] Friendship must be cordial. Such is the friendship of Jesus. John 15:15, 16. [3.] A friend must possess a sympathizing heart. Such is the heart of Jesus. Heb.4:15.
9. Elder Brother. (1.) The relation of an Elder Brother to the younger members of the family. (2.) How we come into this relation to Christ. Gal.4:4-6. (3.)The blessings that we receive, through this relation. Gal.1:7. Rom.8:17. (4.) The goodness of the Son, who would of his own accord, receive a stranger into his Father's family, to be adopted, as a joint heir with him to his Father's estate.
10. Husband. (1.)Proof of this relation between Christ and the church. Isa.54:5. Eph.5:25-32. Rev.19:7, 8.22:17. (2.) What is implied in this relation. [1.] Union. John 15:5. Eph.4:31. [2.] Protection. Matt.16:18. Ca.8:5, f.c. [3.] Provision. Phil.4:19. Eph.5:29. [4.] Sympathy and Love. Heb.4:15.8:6, 7. [5.] Fellowship. Ca.5:1.
V. THE CHRISTIAN GRACES.
1. Faith. (1.) What faith is. Heb.11:1. (2.) It's object. Rom.4:3, 5 Eph.1:12, 13. Heb.11:6. (3.) The effects of faith on the heart. Acts 15:9. Gal.5:6, l.c. (4.) Its effects on the life. James 2:14-26. (5.) Necessary to acceptable prayer. James 1:6.
2. Hope. (1.) The object of hope.2 Cor.4:17, 18. (2.) The ground of hope. Col.1:27.1 Tim.1:1. (3.) The author of hope. Rom.5:5.15:13. (4.) The influence of hope upon the Christian character.1 Thess.5:8.1 John 3:3. (5.) Effect of hope upon the comfort and religious enjoyment of the believer. Heb.3:6.6:19.
3. Charity, or Love. (1.) Its nature.1 Cor.13:4-8. (2.) The object of love. [1.] As a feeling of complacent delight, God the chief object, and his children, as bearing his image. Matt.22:37.1 John 5:1. [2.] As a feeling of universal benevolence, it has for its object all mankind. Malt.22: 39.
4. Joy. (1.) Nature of spiritual joy. Rom.14: 17. (2.) The ground of joy. Rom.15:13.1 Peter 1: 5 -- 8. (3.) The object of joy. Psa.16:11.43:4.97:1.33:1. Isa.29:19.41:16.61:10. Hab.3:18. Phil.4:4. (4.) The permanency of spiritual joy. John 16:22.
5. Peace. (1.) Peace of conscience. Rom.5:1.8:1.15:13. (2.) The ground of it. Psa.85:10. Col.1:20, 21. (3.) A peaceable spirit. Matt.5:9. Rom.12:18. Heb.12:14. James 3:17.
6. Brotherly Kindness. (1.) Its nature. Eph.4:32. (2.) Its fruits. Rom.12:10, 15.1 John 3: 16, 17.
7. Humility. (1.) Its nature. Matt.5:3. Rom.12:3. (2.) Its manifestations. Job 42:5, 6. Prov.30:32. Lam.3:28. Matt.25:36-38. Acts 20:19. Rom.12:10, l.c.16. Phil.2:3. I Pet.5:5. (3.) How regarded of the Lord. Psa.138:6. Prov.16:19. (4.) Its reward. Job 22:29. Ps.9:12. Prov.15:33. Isa.57:15. Matt.18:4. (5.) Effects of humility. Gen.18:27, l.c.32:10. Job 42:1-6. Psa.32:5.51:5. Isa.51:1.64:6.
8. Patience. (1.) What is patience. Rom.8: 25. James 5:7.1 Peter 2:20. (2.) How patience is cultivated. Rom.2:7.5:3. James 1:3. (3.) Apply this to the every-day concerns of life. (4.) The need we have of patience. Job 14:1, 2. Eccles.2:23. Heb.10:36.12:1. (5.) Motives to patience. Luke 8:15. Rom.5:4. Heb.6:12.
9. Long-Suffering. [1.] What is long-suffering. Eph.4:2. [2.] Consider the long-suffering and forbearance of God towards us, as a motive to its exercise. Lam.3:22.
10. A Forgiving Temper. [1.] Motives to its exercise. Ps.103:3. Eph.4:32. Gal.6:1. [2.] Danger of the contrary spirit. Mark 11:26.
11. Meekness. [1.] Its nature.1 Cor.13:5 Col.3:12, 13. James 1:21. [2.] How the Lord regards, and how he will bless the meek. Ps.22:26.25:9.76:9.147:6.149:4. Isa.29:19. Matt.5:5. [3.] How it becomes the Christian.1 Pet.3:4. [4.] Its manifestations. Gal.6:1. Eph.4:2.2 Tim.2:25. James 3:13.1 Peter 3:15.
12. Gentleness. [1.] Twin sister of meekness. [2.] Its manifestations.1 Thess.2:7.2 Tim.2: 24. James 3:17. [3.] The pattern of gentleness.2 Cor.10:1. [4.] How it adorns the Christian character.
13. Temperance. [1.] What is temperance. Moderation in all our desires, affections, appetites, and conduct; abstinence from injurious indulgences. [2.] Advantages of temperance.1 Cor.9:25.2 Pet.1:6.
14. Virtue, or Moral Courage. How this grace affects the Christian character. Prov.28:1. [See History of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jesus, and the Apostles.]