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The Divinity and Grace of Christ.

The Divinity and Grace of Christ.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE

REV. T. BINNEY.


Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet, for your sakes^he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." — 2 CoR. 8, 9.


REV. T. BINNEY.


Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet, for your sakes^he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." — 2 CoR. 8, 9.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 04, 2013
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THE DIVIITY AD GRACE OF CHRIST.REV. T. BIEY.Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet, for yoursakes^he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." — 2 CoR. 8, 9.This passage obviously contains a very explicit statement, both of the dignityand the condescension of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will form a very suitablesubject of meditation this morning, when we have the prospect, and when weare to enjoy the privilege, of commemorating the event to which it representsus to be so deeply in debt. I take the words as they stand before us, in theirobvious and plain sense. The meaning of the Apostle, I think was, that ourLord was rich, that he changed his condition, and became poor, and that hedid this with the view that we might change our condition, and become rich.ow, believing this to be the meaning which it becomes us to attach to thewords of the Apostle, of course it is this meaning I shall attempt to illustratefor your use and advantage. I might, with strict propriety, proceed immediatelyto that illustration, as if this sense of the words had never been questioned :but as it seems useful, not only to preach the truth, but to prove it — to establishit to the conviction of the judgment, as well as to enforce it on the passionsand the heart, I will occupy a few minutes this morning in attempting to shewyou, why we regard our interpretation as the true one ; and why, therefore,none other — but especially any directly opposite interpretation — is, in our view,entitled to the epithet of error. I know this is not the place, either for criticismor for controversy ; and, in general, 1 think I can appeal to you, that I studiouslyavoid both. I do not design, at present, to introduce either to any extent : myremarks shall be very brief, and, I trust, very plain.It is evident, that, if our Lord Jesus Christ were nothing but a man, apartaker of mere humanity, one whose nature was on a level with our own, itis evident that some other meaning must be attached to these words than thatwe have given, and which, in every age, has been the sentiment of the universalChurch. Accordingly another meaning /iffs been attached to these words, of whichthe following is the expression: " Ye know the gracious goodness of our LordJesus Christ, that, while he was rich, yet for your sakes he lived in poverty". — that he was rich and poor in the world at the same time. To this it might beobjected, that the particular manner of expression which is here employed byPaul, is used in other parts of Scripture, in the translation of the Seventy, toexpress a change of condition ; and therefore it is to be considered as expressingsuch a change in this passage. We read in the Psalms, " We are exceedinglyimpoverished," or, " We have become exceedingly poor." There is another •" The rich have become poor." In the Proverbs we read, " The glutton an{
 
AC .1 X306 THE DIVIITY AD GRACE OF CHRIST.drunkard shall come to poverty, and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."All these have just the same turn of language employed, as in the passage heforeus ; and, therefore, the language of the text must, as we think, express likewisea change of state. I do not, however, dwell upon that ; I like to go upon plain,common sense principles ; and I will endeavour now to do that.Ohscrve, then, it is here said, that Christ, while he was rich, lived in poverty ;and that, hy doing so, he displayed such grace as deserves to be perpetuallycelebrated by the whole Church. The question here arises. When was he richas a man ? or. How was he rich as a mere man ? The reply is. He was rich inthe possession of miraculous powers, which he might have employed to his ownadvantage and profit, by which he might have gained money, or power, orsecular dignity. But he did not do that: instead of eniploying these powersfor the purpose of getting money, or worldly advantage, he lived in poverty,and he died in poverty. Here I make three reuiarks, on the plain principlesof common sense.First, it seems very improbable that miraculous powers could be so conferredon, and enjoved by a man, as to be capable of being perverted to ambitiouspurposes. The power is never, properly speaking, man's ; it is always God's,and in God's hands. It is God that puts forth the power to do the work ; theman merely appears as its agent, or selects the occasion of its exertion. It isincredible to think that a prophet should have been able to use it for his ownobjects. The power of performing miracles was in the hands of God ; it wasto be put forth for a particular purpose, the establishment of truth: but tothink that the prophet might violate all his obligations, and turn his officialdistinction to secular profit, and to think that God would continue to put forthhis power for these purposes, at the request of this man, appears utterlyincredible. Paul had the power of performing miracles ; but he could not healhis own companion who was lying sick by his side. Why? Because therewas no object to be answered with respect to his apostolical message or office,or with respect to the establishment of truth, as it would be to be done in thechamber without any witnesses on whom it might have a desirable effect.Miraculous power was not ano])tional thing, which the Apostle had the powerof putting forth when he pleased, but only when certain purposes were to beanswered by it. And I think that would be the limitation under which JesusChrist would have held these powers, had he been a mere man, and Mould nothave used them for the purpose of getting money, or for any secular profit.In the second place, admitting that Jesus Christ as a man and a prophet didact thus — that he really, as a prophet of God, instead of employing his powers
 
for getting money, or by distinguishing himself by any secular advantages — that he did em])loy them as a prophet of God, I do not see that he is as aman to be exceedingly praised ; I do not see that there was in it such virtue asthus to demand the feeling excited in the Apostle's mind by the contemplationof the fact. Let us suppose a prophet sent by God to pcrtorm certain, works,and furnished with ])owers for their accomplishment — that he attends to thiswork, and that he does not use his powers for other ends. Is there any thingvery praiseworthy in such conduct as that? Is such virtue so very prodigious?o. It would be terribly base, and cruel, not to act so. To any man whobelieves in a Providence, who looks to the world around him Mhich carrieswith it perpetual proofs of God's existence, and who is aware of the honour of l/'-iug employed in his service; the motives are so powerful to stimulate hisTHE DIVIITY AD GRACE OF CHRIST. 307virtue, tijat we do nut take so sublime a view of it. It is a general principlewhich we can apply to all characters, anil to all virtue — which we can applyto our own character, and to our own virtue, and to the cliaracter and virtueof any prophet — that we only praise that conduct where the temptations todisobedience are extraordinary and strong, and M'here the motives to self-denialare inconsiderable and few. And it is always the contrary in the case of aprophet invested with powers to the service of God : there the temptation urgesthe contrary ; all the motives are leading the man to virtue, and the tempta-tions to use his power to another purpose are few and inconsiderable. Allowme to use a rather homely illustration. You do not praise me because I donot steal, and never was tried before a judge at the bar of a criminal court.You do not point me out to your children as an example, and tell them to takepattern by me as never having appeared as a criminal in a court of justice. Itwould be exceedingly vicious in me if I were justly to be placed in such asituation ; but it is not praiseworthy in me that I have never been so situated.All the motives and influences that operate upon my mind make it absurd thatI should commit an act that would bring me into such a situiition ; and thereis no great virtue in refraining from so doing : but if I could be brought intosuch a condition, it would be far more criminal. We do not celebrate thevirtues of the Apostles while they lived in poverty, because they did not employtheir power for worldly advantage. When Simon Magus offered the Apostlesmoney to have the power of conferring the Holy Ghost, for the purpose of employing that miraculous power to advance his own ends, the very idea of itfilled the Apostles with virtuous indignation: they called him "the child of thedevil," and "the enemy of all righteousness;'" and directed him to do that bywhich peradventure the thoughts of his heart might be forgiven him. ow, topraise Jesus Christ for not using his miraculous power for secular advantage,is to praise him for not being like Simon Magus, "a child of the devil," and" the enemy of all righteousness," for not cherishing those thoughts of his heart,which admitted a doubt in the mind of Peter, whether God would pardon them

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