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II. I shall open this character, Saviour of the world, in which Christ was sent; and for that end inquire into two things. 1. In what sense Christ is Saviour of the world. 2. What is the business committed to him as such.
First, In what sense Christ is Saviour of the world. A saviour is a name of honour, and a name of business. It is an honourable thing to save and help the miserable; to be destined, appointed, and called to that employment: but the honourable post has business annexed to it; it will not do without activity, which success is expected to attend, as in the case of a teacher, physician, and the like. Now, one may be a saviour, even as a teacher or physician, of a society, two ways. (1.) In respect of office, as being called to and invested with the office of saving, teaching, or curing that society. And thus one is saviour, teacher, or physician of that society, before ever he save, teach, or cure any of them. In this respect one may be called an official saviour, teacher, or physician. (2.) In respect of the event and success, as actually and eventually saving, teaching, and healing. As the former ariseth from an appointment put upon such a one ; this ariseth from the work he manageth in virtue of that appointment. In this respect one may be called an actual and eventual saviour. Thus it is said, Neh. ix. 27. “And, according to thy manifold mercies, thou gavest them saviours, who saved them ont of the hands of their enemies. This premised, we say,
1. Our Lord Jesus is the actual and eventual Saviour of the elect only, in whose room and stead only he died upon the cross, according to the eternal compact passed between him and the Father, in the covenant of grace, otherwise called the covenant of redemption ; for these are not two, but one and the same covenant. Thus the apostle calls him “the Saviour of the body,” Eph. v. 23. that is, of the elect, who make up the body whereof he was appointed the head from eternity, and in whose name he contracted with the Father in the eternal covenant. And he is their Saviour eventually, as actually saving them, Matth. i. 21. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save lis people from their sins.” None but these will ever truly employ him as a Saviour, or put their case in his hand : and there are none of them but will certainly employ him sooner or later, Acts xiii. 48. “As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” John vi. 37. “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me,
I will in no wise cast out." 2. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the official Saviour, not of the elect only, but of the world of mankind indefinitely; so our text calls him “ Saviour of the world.” Agreeably to which, God in Christ is called "the Saviour of all men," but with a speciality, "the Saviour of them that believe," 1 Tim. iv. 10. The matter lies here: like as a prince, out of regard to his subjects' welfare, gives a commission to a qualified person to be physician to such a society, a regiment, or the like ; and the prince's commission constitutes him physician of that society; so that though many of them should never employ him, but call other physicians, yet still there is a relation betwixt him and them; he is their physician by office; any of them all may come to him if they will, and be healed : So God, looking on the ruined world of mankind, has constituted and appointed Jesus Christ his Son Saviour of the world : he has Heaven's patent for this office; and wheresoever the gospel comes, this his patent is intimated. Hereby a relation is constituted betwixt him and the world of mankind; he is their Saviour, and they the objects of his administration : so that any of them all may come to him, without money or price, and be saved by him as their own Saviour appointed them by the Father.
That Christ is thus the Saviour of the world, appears, if yo consider,
1st, Scripture testimony, which is plain. Our text expressly calls him so: and so do the believing Samaritans profess their faith in him, John iv. 42. “We have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” You have the appointment of Heaven very plain thereanent, John iii. 16. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life;"> even as the brazen serpent lifted up on the pole in the wilderness was the ordinance of God for healing to the stung persons of the whole camp of Israel. Hence Christ's salvation is called the common salvation, Jude ver. 3; a salvation which any of mankind sinners may lay hold on. So the Saviour's birth is said to be "glad tidings for all people," Luke ii. 10, 11; which it could not have been, if he had not been a Saviour for all people. Wherefore he himself testifies, that he came to save the world, John iii. 17. “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." Chap. xii. 47. “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." This was his office; to save sinners indefinitely; not this or that sort of sinners, but sinners of mankind indefinitely, without exception, 1 Tim. i. 15. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" the lost, Luke xix. 10. “ The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost;" 2 Cor. v. 19.“ God was in Christ, reconciling the world
unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” To the same purpose he declares himself “the light of the world,” namely, by office, John viii. 12. that whosoever will employ him may have the light of life.
2dly, If it were not so, he could not warrantably be offered with his salvation to the world indefinitely, but to the elect only; more than he can be offered lawfully to fallen angels, who are not within his commission as a Saviour. For the ministerial offer can never lawfully carry the matter beyond the bounds of Christ's commission from his Father. But Christ and his salvation may be warrantably offered to the whole world of mankind-sinners, with assurance that whoever of them will employ him to save them, he shall be saved : Mark xvi. 15, 16. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” “ He that believeth, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.” Moreover, if it were not so, the unbelief of hearers of the gospel, not elected, their not coming to Christ for salvation, could not be their sin : for it can never be one's sin not to do a thing he has no warrant for; not to employ one to save him, whom God never appointed to be his Saviour. So it is not the sin of fallen angels, that they believe not in Christ for salvation, because they are not within the Saviour's commission; nor of those who never heard of Christ, because his commission was never intimated to them. But not believing in Christ the Saviour, is the sin that ruins the hearers of the gospel who do at all perish, John iii. 19.“ And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Finally, if it were not so, the elect themselves could never believe in Christ, till in the first place their election were revealed to them; which is contrary to the stated method of grace: for they can never believe on Christ for their salvation, till they see him to be a Saviour for them.
There are two things further to be remarked on this head.
1. The ground upon which Christ might be constituted Saviour of the world by office. And that was the sufficiency of the merit of bis death and sufferings : for though Christ died only in the room and stead of his elect, on the cross sustaining their persons only, according to that John 1. 15. “I lay down my life for the sheep;" yet the price paid for them being of infinite worth, was sufficient in itself to save the whole world. The bread provided for them, viz. a crucified Christ, was sufficient to give life to and feed, not them only, but the whole world of mankind : and therefore he might be appointed Saviour of the world, John vi. 33, 51. “ The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the
world. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
2. The reason why he actually was constituted Saviour of the world. Among several reasons that might be given for this, I shall only obserye here this one, namely, that it was put upon him as a piece of honour, the reward of his great service, in laying down his life for and instead of those who were the objects of his Father's electing love, Is. xlix. 6, 8. “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee : and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people.” The Father for that cause invested him with “all power in heaven and earth,” Matt. xxviii. 18. Joho v. 21, 22. “ As the Father raiseth up the dead, and qnickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” And it was a reward suitable to his work.
Secondly, What is the business committed to him as Saviour of the world. Not to descend into particulars here, we may take it up in these two.
1. It is to save sinners from their sin, Matt. i. 21. " Thou shalt call his name Jesus ; for he shall save his people from their sins." Satan ruined the world by bringing sin upon them : thereby they were bound with the cords of guilt, the image of God in them was defaced, they were pollated and made loathsome, and shut up in the hands of a strange lord. God has appointed Christ Saviour of the world, that sinners may come to him, and be delivered from their sins, 1 John jii. 8. “He that committeth sin, is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” It was an inveterate disease, the cure of which was quite beyond the reach of any mere creature, as far as the raising of the dead is : so he was appointed Saviour in the case, Psal. lxxxix. 19. “I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.”
2. It is to save sinners from misery, to free them from destraction, Hos. xiii. 9. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help.” They are by sin made objects of wrath, laid under
the curse of the broken law, liable to revenging wrath for time and for eternity: he is appointed to save them from all this, upon their coming to him, and employing him for that purpose, Is. xxxii. 2. “And a man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Sin let in a deluge of miseries on the world, which flow about the sinner continually in greater or lesser measure : he is a Saviour to dry it up to them, 1 Cor. i. 30. “ But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
USE I. Of information.
1. Behold here, admire, and believe the great love of God to a lost world, in providing a Saviour, and such a Saviour, for them, even his own Son. The Scripture speaks of this in a very high strain, John iii. 16. • God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” &c. There was a man-love in God, Tit. iii. 4. " But the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared;" a love of the kind, mankind. It has appeared in two eminent instances. (1.) In securing, by an irreversable decree, the salvation of some of them. (2.) In providing a Saviour for the whole of the kind, constituting his own Son Saviour to the lost family of Adam indefinitely. Believe it with application to yourselves. If upon this a secret murmur begins to go through your heart, But it was not for me; crush it in the bud, for it is a bud of hell. If you are not one of the devil-kind, but of sinful mankind, it was for you. The Father gave Christ a Saviour for you, that if you would believe on him, you should not perish : he sent his Son from leaven with full instructions and ample powers to save you, if you will believe. And is not this love ? Believe it, and it will be the way to let you in to a sight of more love.
2. Behold here a broad and firm foundation of faith for all and every one of you; that you may come to Christ, whatever your case is, and claim his righteousness and his whole salvation for yourselves; that you may betake yourselves to him as the refuge appointed for you by the Father, from sin and wrath, with as much freedom as a stung Israelite might have looked to the brazen serpent; that you may wholly trust on him, that he will save you from sin and wrath. For he was sent of the Father aviour of the world; and if by the Father's appointment he is Saviour of the world, he is by office your Saviour, and my Saviour, since we are members of that world of mankind : so that we may by faith claim his saving us from sin and wrath ; as a scholar bred in a place