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19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

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19. God was in Christ. Some take this as meaning simply — God reconciled the world to himself in Christ; but the meaning is fuller and more comprehensivefirst, that God was in Christ; and, secondly, that he reconciled the world to himself by his intercession. It is also of the Father that this is affirmed; for it were an improper expression, were you to understand it as meaning, that the divine nature of Christ was in him. 554554     “Car ce seroit improprement, de dire que la nature Diuine de Christ estoit en Christ;” — “For it were to speak improperly, to say that the Divine nature of Christ was in Christ.” The Father, therefore, was in the Son, in accordance with that statement —

I am in the Father, and the Father in me. (John 10:38.)

Therefore he that hath the Son, hath the Father also. For Paul has made use of this expression with this view — that we may learn to be satisfied with Christ alone, because in him we find also God the Father, as he truly communicates himself to us by him. Hence the expression is equivalent to this — “Whereas God had withdrawn to a distance from us, he has drawn near to us in Christ, and thus Christ has become to us the true Emmanuel, and his coming is God’s drawing near to men.”

The second part of the statement points out the office of Christ — his being our propitiation, (1 John 2:2,) because out of Him, God is displeased with us all, inasmuch as we have revolted from righteousness. 555555     “De iustice et obeissance;” — “From righteousness and obedience.” For what purpose, then, has God appeared to men in Christ? For the purpose of reconciliation — that, hostilities being removed, those who were aliens, might be adopted as sons. Now, although Christ’s coming as our Redeemer originated in the fountain of Divine love towards us, yet until men perceive that God has been propitiated by the Mediator, there must of necessity be a variance remaining, with respect to them, which shuts them out from access to God. On this point we shall speak more fully ere long.

Not imputing to them. Mark, in what way men return into favor with God — when they are regarded as righteous, by obtaining the remission of their sins. For so long as God imputes to us our sins, He must of necessity regard us with abhorrence; for he cannot be friendly or propitious to sinners. But this statement may seem to be at variance with what is said elsewhere — that, we were loved by Him before the creation of the world, (Ephesians 1:4,) and still more with what he says, (John 3:16,) that the love, which he exercised towards us was the reason, why He expiated our sins by Christ, for the cause always goes before its effect. I answer, that we were loved before the creation of the world, but it was only in Christ In the mean time, however, I confess, that the love of God was first in point of time, and of order, too, as to God, but with respect to us, the commencement of his love has its foundation in the sacrifice of Christ. For when we contemplate God without a Mediator, we cannot conceive of Him otherwise than as angry with us: a Mediator interposed between us, makes us feel, that He is pacified towards us. As, however, this also is necessary to be known by us — that Christ came forth to us from the fountain of God’s free mercy, the Scripture explicitly teaches both — that the anger of the Father has been appeased by the sacrifice of the Son, and that the Son has been offered up for the expiation of the sins of men on this ground — because God, exercising compassion towards them, receives them, on the ground of such a pledge, into favor. 556556     “C’est d’ autant que Dieu ayant compassion d’eux, a voulu que ceste mort fust le gage et le moyen par lequel il les receuroit en grace;” — “It is, because God, having compassion upon them, determined that this death should be the pledge and means, by which he would receive them into favor.”

The whole may be summed up thus: “Where sin is, there the anger of God is, and therefore God is not propitious to us without, or before, his blotting out our sins, by not imputing them. As our consciences cannot apprehend this benefit, 557557     “Et en estre participantes;” — “And be partakers of it.” otherwise than through the intervention of Christ’s sacrifice, it is not without good reason, that Paul makes that the commencement and cause of reconciliation, with regard to us.

And hath committed to us. Again he repeats, that a commission has been given to the ministers of the gospel to communicate to us this grace. For it might be objected, “Where is Christ now, the peacemaker between God and us? At what a distance he resides from us!” He says, therefore, that as he has once suffered, 558558     “Comme il a souffert la mort vne fois;” — “As he has suffered death once.” (1 Peter 3:18,) so he daily presents to us the fruit of his suffering through means of the Gospel, which he designed, should be in the world, 559559     “Lequel il a voulu estre gardé et publié au monde;” — “Which he designed, should be maintained and published in the world.” as a sure and authentic register of the reconciliation, that has once been effected. It is the part of ministers, therefore, to apply to us, so to speak, the fruit of Christ’s death.

Lest, however, any one should dream of a magical application, such as Papists contrive, 560560     See Calvin on John, vol. 2, p. 272. — Ed we must carefully observe what he immediately subjoins — that it consists wholly in the preaching of the Gospel. For the Pope, along with his priests, makes use of this pretext for giving a color of warrant for the whole of that wicked and execrable system of merchandise, which they carry on, in connection with the salvation of souls. “The Lord,” say they, “has furnished us with a commission and authority to forgive sins.” This I acknowledge, provided they discharge that embassy, of which Paul here makes mention. The absolution, however, which they make use of in the Papacy, is entirely magical; and besides, they inclose pardon of sins in lead and parchment, or they connect it with fictitious and frivolous superstitions. What resemblance do all these things bear to the appointment of Christ? Hence the ministers of the Gospel restore us to the favor of God in a right and orderly manner, when they bear testimony to us by means of the Gospel as to the favor of God having been procured for us. Let this testimony be removed, and nothing remains but mere imposture. Beware, then, of placing even the smallest drop of your confidence on any thing apart from the Gospel.

I do not, indeed, deny, that the grace of Christ is applied to us in the sacraments, and that our reconciliation with God is then confirmed in our consciences; but, as the testimony of the Gospel is engraven upon the sacraments, they are not to be judged of separately by themselves, but must be taken in connection with the Gospel, of which they are appendages. In fine, the ministers of the Church are ambassadors, for testifying and proclaiming the benefit of reconciliation, only on this condition — that they speak from the Gospel, as from an authentic register.




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