Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

soever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.' In fact

every

created being owes to his creator all the obedience and service, of which his nature is capable ; and therefore to transfer the guilt of a sinful creature to one, who is sinless, is a deviation from exact and impartial dealing, which cannot fitly be ascribed to the holy governor of the universe. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?

It is necessary therefore to bring forward another truth, in order to display the equity as well as mercy of this procedure. He, on whom the iniquity of all mankind' was laid, was himself not a mere man. He was God and man, or, as saint Paul describes him with marvellous propriety, God, manifest in the flesh. Saint John accordingly begins his gospel with that solemn announcement, that in the beginning was the word, or son of God, and the word was with God, and the word was God; and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

This consideration alters the whole character of the proceeding. The son of God, who was

in no respect subject to the law, which was enacted for our guidance, chose of his own free bounty to become subject to it, that he might redeem us from its curse: and the eternal father himself consented to give him up, that he might accomplish a redemption, to which none, but himself, was equal. The honour of the law required in the first place a perfect obedience to its enactments; and in the second place, having been broken, it required an entire submission to its penalty : and to both these demands the saviour consented. Thus did he, according to his prediction in the twenty-first verse of the forty-second chapter of Isaiah, magnify the law, and make it honorable. He chose to do all, that it became us to do, before we had fallen, and to suffer all, that it became us to suffer, after we had fallen, and thus in both respects, though in no way bound by it, to exhibit a perfect and living example of what the law of God requires from his creatures. Hence, though the lord did indeed lay upon the guiltless the iniquity of the guilty, he did not substitute one creature for another, denying to the innocent that grace, which he conferred upon the wicked. The victim, on whom the sentence of his displeasure fell, was his own son, the partner of his nature and deity, who first assumed by his own spontaneous act our nature, in order that he might bear the burden, to which we had been proved unequal. When he had in that nature done and suffered all, that the law of God exacted from it, the justice of God no longer compelled him to exact it from us also; and a way was made for the exercise of that mercy, which could not have been displayed, if justice must be violated, to give scope to it.

It is this union of different natures in one person, this display of opposite perfections in one act, that invests the atonement of Christ with its peculiar glory. The holiness of God is vindicated by the same interposition, which screened the offender from punishment; and the eternal father records the awful severity of his justice in the very transaction, which proclaims to the universe, that his name is Love. When it is seen, that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son for

its redemption, his mercy is displayed in the most conspicuous and affecting light. But mere mercy is a quality, which, as a righteous governor, he does not choose to exercise : and, when we find, that, rather than let sin go unpunished by a mere act of sovereign pardon, he permitted his own beloved son, in whom he is always well pleased, to undergo its penalty, the punishment of a whole world of transgressors could not so signally manifest his hatred of sin as that one example and specimen of its just and inevitable consequence.

In that scene of united wrath and love, Mercy and Truth were met together; Righteousness and Peace kissed each other : and yet, though these conflicting attributes were thus reconciled, mercy still shines forth, as the prevailing virtue; for Mercy rejoiceth against Judgment.

We have come, therefore, (I trust) my brethren, to these conclusions. God created man upright. That state of entire conformity to his will was the original righteousness and perfection of our nature. But, when Adam once disobeyed his maker, that act of dis

obedience was the original sin of our nature. Since that first sin, there has not been a just man upon earth, who doeth good, and sinneth not. To this remark one exception, and one only, has occurred. Jesus Christ alone among the sons of men has obeyed the law of God in all its extent and purity. But Jesus Christ was not only the son of man, but of God; and he assumed our nature, in order that he might fulfil the law, which we had broken, and submit to the punishment, which we had incurred. When he had done this, the justice of God declared itself to be fully satisfied by raising him from the dead, and exalting him to the right hand of the father, who, having laid on him the iniquity of us all, is thenceforward free to receive us back into favour, and willing to shew mercy to those, whom sin had exposed to his just and holy indignation.

How then may we avail ourselves of this amnesty ? How may we become partakers of this great salvation ? This is the next question, which comes before us.

« AnteriorContinuar »