Imágenes de páginas

In the next place, the sacrifice of Himself made by Christ effected a manifestation of the glory of the divine perfections which is secured by no other means. The sublime frame of the heavens, the wonderful fabric of the earth, the exquisite structure of our bodily organisms, and the still nobler constitution of our minds proclaim the power, the wisdom, the greatness, and the majesty of their Almighty Maker. The scheme of law illustrates His justice, His truth, and His holiness. The grand system of providence does all this— it imparts the lessons which physical nature and the moral law communicate in regard to the divine perfections, and it adds to them some intimations of the goodness and mercy of the Supreme Ruler. There is, for example, in some of its arrangements, a hint of the great principle of mediation as an element in the moral government of God; and, in the suspension of the execution of judgment upon transgressors, and the bestowal of natural blessings upon the wicked and illdeserving, it appears to reveal something of grace and mercy. These facts must be admitted, for they are open to observation. And yet, I confess, there is to my mind a doubt whether these hints of a mediatorial principle, and these indications of the merciful disposition of God towards sinners, would have any existence at all, were not the system of providence affected by the arrangements of the scheme of grace, and all the divine acts towards our guilty race influenced by a reference to the mediation of Christ. If so, it is not natural providence, as such, that discloses the mercy of God towards sinners, but those elements of the scheme of redemption which are either actually incorporated into it, or exercise a modifying influence upon it. But, be this as it may, the cross of Christ more powerfully than

the systems of nature, law and providence proclaims the divine perfections which it is their undoubted office to reveal, and it does infinitely more,-it manifests those attributes which contemplate the pardon of the guilty and the eternal salvation of the lost.

The vicarious death of the Son of God, as a being of infinite dignity, in the room of the sinner, sheds conspicuous and peculiar lustre upon the government of God, abundantly satisfies the demands and magnifies the authority of the divine law, reconciles the indestructible principle of the inseparable connection between guilt and punishment with the pardon of the transgressor, and harmonizes the apparently conflicting claims of infinite mercy and infinite truth, of infinite justice and infinite grace. "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other," at the cross of Jesus Christ. And meeting the guilty and despairing sinner at that cross, the great God shows him His glory, reveals His glorious name, and proclaims Himself "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin," though He "will by no means clear the guilty."

Were it not for the death of Jesus we could never, as sinners, have experimentally known anything of the love, the mercy and the grace of God, as they are eternal and glorious perfections of His nature, or as they are the sources of hope and salvation to ourselves. The highest manifestation of the perfections of God as contributing to the glory of His name, and the saving knowledge of them by ruined sinners as necessary to their everlasting felicity, is among the rich and glorious fruits which Jesus secured by the sacrifice of Himself.

Another result acquired by the death of Christ was the reconciliation of heaven and earth. The inhabitants of this world, as rebels against the divine government, were necessarily cut off by their revolt from the ́sympathy and fellowship of angels. The act which severed their connection with their God sundered the bonds which allied them to the angelic world. As long as they continued in a common service to Him, angels and men might take sweet counsel together, and mingle their worship in the same sanctuary as brethren and friends. The inexcusable rebellion of men alienated the regard of those unfallen and loyal spirits, and opened a chasm which forbade the interchange of kindly offices and the culture of a fraternal communion. The death of Jesus breaks down the middle wall of partition between them; His blood reconciles them again; and, on the mystical ladder of His mediation which rests on earth and reaches to heaven, angels come down once more in ministrations of love to men. Heaven reaches down its hands to earth, and earth is raised to heaven. The incarnate substitute of sinners, and in some sort representative of the elect angels, gathers them into the same glorious church and recapitulates them under the same mediatorial headship. Equally indebted to Jesus for the grace which enables them to stand, and secures their happiness against future contingency, and forgetting their past estrangement in the common love they bear to Him, they shall sit together in affectionate intercourse around His glorified person, and blend in sweet accord their everlasting praises to His name.


'According to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ," says Paul sublimely in Ephesians, God "raised Him from the dead, and set

Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." And speaking in the same exalted strain in Colossians he says, "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." These inspired utterances have a profound significance and a majestic sweep. They indicate the fact that the merits of Christ's atoning death are not confined in their effect to the salvation of human sinners, but reach upwards through the scale of unfallen creatures, and broaden out in their conservative and confirming influence upon the universe of sinless being. It is certain that they extend to angels. And if, as a great theologian thinks, by angels the Scriptures signify all non-human ranks and orders of intelligent spirits, it would appear that the cross of Jesus is stamped upon every unrevolted world in the universal system. The case of devils and lost human beings may be singular, their prison-house the only jail in the universe, and the innumerable populations of loyal subjects of God's illimitable government be secured in holiness and bliss by the merit of Jesus' death.

Inconceivably great as this result may be considered, it is not too great to have been achieved by the blood that was shed on Calvary. The obedience to the divine law, which culminated in the pouring out of that pre

cious blood, was absolutely exhaustive, and capable of comprehending in its merit every interest of every world. The immutable foundation of creaturely happiness will not rest upon creaturely virtue, but upon the righteousness of Christ. What a glorious fruit of the sacrifice of Jesus! What a wonderful harvest springing from the corn of wheat which fell into the ground on Calvary! It will shake, not alone like Lebanon tossed by mountain storms; it will shake like the congregation of rolling worlds swept by the tempests of universal and unending praise. “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever."

It must be added, in conclusion, that the sacrifice of Himself by the great Redeemer secures the eternal salvation of millions of our race. His death was necessary to the attainment of this result. Without it the race must have sunk into despair and perished in their sins. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and. unrighteousness of men; and as all are ungodly and unrighteous, all are subjected to wrath and liable to perish. Guilt is linked to punishment by the inexorable requirements of infinite justice and truth, and the irreversible penalty of an

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »