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The work of Redemption marvellous, but divine.
MATTHEW xxi. 48.
This is the Lord's doing, and it is mardellous in our cyes.
1 HE work here pronounced marvellous in the eyes of men, is the redemption of our fallen race by the Son of God, sent down from heaven, appearing in human flesh, dying on the cross, exalt. ed afterward to glory, and exalting believers with him. :
This work, faintly exhibited in prophecy, was a subject of admiration ; displayed in the actual execution, it was a subject of higher admiration ; but its final result in the salvation of believers, will raise to greater height, and spread to wider extent, the admiration of God's manifold wisdom and unsearchable grace. .
However the Redeemer may be despised and re. jected now, the day is coming, when he will be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them who believe. The stone, which has been set at nought by the builders, is made, and will appear to have been made, the head of the corner. God has laid in Sion a chief corner stone, chosen and precious; and he who buildeth thereon shall not be confounded. But to many it is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence. "They who fall on this stone shall be broken ; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
The Apostle observes, that the doctrine of Christ crucified for the sins of men, to some is fool. ishness; but to others it appears to be the power and the wisdom of God.
The scheme of salvation opened in the gospel, all who contemplate it, must acknowledge to be wonderful. And some have thought the wonder too great to be believed. “ Mankind,” they say, “ are an inconsiderable race of beings probably the lowest in the rational scale. God is perfectly happy and glorious in himself, and cannot be made more or less so by the conduct or the condition of his. creatures. Can it then be thought, that he would take all that concern for men which the gospel represents him to have done ; that he would so pity them in their guilt, as to send a Divine Redeemer, in a human form too, yea, in the lowest condition of men would subject him to an infamous death, number him with transgressors, and appoint him a grave with the wicked-would af terward raise him to heaven in this same human body, and there place him at the head of his kingdom to manage the affairs of it for the benefit of believers? Is there in man any dignity or importance which deserves such a singular interposition ?-Are not the means out of proportion to the end ?Can we see any thing in the whole economy of Providence at all resembling this ?!,
Thus the mercy, which appears in the gospel, and which surely ought to recommend it to guilty creatures, has been urged as an objection against the truth of it.
The examination of this matter will lead us to some profitable meditations, and prepare the way for some serious reflections. • 1. The wonderfulness of the scheme of redemp. tion, exhibited in the gospel, is a presumptive evi. dence of its divinity.
The farther it lies beyond the reach of human invention, the more reason is there to believe that it came from God. If it is quite a singular plan, and there is nothing in the whole system of nature that bears a resemblance to it, then there is nathing that could suggest it to the wit of men, or give a hint from which to frame it in the imagination ; consequently it must be wholly the contrivance of divine wisdom, and the discovery of divine revela. tion.
That men are guilty and impotent, is obvious to experience. This has ever been their acknowledge ment and complaint. To inform them of this un. happy state, they have not needed revelation. How they may be recovered, is a natural inquiry, But; Could it, without any intimation, have entered into the heart of man, to imagine such a scheme as the gospel lays before us ?-If any had been disposed to frame a scheme for the amusement, or deception of their fellow creatures, Could they possi. bly have conceived so great, so singular a scheme as the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Son of God ? Man is indeed an inventive crea. ture; but his invention appears, rather in improv, ing on suggestions already made, than in originating things entirely new. The greatest discoveries, which have been made in arts, and sciences, are the fruits of some fortunate accident, from which a hint was first taken, and afterward, ripened by experiment. But as there could be nothing in nature to suggest the idea of the death of the Son of God for the sins of men, so it is absurd to suppose it a human invention. It can rationally be ascribed on. ly to the wisdom of God.
2. Though, in the works of nature, we see nothing similar to the redemption of man, yet we see great preparation made for him, and great good. ness exercised toward him ; and hence we may conclude, that he is an object of God's special care.
The provision made for our present accommodation, might as well be said to be disproportioned to the end, as that which is made for our future happi. ness; for there is at least as much difference in the ends, as there is in the means.
If we consider man in relation to the present life, What is he? He is born, grows up, eats and drinks, labours and sleeps, provides him a successor, and soon retires to be seen on earth no more. Yet behold what God has done for him. Here is a spacious world for his habitation; numerous tribes of animals subjected to his dominion; a mighty sun kindled up in the heavens to enlighten and warm him ; a vast firmament stretched over his head, and thousands of luminaries scattered through it for his comfort and convenience ; the clouds deposite their treasures, and the sun emits its beams to fructify the earth for his support. Is it not strange that such mighty preparation should be made for so inconsiderable and transient a creature as man ? Strange it would seem indeed, if his existence ended with his life. But we see, that all this is done for him. Other purposes may probably be answered by these works ; but the good of man is one purpose which they evidently answer, and one pur. pose for which they were certainly designed. When I consider thy heavens, says the Psalmist, the work of thy fingers ; the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained ; What is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou
visitest him ? For thou hast made him little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour ; thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ; thou hast put all things under his feet, the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
This vast preparation for so small and unworthy a creature, the Psalmist considers, not as an objec. tion against the wisdom of Providence, but as an evidence of its boundless goodness.
Now if God has done all this to accommodate man, during the present short term of his existence, Is it incredible that he should do much more for his happiness in the future, eternal state of existence ? Is the work of redemption more disproportioned to man's importance, as an immortal creature, than the works of providence seem to be, when we consider him only as a mortal creature ? The works both of providence and of grace, are marvellous. When we trace them, we meet wonders, which astonish us. But let us remember, they are the works of God. While we admire the works, let us adore the author and rejoice in his wisdom and goodness.
3. Though man considered in relation to this world, may seem but a contemptible creature, yet, considered in relation to another world, he is a creature of vast importance.
Let us contemplate him in this light, and surely it will not appear strange, that a God of infinite wis. dom and benevolence should do great things for his redemption.
Here is a creature formed by God's own hand, inspired with his breath, and endued by him with an intellectual mind. This mind, made for immor. tality, is capable of continual improvement through all the ages of eternity. Though this creature is