Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that the proper penalty of sin is death, and thus became an act of homage to the purity of the law and to the authority of God the lawgiver. On precisely the same principle, the sacrifice of the incarnate Son of God, was a public recognition of the most elevated and glorious kind, that sin is unalterably offensive in the sight of God. Nor is it possible to conceive an event by which this truth could have been so clearly manifested, or so efficaciously impressed on his rational creation.

At the same time it was an infinitely exalted example, and therefore proof, of the unmerited love and mercy of God towards a sinful world—an act of grace, which places the whole of our fallen race under unutterable obligations to our redeeming God and Saviour.

Now I conceive that this matchless display of holiness and love in indissoluble union, fully accords with our most lightened notions of the divine attributes ; that it agrees with all that we here know of the justice of God on the one hand, and of his mercy on the other; that in the highest sense of the term, it is reasonable ; and that as such, it must for ever claim the admiration, and call forth the praises, of God's intelligent creation.

en

SECTION V.

ON THE FITNESS OF THE SCHEME OF REDEMPTION.

When we speak of the fitness of the scheme of redemption, that is, of its suitability to its proposed ends, we must always recollect that the ultimate design of every dispensation of Providence, is the glory of God; and it is clearly the highest point in the character of regenerate men, that they are taught of the Spirit to co-operate in this design.

Such persons will be prepared to acknowledge that in that manifestation of holiness and love conjointly, which distinguishes the scheme of redemption, there is a direct and perfect fitness to the end of God's glory. For we cannot conceive a method by which He could be more certainly glorified, than by so peculiar and distinct a display of his attributes.

Nor can we doubt that this display is intended for the instruction, not merely of mankind, but of other orders of beings, endued with a rational and moral nature. Reason suggests this doctrine as highly probable; and Scripture declares that one intent of the Christian dispensation, was that “ now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” 3 On the same ground the

3 Εph. iii, 10. ή πολυποικιλος σοφία του Θεού.

of ex

doctrines of Christianity are described by the apostle Peter as “ things which the angels desire to look into" 4 – expressions which evidently convey the idea that the glory of these things does not lie merely on the surface--that there is a depth in them, not easily inspected or fathomed, into which even the angels delight to inquire.

But the glory of God is insured through the Christian dispensation, not merely by a display of his moral attributes to the universe, but by the actual effects produced, through this dispensation, in the good and happiness of his creatures. That these effects are great and numerous, far beyond our powers amination or conception, we may readily suppose ; and that such is the fact the apostle plainly indicates, when he speaks of God's good pleasure " which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one ALL THINGS in Christ, both which are IN HEAVEN, and which are ON EARTH, even in him.”

These remarks may serve to shew the extreme futility of the objections advanced against Christianity on the ground that our world is too insignificant a part of the creation to be the object of redemption through the incarnation and sacrifice of God's own Son. For although this globe was selected as the scene of the event, the purposes to which the dispensation is directed

4 1 Pet. i, 12. 5 Eph. i, 9, 10.

" 5

are probably co-extensive with the universe itself; and to all these

purposes it may be peculiarly and perfectly adapted.

Did we however suppose that the inhabitants of this world were the sole objects of this mysterious display of holiness and mercy, the word eternity would remove every

difficulty ; for what purpose can be conceived more worthy of God, and of the infinite resources of his love, than the salvation of myriads of beings, of whose existence, as of his own, there will be no end? The globe which we inhabit may indeed be but a point in God's universe, and its countless inhabitants almost nothing among the hosts of his intelligent creatures; but who that regards the analogy of nature, will object on that account to the scheme of Christianity? Does it not seem as if the complete power of deity were expended on an insect, a feather, or a leaf? And is there not in the smallest parts of the creation, as well as in the stupendous whole, a hidden infinite which no man can search?

It appears then that independently of all unknown purposes, extending, as they may well be supposed to do, far beyond the limits of our globe, the salvation of sinful man is in itself an end (subservient to God's glory) which fully justifies the grand peculiarities of the gospel. It remains for us therefore to shew that to this its professed end, the plan of redemption is exactly suited - that in it there is an adequate supply of all our spiritual

[merged small][ocr errors]

need--that in Christ all fulnessdwells for our restoration and salvation.

I. Man by nature is the child of ignorance. He may indeed put forth his powers of observation and reason, and obtain much knowledge on worldly and physical subjects ; but respecting divine and spiritual things, he is in utter darkness, surrounded by a shade too deep to be pierced by any beam of his own intelligence. It is true that God has endued him with a moral nature; and that in the midst of his ruin by the fall, he is visited with a ray of heavenly light independently of any outward revelation. There can be little doubt that this blessing, like all other spiritual good, is bestowed upon him through the medium of a crucified Redeemer.. But in considering the fitness of the scheme of redemption, we must look to its operation, where it is actually made known; for the outward revelation of truth clearly forms a part of the scheme itself. Now it is in revealed religion, and there only, that blind and erring man receives an illumination exactly proportioned to the depth and completeness of his ignorance.

There, he obtains sufficient information on the nature and attributes of God, on the demands of the law, and on his own character and condition, his moral responsibility, and future prospects. There, he is taught the lesson of the immortality of the soul, of the resurrection of the body, and of judgment to come. There, he is made acquainted with the

« ZurückWeiter »