« ForrigeFortsæt »
tually put away as though the fountain the hardest thing we may believe, had been opened, in which the vilest which his humiliation involved, was, may wash and be clean.
that members of this church, being Now we are not to strive and yet sinners, took share in the fierce calculate for the data of such cal- mocking which was poured upon his culation lie wholly out of reach- mission. the precise instant at which it was Without, however, insisting further needful that the Deity should take on the word, which has called forth possession of humanity; neither are these remarks, we may certainly conwe in any sense competent to de. tend, that Christ's sufferings were cide how much of the mechanism of vastly aggravated by the sinfulness of redemption might have been put into those amongst whom he was action before the mediatorial work strained to tabernacle. The two great was literally effected. We know only principles which possessed the soul that although in the strictness of truth of the Mediator were, love to the our race could not have been reconciled Father, and love to mankind; and I unto God until, by obeying in human call upon you to observe, how each nature, and suffering in human nature, of these was made the vehicle of the second Adam had repaired the anguish through the fact, " that whilst breaches made by the first, still that we were yet sinners' Christ wrought faith in the promises caused its pos- out our deliverance.
He possessed sessors to be dealt with as reconciled infinite perceptions of the nature of creatures, and annihilated, so to speak, sin, and understood, therefore, after intervening centuries, and brought a manner which we can but faintly man into an immediate juxta position appreciate, how transgression extendwith all the business and all the ap- ed itself upwards in dishonouring paratus of expiation. Why, therefore, the Creator, and downwards in demay we not suppose that the same stroying the creature. He thus say system might have been still further iniquity under its opposite ramificacarried on, and that God by the ex- cations. He saw it without any of the tension of his revelation over the pro- disguise or varnish which it draws vinces of the earth might have con- from human passion, or human sotinued to gather in his elect, deferring phistry; and he discerned by a vision, the actual period of humiliation and over which there passed nothing of agony until a clear space had been earthly mist, that the least acting of swept for the prodigious exhibition, impurity struck so vehemently against and the Mediator might at least have the bosses of the Almighty's attributes, been spared that bitterest of all pangs, that it rebounded in vengeance, which the being rejected by those who had must eternally crush the transgressor. been given him by the Father? If Now to this capacity of estimating there be any force in the expression, sin, add, first of all, the love which be “ Christ died whilst we were yet sin- bore to the Father, and you will, in some ners," it must, I think, be implied, degree, understand the vastness of the that he might have died for us when endurance, when he found himself enwe were not sinners; and although compassed by the hosts of the ungodly. we know that he died for all men, so It would have accorded well with the that there hath never moved upon the longings of his heart, that he should earth the being possessing no interest succeed in bringing back the earth into in the Mediator's sufferings, still he an orbit of righteous obedience, and died specially for his church; and that, by the blood which he should shed, and the glad tidings which he which shall delineate what is most should proclaim, the scene might be exquisitely tender, and most heroically changed into one whence the Almighty disinterested, and most unblenchingly might draw his full revenue of honour. resolute, the simple exhibition of But when, from the contradiction of Christ Jesus appearing as the surety sinners against himself, it became pal- of mankind remains ever the overpable, that in the stead of restoring whelming and immeasurable prodigy, the earth to the position from which and language hath done its utmost in transgression had hurled her, he must making the announcement, “the good still leave her territories to be tenanted Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." by generations, who would do despite I have already suggested that the to his heavenly Father-oh, we do not just view of redemption is that which say that the Mediator wept scalding surveys the whole race of mankind, and bitter tears over the deep dis- without the exception of one lonely inhonour that would be offered to God dividual, as ransomed or purchased by -the glory of the Maker is too sublime the blood of the atonement. When a thing, and too secure a thing to stand we look out upon the whole world as in need of human contributions, or, redeemed, though we know that only when these are withheld, to claim forits a part of that world shall be finally loss the sympathies of holy beings~ saved, we obtain something of an enbut, if the Mediator wept not when he larged notion of the expatiations of the perceived how sin would continue to love of Christ-we behold him yearnthrow contempt on the Almighty, the ing, with an unspeakable compassion, pulse of a righteous indignation must over each member of the human have beat high within him; and in- family, and possessed of such an afasmuch as God was to him the object | fection for all whom he had made bone of supreme love, the centre of burning of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, that affections, the goal of the spirit's soar- he was just as ready to lay down his ings, assuredly the spectacle of the life for the solitary unit, as for the shrivelled things of mortality leaguing enormous combination. themselves to insult, and grieve, and Now carry on this view of the love provoke the being with whom he de- of the Redeemer, and connect it with lighted hourly to commune, this must the fact of the utter sinfulness of the inexpressibly have pierced and face- creatures by whom he was surrounded. rated his soul; and the very climax of He could not, as I have just intiwoe will be found in the description, mated to you, be met by a single child that “ whilst we were yet sinners” of our rebellious seed, on whose beChrist appeared as our surety.
half he was not prepared to offer up But if his love to the Father was the precious sacrifice of himself. And vast, so also was his love to mankind; when he beheld the beings, for every and here again his apprehensions of one of whom he was content to endure sin come into the account, and swell ignominy and death, pursuing obstithe endurance of having been con- nately the courses of unrighteousness, strained “to dwell in Mesech, and to throwing from them the proffered boon have his habitation among the tents of of deliverance, and drawing down Kedar.” It would be idle to enlarge upon themselves the tremendous curse on the greatness of that benevolence which he well knew must follow trangwhich had prompted the Mediator to gression, oh, it is not too much to undertake our rescue. When crea
affirm that he must have felt contion has been ransacked for imagery tinually the sickness and sadness of a wearied spirit, and the infidelity of fore us a field of agony, in which are mankind must have entered like a set up none of the material emblems poisoned arrow into his pure and af- of his excruciating passion, but which fectionate heart, and lacerating and is occupied in its length, and in its cauterizing wherever it touched, have breadth, by tokens of that mental conmade an inlet for sorrow where there fict which doth most surely dislocate never could be found admission for the energies, and putting out of joint the sin. Yea, it must have been the very very faculty of endurance, casts man extremity of anguish, that the sight down to the earth, and leaves him to with which he was compelled to be be trampled on as a worm. most familiar, was that of beings whom We attempt not to examine too he loved, whom he longed to clasp in nicely into the awful matter of the affection, in amity, in brotherhood, Mediator's sufferings, suffice it, with lighting funeral piles for their own respect to the baptism through which souls, and spurning him from them he passed, that there is not one when he entreated that, with his own amongst us who added not something life's blood, he might quench the Go- to the fiery dew and the swelling morrah-like conflagration. And for surges—not one who was ought else asmuch as this spectacle was forced but a direct contributor to that weight upon him by his having undertaken to of sorrow which seemed for a time to die for us while we were yet sinners, confound him and to crush him. “GOD then we argue from Christ's love of calleth those things which are not, as man, just as we before argued from though they were ;” and we had all, his love of God, that his sufferings though yet unborn, passed before Him must have been vastly aggravated by in our degradation and in our pollution the sinfulness of those amongst whom -"we were yet sinners"—and He took they were endured.
our transgressions just as well as those It is from incidental notices of this of the myriads then living upon the kind scattered up and down the Scrip- earth, and cast them into the rushing tures, that we obtain the keenest ap- deluge, and then it rolled on, an in. prehensions of the Saviour's agonies. mensity of wrath, and the innocent If a human artist study to set forth the surety bowed down and trembled, and sufferings of the Redeemer, then he has sank beneath the impetuous torrent. immediate recourse to the outward pa. And ye cannot put aside the strictness raphernalia of woe-he must introduce of the proof, that if Christ's sufferings the scourge, and the buffetings, and the were bitterly aggravated by the sincrown of thorns, and the cross-and it fulness of those among whom they is just by the accumulation of the appa- were endured, then it follows that ratus (if I may so call it) of bodily tor- “God commendeth his love towards ture, that he will work up his picture of us, in that, while we were yet sinners, the “Ecce homo." Yet there is more in Christ died for us." The proof is most the simple expression that Christ died for accurate and most logical—our being us “ whilst we were yet sinners,” than yet sinners, heightened, to an incon. in all that the crayon ever produced, ceivable degree the Mediator's trials when the genius of a Raphael guided -nevertheless love could not be dauntits strokes. We look in, if I dare use the ed by woe even in this its most coexpression, at the soul of the Redeemer lossal stature—and advancing in the -we are admitted as spectators of the very front of the mighty trouble, besolemn and tremendous workings of came certainly commended or displayed his spirit, and there is mapped out be. with a vigour and a vividness to which
FROM CONSIDERING HOW COMPLETELY
IRRESPECTIVE OF ALL CLAIM ON THE
PART OF THOSE FOR WHOM THEY WERE
creation had heretofore been a stranger. dictates of the amplest charity, and
any arrangement which would have PROPOSES TO DERIVE THE SAME TRUTH been equally likely to advance their
well-being. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST were And if this reasoning be sound rea
soning, then it necessarily follows that
every tongue must have been silent, ENDURED. Now in the commencement had God abandoned mankind to the of his dealings with our race, God had issues of apostacy; and had he left this proceeded according to the measures planet, blighted and blackened by the of the strictest benevolence. He had
curse, to walk among the stars, a moappointed that Adam should stand as nument of his wrath against transa fæderal head or representative of all gression. We are born, indeed, under men; had Adam obeyed, all men condemnation, and for a rebellion in would have obeyed in him—just as which we took no actual share, we are when Adam disobeyed, all men dis- the outcast and the alien; but if it be obeyed in him. And this arrangement true that the dispensation of which we affirm to have been dictated by the these are the consequences was the most consummate loving-kindness, in- produce of infinite benevolence, that it asmuch as there was an infinitely was a dispensation whose excellence greater probability that Adam, with
even reason herself is constrained to the fate of millions in his keeping, admit, then where is the claim which would have watched with a most dili- can be urged for mercy? and how gent circumspection against the as- would the loving-kindness of Deity saults of temptation, than that any have been, in the smallest degree, comindividual of his descendants, left to promised, had he never interposed beobey for himself and to disobey for tween man and ruin, and had this himself, should have preserved, un- earth never been made a stage which tarnished, the raiment of his fidelity. drew on it the regards of the whole
I would press this consideration intelligent creation, whilst the high upon you, for it is one of paramount transactions went forwards of the importance. We were not in the
suretyship of our Immanuel ? strictest sense parties to the transac- No, brethren, there is nothing but tion which gave into the hands of the insolence of impiety which can Adam the destinies of his posterity ; | dare to arraign either the justice or the it is undeniable that we did not our. goodness of the appointment which selves elect Adam to act as our re- involved posterity in the disobedience presentative—but I hold it to be, at of their earliest ancestor—and if this the least, equally undeniable, that if appointment cannot be arraigned, then we had had the power of electing we it must be idle to speak of any claims should have elected Adam, and that which the fallen have upon the Creathere would have been a wisdom in tor ; and whatsoever is done on their such procedure, which is vainly looked behalf must be in the largest sense for in any other. I hold that reason, gratuitous, and whatsoever is underwarped though she now be, and weak- taken for their rescue must be sublime. ened, finds herself, nevertheless, com- ly independent on titles or demands. pelled to pronounce as her verdict, that If it could be shown that love stamped in appointing mankind to stand or fall not its impress on the arrangement in Adam, God dealt with them by the which constituted Adam the representative of mankird, why, then, (with | heighth in it, and a breadth in it, which reverence be it spoken) the creature, we cannot measure—if we would scale who inherited a birth-right of wretch-it, “the path is one which no fowl edness, might have pleaded for deli- knoweth, and which the vulture's eye verance with some semblance, at the hath not seen"-if we would pierce it least, of equity. But if the arrange. we must enter into the springs of ment were one, as we maintain it was, the sea, and walk in the search of the which love had charactered with her depth"—if we would scrutinize its most brilliant lineaments, into which boundaries, lo, “the cloud is its gar. (if it be lawful thus to speak) the love ment, and thick darkness its swadlingwhich prompted the creation of man band”—we were unworthy; the least gathered and condensed its beauty, mercy, we had no claim to it—the miand its majesty, and its fulness, and nutest benefit, we had no right to itits tenderness, then we lay it down as but God commended his love towards an unasailable proposition that the us; and wonder, O heavens, and be compassions of the Mo High to astonished, 0 earth, whilst we were yet wards our race might have closed them- sinners, whilst the loathsomeness of selves up as within a wall of brass, and disease was upon us, whilst the leprosy they might never have sent forth a was in our veins, and the treason-cup lonely throb of sensibility over our sin- in our hands—whilst we were yet sin. burdened provinces, and, nevertheless, ners Christ died for us, the just for the inscription, God is love" would the unjust; and “God made him to be have been graven upon our archives, sin for us, who knew no sin, that we and the lying tongue of blasphemy might be made the righteousness of alone would have dared to throw doubt God in Him." on its accuracy. But the love of God Now, I think, brethren, that if you -oh, it was a love which could not be gather together the several portions of content with having just done enough, our argument, you will find St. Paul's with having vindicated itself, and thus assertion in the textcompletely exemplitaken away all justice from murmur- fied. I have contended, in the first ings—it was a love which must com- place, that the sufferings of the Re. mend itself-a love which must tri- deemer were vastly aggravated by the umph over every thing which could circumstance, that it was amongst quench love-a love which must bring those that were yet sinners, these sufdown its possessor to the level of its ferings were endured. In the second object, and give him to taste the bit- place, I have shewn you, that since terness of human allotments, and to the interposition was on hehalf of drain out the dregs of mortal wretch- sinners, the sufferings undergone were edness and where, then, is a truth irrespective of all claim on the part of more unquestionable than that “God | those for whom they were sustained. commendeth his love towards us, in We learn from the first argument how that, while we were yet sinners, Christ intense were the sufferings to which died for us.”
love submitted ; and from the second, We were sinners, but, neverthe- how absolutely voluntary were those less, God loved us, loved us in our de- sufferings; and if the fact of Christ's gradation, loved us in our ruin, just having died for us while we were yet as he had loved man when bright sinners hath conducted to these several with the freshness of early innocence. conclusions, it follows with a kind of We were unworthy-oh, there was a mathematical precision, “that God depth in our unworthiness, and commendeth his love towards us, in