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The great agent of our recovery was the eternal Son or God, who voluntarily became the representative of the whole sinning race, was incarnated, humbled to a low and despised condition, suffered in our stead intolerable torments, and died the universal sacrifice and atonement for the sins of men. So God " set his heart” upon man, that for our rescue he spared not his own Son.
Dear” as he was to him, he spared him not. “Dear” in his humanity, for it was unstained with the original taint of fallen human nature, and through life was sanctified to God in a course of perfect and cheerful obedience: “dear," for the generous manner in which that human nature consented, with the divine, to an obedience which was to extend to DEATH, even the death of the Cross:" "dear," as the temple of the divine nature, of the second Person of the Godhead, and that person infinitely dear, as "his own," "his proper Son," "the Son of his love:" yet he “spared” him not. “It” even “ pleased the Father to bruise him, and put him to grief." What words are these ! The love of God to man surmounted even that natural anxiety to preserve an object so beloved as his own Son, from ignominy, and grief, and deep and awful suffering; the innocent was given for the guilty, and the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him, that by his stripes we might be healed. “So God loved the world;" and so in that hour of darkness he set his love on man. “Herein,” says St. John, “is love.” Where shall we go for manifestations of the tenderness, the sympathy, the benignity of God? The philosopher of the world leads us to nature, its benevolent final causes, and kind contrivances to increase the sum of animal happiness; and there he stops,-with half his demonstration! But the Apostle leads us to the Gift bestowed by the Father for the sake of the recovery of man's intellectual and moral nature, and to the Cross endured by the Son, on this high behalf. Go to the heavens, which canopy man with grandeur, cheer his steps with successive light, and mark his festivals by their chronology; go to the atmosphere, which invigorates his spirits, and is to him
the breath of life; go to the smiling fields, decked with verdure for his eye, and covered with fruits for his sustenance; go to every scene which spreads beauty before his gaze, which is made harnioniously vocal to his ear, which fills and delights the imagination by its glow, or by its greatness; we travel with you, we admire with you, we feel and enjoy with you, we adore with you, but we stay not with you. We hasten onward in search of a demonstration more convincing, that “God is love :” and we rest not till we press into the strange, the mournful, the joyful scenes of Calvary, and amidst the throng of invisible and astonished angels, weeping disciples, and the mocking multitude, under the arch of the darkened heaven, and with earth trembling beneath our feet, we gaze upon the meek, the resigned, but fainting Sufferer, and exclaim, "HEREIN is love,"--HEREIN, and no where else is it so affectingly,
so unequivocally demonstrated, -"not that we loved God; but that God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
MARK THE RESULT.
The great consequence of the propitiatory death of Christ is, that God is so reconciled as to offer pardon and eternal life to all mankind. The whole race is taken into a new relation to God, a relation of mercy. “God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” The whole Trinity is employed in this work of grace,---in offering and dispensing mercy, and grace, and salvation; in illuminating, sealing, and sanctifying; in comforting, aiding, and counselling; and a most sweet and harmonious agreement exists between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to “set their heart” on man, to restore him to their blessed communion, and to fit bim for the eternal presence of their ineffable glory.
4. This being the new relation in which we stand to God, " through the death of his Son," let us finally, on this part of the subject, consider the means by which his gracious purpose of
magnifying man” by raising him out of his fallen condition, is pursued and effected.
(1.) He has with the kindest regard for our higher interests, attached emptiness to worldly good, and misery to vice.
This explains the suffering which is in the world. Who can solve the problem, that man not yet finally condemned, not yet placed in the state required by an exact and extreme justice, should yet be in a suffering condition. Not the "wise of this world." ' It has puzzled every sage in every age of time, and led to an endless variety of speculations, and corrupt superstitions. But our text solves it. Why is there emptiness in worldly good ? Because God would“ magnify" man, and raise him from low pursuits, he has made all on earth vain and unsubstantial. Because he “sets his heart” upon him, he would deliver him from vice, and has therefore made every evil passion, temper, and appetite, the source of bitterest misery. Had he been careless of our welfare, could “his heart” have consented to our ruin, he would have left us, like the brute, to be satisfied with our pleasure, nor would any complaining have been heard in the rich pasture. Had not the pain of sin been intended as a remedy, it would have been accompanied with utter despair or never have been felt: the sting would have lain inert and powerless under the pleasure, till another world should awaken it from its torpor, and envenom it with a poison for which there shall be no healing.
(2.) In pursuance of the same design of munificent goodness, it has pleased God to establish a constant connexion between our discipline and correction, between his providential dispensations and moral ends. Man is placed under rule, but the end proposed is the exercise of grace and mercy.
Are we prosperous? “The goodness of God leadeth to repent
Are we afflicted ? See the end, “ What is man that thou shouldst magnify him, that thou shouldst visit him every morning; and try him every moment !”
"Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, that he may keep back his soul from the pit."
(3.) For the same reason, and that he may show that he hath “set his heart” upon man, he hath opened his ears to our prayers, and invites them both by commands and promises : nor does ia prayer ascend from the heart of a human creature wbich he does not regard.
Does oppression wring from the labouring and overcharged heart of any of his creatures the agonizing appeal to heaven? “I have heard, I have heard,” is his response to Israel groaning under Egyptian taskmasters. Does it ascend from the widow and the orphan? “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widow, is God in his holy habitation."
Is prayer offered when men are pressed on every side with worldly calamities and dangers; how many striking instances of kind regard to prayer in such circumstances, are furnished to us in the 107th Psalm! See a company of travellers fainting amidst a boundless expanse of burning sand in an eastern desert; “Hungry and thirsty, their souls fainted within them; then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he heard them, and he delivered them out of their distresses, and he led them forth by a right way.” Behold a number of captives “sitting in darkness, being bound in affliction and iron :"--could language draw the colour of their lot more deeply? But they too
cry unto the Lord in their trouble," and when “they fell down, and there was none to help, he saved them out of their distresses; he brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder."
Behold the afflicted; "their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they draw near to the gates of death; then they cry unto the Lord, and he saveth them; he sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." See the affrighted mariners in a storm at sea; they
mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths, their soul is melted because of trouble: they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses, he maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still : then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Well may we say, at such instances of the divine regard to the voice of man, “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of
But his regard to the prayer of man, on whom he has " set his heart,” is not confined to deliverance from outward calamities, and the supply of worldly blessings. Let penitent man approach him,
laden as he may be with the guilt of his offences, conscious of his entire unworthiness, and the unworthiness of all his services, acknowledging his desert of punishment, but yet pleading the atonement of his Saviour, laying hold upon the horns of the altar of his Cross, smiting upon his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner." "Will he plead against him with his great power? No, but he will put strength in him.” “He will remember his covenant;-he will pass by and proclaim his name," the Lord merciful and gracious;" and the broken-hearted, humbled, and believing man, healed, and cheered, and comforted in his God, “shall go down to his house justified.” And with respect to the covenanted right of prayer, how large is the grant to believers, "All are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing let your requests be made known unto God.' “Whatsoever you ask in my name, the Father will do it for you.”-Such is another of those wondrous means, by which the redeeming purpose is carried into effect; God "sets his heart” on man to "magnify him," and in order to this he opens to him his throne of grace, he listens to the expression of all his wants, he gives him access to his own fulness of grace and glory, and “fulfils all his petitions.”
(4.) But to bring men to feel their own wants, and to influence them by the displays of his “ abundant mercy,” he sends forth his Gospel, accompanied with his quickening Spirit, thus to render it what in the mere letter it could not be, “the word of life," and the. “Gospel of salvation.” Thus God is ever speaking to man by his word, whether written or preached, according to his institution and appointment; and, next to the gift of his Son, can we have a greater proof that he hath " set his heart” upon us? It is not enough to satisfy his compassion, that the means, the apparatus of our salvation, so to speak, is prepared; we see him carrying it into effect by a gracious application. He warns, that he may deter us from evil; presses his invitations, that we may be compelled to come in ;" and seeks that he may save.
What an illustration of the kindness of God our Saviour, is the written and the preached Gospel. It is the voice of God ever calling his creature to return to him, assuring him of acceptance, exhibiting the highest blessings of grace and sanctity, and displaying the
eternal weight of glory.” What variety of examples have we in that word to instruct in abstract truth by a variety of action; what variety of exquisite and impressive style ; what majesty and terror; what gentleness and condescension; and the obvious final cause of the whole is, that by pardon, adoption, sanctification, and “instruction in righteousness,” every man may be “magnified” by being made “a man of God," " perfect and thoroughly furnished to every good work." Such then, is Man, and thus has God " set his heart upon him."
(To be concluded in our next.)
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. DAVID SIMPSON, M. A. [As Mr. Simpson is extensively known among us as an author, especially as the author of the “Plea for Religion," we think that an account of his life, his ministerial labours, and of his triumphant death, will be both pleasing and edifying to the readers of our Magazine. The following memoir is prefixed to Mr. Simpson's “Plea for the Deity of Jesus, and the doctrine of the Trinity," a work possessing great merit, and highly worthy a place in every Christian Library. The memoir was written by Mr. Edward Parsons.-Editors.]
David Simpson was born October 12th, 1745, in the parish of Ingleby Arncliffe, near Northallerton, in the county of York. He had five sisters, two of whom died in infancy, and a brother, who died the day he was born. To his name the highest titles of earthly distinction can add no importance. The character he maintained in the world as a Christian, his usefulness in the church of God as a Minister, and his labours as an Author, rendered him a burning and a shining light while living, and will perpetuate his memorial now he is numbered with the dead.
His father, Mr. Ralph Simpson, was a respectable farmer; and Mr. David Simpson, who was his only son, was designed for the same occupation : but God, who never loses sight of the chosen instruments of his glory, and who preserves and prepares them for the service he has assigned them, was pleased in this instance early to reveal his pleasure in calling him from the pursuits of the world, and in separating him to the arduous and awful work of the ministry. His own account of this dispensation is very remarkable. Although his Father made no religious profession beyond attention to the duties of morality, he did not neglect the form of family prayer: this exercise was sometimes performed by the father, and sometimes by the son, aided by a short formula, adapted to the use of families, in a little work called the Christian's Monitor.
Mr. Simpson refers to one of these occasions, in a brief account of the leadings of Providence, and the sovereign influence of divine grace upon his mind; “When I was yet a boy,” he says, "and undesigned for the ministry, either by my parents or from inclination, one Sunday evening, while I was reading prayers in my father's family, suddenly a voice, or something like a voice, called aloud within me, yet so as not to be perceived by any of the persons kneeling around me, 'You must go and be instructed for the ministry. The voice, or whatever it might be, was so exceedingly quick and powerful, that it was with difficulty I could