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with the Father of the baptist in blessing the Lord God of angels first acted as ministering spirits to bring a lost soul to Israel for this work of grace.
glory. And in him the holy inhabitants of heaven had the We will first speak of that period of history between the first opportunity to behold one of this fallen, ruined race, fall of man and the covenant with Abraham, and show how, brought to the enjoyment of heavenly glory. Thus, while in all this interval of time, God was proclaiming the glad they saw the first effect of the full operation of the gospel, tidings of the gospel to men.
and could sing worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive As soon as Adam fell, the Son of God immediately entered honour, and glory, and blessing, he first experienced this upon the office and work of a mediator. This work he had operation of redeeming love, and first raised in heaven that undertaken before the world began; for he thus says of him- song of experience to him who had loved him, and given self, “ I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or himself for him, and redeemed him from misery and death, ever the earth was.” Now the appointed time had come, and had made him a king and priest unto God for ever. By and in the moment of man's transgression, he immediately faith Abel had accepted the promises which God had given presented himself as the daysman between a holy, infinite, unto man; and offering, in this faith, a sacrifice which was offended majesty, and offending mankind. His mediation indeed excellent and acceptable, he obtained witness that he was at once accepted, and wrath was prevented from going was righteous; and by this instance of a living and sufficient forth to execute the amazing curse which had been denounced faith," he being dead, yet speaketh.”. against transgression. It is manifest that Christ began his By Enoch, God was pleased again with great clearness work of mediation instantly upon the fall, because God im- to testify the coming of the Lord to establish the kingdom mediately exercised mercy, and did not cut off man at once which was committed to him upon the earth. “ The Lord as he did the angels who had sinned. But no mercy could be cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment extended to fallen man, but through a mediator; the exer- upon all.” This may refer to any particular coming of Christ, cise of divine forbearance and mercy shows the commence- and it cannot reasonably be confined to any one. But it ment of the work of the gospel, and when the Saviour came speaks generally of his coming in the power and glory of his to comfort our first parents, on the day of their transgression, kingdom, and is fulfilled, both in his first coming to set up in the garden of Eden, he came.to seek and to save that his kingdom on the earth, and his second coming to finish which was lost, as much as when he came afterwards to take the salvation of his people and the destruction of his enemies. upon himself the nature of man of the virgin Mary.
The coming of the Lord God of Israel to visit and redeem his From that day Christ took upon himself the care of the people, and to place his enemies under his feet, forms the church in all his offices. He undertook to teach mankind as whole matter of the gospel. To this the faith of Enoch was their great prophet; to intercede for men as their priest, and directed; and while he prophesied of it to the men of his to govern them as their king. He was then set up as the cap-generation, he embraced it as the hope and comfort of his tain of the Lord's host; as the captain of salvation to his own soul. By faith in this appointed Mediator, he was church, to defend them against all their foes, and from that translated that he should not see death; and was not, for God hour God acted solely through a mediator, in teaching, go-took him. verning, and blessing mankind.
Noah also became a preacher of righteousness, and by the While on the day of the fall the Son of God commenced Spirit of Christ, preached to those whose souls were in capthe attainment of the great object of his mediation, on the tivity and bondage to the power of sin. The righteousness same day intelligence of this was also proclaimed to man, which he preached, and of which he became an heir, was the and the gospel was first preached upon the earth. God said righteousness of faith, or the righteousness of the Mediator unto the serpent, “ I will put enmity between thy seed and
her embraced by faith. With him God renewed his covenant of seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his grace, and gave him a promise of peculiar blessings in the heel.” This was the first revelation of the covenant of posterity of Shem. God accepted the sacrifice which he grace; the first dawning of the gospel upon the earth. By offered, and established with him and his seed after him, that the transgression of man, the light of God's favour had been everlasting covenant in all things well ordered and sure. shrouded in darkness, which neither men nor angels could By faith in this one Mediator, who was to be peculiarly scatter; and when, on that day of sin, God called man to ac- the seed of the woman, and by whose sacrifice a real satiscount, his heart was filled with shame and terror. These faction would be made for sin, and by whose obedience a words of God were the first dawning of a returning light. perfect righteousness would be provided as an object of faith, Before they were nttered there was not one glimpse of light; all, from Adam downwards, who were saved at all, obtained not one beam of comfort, nor a single source of hope to the redemption. To them, in every generation, the gospel was sinner. Here was a certain intimation of a merciful design to preached; and the great fact, which forms the gospel, the be accomplished by the seed of the woman,” which was incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God, was held out to like the first glimmering of morning in the eastern sky. This them as the one grand object of their faith. By this faith all gracious promise was given before the sentence was pro- the elders or patriarchs who were redeemed, have obtained a nounced upon either Adam or Eve, from tenderness to them, good report, and transmitted a name to posterity which is lest they should be overborne with a sentence of condemna- honourable to God, and honourable to themselves. This faith tion, without having any thing held out whence they could in the divine promise of a Saviour, was to them the substance gather any hope.
of every thing they hoped for, and the sufficient evidence of In the institution of sacrifices, with the skins of which their truth, although they were things not seen. Since the Adam and Eve were clothed, the gospel was again revealed world began, God hath spoken to men by his holy prophets to man, and a permanent type set up of the sacrifice of Christ, of the coming of the Redeemer, who is all our joy and all by which the power of Satan was to be subdued. The ordi- our salvation. nance of sacrifices was instituted immediately after the reve- After we have thus traced the publication of the gospel lation by the promise of the covenant of grace. Thus the from Adam down to Abraham, there will be no difficulty in first stone in the great edifice of man's redemption was laid understanding and acknowledging its clear and full revelation in prophecy of Christ, and the next in this standing type of to him. The apostle Paul says, that God preached the gospel his one sacrifice for sin.
unto Abraham, in that gracious promise, “In thee shall all Not long after the gospel was thus first proclaimed upon nations of the earth be blessed." The single object for the earth, and the way of salvation through a mediator was which Abraham was called, and for which his family were laid open, God began the work of actually saving the souls separated from all others was, that the promised Saviour of men. It is probable that the first fruits of the redemption might be made a more particular object of faith, as coming of Christ were Adam and Eve. It is probable, I say, from from him. To him, in a new and more specific manner, the God's manner of treating them, in comforting them by a pro- covenant of grace was revealed; and the rite of circumcision mise, under their awakenings and terrors ; for while they was instituted as the outward sign of that covenant estabstood trembling and astonished before their Judge, without lished with his family. To former patriarchs God had any expedient from which they could gather hope, then God preached the gospel in proclaiming a Saviour who was to offered them an encouragement, and told them of his de- come as the sinner's only hope. To Abraham he preached signs of mercy through a Saviour, before he passed the sen- the same gospel yet more clearly, in promising a Saviour to tence against them.
come from his posterity. The glad tidings of a sufficient But it is certain that in their children, the great Captain of Mediator were clearly made known to him; and his faith in salvation manifested his power to save to the uttermost. In the promises of the gospel was so established and entire, that the instance of righteous Abel, we hear of the first ransomed our Saviour says of him " he saw my day, and was glad.” sinner who went to heaven through Christ's redemption. In By faith in a coming Redeemer he was justified and saved. him the gospel thus wrought its perfect work. In him the And the faith which he had in Christ, the sure confidence with
which he relied upon his mediation and offering, are repeat- and man, in whose blood alone there is redemption for your edly adduced in the New Testament, as illustrating the faith souls, even the forgiveness of your sins. with which we are required to embrace a Saviour who has How elevated is the view which this subject presents of finished the work which was given him to do, and has gone the character of Christ! His love how wonderful, that into the glory which he had before the world was.
terposed for man in the moment of his transgression, when To Isaac the covenant of God's mercy was renewed, and there was no arm that could save, and there seemed no possithe promised Saviour foretold, as coming from his posterity; bility of finding any expedient by which the apparently and to Jacob, still more clearly, was the gospel preached, inevitable punishment of sin could be turned aside. How while Esau and his family were rejected. In the ladder great the power which has been exercised to accomplish this which was presented to Jacob, as connecting together earth work of redemption in every age. Angels who have witand heaven by the ministration of angels, an incarnate Sa- nessed from the beginning his labours of love, know how viour was offered to his faith. An open way of salvation worthy he is to receive blessing, and honour and glory for was thus exhibited to him in vision, while in the very time what he has done, and they gladly unite to praise him for all of the exhibition, God renewed that gracious promise of a his goodness and all his mercy. Unnumbered multitudes of Redeemer from his seed, upon which the faith of his fathers ransomed saints in the enjoyment of the glory which he has had rested.
purchased, ascribe all the praise for their redemption unto Another most remarkable proclamation of the manifestation him. He is the head of all things in heaven and on earth, of God in the flesh for man's salvation, was given to Jacob, and all living beings live through him. To the once crucified in his wrestling with God and prevailing in the contest, after and now exalted Jesus, the universe, which is upheld by the his return from Padan Aram. 'Here was a representation to word of his power, unites to render its thankful homage. his faith of the whole scene of Christ's humiliation; God How unspeakable is the privilege which this subject prewas shown to him as dwelling indeed upon the earth, and sents to the true believer in Jesus Christ! The least in the subjecting himself to the power of his creatures; and the all- kingdom of heaven is united by an everlasting bond to the important fact, that there was a way in which man might pre-glorious assembly who have been redeemed through the blood vail with God and obtain a blessing, was established in his of the Son of God. The Redeemer has but one church. Angels, mind. So frequently had the covenant of promise been re- and living saints, and dead, but one communion make. The newed and confirmed with Jacob, that his faith rested upon a innumerable company of angels are subjected unto him. The Saviour with remarkable distinctness and comfort. “And ransomed believers in his power, from righteous Abel down when upon his bed of death, he left his last blessing to his to this day, are partakers of his glory; and to this holy and sons, the most precious and desirable of all blessings, a Sa- heavenly assembly, the weakest believer before me is eterviour from sin, he bequeathed to them also. One of the nally united. The poorest Christian on the earth is the conclearest predictions of the time, and the success of the publi- stant subject of angelic protection and care. And though men cation of the gospel, which the Old Testament contains, is in may despise him, the hosts of heaven delight to watch over the last blessing of Jacob to his son Judah.
him, to minister to his wants, to console his sorrows, to deTo Adam, the promise of a Saviour was given in the gene- fend him from dangers, and to bring him to the salvation of ral expression, " the seed of the woman. To Noah it was which he is made an heir. How delightful is the thought annexed to the descendants of Shem. To Abraham it was that we are never alone! In all our afflictions we have a limited to his posterity by Isaac. To Isaac it was confined great High Priest whom angels worship; who can be touched again to Jacob; and when by Jacob it was transmitted to with the feeling of our infirmities, and remembers whereof his children, the descendants of Judah were selected as those we are made. In our seasons of bodily suffering or family from whom the Christ should come. Judah was to be the distress, in our periods of earthly adversity and wants, he will ruler of Israel in the person of David and his successors on be a present and all-sufficient help; when the shades of death the throne. And “the sceptre shall not depart from Judah," are gathering around us: he will stand by us to alleviate our said the dying Jacob, “nor a lawgiver from between his feet, distress and to elevate our hope. He will pass with us through until Shiloh come, and to him shall the gathering of the peo- the dark valley that we may be in perfect peace. In the ple be.” Thus the light of the gospel shone more brightly great day of judgment he will own us amidst assembled in every succeeding age, as the time drew nearer in which all worlds, as the satisfying travail of his soul. He will proits promises were to be fulfilled, and its covenanted Media-claim to the universe that we are the jewels whom he has tor was to be manifested among men.
purchased for himself, and over whom he will rejoice for After this period it is hardly necessary to trace the history ever. He will accept us, poor and worthless as we are, of the gospel. From the time of Moses the whole scriptures freely through the value of his own blood, and crown us with are full of the revelations of gospel mercy. Every sacrifice in everlasting glory in heaven. How unspeakable is the privithe tabernacle or temple; every type of the Jewish institu- lege of being united to the whole company of the redeemed, tions; every prophecy and promise of succeeding generations through the precious and all-sufficient offering which is pubpreached Christ to the faith of men. The wonderful visit for lished to us in the gospel; and that privilege belongs to the purpose of redemption, which the Lord God of Israel was every one before me, who has sought for refuge in the preto make to the earth, in the fulness of his appointed time, cious blood of a divine and mighty Saviour. was unceasingly proclaimed. The tide of prophecy swells How amazing is the conduct of those who persevere in from age to
, until in the time of Isaiah, it has grown into rejecting the mercies which this gospel presents to universal an unlimited flood; and the gospel is hardly preached with acceptance! With what unutterable joy Adam must have more clearness and power by St. Paul than by him. From heard of a hope of returning peace! With what transport the beginning of the world Jesus was made the one great Abel must have taken possession of that home of glory to object of faith; and the predictions of his character and office which he was carried so suddenly from the trials of the are multiplied until his time and place of birth, his miracles world! And why should any of you who need a Saviour as and instructions, his sufferings and the manner of his death, much as they, and to whom the blessings of redemption are his resurrection and subsequent ascension to glory, are spoken as freely offered as they were to them, take upon yourselves of so particularly and so minutely, that the language of the the voluntary and persevering rejection of all that Christ has later prophets, appears to be rather a history, of what is past, done in your behalf. How much you will desire to see one than a prophecy of what is yet to come.
of the days of the Son of man wher the wish will be entirely From this history of the gospel, you see that the sinner's vain! It is a fact with the unconverted sinner, despise the ground of hope has been the same from the beginning of the assertion of it as he will, that the hour will come, when, world. The same Jesus who is preached to you for your trembling and astonished, he will crouch before the Son of acceptance, was preached to men from Adam down to Moses, man, and beg and cry for the mercy which he has so often and from Moses to the day in which we live. No child of cast heedlessly away from him. How amazing is it that the man has ever passed into the heavens but through his re- man who knows that death, and judgment and eternity are demption. His offering was equally availing and prevalent spread before him, should be willing to throw away a hope, for Adam and Abel and ourselves. By his
own obedience the sufficiency of which he acknowledges, while he has nono man has ever found acceptance before God. But the same thing to supply its place upon which he dare trust himself. Almighty grace which has rescued the believing sinners in And yet this is the conduct of every unconverted soul before this congregation, brought the first ransomed sinner to glory, me. There is not a man here, destitute of spiritual religion, and every other one since his time. We offer no new com- but is rejecting what he knows to be a sufficient hope, while mandment unto you, but that commandment which has been the rejection of this hope leaves his soul utterly without comfrom the beginning, that you should believe on him who has fort and peace. How amazing in the sight of angels must been set up from everlasting, as the one Mediator between God be this course. They wondered when mercy was proposed
THE WISDOM OF THE GOSPEL.
to man. They must wonder still more when this mercy is But although the wisdom displayed in the gospel was hidagain offered, after it has been rejected. They must wonder den in a mystery before its full and perfect revelation, in the most of all, if sinners still persevere in this rejection, and coming and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, it was wisdom oro finally determine to choose darkness rather than light. dained before the foundation of the world. The whole plan
of bringing from among men many sons to glory, through the sufferings of the Captain of their salvation, was devised and determined before the creation of man; and the gospel which Paul preached, and which we preach, is but the intelligence
of that plan of mercy which God ordained then, for man, LECTURE XIII.
as a manifestation of the unfathomable depths of his own wisdom.
From this declaration of the apostle I derive my present
subject of discourse. We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wis- The gospel displays the unsearchable wisdom of God dom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.-1 Cor. which ordained a plan of salvation and glory for sinners beII. 7.
fore the foundation of the world, and concealed it in the mys
teries of the Old Testament until he came, in whom all The object which the gospel is to attain, the way in which these mysteries were to be fulfilled and made plain. it is to attain it, and the history of its attainment of this ob- I. The wisdom of the gospel is displayed in the extent of ject in past ages, have occupied our attention in three former the difficulty which it was required to meet. In this view it discourses. I wish now to speak of the several characteris- may well be called the “wisdom of God in a mystery,” for tics of the gospel itself, as a dispensation of divine grace and the extent of wisdom displayed is deeply mysterious. mercy to man; to show its unsearchable wisdom, as an expe- In the fall and disobedience of man so many difficulties, dient for man's salvation; its almighty power as an instru- and apparently such insurmountable difficulties were created, ment for the accomplishment of this end; the grace and love that all hope of his restoration would seem impossible. A which is displayed in the gift which it offers unto man, and holy being had become a polluted and guilty one. How its excellency and glory, as a revelation of the character and should he be restored? The holy and denouncing law of purposes of God in his relation to fallen man.
God had been violated. How should the breach be made up? My present subject is the unsearchable wisdom of the gos-The majesty and faithfulness of an all-powerful God had pel, as an expedient or plan for man's salvation.
been offended. How should it be appeased ? It will be reThe text which I have selected contains St. Paul's descrip-membered that these questions were now agitated for the tion of this wisdom, as proclaimed by him and his fellow first time. All these difficulties had occurred in the case of aposiles. When he carried the gospel of Jesus to the en- the angels who had sinned; but there was no purpose to save lightened and philosophical inhabitants of Corinth, he was them, and therefore there was no necessity to ask, in their aware that they sought after wisdom, and expected him to de- case, how the difficulties should be overcome; with them sin velope to them some new scheme of philosophy which should had its perfect work, and the wages of sin was death. furnish matter for their own speculations. In opposition to In the case of man's transgression there was a previous dethis desire of theirs, he professes to them the single determi-termination to save them from the ruin in which they were nation with which he came to them, which was to make involved, and the demand for wisdom was to solve the way known to perishing transgressors, Jesus Christ, and him cru- in which it should be done. cified, as the only foundation for hope or acceptance before God. We will suppose for a moment that it had been left to man
This preaching rejected all the enticing words of man's to devise a way for his own restoration to the Divine favour, wisdom; all the false and delusive words of persuasion with or that every created mind had been consulted by him for that which other teachers were accustomed to come to them, and end ; and can you conceive that any way would have entered depended for its whole success upon the demonstration of the into the thoughts of any finite being, but an immediate and Divine Spirit and the power of God. He did not attempt to absolute pardon, by a single sovereign act of mercy? We flatter them upon their own powers of understanding, nor to may see many difficulties attending such an exercise of mersubmit to the decisions of their natural and darkened reasons, cy; and whether it would have been at all consistent with the truths which he was sent to teach. He told them of the honour of God's character, it is utterly impossible for us their sins and dangers, and he held out to them freely the remedy to say. None but God can know what it is within the power which divine grace had provided for their wants. Such of God to do. But we may safely say, even if we suppose preaching, which dealt only with men as poor and depraved such an act of mercy, under existing circumstances, possible, creatures, which addressed them from an eminence of au- it was not the way which would the most highly honour the thority, as those who were lost, was regarded by them as character of God, nor was it the way which was most suited foolishness, and their proud hearts despised him for the bold to the wants of the occasion, and therefore it was not the assertions which he made of man's necessity and God's way which a God of infinite wisdom thought best to adopt. abundant mercy,
Indeed, while I say we may see many difficulties attending an Bat though he has often adopted their own scornful ex- exercise of absolute mercy, under the circumstances of man, pression, and called the preaching of the cross of Jesus fool-it appears to me entirely proper to say, such an act of mercy ishness, he denies that such was really the character of his would be impossible. God, who delights in mercy, would preaching. “We speak wisdom,” he says, “among them have spared the sufferings of an innocent and holy Saviour, that are perfect,” or able to understand us, " yet, not the wis- had the salvation of man been possible without their endurance. dom of this world;" no wisdom of man's discovery. “But How great was the difficulty which was here presented ! we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery; the wisdom and what wisdom was demanded to meet the necessities of which has been hidden, but which God' ordained before the the case! Every thing in the case was new. Every path to world to our glory.”
be trodden was hitherto untried. The breach which sin had The apostle here, as in many other places, calls the gospel made was infinitely wide. It was an ocean over which no created the “wisdom of God.” He describes it as wisdom which intelligence could travel ; and the redemption of a single soul reveals such things as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor was so important and precious, that so far as men or angels the heart of man conceived; as wisdom which is revealed to were concerned, it must have ceased forever. man solely by the Spirit of God; the Spirit which searcheth To meet this infinite demand; to make up all the difficulties all things, even the deep things of God, and which the natu- which the case involved, and to bring God and man together ral or unrenewed man cannot discern or understand. across this unmeasured alienation, was required in the gos
“We speak,” he says, “in preaching the gospel, the wis-pel, and here the wisdom of the plan by which it proposes to dom of God.”
accomplish the purpose is gloriously displayed. When all This display of Divine Wisdom, which the gospel makes, created minds acknowledged that the case was hopeless, God has before been hidden in a mystery.” It was not clearly brought forward to the view of his creatures the hidden wisrevealed until the preaching of Jesus brought life and immor- dom which he had ordained before the world. tality to light. It was concealed in the types of the Jewish He made the fall of man an occasion of manifesting his religion, and in the predictions of the Jewish prophets; and own glorious perfections. This was his purpose and design, so hidden in the mysterious representations of the Old Tes- and the difficulty in removing man's guilt, and restoring a tament, that none of the princes or wise men of this world ruined world to his favour, and at the same time bringing knew it, but in their ignorance of it, crucified the Lord of eternal glory to the character of God, was met and answered glory.
in the abundant provisions of the gospel. There is not a
question to be asked in reference to man's salvation, which in which they could be reconciled, we see the wisdom of the the gospel does not answer. It abundantly saves the sinner, gospel the more wonderfully displayed. Here divine wisand brings the highest glory to God.
dom interposes; here the wisdom ordained in the councils of The wisdom of the gospel supplies all your wants. It the Eternal Trinity, before the world began, is exhibited ; makes a guilty being a pardoned and justified one. It con- and the intelligence of God's own determination unravels verts a polluted and defiled creature into a holy and perfect every obscurity and doubt, and throws new and infinite hon
It satisfies all the demands and denunciations of the four upon his own character. law. It perfectly compensates the offended faithfulness and Behold this glorious plan. God's co-equal, co-eternal Son, majesty of the Creator, and restores man to God, and recon- shall undertake for us. A body shall be given him. In the ciles God to man. The difficulty which existed in the case fulness of the time before appointed, he shall be born as of the first transgressor remains in the case of every other man; as the substitute and surety for our souls, he shall sinner to be converted unto God; and the wisdom of the gos-bear our_burden of sins in his own sacred body upon the pel as an expedient of salvation, is displayed in meeting and cross. By his own obedience unto death, he shall work out supplying this amazing difficulty whenever a sinner is brought an everlasting righteousness commensurate with the utmost home to God.
claims of the law for all who believe. Thus every attribute II. The wisdom of the gospel is displayed in the manner of God shall be honoured, and God shall be just, and the in which it glorifies all the divine attributes. While it mani- justifier of him that believeth in Christ Jesus. fests abundant mercy on the part of the Great Creator in his Contemplate this “wisdom of God in a mystery." A dealings with his creatures, it does not in the least degree mediator!" That mediator God; that God man!' That compromise any other of his perfections in the exercise of Deity incarnate, suffering! Those sufferings borne in the mercy. If you will conceive of the relation in which man, stead of man! His whole obedience, too, accepted for sinas a sinful being, stood towards God, you will see how all ful man, and imputed unto him! Sinners by this rescued the attributes of the divine character were at war with him. and reconciled to God. Sinners so reconciled, restored to God had given him a law in the hour of his creation, and the divine image, approved of God, justified before the ashad bound that law upon him in the most solemn manner. sembled universe, exalted to the thrones of endless glory! He had voluntarily and unnecessarily broken that law, and and all this in perfect consistency with the honour of God; now, in the presence of all beings, the Creator and his crea- yea, glorifying in the highest degree, the divine perfections! ture were at variance, as it were, in an awful contest, whether This is God's plan for the salvation of a ruined world. This the Creator should be true to his word, in the punishment and is the intelligence which the gospel brings. Surely in the destruction of the creature, or the creature should triumph in contemplation of it we can only exclaim with the apostle, “O his rebellion over the instability of his God. Angels stopped the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God; to witness the result. Fallen spirits watched the progress of how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past this conflict; and there seemed to depend upon the issue the finding out!” And with him also, we may declare in referone momentous question, shall God be the ruler of his crea-ence to all who are ignorant of this wisdom, “ Eye hath not tures or no?
seen, nor ear heard ; neither have entered into the heart of The holiness God was called to express its abhorrence man the things which God hath prepared for them that love of sin, as it had done before. The justice of God was called him.” Would to God we could all say also with him, to execute immediate vengeance on those who had committed“ God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit, that we sin, as it had done upon Lucifer and his host. The truth of might know the things which are freely given to us of God.” God was called to fulfil the threatenings which had been de- ill. The wisdom of the gospel is displayed in its perfect nounced against sin; and yet, amidst all these difficulties, adaptation to the accomplishment of the great purpose which God so loved the world that he had determined the whole of it designs. The mark of true wisdom is in the best arrangemen should not perish, but some of them should have ever- ment of means to obtain a desired end. The great object of lasting life.
the gospel is to seek and to save that which is lost, to conIf the transgressor should receive an immediate and un- vert sinners unto God, to make a time of restitution throughconditional pardon, how should the holiness of God be dis- out the world, in which God shall return to bless his played, or his justice honoured, or his truth preserved invio- creatures, and men shall return to submit themselves to God. late? Shall all these glorious attributes be despised and It operates upon a lost and ruined world ; and from it, it passed over utterly unheeded? The character of God is glo- wishes to bring many sons unto glory. rious, and must be glorified in the salvation of man; but how Its wisdom is manifested in its being perfectly adapted to it should be so glorified, the wisdom of men and angels could accomplish this whole end. never determine. No means had been provided for the resto- The provisions of the gospel are the evidence and fruit of ration of fallen angels, and no angel could tell what means God's reconciliation to man. The one great offering for sin should be provided for the restoration of fallen man. which it presents has made up every breach, has taken away
The attributes of God evidently required the punishment every obstacle, has opened to the sinner a path of glory and of sin. If the idea of a substitute had entered into any cre- blessedness. God is able to forgive and save every transated mind, the difficulty was at once seen, how can an inno-gressor on earth in consistence with his own honour; and cent being be punished for the guilty ? Can God accept a therefore as our last head showed, so far as he is concerned, substitute ? Can it be imagined that he would inflict, with the wisdom of the gospel is proclaimed in his acknowledghis own hand, sufferings belonging to the guilty upon one ment that it is sufficient, and that he is willing that all should without sin ?
be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Here the gospel displays its wisdom. It announces a sub- But man is yet alienated, and must be brought home to stitute for the sinner. It exhibits the whole system under God; and the gospel shows the wisdom of its plan in its which this substitute was offered and accepted.
perfect adaptation to the great end of converting him. The But if only the fact that a substitute would be accepted great fact of the gospel, the incarnation and sufferings of a had been suggested, all creatures might ask, where shall one glorious Saviour, is the one great instrument of good to the be found who can bear the punishment deserved by the mil- rebel sinner; and the continued exhibition of this one great lions of mankind ? Were all the angels in heaven able to fact is the means, and the only means, of bringing back to render such a service to mankind ? Could any one less than God the hearts of his creatures. the living God himself undertake such a work? Could it be Take the instance of the individual sinner converted unto conceived possible that God should be willing to do this for God, and what has produced the effect upon him which is so creatures who had trampled upon his laws ? and if he were manifest? willing, how could it be done? How shall God endure suf- He was dead in his sins; cold, heartless and unconcerned. ferings for man? How shall any thing which he thus does The one object, then, was to rouse him to reflection, and to be put to man's account? and if God were willing to become produce a true sorrow for sin in bis heart. But what could man, and to put himself in the place of man, and do and suffer do it? No remonstrance of moral precepts, no appeal to the what man was bound to do and suffer, how could it consist dominion of reason, no arguments founded upon his own with the holiness and justice of God, to let the innocent suf-ability to rise. No. Had these been all the instruments fer and the guilty go free? yea, to let the innocent suffer, employed, he would have remained eternally, as multitudes that the guilty might go free?
do under such instruments, a dead and ruined sinner. But The more we enter into the consideration of these things, he heard of a crucified Jesus. He was made to look upon and contemplate all the difficulties which the holy attributes him whom he had pierced. He saw an agony and bloody of God inevitably threw in the way of man's recovery, and sweat drawn out by his transgression. His conscience felt the impossibility that any created wisdom should devise a way and owned the guilt. A crucified Jesus! This planted
thorns in his pillow; this made him water his couch with smarked with the wisdom of his character. It has glorified his tears; this agitated his breast with grief and anxiety. him, in an amazing degree, in the effect which it has proThe preaching of the gospel, the exhibition of the great fact duced throughout the world. Though many of you may see of the gospel, convicted him of sin; ingratitude to a Saviour, no reason in this system, and may persuade yourselves to becontempt of his blood, neglect of a soul for which he died, lieve that there is something in it which is contrary to your filled him with anguish, and compelled him to ask forgiveness reason, rest assured, if you will throw yourselves with faith from him who had borne his sins and carried his iniquities. upon it, you will find it to be the power of God unto salvaIn this effect the wisdom of the gospel was displayed. It tion to your souls. You have not a want which it will not awakened and convinced a sinner who could resist every supply. It will meet your whole necessities. It will abunthing but this one instrument of God. It brought down into dantly answer your prayers. the dust of humiliation, a rebel who could harden himself This is the true and proper test of the fitness and wisdom against every other instrument and power, who could mock of the gospel; the test of experience. Try this system. at all other solicitations as the horse mocketh at the battle. Taste and see that the Lord is gracious. To this point
When this rebel was awakened, convinced and made to would I lead your affections and plans. I cannot stop to cry out in the bitterness of his anguish, the next object was argue about the externals of this plan before the tribunal of to elevate his affections to God, to bind him eternally to a man's wisdom. You may be speculatively believers, while Saviour, and to save him from going back to the captivity of you are practically unbelievers. You can know nothing of Satan; but no instrument could do it save the same gospel. the wisdom or the fitness of the gospel, unless you are willThe same great fact which had aroused him, gave him peace. ing to receive it and try it under the shape in which it comes It was not the moral or natural
perfections of the
Deity; it to you as a remedy for your diseased and ruined souls. If was not the beauty of his service nor the holiness of his you are willing to be convinced of your necessities ; if you habitation that bound his heart to heaven, and led him to are ready to acknowledge that you have deep and fatal seek the inheritance of the saints in light. It was a bleeding spiritual wants, and are willing to lay yourselves down as a Lamb, a suffering Emanuel, a Redeemer crowned with free offering to a crucified Saviour, this gospel will tell you thorns, that took away the anguish of conviction, gave him all you can desire to know, and give you all you can need to peace in believing, and filled his soul with love to God. He possess. was made alive by receiving Christ to live in him. He was Your purblind reasons may urge a thousand questions brought to glorify God in his body and spirit, which were which God has not answered, and which man cannot anhis, by feeling that he was bought with a price, and that Je- swer, about this heavenly system ; and you may be persuaded sus had died for him. The life he now lives is sustained to say, I cannot accept it because I cannot understand it. by the gospel alone; and being made one with Christ, through This is no fair or accurate test of any remedy for evil. Go a cordial acceptance of his salvation, he brings forth fruit of with a deep conviction that you are guilty, and deserve conholiness unto God.
demnation ; that you are ruined, and have no help. Go with This has been the one course of proceeding from the begin- a penitent and sorrowful spirit, in remembrance of your sin, ning; and millions of rebellious beings have been awakened, looking upon the load you have heaped upon a dying friend. convicted and bound in an everlasting covenant to God, by Go with the language of unfeigned humiliation, with a sinthe operation of this single instrument of good. Here the cere desire to obtain pardon and peace in the relation begospel has displayed its wisdom, and God has been infinitely tween your soul and God. Go thus to the feet of Jesus, and honoured in the operation of this plan.
ask for the remedy which he bestows. If, then, you are sent This is not the wisdom of this world. It appears to be back empty, if you find that the gospel can do nothing for you, foolishness in the carnal eye. Unconverted men can see no that your load of guilt is unremoved, and your souls have no beauty in Jesus, no reason in the simple preaching of what peace with God, then may you, with much greater show of he has done, no connexion between this and any change reason, pronounce upon the unfitness of the gospel to answer to be accomplished in the human character. In their proud your necessity. But until you have tried and found the trial language it is unphilosophical and absurd. But in spite vain, you cannot, with the least propriety, urge a single obof all their objections, and contentions, and pride, it does jection to the terms and operation of the gospel. produce the effect desired when nothing else can do it; and Are you willing to make this trial ? Are you ready to test, thus shows itself to be the wisdom of God, though from the by experience, the sufficiency of Christ? He invites you; he men of this world it is hidden in a mystery.
advises you; he warns you ; he encourages you ; he intreats The apostles went out to tell the simple fact of the cruci- you all to submit your wills, your desires, your characters, to fixion and exaltation of the Son of God for the salvation of him; and by his Spirit he will enable you to know and unsinners; and though all the wise men derided them, their derstand the things which are freely given you of God; and preaching made multitudes cry out together, “Men and this acceptance of the gospel shall furnish you a salvation brethren, what shall we do?" and added multitudes to the that can be obtained by no other instrument or method. church who should be saved. They feared no repetition; they expected no weariness; they provided for no love of change; they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ, and God confirmed his word every where by its glorious results. We have the same gospel, and it still produces the same effect. Though disputers of this world still deride, the
LECTURE XIV. more exclusively and entirely we preach Jesus Christ, the more abundant are the effects upon the hearts and characters of men. When we are willing to trust God's wisdom and to throw ourselves altogether upon the great fact of the gospel, It is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that beto preach, not ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord, we are lieveth.—Romans 1. 16. blessed; sinners are awakened and converted, and God is honoured in spite of all the exclamations of proud and cap- This is the reason which the apostle gives why he was not tious men: "How can these things be ?"
ashamed of the gospel of Jesus. Of an instrument of such The gospel is the only possible instrument for this end. power and so much good among men, he might well glory There is no siuner converted but by its power; and the wis- wherever he went. dom of God is thus unceasingly displayed. Every song in In the eyes of the self-righteous Jews the gospel of Jesus heaven, and every true prayer and thanksgiving upon earth, was a stumbling-block, because it allowed nothing to human unites to utter the same truth; we are washed and made merit. And with the conceited Greeks it was accounted white in the blood of the Lamb; and mysterious as this wis- foolishness, because it paid no deference to the arrogant dom is to the princes of this world, it is wisdom ordained claims of human reason. But, notwithstanding it was inbefore the world to our glory.
conceivable to those who confided in their own wisdom, that These three views display the wisdom of the gospel as an the salvation of man should be effected by any means appaexpedient for man's salvation; the difficulty which it meets, rently so unsuited to the end, St. Paul hesitated not to affirm, the glory which it brings to God, and its adaptation to pro- in the face of all opposition, that the gospel would be powerduce the end which it designs : “We speak the wisdom of ful for the production of the end which was intended, that it God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God or- would operate as the power of God unto salvation to every dained before the world to our glory.”
one who believed. How vain are the objections which men make to the sys- The power of the gospel as an instrument of salvation, is the tem of grace and salvation! This is God's plan. It is subject which I desire to present to your attention at this time.
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL TO SAVE.