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nal wo and endless despair. He tempted man to sin, that he might be joined in the same state. For if God will be so severe as to kill and damn for the first offence, satan's praclice seemed to declare, that he could wish God might have nothing else to do among all his subjects. So that when a fallen world was doomed to death, it was the very thing satan would have. And so death became, as it were, his servant, It served his will, it accomplished his scheme, and answered his ends, as though it had been in bis power. God seemed obliged in honour to put his law in execution ! but in doing of it, he would gratify the devil, the greatest enemy to God, to law, and to the whole system. This was satan's malicious crafty scheme, and thus perhaps was he ready to say, “ If law is put in execution, man must die; and God will be disappointed of the glory of his new creation, and I shall triumph. If law is vacated and set aside in favour of rebel man, no more let the Almighty monarch pretend to impartial justice. As well might law have been set aside in my case: my exclusion from heaven was an arbitrary act : if arbitrary, then tyrannical. And what care I for the wrath of an angry tyrant? Hell will be no longer hell to me.” Wherefore, there was a peculiar propriety in the first promise being delivered to man in the form of a threatening to satan. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. For it was a chief design of infinite wisdom to disconcert the devil's scheme, break up his plan, and so kill the old serpent in a way suited to his own nature. And what can excruciate him more, and put him to greater torment, than to see law honoured, and man saved, both at once; and an eternal end put to his influence, in a way most honourable to God, and advantageous to the system : whilst himself and all his obstinate adherents are doomed to everlasting fire.
But how can law be honoured, and man saved, both at once ? For this end Christ became incarnate, and placed himself in our room and stead, that through death he might destroy the devil, break up his scheme, set at liberty his guilty trembling captives, who through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage. For he was made a curse to redeem us from the curse of the law : set forth to be a propitiation, to
declare God's righteousness, that God might be, and appear to be, just, while he justifies the sinner; and so the law be magnified and made honourable, while the sinner is saved ; death turned into a blessing, and be succeeded by a glorious resurTection, and a blessed immortality,
And thus the design of Christ's death, was to secure the honour of the divine government, and open a way for the honourable exercise of his grace in the salvation of sinners. And this is so plainly held forth in the whole of divine revelation, that it is, at least in words, generally agreed to by almost all parties, however differently they profess to think in many other points. In words, I say, for if in reality it was agreed to, all parties would soon agree in every other important article of the Christian faith.
It is true, there are some divines, who seem to think, that God might arbitrarily have set aside his law in favour of fallen man; and that even his own perfections obliged him to it; and to pardon and receive to favour his sinful creatures upon their repentance, had there never been a mediator or an atonement. Repentance and reformation was all the atonement they could make, and all that God could demand. “I affirm,” says one, “it is an article of natural religion, that forgiveness does certainly follow repentance. If God be a merciful and benigo being, he will accept the payment we are able to make; and not insist on impossible demands with his frail bankrupt creatures n.”
But little do such divines think how their confident affirmations are really subversive of the whole of Christianity. For if there had been a law, which could have. given life, rerily righteousness had been by the law. Gal. iii. 21. If it had been “ an article of natural religion' that any doings of ours could have in reason entitled us to the divine favour, verily God would have proceeded with mankind upon the principles of natural religion, and not needlessly have been at such infinite expense, as the sacrifice of his Son. For if upon the principles of natural religion, sinful man could obtain the favour of God, the death of Christ was unnecessary, Gal. ij. ous news they had to proclaim to a guilty world. It was long before decreed in heaven, that he should die; it was the determinate counsel of God, from the beginning, that through death he should destroy the devil, break up his scheme, and thoroughly bruise his head. And for this, in the fulness of time, he left his father's bosom. For this he became flesh; and for this be entered upon his public ministry, characterize ed by John the Baptist, at that juncture, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world : the true antitype of all the Jewish sacrifices. For this he called the twelve from their nets, that they might be his witnesses to all nations. For this he went up to Jerusalem, knowing what should befall him; and how am I straitened, said he, till it be accomplished. For this he went into the garden, knowing that his enemies would find him there; and in a view of the absolute necessity of his death for the salvation of sinners, he said to his Father, thy will be done : and then voluntarily resigned himself up into his enemies' hands, when he could have struck them dead, or had twelve legions of angels to have guarded him from their malice. I lay down my life for the sheep. This commandment have I received from my Father. For him did God the Father set forth to be a propitiation, to declare his righteousness, that he might be just. And for this the Father loved him, because he laid down his life for the sheep. And to testify his love and well-pleasedness in the sight of the whole intellectual systein, he raised him from the dead, set him at his own right hand in heaven, declared himself ready to be reconciled, and ordered repentance and remission of sins to be preached to all nations in his name. Nay, all power in heaven and earth is committed into his hands, that he might reign till all his enemies are put under his feet, and satan's whole scheme completely disappointed. For as he loved righteousness and hated iniquity with such servour, as moved him to interpose and die in this cause, to discountenance sin, and magnify the divine law, bring glory to God, salvation to men, and so destroy the devil; wherefore God hath anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Heb. i. 9. Given him a name above every name. Phil. ii. 9. And decreed, that he shouldl se of the tracail of his soul, and be satisfied. '(Isai.. liii. 11.) That is, see as much glory to God and benefit to the creature, result from his death on the cross, as his soul desires.
m Mr. Nye, Natural and Revealed Religion, p. 85, 86.
Was his love to God, zeal for his glory, and for the honour of his government, and compassion to lost sinners, so great, as to bring him from his Father's bosom, worshipped by all the heavenly host, to hang naked, tortured, insulted on the cross, and there expire in the utmost agonies! As great glory to God, as great honour to his law, as great salvation to lost sinners shall result herefrom, as to be equal to his love, and zeal, and pity, infinite as they were. For he shall see the tradail of his soul, and be satisfied. He shall see the fruit of his labours till he says it is enough. But what can be enough in the eyes of such an one! What can satisfy a heart like his ! whose regard to the honour of God and of his law, and to the welfare of lost sinners, was so infinitely great! Eye hath not seen, ear huth not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive ! But in the midst of all this, we have the highest possible assurance of his sincerity in saying, Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out ; (John vi. 37.) for these the Father gave him; they were the sheep he loved, and laid down his life for; the joy set before him, for whose salvation he endured the cross and despised the shame; these are his seed, the travail of his soul, for whom he was smitten of God, and in whosé stead he became a curse, to redeem them from the curse, and that the blessing of Abraham might come upon them.
Thus this is the sum and substance of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We preach Christ crucified: this was the glorious and joyful news the apostles proclaimed to a revolted, guilty world. And if to the Jews Christ crucified was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; yet to them who were called, Christ crucified was the power of God and the wisdom of God.But this leads us to take a view of the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
· SECTION II. A general view of the glory of the Gospel. THE Gospel is denominated the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ; and its glory is represented to be divine glory. For it is called the glory of God, and the glory of the Lord. 2 Cor. ii. 18. Chap. iv. 6. The law, as a ministration of death and condemnation, is said to be glorious; but the Gospel exceeds in glory, (2 Cor. iii. 7. 10.) because we have in the Gospel a more full and bright manifestation of the glory of the divine nature. The glory of both is of the same nature, divine glory; but in the Gospel it shines with greater brightness. Now the glory of the divine nature consists in infinite wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. These perfections are the beauty of the divinity. But how are they manifested in the Gospel ?--It is true, the ends proposed in the Gospel are very glorious, to bring glory to God, salvation to men, and destruction to satan's cause. But how are the means glorious ?-Christ crucified. How are the divine perfections manifested in bringing about these ends by the incarnation and death of the Son of God ? This has been a stumbling-block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek; and yet is affirined to be in an eminent and peculiar manner the wisdom of God. But how and wherein does the wisdom of God appear in the death of his Son? This is the point to which we are now carefully to attend.
It has been observed that the death of Christ was designed to answer the demands of the law in our stead. The law had said, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. But by the deeds of this law no flesh can be justified in the sight of God; for by it all stand condemned as sinners. Therefore Christ was made a curse to redeem us from its curse : not because it was a bad law; and so the fault in the law-giver; but because the law was holy, just, and good, and mankind without excuse, guilty before God, as niuch to blame as the curse of the law imported. He was set forth to be a propitiution to declare God's