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tributes, particularly 'wisdom and veracity, are illustrated to the highest degree possible by this scheme ; but my time denies me that pleasure.
II. The divine perfections are displayed in the most perfect harmony in this method of salvation : I mean such of them as seemed to jar, to cloud the glory of each other, or to be incapable of being illustrated at once, are now reconciled and mingle their beams, and, instead of obscuring, reflect a glory upon each other. The matter was so circumstanced, that it seemed really impossible to men and angels to display several divine perfections conjunctly. There seemed to be a nece
cessity that one or other of them should be eclipsed ; for if grace should be displayed in the universal pardon of sin, without the infliction of punishment, what will become of justice ? How will the holiness of God be displayed ? how will the honour of the law and the sacred rights of government be secured? But if these be illustrated by the punishment of sin, how will the goodness, grace, and mercy of God appear in diffusing happiness, in conferring blessings on the unworthy, and in relieving the miserable! If sinners are saved 'without a satisfaction, how will it appear that God is righteous, and hates all moral evil? or if a full satisfaction be made, how will it appear that their salvation is of grace? Can sin be punished, and yet the sinner escape without punishment? What device shall be found out for this? If sin pass unpunished, where is the honour of justice ? and if all sinners are punished, where is the glory of grace? If the threatened penalty be not executed, is not the divine veracity rendered suspicious ? and if it be executed, what will become of the amiable attribute of mercy? These, my brethren, are a few of the difficulties with which the case was embarrassed and perplexed ; and they would have nonplused all created understandings : nothing but the infinite wisdom of God could surmount them. You see that the illustration of one set of perfections seems to cast a cloud over another set. To whatever side the Deity inclines, there seems to be a necessity that he should be but half-glorious, like the sun under a partial eclipse. And is there any method in which he may be represented as he is, all glorious throughout ?
“ A God all o'er, consummate, absolute,
Full-orb'd, in his whole round of rays complete. Yes ; such a method is the plan of salvation through Christ. These apparently clashing attributes harmonize ; and are so far
from clouding each other, that they are each of them displayed to greater advantage than if only one had been singly exercised. They reflect a mutual glory upon each other; and every one appears more illustrious in conjunction with tbe rest, than if it shone alone with its own peculiar glory. Here justice is honoured by the infiction of the punishment upon Christ, as the surety of sinners ; and yet goodness, grace, and mercy shine in full glo. ry in their salvation. They are saved upon the footing of strict justice, because their surety made a complete satisfaction for them ; and yet they are saved through grace, because it was grace that provided and accepted this method of vicarious satis. faction. The honours of the divine government are secured by Christ's perfect obedience to the law; and the philanthropy and mercy of the divine, administration are also exhibited in the salvation of those who in their own persons had broken the law. Thus, according to that prophctic oracle, Mercy and truth are met together, and agreed ; righteousness and peace have kissed each other in perfect friendship. Psalm 1xxxv. 10, 11. Here also the wisdom of God is most gloriously displayed, in concerting such an amazing plan as would reconcile these seemingly opposite attributes, and advance the honour of all by the exercise of each ; and even of that which appeared most inconsistent with the rest. This scheme bears the peculiar seal and stamp of the most finished wisdom. In it are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 0! the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God that appear in it! It was only his infinite wisdom that could invent such a scheme : it surpassed all created understanding. Hence it is often called the wisdom of God in a mystery : the mystery which has been hid from ages and genera. tions : and it is said to reveal things which eye had not seen, nor car heard, nor the heart of man conceived. 1 Cor. ii. 9.
To this head I may subjoin, that in Christ, as Mediator, are reconciled the most opposite and seemingly contradictory characters. Things may be truly and consistently predicted of him which cannot agree to any one subject besides himself. A Godman, divinity and humanity united in one person; the Ancient of Days, yet not but 1760 years old; the everlasting Father, and yet the virgin Son, the child of Mary; the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and yet the Servant of servants. The highest dignity and glory, and the lowest condescension and humility meet in VOL. II.
him. Here is justice punishing every the least sin, and yet grace to pardon the very greatest of sinners. Here are infinite majes. ty, and the most transcendent meekness: the deepest reverence toward God, and a full equality with him : infinite worthiness of good, and the most perfect patience under the suffering of evil ; a submissive, obedient spirit, and supreme and universal dominion; absolute sovereignty and humble resignation. Jesus conquers by falling, saves others by dying himself, and the blood of his heart becomes the grand cure for the dying world. In him we see the highest love to God, and in the mean time the greatest love to the enemies of God ; the greatest regard to the divine holiness, and the greatest benevolence to unholy sinners. It would be endless to enumerate all the opposile excellencies and characters that meet and harmonize in Jesus Christ ; but the may suffice as a specimen. And what a surprising complication of things is here! Things that never did, or could meet in any other, harmoniously centre in him. How justly is his name called Wonderful! for as his name is, so is he : and as such, he will appear to all that know him to all eternity. How bright and astonishing is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ! “ That face, in which sense discovers nothing but marks of pain and disgrace ; that bloated, mangled visage, red with gore, covered with marks of scorn, swelled with strokes, and pale with death, that would be the last object in which the carnal mind would seek to see the glory of the God of life, a visage clouded with the horror of death ; in that face we may see more of the divine glory than in the face of heaven and earth."* He is the wisdom of God, and the power of God ; that is, in him is the brightest display of his wisdom and power, as well as of his other attributes. But I must proceed.
III. The perfections of God are more universally displayed in the method of salvation through Christ than in any other way.
The wisdom, power, and goodness of God are displayed in the formation of the world ; and there are many traces of these perfections, as well as of his justice, discoverable in the government of it. But there is a more full and striking view of these exhibited in the government of the world upon the plan of redemption, with the additional illustration of some other attributes, which would have been unknown or discovered only by soine feeble glimmerings, if the world had never been governed upon this plan.
Mac Laurin's Sermon on glorying in the cross.
Here, as I observed, the goodness of God in all its forms is illustriously displayed : grace in bestowing free favours upon the guilty and undeserving; mercy and compassion in relieving the mis. erable ; patience and long-suffering in bearing so long with provoking obstinate rebels ; whereas if there had been no guilt, misery and rebellion permitted to enter into the world ; or if no guilt had been pardoned, no misery relieved, no rebellion endured, there would have been no room for the display of grace, mercy, and patience. Here justice shines, and shines with peculiar advantage : now it appears to be an inseparable attribute of the Deity, and which he can in no case dispense with. Here veracity appears unstained, in executing the penalty of the law, even upon the darling Son of God. The majesty of the divine government and its sacred rights, these too are represented as inviolable and venerable, and demanding the regard of the whole creation ; whereas, if there had been no guilt, there could have been no object upon which the awful honours of divine justice might be displayed ; and if all guilt had been pardoned without satisfaction, this majestic attribute, so venerable and so amiable in the character of a ruler, would have been forever concealed ; or rather, great umbrage would have been given, that such a perfection did not belong to the supreme Governor of the world. And a judge without justice, a lawgiver who does not enforce bis laws by proper sanctions, could be agreeable to none but wilful criminals. A petty kingdom of the earth would soon become a scene of lawless violence and confusion under such a ruler; and how dreadful would be the case, if the whole universe were under such a head! Here also is a most illustrious display of divine power. Though Christ was crucified in weakness, yet omnipotence shone even upon the cross. This may seem
The Jews thought Christ's crucifixion a demonstration of his want of power ; hence they upbraided him, that he that wrought so many miracles, suffered himself to hang upon the cross ; but this was the greatest miracle of all. They asked why he, who saved others, saved not himself : they named the reason, without taking notice of it : that was the very reason why at that time he saved not himself, because he saved others. The motive of his endur. ing the cross was powerful divine love, stronger than death : the fruits of it powerful divine grace, the power of God unto salvation, Rom. i. 16. making new creatures, raising souls from the dead : these are acts of omnipotence. We justly admire the power of the Creator, in the motion of the heavenly bodies ; but the motion of souls towards God as their centre is far more glorious. The curse of the law was a weight sufficient to crusb a world. So they found it who first brought it upon themselves. It sunk legions of angels, who excel in strength, from the heaven of heavens to the bottomless pit. And the same weight hung over the head of man. Before man could bear it, before any person could bear his own proportion of it, it beboved, as it were, to be divided into numberless parcels, and distributed among all mankind, allowing every sinner his share. Man, after numberless ages, would have borne but a small part : the wrath to come would have been wrath to come to all eternity. But Christ had strength to bear it all, to bear it all at once, to bear it all alone ; and what a glorious manifestation of his might was this ! of the noblest kind of might, that he was mighty to save !"*_ might be more particular, but time will not allow.
IV. The scheme of salvation through the sufferings of Christ gives the most gracious, benevolent, and amiable display of the divine perfections. This is evident at first sight, from this consideration, that by this scheme sinners, such sinners as we, may be saved. O the joyful sound ! salvation for the lost, pardon for the condemned, sanctification for the unholy, life for the dead ! what can be more agreeable to us! Angels contemplate this plan with eternal pleasure, though they do not need nor receive such blessings from it; and how much more should we who are so nearly interested ! Goodness, grace, and mercy, are always the favourite attributes to guilty creatures such as we are, and where do they shine so bright in heaven or earth, as in the cross of our dying Jesus? But you will say, suppose that the sins of men had been pardoned, and they saved, without the sufferings of Christ in their stead ? suppose that the stern attribute of justice had never been displayed in the infliction of punishment either upon sinners, or upon their surety, where would have been the injury? would not the Deity have appeared in a still more amiable light, as all benevolence and mercy ?” So criminals may surmise, whose interest it is that there should be no such attribute as punitive justice. But I appeal to angels, who are not parties, as criminals are, but competent judges ; I appeal to every lover of virtue and piety ; nay, I appeal to the common sense of mankind, whether a ruler without justice would be an
# Mac Laurin.