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that some more effectual method than ever should be entered upon to establish the divine authority, and secure the honour of the divine government? Or must the divine law now be given up in favour of rebel man, even as the devil made our first parents. believe it would, when he tempted them to revolt, saying, ye shall not surely die. Let us stop and think a moment, what would be the import of giving up the law in this case.
The law supposed, that God was really by nature God, an absolutely perfect, an infinitely glorious Being, as it required us to consider and treat him as such. Our revolt was a practical declaration, that he was not by nature God, nor worthy to be glorified as God. To give up the law in favour of his rebellious creature, must therefore be the same, in effect, as for God to give up his own divinity, and ungod bimself, in the sight of all his dominions, to gratify a rebel. - Again,
The law also supposed, that as God was the Creator, Lord and owner of the universe, and by nature God; so he was possessed of supreme authority, an authority infinitely binding, and infinitely worthy to be revered. To give up the
. law, therefore, was in effect the same as to resign bis authority in favour of those who had despised it, give a quit-claim of the universe, and tolerate a general revolt. As if God should say, “The universe is not mine, nor have I any authority over it; angels, men, and devils, are all at liberty : there is no king, and so every one may do what is right in his own eyes.” For, to hold his authority merely on the foot of the voluntary loyalty of his subjects, so that whenever any revolt, they are at liberty, no longer obliged to obey; to do this only in one instance, is in effect to relinquish all claim to authority over any, as founded in his Godhead and Lordship; which is, in effect, the same as quit his claim to his own divinity and to his own world, to gratify those who would gladly ungod him and detbrone him. word, for God to give up the law, which requires us to love and obey him with all our hearts, is practically to declare to his rebellious creatures, “ Your disaffection to my character, and rebellion against my authority, is no crime : for I am not
worthy to be loved and obeyed with all your hearts : for I am not by nature God, an absolutely perfect, an infinitely glorious and amiable Being, your Creator, sovereign Lord and King, as in my law I claimed to be.” And,
To alter and abate the law, and bring it down to the taste and good-liking of an apostate world, who were enemies to God and his government, enemies to the order and harmony of the universe, must be much the same, as for God to give up his law and authority entirely. For he must quit his supremacy, give up the rights and honours of the Godbead, justify their revolt, turn to be on their side, turn enemy to God, and to his law, and employ his infinite wisdom and almighty power, to promote the schemes they have laid in consequence of their revolt; schemes suited to the taste of apostate creatures. And thus they must become as gods, as satan said, and the Almighty become their true and faithful servant. For nothing short of this would suit an apostate world. But this is even worse than merely to quit his claim
. to the universe, and resign his government over it. As it would be bad for king George to quit his throne for the Pretender, and fly his country; but worse to become the Pretender's servant, and be obliged to employ all his power to promote the Pretender's interest.
And if among God's revolted subjects, any of the rebels should imagine that what the devil said was true, ye shall not surely die : if any should persuade themselves, that it never was in God's heart to care at all for his own honour, or for the honour of his law and government, or to punish any of his creatures, for despising the Lord, and despising the commandments of the Lord; or ever to inflict any pain upon any of his subjects, unless merely for their benefit: in a word, if any should imagine, that it never was in God's heart to regard or aim at any thing but simply the good of his creatures, be they virtuous or vicious; and believing God to be thus altogether according to their own hearts, they are well pleased with his character; and so verily think that they are not enemies to God, in a state of rebellion, worthy of eternal death: and consequently, that they do not need a pardon, mueh less an atonement of infinite value, to procure a pardon.
All this is so far from arguing an atonement to be needless, that it rather serves to discover the absolute necessity of one; that God might give no occasion for these false and blasphemous notions of him and his government, universally to prevail, infinitely to the dishonour of God, and entirely to the subversion of his authority, while he is on designs of mercy towards a fallen world.
It is manifest from the whole tenour of the divine conduct, from the foundation of the world, that he looked upon it as of the highest importance, that the intellectual system should know that the Deity is infinitely worthy of supreme love and universal obedience, and that the evil of disaffection and rebellion against the divine majesty is infinitely great, and worthy of an infinite punishment: as he is in fact by pature God, and Lord supreme. It therefore appeared in the eyes of God, a glorious act, and infinitely becoming the wise Father of the universe, originally to suspend the everlasting welfare of bis new-made, innocent creatures, on condition of their supreme love to the Deity, to be manifested by a universal obedience to his will. And he judged it wise and righteous in him, as moral governor of the world, to banish the first rebels from his presence into everlasting destruction. And in his eyes it was a most glorious display of all his perfections, when man had fallen, not to pardon one of all the race without a Mediator of infinite dignity, and an atonement of infinite value : nay, rather to part with his own Son from his bosom, and deliver him up to bear the curse in our stead, and set him forth to be a propitiation to declare his righteousness, and let the whole system see his full resolution to punish sin, and maintain the honour of his law and government. And in this view, Christ crucified is the wisdom of God: a most glorious means to accomplish the most glorious ends. And in this primarily consists the glory of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was a glorious display of the holiness of the great governor of the world, to appoint his own Son to die a sacrifice of atonement, as hereby his infinite regard to his own honour, and infinite hatred of sin, was set in the strongest light.
And it was a glorious display of the divine justice, as here
by it appeared, that he was unchangeably determined to punish sin according to its desert, and execute the curse of his righteous law, although his own dear Son, standing in the room of a guilty world, was the person to be made a curse.
And it was a glorious display of divine goodness; for if the divine law was so holy, just, and good, so exactly in the image of the Deity, as to be worthy of all this honour ; then, to a demonstration, God was wholly right, and our disaffection and rebellion entirely groundless ; yea, infinitely criminal. And therefore mankind were not pitied as having been too severely dealt with. And wbile the death of Christ declares the justice of the law, and the righteousness of God in our condemnation, the gift of Christ to die in our stead, appears to be an act of grace, infinitely great, and absolutely free.
And while the Son of God stands clothed in human nature, and voluntarily appears as our representative, to die in our stead, as our second Adam, God appears to be a God of truth. For the criminal dies virtually in his surety. And thus the law is honoured, sin discountenanced, the sinner saved, grace glorified, and satan disappointed, all at once. And thus all the divine perfections are displayed on the cross of Christ. And thus the Gospel is a glorious Gospel. But all this only on supposition the law was a glorious law.- For,
Let it once be supposed, that the divine law, which required sinless perfection on pain of eternal damnation of all mankind, is in its own nature too severe, and it will inevitably follow, (heaven forbid the blasphemy !) that Christ in bearing the curse of this law in our stead, died a sacrifice to tyranny: and so the Gospel, instead of being a glorious Gospel, a glorious display of the wisdom, holiness, justice, and goodness of the divine nature, exhibits to view the most shocking scene that can possibly be conceived of: foolishness in the abstract.
But if the law was holy, just, and good, glorious and 'amiable, and worthy to be so magnified and made honourable, and if the law be thus viewed and considered ; at once the atonement of Christ becoines the wisdom of God and the power of God, the wisest and the most effectual method to answer the most glorious ends. And thus the cross of Christ will appear foolishness, or wisdom, according to the light in which we view it. As it is written, (1 Cor. i. 23, 24.) We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness : But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Thus we have taken a general view of the nature and glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the way being thus prepared, we proceed to take things into a more particular consideration in the following sections.
The Divine law holy, just, and good, a glorious law antece
dent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, and the work of redemption by him.
IF the moral character of the deity, which consists in holipess, justice, and goodness, is glorious and amiable; and if the divine law is after his own image, a transcript of his nature, holy, just, and good, it must be glorious and amiable too. And that the divine law is holy, just, and good, the apostle Paul expressly affirms in the seventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans, ver. 12.
Would we know what law the apostle speaks of in that verse, let us read through that epistle, and his epistle to the Galatians, in which he is speaking of the same law; and we shall find these things said of it. It is that law which the Jews had written in a book, and the Gentiles written in their consciences. It revealed the wrath of God, from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. By this law is the knowledge of sin. It requires us to continue in all things in it to do them. It promises, that the man thut doth the things contained in it shall live. But curses every one that continueth not in all things. And according to it, both Jews and Greeks are under sin; every mouth is stopped, and the whole world stand guilty before God : each one without excuse. Rom. i. 18. 21. Chap. ii. 14. Chap. iii. 9. 20. Chap. vi.