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receive from a Mediator, that satisfaction to bis justice which was necessary to make way for such exercise of mercy as might consist with the authority of bis laws, and the dignity of his government.
Sentiments of this kind are not only gloomy and un. comfortable to those who entertain them, but have likewise a most pernicious tendency in other respects. They thwart the very design of Christ's coming into the world; of whom it is expressly said, that " he suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." It was not that our regard should terminate in his own person as Mediator; but that through him they should ascend to the eternal Father, who " so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever be. lieveth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” He came to demonstrate the love of God to sin. ners of mankind; that, by rendering the Father amiable to the convinced, enlightened soul, he might overpower its natural enmity, and, upon the ruins thereof, erect a throne for gratitude and love. Christ is indeed said to be " the end of the law;" and the law, by showing us our guilt and depravity, and the necessity of a better righteousness than our own, to be pleaded as the ground of our acceptance with God, is very properly styled “our Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” But when we are brought thus far by the discipline of the law, doth Christ then command us to stop short at himself, and to proceed no farther? No; he who is 6 the end of the law” is styled the way to the Father; for thus he describes his own character and office, (John xiv. 6.) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” It is God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself by the ministry of the Spirit, that is the complete and adequate object of faith: and
we do not understand “ the word of reconciliation," till we see the undivided Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, united in counsel, as they are in one essence; and each performing, in the character he sustains, a peculiar work of grace for the eternal salvation of an elect world.
It is the agency of the Father in this wonderful plan which “ angels desire to look into,” that the passage
I have been reading leads us at present to contemplate. And it will readily occar to you, that four several acts of grace are here attributed to him.
First. He ordained bis Son to the office of Redeemer.
Secondly. He manifested him to the world at the appointed season.
Thirdly. He raised him up from the dead. And,
. Each of these particulars I shall endeavour to illustrate ; and then show their joint tendency to establish our faith and hope in God.
First. It was the Father who ordained Christ to the office of Redeemer. You need only read from the 17th verse, to be satisfied that this was the doctrine the Apostle meant to deliver; “If ye call on the Father, who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot,” who verily was foreordained, namely, by the Father, sustaining the character of the Supreme Lord and Judge, before the foundation of the world.
“ Known unto God are all his works from the beginning.” The scheme of redemption, and the several steps preparatory to its final execution, were fixed and adjusted before time commenced. This in part appears from the manner of its first publication in paradise, as Moses hath recorded it in the sacred history. The cool majestic solemnity with which the whole procedure was conducted on that important occasion, and especially the putting the gracious promise of a Deliverer to our guilty parents, into the form of a judicial sentence against the grand apostate who had seduced them, plainly showed, that the constitution which then commenced was not an after-thought, or newly-devised expedient, but that all was the result of previous counsel and design; that the rebellion had been seen before it was acted, and redemption decreed before the forfeiture was incurred.
Many passages might be quoted from the Old Testament writings, where the Father's choice and ordination of the Saviour are declared in the strongest and most explicit terms. In one place he is introduced, proclaiming his sovereign pleasure in these words : “ Behold my Servant whom I uphold, mine Elect in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” In another place, where Messiah himself is the speaker, the Father's commission is thus acknowledged by him: “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord bath anointed me to preach gooil tidings unto the meek, he ath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” And this last quotation is more remarkable, because the evangelist Luke informs us, that our Lord, after reading it publicly in the synagogue at Nazareth, directly applied it to himself, by adding these words: “ This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Luke iv. 21.
But there are other declarations of our blessed Re
deemer, which, without any circuit, express the same truth, in terms so plain, that it is impossible for any body to mistake their meaning. “I proceed forth,” said he," and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” “ I do nothing of myself, but as the Father hath taught me I speak these things, and he that sent me is with me." I came from beaven to do the will of him that sent me." “ I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak." Such explicit acknowledgments from the mouth of “ the faithful witness," which must be familiar to the ears of all who are conversant with the lively oracles of truth, are sufficient to illustrate the agency of the Father in framing the plan of man's redemption before time commenced, and in ordaining the Son to carry it into execution.
Secondly. His agency is no less conspicuous in mani- . festing the Saviour at the appointed season.
It was the original promise, that “ the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.” Accordingly we read, (Gal. iv. 4.) that “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman. The propriety of which expression cannot fail to strike us with peculiar force, when we recollect what the angel said to Mary, after he had informed her of the high honour wbich God was about to confer upon her, (Luke i. 35.) “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." All the predictions of the prophets concerning the time and place of the Messiah’s birth, and the circumstances of the Jewish nation at that important period, were most exactly fulfilled, as might easily be shown.
A special messenger was sent to prepare the world for his reception; this was Johu the Baptist, (who bad likewise been foretold in ancient prophecy) to whom the Father manifested the promised seed, by a visible descent of the Holy Ghost at his baptism, accompanied with a voice from heaven, which said, “ This is my be. loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Which signal and most authentic attestation was immediately published by John to the men of that age; for this was the record he bare. (John i. 32, 33, 34.) “I saw the Spirit descending from him like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God."
But he had greater witness than that of John. " The works which his Father gave him to finish, the same works that he did, bare witness of him that the Father had sent him." It was to this divine attestation that our Lord himself most frequently appealed. When the Jews came to him in Solomon's porch at the feast of the dedication, and said unto him, “ How long dost thou make us to doubt? if thou be the Christ tell us plainly;" his answer was, “ I told you, and ye believed not: The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.” “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not: but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him."
The miraculous appearances at his death had such an effect upon the centurion, and the soldiers who attended his crucifixion, that " when they saw the earthquake,