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of the great work of our redemption, is to consider the occasion that gave rise to this manifestation of the Divine wisdom and good
In consequence of the Fall of Adam, man became so prone to evil in the very constitution of his nature, that notwithstanding the checks and warnings he continually receives from the inward law of his mind
approving what is right and good, and also from the suggestions of the Holy Spirit inciting and invigorating those sentiments within him, he is still so frequently, if not habitually, drawn into violations or omissions of his known duty, as to render him guilty before God and liable to condemnation; so that were God to “enter into judgment” with the whole human race, there should “no man living be • justified in his sightf.” Original sin, that corruption now innate within us, hath ever led, and will ever lead, more or less, to actual sin; precluding every possible claim even in the very best of men to the Divine acceptance, on the ground of pure unblemished righteousness; affording no reasonable assurance even of pardon and remission, by any attempt that we can make to liberate ourselves from the judicial consequences of conscious guilt. From these, indeed, it is mani
f Psalm cxliii. 2.
fest, (even upon the most superficial view of the subject,) that none but God himself can be competent to effect our deliverance.
Against They only,” saith the Psalmist, “ have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy
sights.” Every offence committed against God or man is a breach of the divine law. In this consists the real gravamen of the offence, whatever it
be. This it is which constitutes it a sin, in the proper acceptation of the term. Consequently, to remit it, or to prescribe
conditions on which it shall be remitted, can be the prerogative of God only. And since it is an essential attribute of that Being, that “he is of purer eyes than to be“ hold iniquityh,” nothing can be more consonant with our own notions of rectitude, than what the Scriptures every where set forth, that without other means than we can devise of vindicating the offended laws of God, and purifying the offenders from the guilt that lies upon them, “ all” must necessarily “ come “ short of the glory of Godi;” and that, in strictness and truth, “ there is none” that can be accounted righteous, “ no not onek.” The more we revolve the subject in our thoughts, the more shall we be perplexed in our endea6 Psalm li 4. h Hab. i. 3.
i Rom. iii. 23. k Rom. iij. 12.
vours to imagine any possible means by which this state of moral debasement and despondency can be effectually removed.
With respect, indeed, to any satisfaction that could be accepted by the Almighty, without derogating from his holiness, his purity, or his justice, it becomes us, under every circumstance, to speak and think with the utmost humility and with reverential awe. By the light of nature we know of no satisfaction that can possibly be made. We know of nothing that can justify a sinner in the sight of God; nothing that can assure him of an acquittal from guilt, or of restoration to the Divine favour. As we readily perceive it to be“ not possible that the blood of bulls and
goats should take away sin';" so we are no less impelled to acknowledge that the blood of an human victim, or the sacrifice even of an angelical being of the highest order, could never make compensation for disobedience to the Divine Law. Under this impression, and judging only from such imperfect abstract notions as we can form on so fearful a subject, we should be apt at once to throw ourselves implicitly upon the Divine forbearance, conscious that none but God himself could provide the means of so attempering justice
1 Heb. x. 4.
with mercy, as to extend the one without disparagement of the other. And if this be the case in any instance of individual guilt, how much more so when the question is asked, What can be “a full, perfect, and sufficient “ sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the “ sins of the whole world ?” To this question no answer could ever have been given, none even plausibly conjectured, by human thought. The most rational presumption would be, that in whatever it might consist, it must be something divine in its nature and origin, divine in its operation and effect; since nothing short of absolute holiness and goodness could be deemed worthy of Him, whose perfections the most exalted of his creatures may not presume to emulate.
It is well, then, that we are not left to the harassing and perilous disquisitions of human reason, on a concern above all others the most intensely interesting to every soul of man. Still more is it a source of unspeakable consolation and encouragement, that the wonderful scheme of our redemption unfolded in the sacred writings, however it may surpass our finite comprehensions, is nevertheless in entire accordance with the most anxious anticipations we could form of what is requisite to assure us of its all-sufficiency in every re
spect. Most perfectly does it correspond with those feelings of utter inability on our part, and of the necessity of an interposition nothing less than divine, which so fully takes possession of our minds in contemplating our situation as fallen and sinful beings. How forcible is the language of Scripture, whether of Prophets or of Apostles, in presenting this subject to our view! “I looked,” says the Almighty, by his prophet Isaiah, “ I looked, “ and there was none to help; and I wonder“ed that there was none to uphold; there“ fore mine own arm brought salvation unto
and my fury it upheld mem.” Again; “ I beheld, and there was no man “ amongst them, and there was no counsellor, 6 that when I asked of them could answer a word".” And again ;
And again ; “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His arm brought
salvation unto him, and his righteousness, 66 it sustained himo.” To the same effect St. Paul
says, “God was in Christ, reconciling “ the world unto himself, not imputing their
trespasses unto them?.” No point appears to be more strongly, more invariably, insisted upon by the sacred writers, than this, that the efficacy of the Atonement was derived m Isa. Ixiii. 5. n Isa. xli. 28. o Isa. lix. 16. P 2 Cor. v. 19.