« السابقةمتابعة »
should not; surely, be disregarded, merely because it has been long impending; and as there is no equivalent for which a man, can reasonably determine to suffer, it cannot be considered as the object of courage. How it may be born should not be the inquiry ; but how it may be shunned. And if, in this daring age it is impossible to prepare for eternity, without giving up the character of a hero, no reasonable being, surely, will be deterred by this consideration from the attempt; for who but an infant, or an idiot, would give up his * paternal inheritance for a feather, or renounce the acclamations of a triumph for the tinkling of à rattle ?!
The truth is, all men by nature possess a radical aversion to the government of God. They practically say concerning him, as the Jewish nation did of Christ, We will not have this man to reign over us : and the reason is obvious : his word, like that of the prophet to the king of Israel, never speaks good to them, but always evil. There is, therefore, a perpetual contest between him and them for sovereign dominion ; or, as Charnock expresses it, • Whose will, and whose authority shall stand.' As rector of the world, he has enacted a law worthy of infinite wisdom, and of infinite benevolence; that is adapted to promote the divine glory and the happiness of man. But this law, since the fall, though supremely excellent in itself, is so repugnant to the propensities of depraved nature, that it is constantly opposed; is represented as rigorous and cruel; as not suited to man in his present circumstances; and, therefore, incompatible with the benignity of God. The heavenly statute is treated as an obsolete rule, and the will of perverse mortals set up as the standard of duty; or at least the authority of the divine Legislator in the law, is trampled on without regret, and the vilest atrocities frequently committed without' remorse and without shame.
Let it, however, be remembered, that one grand end of the incarnation, the sufferings, and the death of Christ, was to honour the divine government. The objects whom he came to redeem, were violators of the law of God, and subject to its curse. As delinquents, it had a legal claim upon them; which claim was a bar to bestowment of happiness. In order, therefore, to remove this impediment, he, as their surety, conformed to all its precepts in his life, and suffered its penalty in being made sin and a curse for them in his death. Now Christ, in bearing this curse, practically declared, both to angels and to men, that the law which denounced it is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good ; that the persons for whom he died, deserved to suffer its penalty; and that they could not, consistently with the honour of the divine government, possess the kingdom prepared for them till this curse was entirely removed.
If the purity and perfection of the law of God be not fully admitted ; if the curse it pronounceth on the sinner be not strictly equitar, ble, the death of Christ, as an expiatory sacrifice, was the most unjust, and the most cruel event that heaven or earth ever witness, ed! What need was there for such an expiation, if man could have been saved without
it ? To imagine that the Father of mercies required the death of his own Son to atone for crimes which the law could not: righteously punish, or which could have been reinitted in a way less rigorous, is such an impeachment of the divine wisdom, and the divine goodness as excites horrour.
But the period is swiftly approaching, when all the impious cavils of men will be effectually silenced : when it shall be made manifest that the government of God is according to truth. • Think not,' said Christ, that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil: nor shall one jot, or one tittle pass from the law till all be fulfilled.' A day is appointed of God, in the which he will judge the world in righteous. ness, by that Man who died to maintain the rights of divine justice. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. And who so fit to vindicate the divine government, or to administer divine justice, as he who vo
voluntarily laid down his life in obedience to that law which thousands wantonly contemn, but by which, however reluctant, they must finally be judged ?
It has been supposed, that one reason among others, for which a judgment day is appointed, is for putting honour on the Son of God. It is highly proper,' says the ingenious Dr. Smith,
that this holy and divine person, who was buffeted and affronted, condemned and crucified by an ungrateful and injurious world, should now judge his judges, and be as far advanced above the pinnacle of human greatness as he was once below it. It is fit that Herod may see that he persecuted, not the infant king of a petty province, but the sovereign of angels and of men; and that Pilate and the Jews may be convinced, that he whom they called a King in scorn, is really a greater emperour than Cæsar.'
I am yours, &c.