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in these things, regard them in a manner so far more impassioned as well as acute!
The text is the consummating point, the crown of a climax. "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." The great themes of all revelation are "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." We must recollect, that in “the sufferings of Christ," there was an immediate divine agency. "It pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief:" but " as the Lord liveth, he hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked;" and he doth not please himself when he afflicteth and grieveth the children of men. But in this instance, he was pleased to bruise, and to put his Son, and his anointed one, to grief. We can conceive of a pleasure which the Deity may have in the punishment of sin, inasmuch as sin is the most abhorrent evil to him; inasmuch as there is a connexion always between the commission of sin and the endurance of suffering; inasmuch as there is a fitness in it in order to warn and to deter the universe. But the Saviour, there was no guile in him; there could be no charge save of our imputed guilt, and our transferred punishment. Therefore, when there is an immediate divine agency in the infliction of his sufferings, we learn, that those sufferings must be peculiar in their effect, that they partake of an atonement.
And glory followed on these sufferings-glory that was most peculiar in his resurrection and his ascension, in the unfolding of peculiar personal excellence in the discharge of all his mediatorial offices; by the gifts of his Holy Spirit; by his second advent, and between that advent, the progress and wide-spread triumph of his cause. Then shall be his glorious appearing; then shall he be admired in all them who believe; then shall the wonders of his redemption, no longer seeking the stage of earth to exhibit them, demand for their spectacle and their evolution the theatre of heaven!
Now these are the themes, the mysterious and the unrivalled themes of revelation. And they were depicted by emblem, and they were announced by prophecy. Depicted by emblem; for we are told, that there were those who ministered unto these things in the typical observances. There was a divine afflatus given to the holy seers, through which they roamed into the vista of ages, and saw these great and wondrous events. We find that these sufferings and this glory are inseparably combined, and that the one is in the way to the other, as in the way of means to an end, or in the way of cause to its effect. These sufferings and this glory are not only so depicted, so announced, and so inseparably combined together, but they subserved a purpose during their immediate action. No type was portrayed without a purpose, and no prophecy was announced without a use, even for that given time, and as they passed on to future generations: and thus these prophets and these celebrants learnt what was to take place, and learnt why they were to take place. They saw not as we see; but at the same time they knew they ministered not unto themselves, but unto us; that that type and this prediction were not to ter
minate upon themselves, but they saw a great and glorious catastrophe in the future.
But how can it be said, that the Spirit of Christ was that Spirit which informed each type and which inspired each prediction? There is no prerogative more solemnly and exclusively asserted by Jehovah than this, that his Spirit was in the prophets. The meanest inference we, therefore, could take, would be the pre-existence of Chr st: but we superinduce upon that influence a still wider demonstration, whica is the deity of Christ; for it must be within the sole power and prerogative of the Deity so to authorize any observance, and so to inspire any prediction. Well, the Spirit of Christ did all this, and did all this in those who ministered and in those who prophesied. We cannot, therefore, ask other witness, any thing more cogent, more irrefragable than this the Spirit of Christ is the testimony of prophecy; the Spirit of Christ is the Author of prophecy, and the Author of that prophecy can only be God, through whose energy holy men spake of old, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
But now we see not only prophets, but we see more exalted natures. There is a scale projected from earth to heaven: at its base there are prophets seen, and there are celebrants seen, ministering to these things, and making a heraldry of these things. But, then, upon the summit of this scale there are angels hovering: they themselves wonder at those things, though they occupy a summit concerning which prophets ruminated at the base. We, therefore, have not only to vindicate the grandeur of our system by the conduct and by the inquiry of prophets, raised as they were by office so much above ourselves, but we have to learn from angels, raised so much above prophets, what this Gospel is, how it can justify even their keenest thoughts, and how it can absorb even their most delightful studies. We must attempt to justify their investigation of these things. Into these things-the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which was to follow-angels, all angels, whatever may be their rank and their honour, "desire to look."
First: these things involve the most awful order of means.
It would have been immediately understood, even from the earliest intimation, that man was an object of favour and of commiseration. The promise might be allegorical; rather it was a threatening against the tempter, than a promise to his dupe; but it contained something, it even breathed much: and these natures, of such piercing power and acuteness, could not have listened to that intimation, and could not have pursued it in its bearings and in its influence, without the impression, that man, though fallen, was to be redeemed, and that whatever was his loss, that loss was to be repaired. For man had sinned, and the cool of the day had not reached its perfect chill, nor the shadow of the evening fallen into its thickest night, when there was an embodiment of compassion seen moving in the garden, and there was a voice, not only of rebuke, but of persuasive and touching goodness heard amidst the arbours of that garden; and the sun of the day of our transgression went not down upon the unmitigated and the immitigable wrath of God.
But could it occur to these existences, that nothing should be allowed to obstruct the course of mercy; that whatever should be the demand of equity, there should be compliance with the demand; that whatever should be the right of purity, there should be a satisfaction of the right; that nothing should
be spared, and that nothing should be refused that was wanted to found a system of mercy, as honourable to God as it was efficient for man? What would have been their scrutiny had they been so informed, and what would have been their suspicion in reference to the means that were indispensably required? And yet, had they very soon to discover, placed before them, enigmas, and then predictions, all fraught with this assurance. Nothing is difficult, nothing is impossible; for the God of heaven is the God of salvation, and he will do whatsoever he shall please.
And what was that order of means which they soon beheld disclosed to them? Incarnation-substitution-an atoning, sacrificial death. There came forth a mysterious One; they saw the supernal height from which he bent his steps: they saw him pass their nature, their rank, and become a little lower than the angels-from the bosom of the Father, from the form of God, seeking their aid, accepting their ministration. They saw that spotless and that holy one made sin, becoming a curse, placed in a new relationship; a relationship which, while it did not sacrifice divine complacency and personal excellence, was a relationship that attracted and conducted punishment down upon itself. And he who occupied that relation had to bear all the effect of such sin, and all the fierceness of such curse. And there was no relinquishment, and there was no extenuation; the evil was all discharged, and the blow was all inflicted, and the victim with the wood of the offering, and the victim bound upon that offering, and that offering enkindled-lightning, at once the tokens of the divine wrath, and the signal of the divine acceptance-lightning kindling that suffering, sin there losing all its desert, wrath there spending all its indignation, and the victim unbound, unconsumed, though his had been a bloody death, and he had presented a perfect oblation, takes at once his place at the neadship of the universe, and in all things has the pre-eminence. Well might they wonder, when there were so many notes of preparation, so many preludes introducing Him, this mysterious one, this holy one, this one who was destined to suffer and to die." He cometh, he cometh!" resounded along the march of type and prophecy: "He cometh, he cometh!" echoed from one end of the heavens to the other. Is he dressed in ensigns and equipped for conquests? Does he spread around him the signals of panic and alarm? Does he wield the munitions of war, and the thunder-bolts of vengeance? He cometh, he cometh, to hear the needy, when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He cometh to relieve the bosom of the conflict, which has ruthlessly lacerated it. He cometh to wipe away the tear so long suffered to fall and to inflame. He cometh to revive the weary, to console the mourners, to bind up the bruised spirit, to lay at rest the heaving and the broken heart: and, therefore, hung he upon woman's breast, and drunk its balm; therefore, he surrounded himself with all the charities of our most cherished existence; therefore, he became acquainted with grief, learned to weep, cast back the vital air in sighs, consorted with the sons and daughters of affliction, penetrated into the solitudes of abandonment and of anguish, sounded all the depths of misery of which our nature is susceptible, lifted up the wretch when he was spurned by all besides, and the bruised reed he would not break, and the smoking flax he would not quench. Thus did he come—thus did he tabernacle in this building—thus did he dwell in flesh among us; and it was for the sacrifice of death. Such an order of means is a most awful sublimity; and no
wonder that angels, in the spirit of the most perfect scrutiny, "desire to look into these things."
Secondly: these things effectuate the most stupendous results in the creatures whom they concern.
There is evidently an incrustation of evil, if we may so speak, covering the face of the earth, the very nature of man. For we find, that man is labouring under relative evils, as well as those which are inherent. His very position is most fatally unhappy. He is a guilty creature, and is obnoxious to the divine displeasure. He is not only a guilty creature, but he is a captive, one brought under the dominance of another power, as well as being the servant of his own lusts and pleasures. He is so alienated, and, therefore, he is deeply revolted from God, and is suffering all the alienation of such a reproach. But these things, the sufferings of Christ, confirmed as they are by the glory which has followed-these things take away, so to speak, all that is external, breaks through this incrustation of evil, alters the relative position in which our being is found; and there is pardon beneath this guilt, there is redemption and rescue from this vassalage, there is permission to draw nigh, there is boldness of access to God, as our reconciling and adopting parent.
Now, surely, when angels have seen in other cases which have interested them, all the severities of justice, the dark and unblenching procedure of that justice, through all its issues, and through all its consequences, they must stand surprised and delighted; surprised to see that that brand of guilt is removed, that that feature of bondage is broken, that the interval is filled, and that there is no yawning abyss; and delighted that the creature who was cut off, and, as it seemed, inseparably and hopelessly from God, is now permitted to come as to a father's bosom, and to catch a father's smile: the Spirit of adoption is moving within him: there is no condemnation. who shall separate from the love of Christ?
But these higher existences see springing up, as the very result of these things into which they desire to look, a new class of results: there is a willing obedience. All that indisposition and untowardness is overcome; all that enmity which flowed from the eye, and blasphemed in the lip, is slain. They are no longer foreigners-they are children; no longer convicts working in chains, but those who rejoice in the splendour of their Potentate, their King: and all this would be inexplicable to them, but that they see there is a connexion between these things and these consequences. O! it was delightful to them when first the tear stood in the rebel's eye, and there were his wringing hands, and there was his palpitating bosom, and there was his bursting heart. O! it was delightful to them when they heard the very notes of heaven—“ I have seen it; I have seen it: behold! he prayeth." How would they then rejoice in all the strains of joy, and in all their revolutions of happiness: "Man, an abandoned creature, secured, made fast to his happiness by that very principle and nature of obedience, a new creature in Christ Jesus." And if they wondered to see that the different causes of physical nature, first spoken into being, produced their corresponding effects, and rejoiced together, and sung aloud for joy, much more has this newly-created world, sprung up under the divine hand, and under the plastic influence of these very motives, the operation of these very causes, these very things into which the angels desire to look. They, long before ourselves, felt the sweet wonders of the cross; they, long
before ourselves, knew that He who was lifted up on the cross would draw, by the gentlest and yet the most potent attraction, all men unto him. And if we, in our fallen nature, have been enabled to say, "God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ-we are determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ, even the crucified one," much more has the Spirit taken possession of their bosoms; much more does this tone prevail in their spirits. They will know of nothing else, they can listen to nothing else; here they are fully engrossed. They are not indifferent to nature and its treasures; they are not indifferent to the machinery of providence, and all its dizzy, eternally revolving wheels: but still, by the law of a preference, by the power of a bias, they turn from that creation as if it had become suddenly dimmed, and from that providence, as though it had become weary and uninteresting, reduced to this scale, tried by this test: and they "look into these things."
Thirdly we justify their investigation, when we reflect that the angels desire to look into these things, because these things have characterized all the movements of religious dispensations.
Their nature, doubtless, is that which renders them apt students of whatever is revealed; but then they can only learn according to the allowance of light, and the measures of information which are around them. There may be a most rapid susceptibility of knowledge, but there cannot be its intuition: when they are brought within the divine light and vision, they are charged with folly. It is impossible to conceive that now they have reached the very acıé of that which they shall behold, or grasped the extent of that which they shall compare: for progression belongs to life, to created nature; but that created nature is intelligent, accountable, and immortal. There is a restriction on the inferior tribes of the world; they do not make progression in themselves: the ancestor knew as much, and accomplished as much, as the descendant: there is no transmission of the knowledge-there can be no improvement of the species. But it is different with all intelligent nature; and if you could ever say to an intelligent and accountable creature, "Here is the pause, here is the resting-place; beyond this no more knowledge can be acquired, no more happiness can be enjoyed:" that creature would be seized with anguish; that creature would feel all the pangs of desire: whatever its knowledge, it would feel there was much more from which it was necessarily debarred; whatever its happiness, that happiness never more could be augmented or refined. There would be a change in heaven itself, if angels saw there was not another height for them to soar, that there was not another race for them to run.
But this revelation which was made to them must be the revelation which God had dispensed to us; and we may imagine, that in this building (to use the apostolic phrase) they particularly conned their lesson and pursued their research. They learn as God reveals to them: every new economy and dispensation is the unbosoming of a new purpose, or the unveiling a new feature. And often had they, doubtless, been embarrassed and perplexed: there was only a dark saying muttered from the heart; there was only a curious riddle and device which they could not divine: there was a mystery hidden from the world; but redemption was the most conspicuous of all the glories, and the spirit of all: and we are, therefore, informed, that the book is written on "every side;" it is not written only at the back, or on the cover; the scroll is illuminated, it is embellished with all the letters of divine redemption