« ПредишнаНапред »
quence, if justice had taken its course. Thus we need not go beyond our text to find proofs of our being unworthy of God's love. When he undertook to introduce a new dispensation whereby they might be saved, he found them perishing. But in the government of a good and righteous God, no creature could have perished without deserving it. If men deserved to perish, they could not be worthy of his love.
Possibly this thought may occur to some, that men fill so high a place in the universe, that the preservation of them might be an object of importance; that perhaps God might take measures for preventing their excision, in order to preserve the integrity of his universal empire. But alas! The earth with its grandeur is but a speck before God. Could then the destruction of it, with all its inhabitants, diminish ought of God's glory? would there not remain multitudes enough of holy creatures, yea of millions of worlds, to glorify him? Or if we were to suppose the whole universe, with all its wonders, to be blotted out and brought to nothing, would not he remain the same great God, infinitely happy in himself alone? Could he not, if he pleased, call forth another world with the same ease as when he spake this into being? But in truth, so far is the salvation of men from being necessary to God's glory, that he would have been glorified by our destruction. As our earth sunk in ruins, the inhabitants of heaven might praise
God in the same strains as those in which they will praise him at the fall of his other enemies: for thus they will sing in heaven at the final execution of judgment, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.* And again, they glorify him for the ruin of his enemies: Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.t Thus might the triumph be sung at the destruction of the race of men. They might have sung as we perished, Just and true are thy ways! If then God was under no obligation to do any thing for us, but on the contrary, might have justly left us to perish; if he might in righteous judgment have sent indiġnation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man, because they were enemies and rebels, there is no way of accounting for his being willing to save us, but by saying, that he chose that it should be so. It was mere sovereign grace that moved him to have compassion on us. He might have left it undone with perfect justice, propriety, and honor to himself; that he has done it at all, in any manner, is an interposition unexpected and extraordinary. If it is an act of mercy that God should suspend our punishment, what shall we say then, when God hath so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son? He loved us, but could not resign his rights, or put up
+ Rev. XV, 3.
* Rev. xi, 17.
| Rom. ï, &g9.
with a partial fulfilment of his will
! A person must be found capable of bearing the sins of men: and where was such an one but in the bosom of God himself? If God will save sinners, he must give none other than his own Son! His love to the world may be great, but will it draw from him a gift like this. Take now thy son, said God to Abraham, thine only son, whonu thou lovest, and offer him up there. This was the severity of the trial, that Abraham was to give up his only-beloved child. We pretend not to define accurately the relation which subsists between the Father and the Son:- SO far we may be certain from these names, that Christ is at least as dear to his Father, as a child to an earthly parent.
If this be the case, can the Father give him? Is there any example of such generosity on earth, that we may be encouraged to hope? Was ever a person known to give his fortune to another, who had no claim upon him; or to give the life of one of his own children for the sake of a friend? much less would he do it for the sake of a person indifferent to hin---still less for one who had used him ill-still less if he was still raging with enmity-least of all would he give an only child for such a person in such circumstances. To do any, the least of all these things, would argue a most unaccountable regard, when so many obstacles cannot prevent its exercise. But what, can the fellow of Jehovah* be given to man? Shall he, who is God, equal with the
Father, God over all, blessed for ever-shalt the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and is to eome; shall he leave his glory and sojourn with mortals? Must the Ancient of days put on a mortal tabernacle? What fellowship hath light with darkness; what agreement between dust and glory? Will the Father consent that one of the persons of the blessed Trinity be thus de based? No; he might say, if this be the only condition, let them perish! But God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.* Herein is love, as if there were love in nothing else. May we not say, that to give us a being among rational creatures, therein is love; to have our life carried on so many years as a taper in the hands of providence, therein is love; to have food, and raiment, and kind friends, therein is love; to give us heaven, therein is love? No; herein is love, that God gave his Son. He gave him unasked for; man would never have conceived such a request, or if he had, would not have dared to urge it. God foresaw how he would be treated, yet he gave him notwithstanding, to shame and to spitting, to pain and to sorrow, to a suffering life, and disgraceful death, for So God loved the world: such anxiety, such desire, and concern was there in the heart of God, for the salvation of sinners! The farther we advance in the text, the more conspicuously will this truth appear. God gave his Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish. The plan of salvation by Jesus Christ is altogether peculiar: in it men are considered as all alike perishing—as well the virtuous as the profligate, because they have both broken that law which allows of no violation, and provides no remedy. But the Son of God having appeared on the theatre of the world, and suffered the penalty due to us, God sends forth this message into the world, and at this moment is delivering it to you, that he is willing to grant pardon and bliss to the sinner, who comes to him through Christ.
* 1 Joho iv, 10.
Whosoever will venture to rest the whole weight of his concerns for eternity on this rock, shall find that it will not fail him; whosoever, pursued by avenging justice, will flee to this city, shall be safe-yea if he be a murderer, he shall be safe; whosoever believeth-it matters not what he has been, only let him be convinced that he deserves punishment, and plead the death of Christ, the sentence of death shall be reversed, and a free pardon granted; he shall not perish as he otherwise would have done; he shall not perish, though Satan would persuade him that he will; he shall not perish, though his remaining sinfulness threatens him every moment. He is kept by the power of God through faith,* and therefore he shall not perish.
* 1 Peter i, 5.