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On the atonement.
1 Cor. Chap. 1, VER. 18.
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God."
IN a former discourse, we proposed, from these words of the Apostle,
I. To explain the nature of Christ's atonement for sin, which doctrine the Apostle calls “ the preaching of the cross.”
II. To illustrate the purposes which the doctrine of salvation by Christ's atonement answers, that we may be able to infer the meaning and truth of the Apostle's assertion, that “ “ the preaching of the cross is the power of - God to those who are saved.”
Having, already, made a few observations on the first head, we shall now proceed to point out those purposes which the atonement of Christ is calculated to serve.
1. The atonement is highly glorifying to God, and displays all the perfections of his nature in the brightest manner.
The scheme of salvation opposed to the doctrine of atonement greatly extols one of his attributes, but it is derogatory from the perfection of the others.Goodness, indeed, seems to be the most amiable perfection in the divine character, and, certainly, the one best suited to the present low and guilty state of human nature : but a God all mercy is a being of injustice and imperfection. In how different a light does the doctrine of atonement represent the Supreme Being ? While it does justice to his mercy, it gives every other attribute it's due share of praise. In Jesus Christ they all harmonize and unite. “ Truth and mercy are met to“ gether, righteousness and peace have kissed “ each other.” None of them are limited in their exercise, but all of them are magnified and made honourable. This is so obvious, at first sight, that farther proof of it's truth is unnecessary; but, the subject is too pleasing, too grand, and too interesting, not to require a More full discussion.
First of all, love and goodness shine forth most conspicuously. From these the whole of our redemption originated. We had no claim upon God; he would have been no loser, though we had suffered that eternal exclusion from his presence which our sins deserved ; heaven would not have wanted inhabitants, nor God have wanted praise, though the whole of Adam's sinful race had been blotted out from the book of existence. But God so loved the world that he sent into it his only begotten Son. Herein was love, not that
we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent - his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. -
Whom did he send ? His Son, his only begotten Son, his beloved Son, in whom he was, always, well pleased, the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person. A greater and a dearer gift he could not give.And for whom was he given ? For men, for sinners, for enemies, for rebels. For them did the eternal Father cause the Son of his bosom to suffer a painful, an accured, and an ignominious death upon a cross. Amazing and infinite love ! This is not the manner of nan : it is too high, it is too wonderful for him. It is the work of “God who is rich in mercy,a id
a who, for the great love wherewith he loved
us, even when we were dead in sins, hath "quickened us together with Christ, that, in the
ages to come, he might shew the exceeding ~ riches of his grace in his kindness towards us
through Christ Jesus.”
The sovereignty and fulness of these favours likewise enhance their value, and magnify the love of the giver ; God passed by the angels who fell from their first state of glory, and left them to perish in that desperate condition into which they had plunged themselves ; but his countenance beamed with compassion on the human race, when they lay in death and ruins, when there was no eye which pitied, nor hand which could bring deliverance. Christ took not on him the nature of angels, but that of the seed of Abraham. This shows that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion on whom he will have compassion. The sacred writers dwell, with delight and admiration, on that goodness and free
grace which God has displayed in the redemption of the world ; but with how much greater rapture will they be celebrated by the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, who will be put in full possession of the blessings arising
from them, which at present it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive.
The love of the Son, in the execution of the plan of our redemption, is not less conspicuous than that of the Father in giving rise to it. “ Ye know,” says the Apostle Paul, (2 Cor. viii. 9,) “the riches of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ that though he was rich, yet for our sakes “ he became poor, that we through his pover
ty might be made rich.” For one who was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God : for such an one to make himself of no reputation, to take upon him the form of a servant, and to be “made “ in the likeness of sinful flesh ;” and being found in fashion as a man, to humble himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and all this for the sins, in the room, and for the sake of his rebellious subjects, is an instance of love and
mercy which never was nor can be equalled in the universe of God. We cannot comprehend it's breadth or length, it's heighth or depth. It passeth knowledge. Let us then join with the psalmist in saying, “ how great is thy good
ness, which thou hast laid up for them that “ fear thee, which thou hast wrought out for