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ought certainly here to be our guide, and when taken as such, the submission of Christ to sorrow and death as an atonement for sin, will appear to those, at least, of humble and attentive minds, neither inconsistent nor irrational. For to which of our ideas of the Divinity does it seem contradictory to say, that in the great extensive scheme of Providence, of which the wisest see but a small part, it became fit, perhaps unavoidable, that an extraordinary degree of sufferings should befal a holy innocent person, that he by his patient enduring of them, might be the appointed means of averting those dreadful evils, which an apostate race had deserved, and of procuring those divine blessings, to which, of themselves, they were not entitled. Far from being incompatible with our conceptions of the most High, this appears in the highest degree consistent and reasonable. For, recollect, when God created man, and gave him a law by which to regulate his conduct, did he not, at the same time, as an all-wise legislator, threaten him and his posterity with death, in case of disobedience? How then could any saviour or surety deliver them, but by taking the
punishment, or the sufferings which they had incurred, upon himself, and paying "the rigid satisfaction, death for death." Therefore it was, that the divine Jesus, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and knew the counsels of heaven, says," the Son " of man must be lifted up." There was a necessity for his poverty, his pain, but especially his crucifixion; because these were stipulated in the covenant of peace, between him and the Father, when in glory together, before the world was. Some, indeed, there may be, absurd enough to imagine, that the Supreme Being, without the infliction of sufferings, might have easily passed an act of indemnity, and not permitted what they call the severity of law and justice to obstruct the current of his grace. But how can we think, that God would ever dispense with the exercise of that which was holy, and just, and good? How can we suppose, that He who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, would ever suffer, under his government, sin to pass unpunished? The Apostle Paul is most explicit upon this important point: He informs us,-not that God set aside the rights of his law and justice,—but that he
"set forth Jesus to be a propitiation,
through faith in his blood *;" with this express design, adds the Apostle, "that he might declare his righteousness," or, which is the same, that he might demonstrate not only his clemency, but his justice—that Sovereign justice, whose essential character it is, not only to reward obedience, but to punish transgression.
Had not Christ then suffered and died, we could never have reasonably hoped for the remission of sins. For had pardon been dispensed by the Almighty to his offending creatures, without exacting the penalty due to their crimes,-how would the glory of the divine perfections have been displayed, and the majesty of the divine government maintained? Who would have regarded its authority, or feared to violate its commands? Sinners would have been emboldened to multiply their transgressions, and tempted to suppose, that the God of unspotted purity-the God of unchangeable veracity, was altogether such a one as themselves. Nay, the evil might not have
* Rom, iii. 25.
been confined to earth alone; but might even have spread its baneful influence among the principalities of heaven. Beholding sinners violating the rules of righteousness with impunity, intellectual Beings of a higher order might have been led to entertain disadvantageous notions of their Sovereign Legislator, and at length been induced, like men, to rebel against his rightful supremacy. But when in the councils on high, it was solemnly declared by the Father, that nothing less than the sufferings and sacrifice of the "brightness "of his glory," and the "Beloved of his "soul," could remove the dreadful forfeiture, and expiate the deadly guilt which fallen man had incurred, the majesty of heaven was awfully proclaimed, and while grace was freely shewn-the order and ends of the divine government were fully secured. The honour of the law was vindicated, and the immaculate purity of the Lawgiver declared: the demands of justice were amply satisfied, and the extent of mercy copiously displayed. And while the highest degree of glory thus redounded to all the perfections of God, everlasting light, and life, and joy were conferred upon the
returning children of men. The gates of the heavenly paradise were again set open; the guardian cherubim who stood by the "Tree of life," were removed; the flaming sword which turned every way to defend it, was sheathed: to his erring creatures, a voice from the Eternal said, "Turn ye, turn ye, why will die? Here take, and eat, "and live for ever."
Thus have I endeavoured to demonstrate, that the sufferings of the blessed Jesus, instead of lessening the lustre of his character and the justness of his claims, must seem rather, to every impartial and reflecting mind, to perfect and confirm them.
First, By their putting beyond suspicion the truth of his mission; Secondly, By their exhibiting him as a pattern of virtue and all perfection to his followers; And, Thirdly, By their making him a proper propitiation for our sins.
There are still other views in which we proposed to make the expediency of these sufferings appear. But the illustration of these, and the inferences to be deduced, from the whole, shall be reserved