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the example of Christ in his humiliation. Behold the loveliness of his character as here expressed, and transcribe it into your own.
2. We see the safety and dignity of those, who trust in Christ. is exalted. "He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him, seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for them." We then have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel." The exaltation of Christ ensures the safety of every believer. His disciples saw him after his resurrection, and they saw him ascend to heaven. They experienced the promise of the Father as he had told them, and witnessed the evidence of his exaltation in the conversion of sinners. These things are testified and recorded for our consolation.
Our happiness depends much on the stability of those objects, on which we rest. This is a principal reason why the things of time give so flattering and so false a hope. It is deeply impressed on the mind that they are fleeting. So, even while resting on them, the mind is unsettled and anxious. But the experienced Christian is persuaded that he can never be separated from the love of Christ. "Whether he lives, he lives to him, or whether he dies, he dies to him. Whether he lives, therefore, or dies, he is the Lord's." And he sometimes feels like Paul, that "it is far better to die, and be with Christ," than to live. To support them amid the inevitable trials of life, the experience of the same Apostle is often realized to Christians diligent in duty; and they become "persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor princi palities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
And where can the soul find a more substantial, and happier source of consolation, than in the contemplation of a latter end of peace, and an eternal union with all that is good, and omnipotent, and pure? Amid the disappointments of life, here is rest. When friends fail us, here is one that "sticketh closer than a brother." When bereavements strike our earthly comforts dead, here are undying sources of consolation. Here is an adequate support in the desolation of wasting sickness, and a refuge in the leanness of death. Christian brethren, it is your privilege to appropriate this consolation. In prosperity, let it keep you humble; in the world, let it keep you thoughtful of coming changes; in bereavements you may feel its power to bless; in sickness, lean upon it; and in the darkness and verty of death, let it be your refuge and very present help. Christ will be exalted in the redemption of his people, and he will proceed from conquering to conquer. Philosophy, and reason, and power have been united and employed against the advancement of this work on earth. Ridicule and mockery have lent their aid. Still it goes on. Revivals of religion are multiplied, the heathen are receiving the truth as it is in Jesus, the Jews are returning, and this growing kingdom is advancing under the guidance and protection of the great King; and let all the saints shout for joy.
3. There is one other consideration, which I would not fail to suggest. It is the manner in which all that has now been said must affect the finally impenitent. Christ indeed has submitted to death, even the death of the cross-but you have scornfully rejected that cross. He is risen again, and is exalted at the right hand of God, but you have not be
lieved. He is sustained and honored in the perfections of his moral character, and the praises of the redeemed, but you are insensible to them both.
From the position, impenitent men, which you occupy, it must follow, that all the power with which the Savior of sinners is clothed, all the perfections in which he is exalted, all the distinctions to which he is raised, will be employed against you. The very sources of blessing to the righteous will prove means of increasing the torment of those who despise them. The effect of this eminent display of divine love will be to increase the guilt and heighten the miseries of those, who shall turn, away from it. Such proposals of pardon cannot be trifled with by the sinner without producing most fearful results, without greatly aggravating his guilt. Indeed we are taught that so great is the guilt of rejecting the Savior distinctly offered, that all other offences are involved in this one. When, as impenitent sinners, you stand in judgment, your condemnation will not proceed on the evidence that you have stolen, or lied, or profaned God's holy name, or holy day. These, if they exist, are minor offences. They are all merged in one great, damning sinthe rejection of an offered Savior. "This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light.”
It becomes my duty, then, again to offer for your acceptance this Savior from sin, once humbled, now exalted and glorified. To you are the words of this salvation sent. This Savior, now exalted, condescends to plead with you. Though in his humiliation, he was poor, in his exaltation he is rich-rich in priceless blessings secured for sinners by his poverty. In his humiliation he was despised, was put to grief, and was forsaken; in his exaltation he is honored in the praises of purchased souls, and in the possession of his original dignity; in his humiliation he suffered, and submitted himself; in his exaltation he is jealous of his honor, and will proceed to vindicate his authority: in his humiliation he condescended and pleaded with sinners, and still, in the execution of mediatorial office, he pleads with them by his word, and providence, and appointed ministry; but the time will soon come when he will plead no more-when judgment will proceed on the evidence of the past. This is a day of forbearance, of love, of life. "As though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Our God is a God of mercy, but not of mercy only. Opening this everlasting Book, I read-" He whets his glittering sword, and his hand takes hold on vengeance.” I see—“ dark clouds are his pavilion round about." I hear—it is the voice of mercy still, but of mercy long abused; and the very next accent may be the thunder of that voice, which calls you to Judgment. Oh, "kiss the Son, lest he be angry with you, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little."
THE TRINITY EMPLOYED IN MAN'S REDEMPTION. ACTS 2:33.-Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, &c.
MUCH of the plan of redemption, in its executive process, is set forth in this single text, leading us directly to consider,
I. The salvation of the sinner as the work of the Trinity.
II. The part which each person in the sacred Trinity performs in this work.
III. The necessity of this Trinity to the work of man's redemption.
I. In our text the salvation of the sinner is set forth as the work of the Trinity. We plainly see that the doctrine of a Trinity in the Godhead is taught in the holy Scriptures; it is palpable. Here are the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost; three persons employed in the work of man's salvation. The Father gives to the Son, and does not receive the gift. The Son receives the gift from the Father, and does not make the gift to the Father. The Son sends the Holy Ghost, and is not sent by him. The Holy Ghost is sent, or, as our Confession of Faith has it, "proceeds from the Father and the Son," and does not send the Father nor the Son. Can any distinction of persons be more plainly expressed?
Again-when the law was to be repeated to Israel, the Lord said, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is ONE Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." One Lord, essentially one, in substance, and in distinction from the gods of the heathen, which were many; one, as an object of simple and undivided worship; one, as the object of allegiance; one, as a unit necessary to be understood when the law was about to be solemnly announced, and repeated, and enforced on their observance. And so God is properly, essentially, and absolutely ONE only living and true God, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, having an existence in a Trinity of persons, mysterious, like all his attributes, co-equal, co-eternal, and essentially the same in all divine perfections.
When man was originally formed of the dust of the earth, it was the result of divine counsel in the Trinity-" And God said, Let Us make man." When man had violated the divine law, and was found wholly destitute of that love to God which that law required, his redemption was the result of divine counsel in the Trinity. The Father asserts the claims of the law, the Son accepts the penalty, and the Holy Ghost, by a divine efficiency exerted on the hearts of sinners, "prepares many sons unto glory." Here each performs a separate office. The law must be asserted-it cannot yield. The eternal Father asserts it. The Son takes the sinner's place under the law, and the substitution is accepted: he is "God our Savior." The Holy Ghost prepares the sinner's heart for the reception and love of the truth, and enlightens and sanctifies; he is God our Sanctifier. Thus we see, then, as set forth in the text, the sinner's salvation is the work of God in the Trinity. "Therefore," said the Apostle, "being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he (Jesus) hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
II. We are to consider more explicitly the part which each person in the sacred Trinity performs in the work of man's redemption. The law had been made and prescribed to man by the ONE only living and true God-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This law having been wilfully and wickedly violated, God, as the maker and executor of the law, must exact the penalty of temporal and eternal death. If mercy is extended, justice must not be disparaged, nor truth violated, nor the depraved and rebellious heart remain in its enmity and pollution.
Here, then, is a three-fold service required. The law must be asserted in its claims and guarded from dishonor. The sinner needs a substitute and advocate. A work of regeneration must be performed to prepare the heart for a holy kingdom. The Father undertakes for the law, Christ the eternal Son undertakes for the sinner, and the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, executes the dispensation of grace. Here, then, the Father represents the law, preserving the faithful administration of justice. The Son represents the sinner, meeting in himself the penalty of the law, and thereby providing for the dispensation of mercy. The Spirit executes a divine work ou the heart of the sinner, which illustrates to his experience the divine attributes of justice and mercy, and prepares him to receive pardon, under a full conviction of utter unworthiness and ruin.
Nor are here conflicting interests. The whole disposition of the Godhead is in favor of the administration of justice, of mercy, and of truth. The Father loves mercy as well as justice, and can never urge the latter to the prejudice of the former. Christ loves justice as well as mercy. The Holy Spirit aids the dispensation of neither at the expense or exclusive of the other. Yet the Father performs a work in this plan separate from the Son, and which the Son does not perform. The Son performs a work which the Father does not perform. The Holy Spirit performs a work separate and different from both. And yet whatever is performed by the Father, or the Son, or the Spirit, is properly and strictly the work of God, harmoniously approved and sanctioned in the divine mind. Is justice asserted? It is God. Is mercy dispensed? It is God. Is a sinner saved? It is God who does it. Do the Scriptures speak of justice, or the administration of law? It is God the Father, or God without distinction of person. Do they speak of mercy, or atonement for sin; by which, in the administration of the divine government, mercy may be dispensed to the guilty? It is Christ the Son of God, who has undertaken for the sinner, and become sin for him, and provided for him a justifying righteousness. Do they speak of regeneration, by which the enmity of the sinner's heart is removed, and love enkindled, and the law commended to his approbation and acceptance, as holy, and just, and good? It is God the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to reprove of sin; showing to the sinner the enmity of his own heart, illuminating his mind, and quickening all his powers to see the truth in its application to himself, illustrating the divine character, and bringing him into present judgment. Is the proud, rebellious heart subdued? Does the sinner repent, abhor himself, believe in Christ as a Savior? It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Does he strive against sin, gain the victory over the flesh, walk in newness of life? It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Is he comforted and edified in the truth? Does he grow in grace? Does he hunger and thirst after righteousness? Is he a new man in his desires and enjoyments, in his hopes and aspirations, in the circle of his duties and employments? It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Is he sustained under trials? Does the fire of devotion glow in his soul as the lamp of life expires? Is he strengthened in the inner man as the outward man decays? Does he triumph in death? It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Is the saint raised from the dead, incorruptible and pure, unsullied and immortal? It is the work of the same agency. For "if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
III. We are now to consider the necessity of this Trinity to the work of man's redemption. We should speak with great caution and respect when we undertake to say what God cannot do, or what it is necessary for him to do. Yet this is a language that may with propriety be sometimes used, and expresses ideas which exist in truth. God cannot deny himself. He cannot do wrong. He can in no wise clear the guilty. He cannot look on sin with allowance. It is necessary that the law of God should be executed. If the sinner is saved, it is necessary that the law of God should be satisfied by vi
carious suffering. In order to the enjoyment of God, and a state of happiness in heaven, it is necessary that a work of regeneration should be performed in the sinner's heart.
Here we see the necessity of the Trinity in the work of redemption. The only question now to be settled in the establishment of this position is-could not this work all be done without a Trinity in the Godhead? We reason from what we know, or are able to infer from premises possessed, and we answer, No. We do not see how this work could be performed without this divine Trinity. If the claims of the law are to be asserted, who will assert them but God? God must execute his own law. It can be safely intrusted to no other hands. Like its Author, the divine law is immutable. All else is liable to change, and therefore can furnish no parallel. If an atonement, or satisfaction to that law, is to be made, God only can make it. Who else can do it? Where is the power? Who can measure eternity in any one particular, so as to consent intelligently to assume an obligation or penalty involving eternity? Who but God? But suppose this difficulty were removed, and an angel or any other being were willing to offer himself a substitute for the sinner, to endure the literal penalty of the law, where would be the dispensation of mercy? The illustration of this divine attribute would still be a desideratum in the moral universe. The identical sinner would escape, but not through grace. Mercy could not enter into the scheme of such a substitution. As it is, this perfection of the divine character is eminently displayed. If, as a law-giver, I make a law, and prescribe that the first man who is guilty of the crime of forgery shall have his right hand cut off, and I should clear the guilty by the substitution of my own hand for his, whatever objection might be urged against the measure, it certainly would be an eminent dispensation of mercy. God, then, dispenses mercy to the sinner when he assumes himself the penalty, and makes a satisfaction to the law, which preserves its honor, establishes its truth, and saves the offender from merited punishment. None but God can do this.
Again-if the sinner is to be saved in heaven, it is necessary he should be holy. A work of regeneration must be performed in his heart, by which its enmity must be slain, its choice directed, its dispositions changed and rectified, and the whole current of its affections controlled. Who is able to look into the secret thoughts of the soul, to know its disposition, to understand its constitution and principle of action, so as even to anticipate its course of conduct, much more its emotions and necessary action under every possible circumstance, and every variety of motive? Who can do this but He, who made the soul, who intimately understands its nature, who can himself control it, and turn it as the rivers of water are turned? He only can enter into its secret chambers, analyze it, reveal its secret and hidden lineaments to its own view, contiol, new-create, and sanctify it. None but God can do this.
Here then, in the nature of the work to be performed in man's redemption, we see the necessity of a Trinity in the Godhead. Justice and mercy are to be united under the government of God in a consistent theory, and practically applied, in a harmony of the divine attributes, to the salvation of siuners. Surely to the accomplishment of this plan, the Trinity is necessary. All other theories are inadequate, imperfect, and unsafe. They take some part of the work from the hards of God, and commit it to a creature, subject to the direction of fatal imbecility, ignorance, or doubt.
IV. We have still to contemplate the beauty and harmony of the doctrine. Its harmony is exhibited where "mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have embraced each other." Here are clashing interests, but no discord. When mercy cannot proceed against justice, God the Son satisfies that justice, and bids mercy proceed. When mercy cannot proceed against the hardness and corruption of the heart, for which the dispensation is prepared, God the Holy Ghost enlightens, convicts, softens,