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which was shortly after to be “ shed for many, for the remission of sins *."
The atonement of Christ is always spoken of, in the Sacred Records, as the procuring cause of our reconciliation ; as the medium through which we · receive the grant of every spiritual favour. "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto hinself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him **.
Moreover, to cut off the delusive expectations of those who are disposed to confide in their own righteousness for eternal life, and to establish the faith of all who are truly penitent, the atonement of Christ is declared to be the only means by which sinners can be saved, and attain the possession of everlasting happiness. “Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are freely justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other namne under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved ?.” hath God exalted with his right-hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."
The glorified Spirits, whom St. John saw in vision before the throne of God, attribute their salvation to the vicarious sufferings of our Exalted Redeemer. Without a single discordant voice, they cry, “ Unto » Luke xxvi. 28. ** 2 Cor. v. 18-22. Acts xiii. 38, 39. Acts iv, 12. *ib, v. 31.
Hiin that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion for ever and everb!” “ And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests ©. "
8. The sacrifice of Christ, to which so much importance is reasonably ascribed, gave infinite satisfaction to God; because "it magnified the law, and made it honourable". Indeed, he hath more honoured the law by his obedience unto death, than if every one of the race of Adam had observed its injunctions in their own persons ; for being God, and not owing obedience to the law in that character, he hath fully satisfied its claims, and hath brought infinitely more glory to God, than could have accrued to him from the united works or sufferings of all his imperfect creatures. In testimony of his approbation of the infinitely meritorious undertaking of his Son, “ the Father hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father d.”
And as a reward for his meditorial services, God has engaged to bestow upon him “an everlasting kingdom, which shall not be destroyed; a dominion extending from one end of the earth to the other." " Because he hath poured out his soul unto death, b Rev. i. 5, 6. "ib. v. 9, 10.
ce Isa. xlii. 21. & Phil. ii. 9-12. • Dan. vii. 13, 14.
therefore he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many ; for he shall bear their iniquities"."
Notwithstanding the explicit declarations of God in his word, unbelievers have raised objections against this, as well as every other doctrine of our most holy religion. Their cavils represent the atonement as being at direct variance with the attributes of the Deity. An appeal, however, to Scripture, wherein he hath revealed his mind on the subject, will evince that there is no sort of foundation for such a charge. From this source we learn, that the atonement, so far from being incompatible with the Divine perfections, perfectly accords with them all, and sheds a glory around them which nothing but scepticism and infidelity refuse to behold and admire.
9. It is fully consistent with the prescience and omniscience of the Lord. " Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world 8." Before the creation of man, God, doubtless, foresaw that he would depart from the way of righteousness, and render himself amenable to the law. In anticipation of this evil, and with a view to counteract its dire effects, he made ample provision for recovering our lost race, by entering into covenant with his Son to redeem us from all iniquity". And hence, St. Peter asserts, that the sacrifice of Christ, as offered in the purposes of Heaven, was prospectively efficacious before the world began. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversaIsa. liii. 10-12. 3. Acts xv. 18.
b Zach. vi. 13,
tion received by tradition from your fathers ; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you '.
10. The veracity of God is greatly honoured by the atonement. He promised, after the Fall, to redeem mankind from the degraded captivity in which they were held by Satan, by means of the incarnation and sufferings of Christ The Saviour made his appearance at the period appointed by the Father. « When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons k.”
11. But the justice of God is also most awfully illustrated by the sacrifice of Christ. Sin offered an affront to the Divine Majesty, which could not be forgiven, without an adequate satisfaction made by the Lord Jesus Christ; who, rather than God should be dishonoured, or man should perish eternally without remedy, consented to bear in his own person the full weight of that wrath which must have fallen on a guilty world, and have sunk it to the nethermost hell kk
12. The atonement illustriously exhibits the benevolence and compassion of our heavenly Father towards his apostate children, 6 God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'.'
13. The wisdom of God is strikingly manifested in. it. None but an infinite understanding could have
i i Pet. i. 18-20. Gen, iii. 15. Gal. iv. 4. # Isa. Ixiii. 1-5. 1 Pet. ii. 24.
John üi. 16.
devised a scheme so well suited to retrieve the ruined circumstances of man. In the plan of redemption by Christ, God is said to have “abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence ".
Whilst he secures the honour due unto himself, he can exercise mercy in the most unexceptionable manner, towards all who approach him through the Mediator. · By the death of Jesus, all those attributes which sin had armed against rebellious men are made to harmonize in promoting their salvation: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have embraced each other." How natural was the exclamation of St. Paul, when he viewed the extent of that matchless grace displayed in our restoration to happiness by Christ: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !"
14. But we must not dismiss the subject without l'emarking, that the crucifixion of the adorable Son of God forms a striking comment on the malignity and heinousness of sin. The destruction of the world by an overwhelming deluge, and of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven, were manifest tokens of the Lord's displeasure against iniquity ; but there never was so loud a protest entered against it, as that which was made at Calvary by the death of Jesus. There the unconquerable hatred of God against sin was legibly written in lines of blood. There the holiness and justice of Jehovah were displayed in so terrific a manner, that universal nature was convulsed at the sight. The earth quaked, the rocks were rent asunder, the graves opened their mouths, and the dead left their dreary tombs, to proclaim the agonizing sufferings Eph. i. 8.
* Ps. lxxxv., 10.