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“ them that put their trust in thee, before the
of men !” Again, the justice of God is fully displayed by the atonement of Christ. Justice required satisfaction for the offences of the sinner
the transgression of the law could not pass with impunity. By the atonement of Christ, it receives that satisfaction which it demanded : it's honour is kept safe and inviolate ; it is no longer an obstacle in the way of the most unbounded goodness. This is observed by the Apostle Paul, (Romans iii. 25, 26,) when speaking of Jesus Christ, “whom,” says he, “God hath set forth to be a propitiation through “ faith in his blood, to declare his righteous
ness,” that is, his justice, " that he might “ be just, and the justifier of him who believ“ eth in Jesus :" that is, that he might justify and pardon the sinner consistently with his vindictive justice which required the punishment of the offence.
Farther. The doctrine of atonement manifests God's infinite wisdom. Thus Christ is styled the wisdom of God, because he is so personally, (as in the eighth chapter of the Proverbs,) and, also, because in his sacrifice for sin this perfection is illustriously displayed.
To decide concerning the wisdom of the divine counsels, it must be confessed, lies beyond the province and the ability of man.The atonement, in particular, is a mystery whose depth we cannot fathom, and to attempt to comprehend it, entirely, or to explain all the reasons of adopting such a method of salvation, would be presumptuous and foolish.But, at the same time, God has not, so far, withdrawn himself from human eyes, as not to allow room for the exercise of those faculties which he has given us, or for a modest inquiry into the reason of his ways. Thus, although many wise and important reasons for the atonement of Jesus lie hid in the bosom of the Eternal ; yet those proofs of wisdom which he has been pleased to reveal, and which lie within our comprehension, it is our duty to meditate upon and to admire. One instance of wisdom, which was far beyond the reach of men, or even the wider “ken of angels,” was the discovery of a method whereby justice might be satisfied, and mercy glorified, sin punished, and the transgressor saved. This was to effect what, to our conceptions, would, without a revelation, appear a contradiction or impossibility. It was an instance, also, of the
greatest wisdom, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sin by the same nature by which they had been introduced into the world ; to recover heaven in that form of Aesh in which the title to it had been first forfeited ; and to destroy the works of the devil by that death which he had planned as the total overthrow of Christ's kingdom. The same nature which bred the mortal poison, expels it, and the stripes laid on Christ's body heal the wounds which sin bad made in our soul. When the enemies of Jesus saw him nailed to the cross, and expiring on the accursed tree, they believed their schemes crowned with the most complete success, but they were, then, more effectually promoting his interest than when they carried him in triumph, and with hosannas into Jerusalem. The counsel of God was thus fulfilled. He bringeth light out of darkness, and order out of confusion.
In short, it was an instance of consummate wisdom to appoint the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, to be Mediator. By him God made the world, and without him was not any thing made which was made.Of every thing which he had made he had said, that it was good, but a fatal change was
soon introduced, and manifold evils abounded which threatened the total ruin of his works. He beheld, with concern, his fair creation laid waste by the cruel spoilers, sin and death, he had compassion on the works of his hands whom he saw falling a prey, one after another, to their irresistible power. How natural was it for him who had created the human race, and who took an interest in their happiness, to become their Redeemer ! How proper to snatch his subjects from destruction, and recover by purchase those who, formerly, were his own by creation !
The atonement of Christ manifests, in a striking manner, God's holiness and hatred of sin. By it's light we see, that, God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and that sin is abominable in his sight. It is evident how much injustice is done to this attribute of Deity by the scheme of salvation opposed to the doctrine of atonement. To receive a guilty sinner into favour, and an impure one into communion, is unworthy, even, of a good man; and shall a man be more pure than his Maker? God had already testified his holiness and his hatred of iniquity by the condemnation of the fallen angels, by the exclusion of our first
rents from Paradise, by the curse entailed upon every thing, on account of their transgression, by the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, by the deluge, which destroyed the old world, and by many other signal judgments. But, in the atonement and death of Christ, his indignation against sin is more manifested than in
any other of his works. Here, an infinite Being suffered, and infinite sufferings were endured. But, by these means, God's holiness is made consistent with the communication of happiness to the sinner. For, by the imputation of the merit of Christ's atonement, the guilty are made righteous in the sight of God, and, by the communication of the graces of the Spirit which he hath purchased, the impure are made spotless and holy.
We may add, that, the faithfulness of God is secured, and, indeed, illustriously displayed by the atonement. He had declared, both by the law of nature which was given to every man, and by repeated revelations, that death was the wages of sin. He had, also, promised salvation to his elect. If Christ had made no atonement, his word would not have been confirmed, his purposes would not have stood sure. But he hath now endured the punishment