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Bless the Lord, O my soul, who from eternity, in the greatness of his might, in the plenitude of his goodness, in the incomprehensibility of his wisdom, condescended to fix the bounds of thy habitation, to arrange the events of thy mortal existence, to prepare thy place in the heavenly mansions; who “before the world began” surveyed with complacency and delight his own benevolent design, his own glorious work, the universe which he was about to speak into being, the bit of clay he was to fashion into a man, the immortal spirit which his breath was to inspire, the needy perishing wretch whom his mercy was to redeem. But,
IV. The blessed Author of this gracious, everlasting purpose, has revealed and bestowed it in his own way. He" hath saved us," “not according to our works," nor in the way of our own wisdom-it is given us in Christ Jesus. From the formation of the merciful plan of salvation to its consummation in glory, the necessity of a Mediator is never for a single moment left out of view. His name, like a sweet perfume, is wafted on the wings of every wind. Survey the world
. of nature through all its vast extent, and in its minut. est particle, and we behold the omnific “Word by whom all things were made, and without whom no. thing was made that was made.” He also “ upholdeth all by the word of his power;" “ all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth." Open the history of redemption at whatever page, and it still unfolds the mercy of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Conducted of the Spirit back to the eternal days of uncre. ated light, admitted to the deliberations of the councils of peace, we hear the Son of God proclaim, “ I am Alpha,” “the beginning.” Carried forward in joy. ful hope to the day when he shall “make all things new," the same voice still proclaims, “I am Omega, “ the ending,” “who was and is, and is to come.” Search the scriptures; consult the prophets; to him they “all give witness." Meditate the promises;
"all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God.” Examine the record; “this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life," 1 John v. 11, 12Consider the ministration
. of angels; the covenant of promise “was ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.” Hearken to a voice from the most excellent glory: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him." All is light and glory; but not a single ray of light is transmitted through any medium but this. All is grace-free, sovereign grace; but there is not one intimation given, not one act of favour conferred, but through the “one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." To him let every knee bow, to him every tongue confess, of things in earth, and things in heaven. What saith the scripture? “He putteth no trust in his saints, and his angels he chargeth with folly.” Is not this a plain declaration, that the highest and holiest of created beings are imperfect and dependent; that they stand in need of a Mediator and Advocate in order to their acceptance with a holy God? And is it not for this reason, that, “when he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him?”-It being the fundamental law of God's everlasting kingdom before the world was, and after it shall be burnt up and pass away, with all that it con. tains, under patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, under the legal and under the evangelical dispensation, under the dominion of grace and in glory, on earth and in heaven, that there should be access to, hope in, and acceptance with God, for men and for angels, only through the Son of his love, the eternal Word which made and supports all things.
V. In conformity with this glorious purpose, and grace in Christ Jesus, what hath been executed? Every thing worthy of a design so grand, every thing worthy of its great “Author,” worthy of the glorious Finisher of our faith.” His appearing hath made it manifest. The clearest-sighted of the prophets, like the blind man only half restored to vision, saw men but as trees walking, but now, under the gospel, the dullest and most despised among believers sees every thing plainly; he sees the eternal purpose of God written in characters which he can read and understand; he compares the model with the structure, and finds the tabernacle erected in the plain, the perfect counterpart of the pattern delivered in the mount : He finds the scriptures fulfilled, the predictions verified, the types explained, realized, justified, all things finished in and by the Lord Christ.
What hath been executed? He hath abolished death, that hated, hideous spectre, through fear of whom the fallen posterity of Adam are “subject to bondage.” He hath restrained the power, put an end to the domi. nion, annihilated the existence of the king of terrors." Through sin death gained admission into the world; in sin his empire is founded ; by sin he is armed with a mortal sting. By the great propitiation for sin he is banished thenee, his reign is terminated, his sting is plucked out. Ask that sickly, pining creature, what it would be to have the disease which is perceptibly preying upon his vitals abolished ? Ask that dejected prisoner of despair, what it would be to have his debt discharged, and the writ of his confinement abolished ? Ask the wretch condemned, what it would be to have the fatal hand-writing of judgment that is against him abolished? And let the answers you would receive convey, as well as they can, a sense of the obligation under which we lie, to Him who hath done away the deadly plague which wastes, which threatens, which destroys the soul; to Him, who hath paid the enormous debt 6 to the uttermost farthing,” purchased a release, set open the prison doors; to Him who hath cancelled the awful sentence of a righteous God, “nailing it to his crass.' He hath abolished death, with all the wo
that leads to it, all the dreaded wo that is in it, all the more tremendous wo that succeeds: sickness and pain, anguish and old age; the bitter pang that rends asunder the body and the spirit; the hell that follows. And by what wonderful means hath all this been effected? “ Through death” he has destroyed “him that had the power of death.” Into his own snare the de. ceiver has fallen; by his own weapons the enemy has been disarmed; his own triumph hath proved his ruin. 6 death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ,” i Cor. xv. 55, 56, 57.
What hath been executed? He hath brought life and immortality to light. It is more than flattering hope or fond desire; it is more than the speculation of a philosophic mind, or the presumptuousness of rea-soning pride; it is more than patriarchal confidence, or the dawning light of Mosaic revelation. It is desire warranted, and hope supported by facts; it is rea. son justified and confirmed by demonstration; it is the morning light of promise, advanced to the perfect day of discovery and accomplishment. “He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you,” Rom. viii. 11. “For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him," 1 Thess. iv. 14. This is not the cold peradventure of a sage, saying, “If in this I err, I willingly err;" but the blessed assurance of an apostle, saying, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day,” 2 Tim. i. 12. “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing,” 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7, 8.
And can it be necessary to inquire who caused this light to arise? Who removed the veil, and disclosed the hidden glories of eternity? What power could tune the human tongue to such raptures, and inspire a mortal breast with such holy and triumphant joy? "God is the LORD, which hath showed us light.” It is “ the revelation of Jesus Christ, who showeth to his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” gospel life and immortality are brought to light;” "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages, and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Col. i. 26, 27.
Learn hence the folly and danger of all opposition to the plans of eternal Providence. “ He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against Him and hath prospered?” Job. ix. 4. do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession," Psal. ii. 1-4, 6, 8. “ If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God,” Acts V. 38, 39. “ Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled,” Matt. v. 18. « Wo be to him who striveth with his Maker.” Sinner, learn wis.