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we ought to linger and meditate, for the survey is full of instruction. Christian brethren, are you familiar with this ground ? Have you been often here? Have you often, in your pious contemplations, trodden the heights of Calvary, and considered the wonderful display, which the scene of the crucifixion exbibited ? God comes down 10 men, converses with them, does them good; and in return is despised, rejected, maltreated and crucified. Is this real ? Then it is marvellous, and the mind is soon lost amid the varied scenes of wonder, love and praise displayed in it. It was done in a manner and recorded in a style peculiarly calculated to excite attention. Let the mind return from every other object to dwell upon it; for no beings are so deeply interested in the event as we are. This will appear more manifest in the consideration of the second question proposed.
II. What was the object of this humiliation ? When God had made the world, and fitted it up for the accommodation of man, he created a holy race to inhabit it. They abused his mercies, lost their love for their Benefactor, and wandered away from him. So that, when the Lord looked down from heaven to see if there were any that did understand, it is testified-—" they have all gone out of the way, there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
It is after this rebel race that Christ is reaching. He came from heaven to seek and save the lost. For this, be took our nature, endured and suffered long, and when he found the immutable law standing in the way of our salvation, he fulfilled it, and answered its commands on us by the vicarious sacrifice of himself. He can be deterred from his benevolent purpose, neither by the rejection of sinners against himself, nor by the contumely they poured upon him, nor by the penalties of the holy and irreversible law. He meekly endured all, and returns in triumph from the grave, to effect and show forth a new and more glorious creation than that, which first produced the material and intelligent universe.
The object embraced in the mission of Christ is expressed in a single declaration of the Apostle—“He came into the world 10 save sinners." To save sinners! This was his object, his enterprise on earth. How great, in this view, appears the condescension of God, when he thus stoops from his throne to save his enemies! What are we that the Lord should thus regard us, even more than we regard ourselves? We are brands snatched from the burning, worms rescued from corruption, and clothed with dignity and glory--and this has been done in disinterested benevolence; for," though man were not, heaven would not want spectators, nor God want praise.” God does not need us. Had sentence been passed on us without mercy, we should never have'been niissed from our present places, nor any places we may hereafter occupy. Heaven would still have been happy; God would have been glorified. Poor are we as simuers, and worthless. We say to corruption, thou art our mother, and soon find our habitation with the worm. Yet to eflect our salvation, it was necessary the penalty of the law should be met; aud to remove this difficulty in the way of pardon, the Savior consented to receive the expression of divine wrath upon himself. His humiliation was necessary to the work he undertook, and the object was accomplished in his sufferings and death.
My brethren, are you familiar with the object, for which the Son of God came into the world ? It is an object, in which you are deeply interested. His eye was upon you. His benevolence reached after sinners that were lost. He surveyed the wide spread desolation, the utter ruin which every where marked our world, and he came for its salvation. Objects of personal interest ordinarily secure attention. That which is here presented, transcendantly surpasses every other; and what hold does it take on your affections ? Are your feelings here alive? Are you sensible and sensitive to the fact, that in the humiliation of Christ, the purchase of these privileges, the services of this house, the revelations of this Book, were contemplated and provided ?
III. The influence of this humiliation, therefore, or the effect of it, is,
1. The removal of all insuperable objections to the sinner's salvation. The remark is sometimes made, that God, in the exercise of infinite power, could do as he pleases, and therefore could pardon sin without an atonement. But he cannot deny himself. He has made a law, and shall he not keep it ? Where is his truth, his dignity, his immutability ? He must execute that law. We can easily see that the maintenance of the divine government required that notice should be taken of sin. What shall be done? The sinner himself is unmoved. He is in rebellion. He cares not for the consequences. Shall he be left to those consequences ? The benevolence of God forbids it. Shall he be saved? The justice of God forbids it. What remains then, but to devise a plan, in which both the benevolence and justice of God shall be exhibited and illustrated ? This is done while the penalty is sustained by Christ, and the claims of the violated law are thereby averted from the guilty
2. A second effect of this humiliation of Christ, is the exhibition of the divine attributes in a manner and to a degree they would never otherwise have been seen. Many of the attributes of God were indeed displayed in the work of creation, such as his wisdom in planning, power in executing, &c. But his truth and mercy and justice were but faintly seen. Those perfections, which most endear him to his creatures, have here an eminent illustration. Whatever contributes to display the divine perfections, serves one purpose of direct benevolence under the government of God. In the development of divine perfections consequent on the fall, the mind is furnished with additional sources of happiness, and new motives to love and obedience. This result could have no influence to make the fall of man in itself a desirable event, but may very justly be contemplated with interest, as an eminent effect of the humiliation of Christ. In the work of redemption is displayed a plan and exhibited attributes of character, which will be the subject of increasing admiration with men and angels through eternity; for as age accumulates upon age to heighten and enlarge the joys of the saints in glory, their love to God as the Author of these joys must also strengthen and increase.
3. The humiliation of Christ furnishes a subject peculiarly calculated to affect and soften the heart. Here is not only favor extended and grace dispensed, but personal suffering ; individual, vicarious sacrifice comes between the guilty and his merited punishment. The mind is led to a scene of deep suffering, and compelled to dwell on what excites its sympathies and commiseration. I say then, the manner in which Christ has come down to us on the cross, is directly calculated to soften the heart, and to produce a lively and tender state of feeling and affection. All the severe features of a Sovereign are laid by, when God comes down to us in the Mediator. He comes to plead, to ask us to accept a favor, to return to him. The justice of God is indeed rolling on its floods, and presenting its terrors to the guilty soul. But they are resisted and stayed at the cross of Christ, on whom they blacken and break with violence, while he still turns to the sinner, and with agonies, and tears, and smiles, calls on his heart to relent, on his penitence to flow, on his love to burn. The heart, that is not past feeling, must here be tried. There is no alternative. Its attention must be diverted, or it yields to the force of a divine influence. It cannot dwell at Golgotha, and look steadily at the cross of Christ, without breaking and bursting.
4. In the humiliation of Christ, God's hatred of sin is eminently displayed. How absolute and unchangeable, that it could not even spare the only Son! If so, then think you that God will spare the sinner, who rolls sin as a sweet morsel under his tongue? Think you that he will justify it in those who remain relentless, while pardon is offered on the only possible conditions ?
Where is the hateful nature of sin so eminently displayed as at the cross of Christ? Where can its dreadful effects be more clearly seen It has gone, when forbid by infinite mercy to wreak its consequences on man, it has gone in pursuit of a victim even to heaven, and invaded the throne of God; and rather than it should destroy for ever this fair portion of the moral universe, it has been permitted to spend its force and display its power on the Son of God!
5. In this event, God has shown his exceeding great love to man. When the thunder was about to break on his guilty head, Christ interposed and received the stroke. He survived, and brought up mercy from that grave, where he had paid the sinner's debt. Instead of the lightning's wrath, we now feel the Savior's love. Instead of the thunder's roar, it is the voice of mercy. How matchless, how unparalleled the mercy of God! “ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend, but God hath commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
6. In the humiliation of Christ, we have an example for imitation. The greatest obstacle to the enjoyment of pardon and divine favor, is the pride of the sinner's heart. Little haughty ignorance in man is ever imperious in her demands, and unlimited in her claims. The pride of superiority is ever seeking, in the heart of the aspiring sinner, a place, which does not belong to him, and which he is ill calculated to fill. In the example of the Savior, this pride is rebuked. How great his condescension! How humble his walk ! How far he came, and laid his glory by, to perform the work of man's redemption ! As he humbled himself to exalt us, while we were yet sinners and enemies, may we learn to be humble in the enjoyment of those distinctions, which were his purchase and gift. What a reproof to the pride of the human heart is the example of Christ ! May we, by contemplating him, learn to practise that spirit of forbearance, condescension, and love, which shall exclude "envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings,” from the church, and to practise that self-denial and self-sacrifice, which may make us efficient in every good work to do his will.
7. The effect of Christ's humiliation is to deepen our impression of the grace of God. Grace is the more dear to those who experience it, and rises in value in proportion to the expense at which it is extended, and the evil from which it saves. In the humiliation of the Saviour, embracing his sufferings and death, we see the price, at which this grace was purchased and extended. Nothing less than the blood of Christ could prepare the way for its dispensation. Victims might bleed on the altar of sacrifice till the earth should be desolated, and Lebanon might burn, in vain. If the mind is led to no more costly sacrifice, no more high and holy offering, sin must remain for ever unpardoned, and guilt unmitigated. It is the Lamb of God, that must be bound upon the wood ; it is the sword of divine justice, that must slay the victim; it is the fire of God's wrath that must kindle on the substitute. Blessed be God, this has not been withheld. When there was no eye that could pity, and no arm that could save, then God interfered ; and when Lebanon was not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof for a burnt offering; when the earth was poor, and man was ruined, and angəls were powerless; then the throne of God furnished both the Priest and the sacrifice. And the penalty, from which we are thus spared, and the glory to which we are raised, must require an eternity to experience, and an eternity to tell. Here, then, at the cross of Christ, we see how the grace of God is magnified, and his love to sinners illustrated.
Come, then, iny soul, here take thy privileged aud chosen seat; here employ all thy contemplations; here rest that weary anxiety, which seeks in vain for peace and hope in sin. Come, sinners, from the various piirsuits and perplexities of life, sit together at the feet of Jesus, and learn of him. Contemplate Christ crucified, Christ the mighty God, the equal Son, and crucified to save us from wrath. Reflect, that in this event every insuperable obstacle to the sinner's salvation is removed, the glorious attributes of God are eminently displayed for your admiration, a plan is presented peculiarly calculated to affect and soften the heart, God's hatred of sin is conspicuously seen, his love for man is demonstrated, an example of benevolence and self-denial is afforded us, and the grace of God is pre-eminently exalted. Come, brethren, bring your minds to the deep and delightful contemplation of these topics. Stay here, till the multiplied and bright objects of the scene open on the view in their true splendor. Stay, till you forget all other objects, till the world retires, heaven opens, till the soul is wrapt in that circle of thought and employment, which angels enjoy, but from which a deceitful world is ever calling
Acts 2: 33.—Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, &c. The exaltation of Jesus in his mediatorial character was the necessary result of his humiliation. He had assumed our nature, been tempted in all points like as we are, felt our infirmities, suffered an ignominious death on the cross, and had risen from the tomb. After this, and while surrounded by a multitude of his disciples, he was parted from them, and received up into heaven.
To those who conversed with him after his resurrection, and who were now the eye-witnesses of his ascension, the evidence of his divinity was complete. But it is the design of the Savior that the testimony of competent witnesses to this fact shall be confirmed by standing evidences of his presence and power through every age of the church. In accordance with his promise, and in the execution of his purposes of grace, he sent the Spirit in the work of conversion soon after his ascension. And while the multitude were under the influence of this divine visitation, Peter boldly preaches Christ crucified, demonstrates to the Jews from their own scriptures that he was the Messiah, appeals for further confirmation to his miracles wrought in their presence, certifies to his resurrection and ascension, and adduces the obvious manifestations of divine influence at that time on the multitude as a standing testimony of his presence and power. “Therefore," he says, “ being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the gift of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
The divinity of Jesus, proved in his humiliation, is demonstrated also in his exaltation. For we may consider him exalted,
I. In the place he now occupies.
III. In the execution of his mediatorial office, and in the praises of the redeemed.
I. Christ is exalted in the place he now occupies. For we cannot with some, who rob him of other distinctions, be satisfied to leave him, we know not where, while we honor him as we know not whom. We worship him as God's equal Son, who created all things, who upholds all things, who is the only Savior of men, and the judge of all. We therefore receive the testimony of divine inspiration, that after he had accomplished our redemption in the days of his flesh, “ he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us." He has gone to prepare a place for us, “whence also he will come again, and receive us unto himself
, that where he is, there we may be also." He was united in glory with the Father before the world was. This glory was beheld in him while on earth full of grace anů truth. He was received up into glory when he ascended, exalted above men, being appointed head of the church and heir of all things,--above angels, as it is written, “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, made so much better than the angels as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”
I am supplied then, in the Scriptures, with an answer to every important question, that can be asked respecting my Savior. If asked who he is; I answer in the language of inspiration, he is “the mighty God.”—“Immanuel, God with us," _"God over all blessed for ever, “the true God and eternal life.” Considered in the work of redemption, he is "the Son of God with power" to atone for sin, and has "laid down his life for us.” If asked where he was before the world; I answer, "glorified with the Father,” as asserted by himself in John 17: 5. If asked where he now is, I answer, “exalted at the right hand of God," where he will continue to be preparing for the reception of the saints, until he shall come again to jndge the world; for all judgment is committed into his hands. When this is accomplished, and the mediatorial office ended, the saints shall inhabit "the kingdom of Christ and of God," of which the Father and the Son are indiscriminately called the Sovereign, as united in equal honor, power, and