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ually bring more glory to God, and a greater amount of happiness to the universe, than would have resulted from the punishment of every transgressor, or even the prevention of sin itself.
I know very well how difficult it is for us to conceive of such a result being accomplished without restoring every sinner to the image and favor of God. We are so engrossed with the interests of our own little world, as to overlook other parts of the universe, whose welfare, equally with our own, depends on the character and government of him who doeth his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. But reflect on the vast extent of his dominions, and the countless number of his subjects. When we look abroad over the wide fields of creation, and imagine the whole immensity of space filled with planets, suns, and systems, can we suppose that a God of infinite wisdom has spread out all those glories merely for a puny race of rebels to gaze upon and admire ? Are all yon myriads of worlds but one boundless scene of barren, unpeopled waste? Is our little world, whose very destruction would be felt amid the immensity of his other works, no more than the loss of a single grain of sand by our globe itself, the only spot in all the dominions of Jehovah, that teems with life, intelligence, and joy? I cannot believe it; but feel constrained by the strongest - reasons, to suppose, that those countless planets, suns, and systems, are all peopled with intelligent creatures of God, whose happiness, like our own, depends on his character, on the stability of his throne, and the moral influence of his government. Ought he, then, to overlook all his other subjects, and confine his regards to the few grovelers on this dark, and distant, and paltry footstool? Is he not bound, as an mpartial Sovereign, to consult alike the interest of all worlds ? Shall he, for the gratification of a few hell-deserving rebels, sacrifice or endanger the happiness of all the unfallen beings scattered through his boundless empire ?
Consider, then, the vast extent to which the atonement of Christ may diffuse more or less of its benign influences. Its redeeming efficacy is probably confined to our world; but the story of its wonders will be known through the universe; and so far as it displays the glory of God, and strengthens the moral influence of his government, just so far will it tend to promote the holiness and felicity of all his faithful subjects.
And is not this the actual effect of the atonement es; it makes a new and most glorious display of that character which forms the confidence, hope, and joy of the whole universe. It developes traits which must
otherwise have been for ever concealed from the view of God's creatures. They had before witnessed his power as Creator ; they had acknowledged his authority as Lawgiver ; they had felt his kindness as a parent to his obedient children; they had also seen him, as a righteous Governor, rewarding his faithful subjects, and punishing the rebels against his throne; but had they, beheld, or could they, without an atonement, have ever beheld his justice and mercy consistently united in pardoning transgressors, and restoring them to the full and everlasting enjoyment of his favor ? Here was the master-work of Jehovah; and from the cross of Christ is poured upon his character an effulgence of light and glory, that could never have beamed from the mightiest works of his hand, or eveo the brightest radiance of his throne.
Pause for a moment on this glorious theme. When the Father gave up to death his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life; when he who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, because he was the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, and himself God over all blessed for ever, left his throne on high to take upon him the form of a servant, and become obedient even unto the death of the cross ; when he thus stooped from heaven to the manger, agonized in the garden, and on Calvary bore the mighty burden of a world's atonement, in order to open a way whereby God could be just, and yet justify every one that believeth ;-was not here such a blended display of his mercy and justice as must send a thrill of admiration through the entire universe of intelligent and holy beings? If the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy at the birth of creation, with what emotions of wonder, and love, and bliss must the bosoms of all his faithful subjects glow on beholding the operations and results of redeeming grace! May not the Gospel thus promote, to an extent altogether inconceivable, the holiness and felicity of the universe? May not its blessed results far outweigh all the evils that sin will ever inflict on the comparatively small number of its unreclaimed victims?
Thus may we imperfectly see how the death of Christ prepares the way for the restoration of mankind to the image and favor of God. It modifies his moral government over our world, and adapts it to our ruined condition. It provides a power to renew men to his image, an anodyne for the anguish of remorse, and a sovereign remedy for all the maladies of sin: It renders our repentance possible ; it furnishes means sufficient for our entire purification ; it not only counteracts and repairs the evils of sin, but accomplishes additional purposes of great importance to the general interests of the uni
verse; and thus does it render our salvation not only consistent with the justice of God, but subservient to his glory, and the happiness of his whole moral kingdom. Our forgiveness now infringes on no principle of his administration. Our salvation, so far from tarnishing the lustre of his character, shaking the stability of his throne, or putting in jeopardy the great interests of his kingdom, tends to display his perfections, to enhance his glory, to increase the moral influence of his law, and promote the holiness and happiness of all his obedient subjects.
Here may the believer's spirit find repose. Here his conscience sweetly rests in the arms of a reconciled and forgiving God. He may and must remember his sins; but the scorpions of remorse, disarmed by the blood of Christ, have lost their power to sting. The evils of sin repaired by his Redeemer, the glory of God, and the interests of his kingdom promoted by his salvation; his own spirit freed for ever from the dominion of depravity, and the anguish of conscious guilt; what now can ever disturb the happy repose of his soul? Shame and confusion of face he may-he must accord to himself; but with what emotions of gratitude, love, and joy will his bosom glow as he dwells on the wonders of that grace
which can raise even the chief of sinners to mansions of eternal bliss, and there put in his mouth a new and never-ceasing song of praise to the Lamb that was slain to redeem him by his own blood !
I cannot, however, suppose that every Christian understands the precise manner in which the death of Christ accomplishes these glorious results ; but his filial spirit rests in the simple assurance of the Bible, that God will in some way render the salvation of every penitent believer in Jesus consistent with his own glory, with the principles of his government, and all the interests of his moral kingdom. The subject is, indeed, peculiarly mysterious. I tremble, and yet am eager to examine it; but I would not, in the twilight of this world, push my inquiries any farther than just to sooth the solicitude which I cannot help feeling on a point so essential to my peace of conscience here, and all my hopes of happiness hereafter. I cannot penetrate to the bottom of a subject so fathomless ; and I deem it quite possible, and perhaps probable, that the atonement of Christ operates on the believer's conscience in a way unknown to us, and at present beyond our power fully to comprehend.
But whatever be the way, I know--and this is enough for any of us to know that the blood of Christ does relieve the believer's conscience from remorse, and leave him to enjoy the full and everlasting favor of
God. The Bible tells me so; every saint on earth and in heaven knows it by his own experience; God himself has kindly condescended to assure me of it; and may not my spirit safely rest in such an assurance ?
Is not God able in some way to purify and relieve my conscience ? Can he not render my salvation consistent with the attributes of his character, with the honor of his throne, and all the great interests of his kingdom? He assures me, that he has done so, and with this assurance I can cheerfully wait, until eternity shall pour the full blaze of its light and glory on all the deep mysteries of redemption.
But let no man, on account of my present imperfect acquaintance with the subject, dissuade me from attaching so much importance to the cross of Christ. Say not that his death can never lead to results so mighty. Tell me not that the babe of Bethlehem could never have acted a part so conspicuous in the history of the universe; and that our world itself is too narrow a spot-too small and distant a nook in Jehovah's boundless empire, for a transaction of such importance as to attract, for ever, the delighted and admiring gaze of all his holy subjects. I know very well, how often philosophy has been staggered by the preaching of Christ crucified. But shall I distrust my Bible just at the point where my reason fails me? Shall I abandon my divine guide merely because he leads me where I could not have gone without his guidance? If the weakness of human reason could not discover how the death of Christ will produce results so immensely important, not only to fallen man, but to all the unfallen subjects of Jehovah, shall I question the possibility of its producing these great and glorious results? It was a small act, a feeble hand that plucked the forbidden fruit; but it ruined a world. When the Savior was born, few among the sons of men paused in their worldly pursuits to gaze upon his manger-cradle; but angels, who had been wont to bow before his throne on high, came from their celestial abodes to hail his birth; and they raised a sweeter song of glory to God and good will to men, than ever before had met the ear of earth or heaven. When he expired on the cross, scarcely any, save the rending rocks, and quaking earth, and weeping heavens, sympathized with the dying Lamb of God; but his death changed the entire prospects of our world for eternity ; it will most deeply affect the moral interests of the whole universe; and on it will all the hosts of heaven for ever dwell, as the most wonderful and most important event that ever occurred in the dominions of Jehovah.
1. Let the Christian then dwell with devout admiration on the cross of Christ. Begin on earth what you hope to continue for eternity. Meditate on the glories of his character-on the wonders of his love, and all the benign influences which his death will exert, not only on the destinies of our world, but on the great interests of the whole universe. Imitate the angels who desire to look into these things, and catch the spirit of the innumerable hosts around the throne of God, who cry,“ Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing ; for thou hast redeemed us by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests for ever."
2. Make the cross of Christ, also, a source of consolution. It is the great fountain of blessings to a guilty and self-ruined race.
It is the surest antidote against the ills of life; the sweetest solace of our earthly sorrows; the only balm for a wounded spirit; the last cordial for the fears of guilt and the phrensies of despair. Here rest until the storms of life shall have passed over, and left before you the bright and cloudless sunshine of a blessed eternity. Cling, like the saints of better days, to the precious and consoling truth of Christ crucified for our redemption, and bearing our sins in his own body on the cross. Let it be to you, as it was to them, a source of peace and unfailing joys. It comforted them amid the loss of all things; it made them welcome toil, reproach, and danger; it cheered them amid all the horrors of the dungeon, and enabled them to smile and sing even amid the flames of the stake and the tortures of the cross. Then imitate the martyr, and bind the Savior's dying love to your heart. It will assuage your remorse; it will sooth all the sorrows of your earthly pil-, grimage ; it will give you many a sweet foretaste of those joys which eye hath not seen; it will cheer you even in that hour when flesh and heart fail you; and when you reach those mansions which a risen Redeemer hath gone to prepare, you will delight to join with saints and angels in admiring the wonders of that grace which made the cross of Christ the gateway to heaven for a fallen race, and his death the source of so much happiness to the whole universe.
3. Use this precious truth, also, as a means of promoting your spiritual improvement. Dwell upon the death of Christ until your heart is melted into penitence, gratitude, and love. Think of what he has done for you, until you are willing to do, and sacrifice, and suffer any thing for him.' Meditate on the glory he had with the Father before the world was, and think how low he stooped to reach and redeem a fallen world. Think on the lowly