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I proceed, in the second place, to prove, that the redemption of the world, instead of being undertaken by another, to appease the wrath of an incensed or austere God, was itself a thing provided by God; and was the effect of his care and goodness towards his human creatures. The texts I shall lay before you, in support of this proposition, are the following: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John iii. 16. Again, in the 6th chapter of the same Gospel, Christ speaks, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me; and this is the Father's will who hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing." These are Christ's own words; and in what way does Christ describe his office and commission? Not as coming of himself to pacify God the Father, who was alienated from and averse to the race of mankind, but as sent by God the Father to reclaim and reform this degenerate race-to save them, by turning every one from his sins, and so to bring those back who were gone far astray from their duty, their happiness, and their God; in other words, Christ's coming was the appointment of God the Father, and that appointment was the effect of God the Father's love. These declarations of our Saviour's own are followed up by many passages in the writings of the Apostles, which speak of Christ's coming into the world, of his ministry, and more especially of his death, as concerted and
determined of old in the councils of the Almighty "Him being delivered," saith Saint Peter,
by the determinate councils and foreknowledge of God ye have taken." "Against the holy child Jesus they were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council determined to be done." But the mission of Christ was not only the counsel and design of God the Father, but it was a counsel of supreme love to mankind. "God commendeth his love towards us, in that whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also give us all things?" But the text the fullest and the plainest to our purpose is in the "In this fourth chapter of the epistle to St. John. was manifest the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." "Herein is lovenot that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Now in these various texts you will remark the same thing, which is, that they do not describe the redemption of mankind, as if a milder and more benevolent being went about to propitiate the favour of another who was harsh and austere, who was before incensed at the human race, had cast them off, or was averse to their welfare (that certainly was not the idea which dwelt in the mind of those who delivered such declarations as I have now read to you); but it was all along the design and the doing of that being-the
effect of his love, the fruit and manifestation of his Sidri
affection and good-will.
But it will be asked, if God the Father was always gracious, and merciful, and loving to his creatures; always ready to receive, and desirous to make them happy, what necessity was there for a Redeemer, or for the redemption of the world at all? I answer that, there was still the same necessity to reform and recover mankind from their sins, and there was likewise F a necessity for a propitiation for sin. It was a law of God's moral government, that mankind could not be made happy in their future existence without holiness, at least without endeavours after holiness, without turning away from their sins, without a pardon ob tained through Jesus Christ his Son. Perhaps the whole rational universe, angels as well as the spirits of departed men, may be interested in the maintenance and preservation of this law. Here God's love to his creatures interposed-not to break through or suspend a rule universally salutary and necessary but to provide expedients, and to endeavour (if we may so say) to bring the human race, lost in an almost total depravity, within the rule which he had, appointed for the government of his moral creation. The expedient which his wisdom made choice of, and which it is for us to accept with all humility and all thankfulness, was to send into the world the person nearest and dearest to himself, his own and his only begotten Son, to instruct the ignorance of mankind, to collect a society of men out of all nations
and countries of the world, united together by faith in him, and through the influence of that faith, producing the fruits of righteousness and of good works. It seemed agreeable, also, to the same supreme wisdom, that this divine messenger should sacrifice his life in the execution of his office. The expediency of this measure we can in part understand, because we can see that it conduced with other causes to fix a deep impression on the hearts and consciences, both of his immediate followers, the living witnesses and spectators of his death and sufferings, and of those who, in after ages, might come to a knowledge of his history. It bound them to him by the tenderest of all reflections, that he died for their sakes. This is one intelligible use of the death of Christ. But we are not to stop at this: in various declarations of Scripture concerning the death of Christ, it is necessary also to acknowledge that there are other and higher consequences attendant upon this event the particular nature of which consequences, though of the most real and highest nature, we do not understand, nor perhaps are capable of understanding, even if it had been told us, until we be admitted to more knowledge than we at present possess of the order and economy of superior beings, of our own state and destination after death, and of the laws of nature by which the next world will be governed, which probably are very different from the present. But that there are such benefits arising from the death of Christ various passages of Scripture
declare, and cannot be fairly interpreted without supposing them. We are sure that the whole was a wise method of accomplishing the end proposed, because it was the method adopted by the wisest of all beings. Perhaps it was the only method possible; but what I am at present concerned to point out is, that it is to be referred to the love of God the Father. It is to be regarded as an instance, and the very highest instance, of his paternal affection for us. You have heard, in the several texts which I have read to you, that it was so regarded and so acknowledged by our Lord himself, and by his Apostles.
What remains, therefore, but that, whilst we cherish in our remembrance and our hearts a lively sense of gratitude towards the divine person, who was the visible agent, the great and patient sufferer, in carrying on the redemption of the world, we look also to the source and origin of this, as of every blessing which we enjoy, the love and tender mercies of God the Father. "Blessed therefore be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, to the praise of his glory in Christ, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.'