see as much glory to God, and benefit to the creature, result from his death on the cross, as his soul desires.

Was his love to God, zeal for his glory, and for the honor of his government, and compassion to lost sinners, so great, as to bring him from his Father's bosom, worshipped by all the heavenly host, to hang naked, tortured, insulted on the cross, and there expire in the utmost agonies ? As great glory to God, as great honor to his law, as great salvation to lost sinners shall result herefrom, as to be equal to his love, and zeal, and pity, infinite as they were. For he shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied. He shall see the fruit of his labors till he says, " It is enough.” But what can be enough in the eyes of such a one? What can satisfy a heart like his, whose regard to the honor of God and of his law, and to the welfare of lost sinners, was so infinitely great ? “ Eye hath not seen, ear hath not beard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive!But in the midst of all this, we have the highest possible assurance of his sincerity in saying, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out;' for these the Father gave him: they were the sheep he loved, and laid down his life for ; the joy set before him, for whose salvation he endured the cross and despised the shame; these are his seed, the travail of his soul, for whom he was smitten of God, and in whose stead he became a curse, to redeem them from the curse, and that the blessing of Abraham might come upon them.

Thus this is the sum and substance of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. We preach Christ crucified: this was the glorious and joyful news the apostles proclaimed to a revolted, guilty world.

And if to the Jews Christ crucified was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness, yet to them who were called, Christ crucified was “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” But this leads us to take a view of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.



The gospel is denominated “the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ ;' and its glory is represented to be divine glory; for it is called “the glory of God,” and “the glory of the Lord.” (2 Cor. iii. 18; iv. 6.) The law, as a ministration of death and

condemnation, is said to be glorious; but the gospel exceeds in glory, because we have in the gospel a more full and bright manifestation of the glory of the divine nature. The glory of both is of the same nature, divine glory; but in the gospel it shines with greater brightness. Now, the glory of the divine nature consists in infinite wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. These perfections are the beauty of the Divinity. But how are they manifested in the gospel ? It is true, the ends proposed in the gospel are very glorious, to bring glory to God, salvation to men, and destruction to Satan's cause ; but how are the means glorious ? Christ crucified. How are the divine perfections manifested in bringing about these ends by the incarnation and death of the Son of God? This has been a stumbling-block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek; and yet is affirmed to be in an eminent and peculiar manner the wisdom of God. But how and wherein does the wisdom of God appear in the death of his Son? This is the point to which we are now carefully to attend.

It has been observed that the death of Christ was designed to answer the demands of the law in our stead. The law had said, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” But, by the deeds of this law, no flesh can be justified in the sight of God; for by it all stand condemned as sinners. Therefore Christ was made a curse to redeem us from its curse; not because it was a bad law, and so the fault in the lawgiver ; but because the law was holy, just, and good, and mankind, without excuse, guilty before God, as much to blame as the curse of the law imported. He was set forth to be a propitiation to declare God's righteousness; and so, in his death, he “ magnified the law and made it honorable."

But there is no wisdom in doing honor to that which is not worthy of honor. And, therefore, if the divine law was not holy, just, and good, and did not in its own nature deserve to be magnified and made honorable at such an infinite expense as the blood of the Son of God, how was it wise in God to give his Son to die for this purpose ? And if it was not wise, how was the divine conduct in this affair in any respect Godlike and glorious ? If it was not wise, it was unwise. It must be unwise to be at such infinite expense, if the nature of the case did not call for it, if the law did not deserve such honor. And if there was no need of such an atonement in order to our pardon and salvation, it was no act of kindness to us. We might have been saved as well without. And if the law was in its own nature too severe, it could not be a holy or a just act

in God to require such an atonement in order to our pardon and salvation; but the contrary.

It must, therefore, be laid down as a fundamental maxim, that the divine law, in its full extent, and with all its curses, and that with respect not only to Adam in innocency, but also to all his sinful race, in whose stead Christ has borne its curse, is really, in itself, and in the eyes of God, holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable, worthy of having its honor secured by the blood of the Son of God. For there can be no glory in the death of Christ, if the law be not glorious : rather it must have been contrary to all the divine perfections for God to have given his Son to die, to do honor to that which deserved no honor. And the gospel which brings us the news, instead of revealing the glory of God, would bring to light an affair infinitely and everlastingly to his dishonor. For how must it appear in the eyes of all holy beings, if the law was good only with respect to Adam before the fall, but not with respect to him or his posterity since, that Christ should be made a curse, to redeem not only Adam, but to redeem us from the curse ; that Christ should die to make atonement not only for the one offence of Adam, - his first sin, — but the many offences of Adam and of his sinful race; even for every breach of that law, which curseth every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them! If the law had not been, in its full extent, holy, just, and good, with respect to a fallen world, surely a being of perfect rectitude and infinite goodness must have disannulled it, and not subjected his own Son, in our stead, to bear the curse.

If, indeed, we are a fallen, sinful, guilty world, and if we are not, we did not need the Son of God to die in our behalf, - it is not at all strange if there should be many and great prejudices in our hearts against the divine law, which we have broke, and by which we stand condemned, blinding our minds to its reasonableness and excellency, and tempting us to think it far from being holy, just, and good. Nor is it at all strange if Satan, who was banished from heaven by a like law, and is an avowed enemy to God and to his government, should desire to strengthen our prejudices against the divine law, and do all in his power to blind our minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine in our hearts. But only let our hearts be divested of prejudices, and in a disposition to approve that which is really excellent, and we cannot fail to discern the reasonableness and beauty of the divine law. For, if God is an absolutely perfect being, - and to deny that he is, is downright atheism — he must be infinitely glorious and VOL. 11.


amiable in himself; and, therefore, he must be infinitely worthy of that supreme love and honor, from all the children of men, which the law requires. And infinite worthiness lays a foundation for infinite obligation ; and infinite obligation to love and honor God supremely will render us infinitely to blame if we do not; and infinite blame deserves infinite punishment : exactly as the divine law, that perfect rule of right, has stated the case. And the more disinclined we be to love God, the more aggravated is our guilt; and if our inclination to love God with all our hearts is what it ought to be, there can be no difficulty in the way. So that there is no consistent medium between atheism and an acknowledgment that the divine law is holy, just, and good.*

And further, if this absolutely perfect, infinitely glorious being, who is by nature God, is the Creator and Preserver of all things; if he brought all things out of nothing into being, and holds


all things in being every moment; then all things are


* If God is not an absolutely perfect being, in himself infinitely glorious and amiable, the divine law, which requires us to love him with all our hearts on pain of eternal death, can never be made out to be holy, just, and good. And if the law is not holy, just, and good, the wisdom of God in the death of his Son can never be vindicated. The gospel must be given up. He, then, who denies the infinite amiableness of the Deity, as he is in himself, saps the whole Scripture scheme at the foundation. He must be an infidel; or, if he pretends to believe Christianity, he must hold to a scheme full of inconsistency. We have an instance of this in Mr. Cudworth. He denies the infinite amiableness of the Deity, as he is in himself; and maintains that there is “no loveliness conceivable” in him, but what results from his being our friend, disposed to make us happy." When, therefore, we had made him our enemy by sin, he maintains that there was no loveliness to be seen in him ; yea, that, let our hearts be ever so right, it was “ utterly impossible" to love him ; even inconsistent with our original constitution as reasonable creatures. The divine law, surely, then, could not in reason be obligatory on a fallen world : it became a bad law, not fit for us to be under, as soon as ever we broke it; which to say, he owns, is subversive of Christianity. What, then, shall we say? To say that the law is “ holy, just, and good,” when it requires of us what is “inconsistent with the original constitution of reasonable creatures," is the most glaring, shocking selfcontradiction. But into this Mr. Cudworth is necessarily driven, by his denying God to be, in himself, an infinitely amiable Being. For if God is not a lovely Being, when we have made him our enemy by sin ; yea, if his very displeasure against us as sinners, is not a lovely thing, he never can be loved by us. If to hate and punish sin, is in God an unamiable thing, there is no beauty at all in his character, as will be proved in the sequel. If Mr. Cudworth will reconsider his own scheme, and, with a sedate, impartial mind, look to the bottom of things, he will find himself obliged to alter his notion of God, or give up Christianity. And if he should grant that God is, in himself, infinitely amiable, all his objections against my Dialogues must drop of course. For, as soon as the sinner's eyes are, in regeneration, opened to see things as they be, God will appear to be infinitely amiable; and then every consequence will follow, which, I say, does follow. He was sensible of this; and so had no way left but to deny that God is, in himself, infinitely amiable; in which he has destroyed the only foundation on which a consistent scheme of religion can be built, and obliged himself to run into inconsistence and self-contradiction. See Mr. Cudworth's Further Defence, p. 221, 226.

absolutely and entirely his, by an original, independent right. And, if all things are his, he has a natural right of government over all; and it becomes him to take the throne, and be king in his own world. Supreme authority naturally belongs to him, exactly as the divine law supposes.

When, therefore, he takes the throne, assumes the character of moral Governor, requires all the human race to love the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their strength, and with all their mind, on pain of his displeasure, to be testified in their being eternally forsaken of God and given up to ruin, he does what perfectly becomes him. His conduct is founded in the highest reason ; for he is by nature God and the original Lord of all things.

And had all the human kind, in mutual love and perfect harmony among themselves, (as also the divine law requires,) joined, with one heart and with one soul, in a supreme love to the supreme beauty, and in an entire, cordial, joyful subjection to their Creator and supreme Lord, and absolutely perfect Sovereign ; and continued universally obedient to all the dictates of his will, which must forever have been infinitely wise; they might, as one united, harmonious, happy family, have always dwelt under the shadow of his wings, enjoyed his favor, his smiles, his blessing, and made eternal progress in all divine improvements, rejoicing ever before him, to his honor, and infinitely to their own advantage. And all this was but the very thing the divine law was in its own nature calculated to bring them to; for the law was ordained to life. Wherefore the law was holy, just, and good ; and a glorious expression of the holiness, justice, and goodness of the divine nature, the very image of the Deity. And therefore it was worthy to be kept in honor by God's own Son.

Besides, when in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and all things that are in heaven and in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, he then created all things for himself, with a view to begin a moral kingdom, comprehending all holy intelligences, and to set up a moral government to last forever and ever; the welfare of which must consist in, and result from, the knowledge and love of God, and mutual love and harmony under his perfect government; that is, in such tempers, employments, and enjoyments as the divine law was calculated to train them up unto. And, as this holy kingdom was so large, comprehending all holy intelligences; and of such great duration, to last forever and

« VorigeDoorgaan »