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JESUS IN HIS MISSION, DEATH, AND EXALTATION, THE MEDIUM, THRONE, STOREHOUSE, AND ALMONER OF MERCY.
“ Jesus our kinsman, and our God,
Arrayed in majesty and blood;
“All our immortal hopes are laid,
In thee, our Saviour, and our head;
Having contemplated the nature and glory of divine mercy, we now come to consider its costliness. We have seen that it is not more certain that God is, than that he is merciful; that the wonders of creation do not more fully demonstrate the first, than the wonders of the new creation do the second. We have also seen that this mercy is exceedingly glorious; that it is that in and to the moral world, which the sun is to the material world, the fountain of light, life, and beauty. As light dawned first in beauteous radiance on a dark chaos, so did mercy; at first disclosing its awful horrors, but afterwards rejoicing to effect a glorious change. That God who at first said, “ let there be light, and there was light," on the fourth day provided a glorious shrine in which light should dwell, Ps. xix ; and the same almighty Being,“ in the fulness of time, sent forth his Son,” and thus hung out in the heavens of his mercy, the glorious Sun of righteousness, in the splendor of whose beams every other light is eclipsed. But how great the difference between the displays of power and mercy! between creation and redemption ! Both were wrought by the same person ; but the one was by a word, and the other by the travail of his soul, “in whom God's soul delighted.” The Apostle beautifully shews forth this difference in Heb. i. 3 ; Jesus upholds all creation by the word of his power, but by himself he purged our sins. “Mercy, pardon, and grace, (says Dr. Owen) could find no other way to issue forth from the heart of the Father, but by the heart's blood of the Son, and so do they stream into the heart of the sinner. To have all the clouds and darknesses that are raised by sin between us and the throne of God dispelled; to have the fire and storms and tempests, that are kindled and stirred up about him by the law, removed; to have his glorious face unveiled, and his holy heart laid open, and a view given to those infinite treasures and stores of goodness, mercy, love, and kindness, which have had an unchangeable habitation therein from all eternity; to have a discovery of these eternal springs of forbearance and forgiveness, is that which none but Christ can accomplish and bring about.”
By the costliness of divine mercy we wish two things to be understood. The vast expenditure which was made in order that it might exercise its functions honorably, and the infinite value which this implies there is in mercy. Still it must never be thought for a moment that mercy required to be purchased, or that God needed any inducement to cause him to exercise his mercy; on the other hand it was mercy itself moved the Saviour to come; it was by the grace of God that he tasted death for every man, Heb. ii. 9, 10; wisdom provided him, i Cor. i. 21; love gave him, John iii. 15; justice accepted him, Zech. xiii. 7; and mercy triumphs through him. Mercy could not have found pleasure in saying sinners, even could such a thing have been done, if justice had not been first satisfied. Mercy in the salvation of sinners, is the minister of holiness, and to secure the honors of justice, and the triumphs of holiness, is its great object. The pardon and justification of sinners are not mere expedients to please mercy, but ordained means of glorifying justice and holiness. Christ then is the chosen and suited channel by which mercy flows; as says the Apostle, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace," Ephes. i. 7; and the following words, “wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence,” 8 v., would seem to imply, that vast as the expenditure was, there was nothing unnecessary in redemption, but as in all the other works of God, there was just the outlay of divine energy which the case required ; and how yast that was in the matter of a sinner's salvation, let the facts of the case tell, let the labors, the sweat, the tears, the blood, of God incarnate tell. What a testimony is here borne to the evil of sin! What an overwhelming proof is here furnished of man's incompetency to help himself! And above all, what a view doth this give of the excellent nature of divine mercy! How costly, how invaluable is mercy! How vast, to require such a capacious channel! How efficacious, flowing through such precious blood ! How eternal, identified with such a glorious name. But let us briefly contemplate the Saviour's advent and death, and his session at God's right hand, and see in all, his zeal in the cause of mercy. View him at Bethlehem, Calvary, and in Glory, and hear him say as he took our nature, bare our sins, and received his reward, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." His was the true Shepherd's heart, bent on bringing his wandering ones under the care of mercy.
I. “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Precious words! the brightest gem in the bosom of truth! the deathless treasure of myriads of hearts; beauteous bow of the covenant in the cloud of mercy! melodious trumpet of the eternal jubilee sounding over an apostate world! water of life springing from the throne of God! O that all who have ears to hear could hear “ this faithful saying,” and prove “it is worthy of all acceptation !” “Jesus came to save !" came at mercy's bidding, came on mercy's errand, came for mercy's glory ; nor hath he come in vain. As at the voice of his power creation sprung from the womb of nothingness; so at the voice of his love shall the springs of penitence burst forth from the rocks of enmity, and the beauteous forms of lowliness and love from the dark caverns of pride and sin. Such was the love of Christ, that heaven could not contain him, when sinners needed his help; suffering could not restrain him, when mercy's interests required him to die; nor the grave retain him, when he had satisfied justice, and prepared the way for the triumphs of mercy. He came to save, he died to save, he rose and he lives to save. But let us go to Bethlehem, and inquire who ushered into our world this glorious visitant; and we are told that it was * through the bowels of the mercy of our God that the day spring from on high visited us," Luke i. 78; from the inwardness of the mercy, which had dwelt in God's heart eternally. He came forth from the bosom of the Father. He who was to be mercy's herald, mercy's champion, was the child, the offspring of mercy; his heart was moulded by the hand of mercy. How did the angels wonder and adore, when they saw this gift of love and mercy come into our world. They were enough enlightened into the glorious mystery to know that his errand was one of compassion; that his advent was a grand expression “ of good will towards man.” They had been witnesses of the state of the world, and the conduct of man, for upwards of four thousand years; and the earth at that moment must have appeared to them to stand ripe for the sickle of wrath; gaze where they would, nothing but wickedness met their eye. But instead of receiving a commission to go and be the execu