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arrests the conscience, and the salvation of his soul becomes a matter of serious inquiry. The tear of sorrow is to purchase oblivion for the past, and future reformation to merit the felicity of heaven. He never considers that the imperfection of his duties renders eternal blessedness in this way unattainable. But when the Spirit of God strips him of all his imaginary excellence, and shews him that the divine law is spiritual ; that it requireth perfect purity of heart as well as of conduct, he then sees that he is indeed wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' He cries, in the anguish of his soul, What! will nothing that I can do entitle me to happiness? If so, “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? .
Such is the inquiry of an awakened soul: and such, Lavinia, I know is the language of your heart. While, therefore, I am endeavouring to answer the inexpressibly important question, pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto
you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.'
In attempting this, we must return to that once happy paradise, where our first parents forfeited their title to present and to future happiness. Here, while lamenting over their
apostasy from God, we discover the interpo. · sing hand of divine mercy extended to admi
nister relief to point the way to a paradise,' as Witsius expresses it, 'far preferable to the earthly, and to a felicity more stable than that from which Adam fell. Here a new hope shines upon ruined mortals, which ought to be the more acceptable, the more unexpected it comes. Here conditions are prescribed, to which eternal salvation is annexed; conditions, not to be performed again by us, which might throw. the mind into despondency; but by him that would not part with his life before he had truly said It is finished. No sooner is the rebellion of our apostate ancestors acknowledged, than a Saviour is graciously promised — The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head."
The promulgation of this act of grace was the effect of everlasting love: and also a decla. ration of the future incarnation of the Son of God; which incarnation was, in the first ages of the church, prefigured by various types and shadows, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. In the eternal covenant of grace, all things were settled and provided for the redemption of man. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' The divine Redeemer foresaw the wretchedness and the ruin to which the members of his mystical body would be exposed, in consequence of sin; and in order to rescue them from this ruin and that wretchedness, he voluntarily sanctified himself -or in other words gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour.' He most cheerfully engaged as a substitute for the guilty, and undertook to redeem from death and all its consequences, the many sons he was appointed to bring to glory.
. In a compact so characteristick of the Father of mercies, it appears, from scriptural representation, to have been stipulated, that the Son of his bosom should take the nature of man into union with his divine person, that he should, in that nature, bear the sins of many— be numbered with transgressors—make his soul an offering for sin-finish transgression, make an end of sins--make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness :' and, as a reward for the work he was to perform as Mediator, his eternal Father promised, that he should see his seed; should prolong his days; should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied ; and that the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hands.' In consequence of his own engagement and of this promise, the compassionate Saviour saith, 'Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.'
To accomplish the astonishing work of redemption, the Son of God must become incarnate ; assume the nature that had sinned, and in that nature make complete reparation to the law which his people had grossly violated : for, without reparation, no sinner could be saved. As a transgressor, he must-inevitably have perished; or the divine law have relinquished its claim on him as a debtor; which, in the very nature of the case, was impossible. No law, human or divine, founded in justice, and given as a rule of moral conduct, can dispense with a breach of its commands. Were a desperate assassin to plunge a dagger into the bosom of his most inveterate enemy, the law of his country would demand his life, as an atonement for the crime : it could not do otherwise. It is allowed, indeed, that the murderous villain might escape the penalty of death, by the intervention of a pardon ;. but for this pardon he would not be indebted to the benignity of the law, but to the unjust interposition of his prince. The law would remain invariably the same : it must ever view him as a notorious transgressor; and unless its require.