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All the nations of antiquity, that are to be found in the records of history, all the modern nations whom recent discoveries have brought within the sphere of our knowledge, however they may have differed in customs and manners, have universally and invariably agreed in making atonement for sin by offering sacrifices to the Deity. This fact is the more extraordinary, as such a method of propitiation is not founded on nature, is not the dictate of reason, nof the result of any feelings of the human frame. If we consult with reason, reason will tell us, that the Deity can never take any pleasure in the torftres, or in the blood of innocent animals; reason will tell us that it is impossible that the blood of bulls or of goats, or the ashes of a heifer, can avail to satisfy the divine jus-* tice, or purify the soul from sin. A practice, therefore, so universal, not founded on nature, nor deducible from reason, can be accounted for no otherwise, but by considering it as the remains of those ancient traditions delivered to the-descendants of Noah, and by them handed down to succeeding ages. Here we cannot but admire the wisdom and watchful care of Providence, that whilst many other traditions perished in the course of time, and are in the gulf of oblivion, this was kept intire all over the world, in order to prepare the nations for the reception of Christianity, which establishes the capital doctrine of an atonement for sin upon a' sacrifice.
Not only were sacrifices in general use among the heathens; but also, among the most celebrated nations of antiquity, illustrious personages had arisen, who, inspired with generous patriotism, had, in cases of danger and calamity, devoted themselves to certain death, to save their country. These self-devoted heroes, these martyrs to the good of mankind, were held in admiration by their countrymen, first in the song of praise, and Highest in the temple of fameAfter,the publication of Christianity, it was no difficult task to transfer the praise and veneration which was paid to these temporal deliverers, to that Divine Lover of mankind, and Redeemer of our race, whb offered himself up a sacrifice for our sins, and died for the happiness of the world. Hence, the atonement requisite for the sins of the world was finished.
In the fourth place, The sufferings of the Messiah were now finished, and naught but glory was to follow.
It seemed expedient to Infinite Wisdom, to set up the Son as head over the great family of God. It Was in this capacity that he created the earth: for it is one of the doctrines revealed to us in the New Testament, that the Son of God was the Creator of the world. As he, therefore, was our immediate Creator, and as his intent in our creation was defeated by sin, there Was an evident propriety, that he himself should interpose in our behalf. The fall of man was the loss of so many subjects to Christ their natural Lord, in virtue of his having created them. Redeeming themi was recovering them again, was re-establishing his power over his own works- In the epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul runs a parallel between the relation in which Christ stands towards us as our Creator; and the new relation he acquired in virtue of his redemption. In the first view, he styles him the image of the invisible God, the first-born of eveTy creature ; for by him were all things created, and by him all things consist. In the second view, he calls him the head of the body, the church, the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all ful"ness dwell, and having made peace by the blood of "his cross, by him to reconcile all things to him« self."
The scheme of thought which runs through the passage, seems to be this; that as we owed to Christ our first life, it was also expedient that we should owe to him our second; that, as he was the head of the creation, and made all things, so, when God thought fit to redeem the world, it pleased him that Christ should also be the head of this new work, the firstborn from the dead himself, and the giver of life to every believer. This much we collect from the Apostle's reasoning, and plainly discern, that the pre-eminence of Christ, as head of the church, is connected with his pre-eminence as head of the creation, and his being set over the great family of God. Jesus Christ, thus constituted the Redeemer of mankind, and the Captain of our salvation, in the discharge of his office, was to be made perfect through sufferings.
In the present state of humanity, the character cannot be complete without the virtues of adversity: we are made for suffering, as well as for action ; there are many principles in the human frame, many faculties of the mind, many qualities of the heart, which would be for ever latent, were they not called forth to action by danger and distress ; there is a hidden gteatness in the mind of man, which afflictions alone can bring to light. When we are bereft of all human help, when Heaven seems to forsake us, and the earth to fail beneath our feet, it is then that the soul asserts her native strength, summons all her virtue to her aid, and exhibits to heaven and earth an object worthy of their contemplation and regard. Afflictions thus supported by patience, thus surmounted by fortitude, give the last finishing to the heroic and the virtuous, character. Thus the vale of tears is the theatre of human glory ; that dark cloud presents the scene for all the beauties in the bow of virtue to appear. Moral grandeur, like the sun, is brighter in the day of the storm, and never is so truly sublime, as when struggling throughthe darkness of an eclipse.
John xi. 25.
J am the Ressurrection and the Life.
[Preached at the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord's •...-.':.. Supper.}
Saw in the right hand of him that sat on the "throne," said the Prophet of the New lestament,—" I saw in the right hand of him that sat on "the throne, a book written within and on the back•' side, scaled with seyen seals. And 1 saw a strong "angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worV thy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? *' And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under "the earth, was able to open the book, neither to "look thereon. And 1 wept much, because no man *' was found wprthy to open, and to read the book, "neither to look thereon. And one of the elders said «' untp mc, Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe "of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to *' open the book, and to loose the seyen seals there"pf."
In this mysterious manner, the Apostle, who ascended in the visions of God, and saw into past and future time, represents the restoration of mankind tp life. When man had fallen from his state of innocence, and all flesh had corrupted their ways, Almighty God, with eyes that for ever overflow with love, looked down upon the earth. He beheld the world ; not as he had beheld it at first, when the morning stars sang together, when all the sons of God shouted for joy^ and when he himself pronounced that all was fair and good; that very world he novv' beheld involved in confusion and uproar ; the original state of things marred ; the order of nature destroyed; the laws of Heaven overturned :-his once beautiful and happy creation defaced and laid in ruins. He beheld his rational offspring, whom he had adorned with his own image, whom lie had appointed to immortality, fallen from their primitive innocence, de-. based With ignorance, depraved with guilt, subjected to vanity, and appointed to dissolution. Following the footsteps of sin, which had thus laid waste his works, he beheld death advancing with swift steps; extending his dominion over the nations, and-shaking His dart in triumph over a subjected worid. He saw, he pitied, and he saved.
Although offended with the guilty race, he would not cast them off for ever. His time of visitation was a time of love. In mercy to mankind he devised a scheme for out restoration and recovery. But man Was not now, as in innocence; in a condition to treat with God by himself. Between sinful dust and ashes, and infinite purity, thefecould be no communication. A Mediator, therefore, was requisite to make peace between heaven and earth, and where was such a Mediator to be found.
Accordingly, at the declaration df the gracious purpose of God, for the future happiness of the work!, when the book of life sealed with its seven seals was brought forth, a strong angel proclaimed with a Joud voice, " Who is worthy to take the book, and to open "the seals thereof?" Who is worthy to mediate between an offended God and guilty man; to unfold the secret purpose of the Most High, and to give life to a world that is dead? There was silence in heaven, and silence in heaven there might have been for ever; but in that moment of mercy, the crisis of our fate, the Son of God interposed; "I am the resurrection "and the life* by me shall the world live. 1 will for
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