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lation that it provides a remedy for all our misery; and it is the peculiarity of that remedy, to be applicable to the precise bearings of our case. Nor are the other doctrines of the being, and perfections, and law of Almighty God, and of the guilt of sin, and of the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment, less adapted for the exigencies which man’s ignorance of God, of himself, of a future state, and of the grounds of the final sentence, present.
This is the obvious excellency of the Scripture doctrines, that they altogether provide a complete and most surprising recovery for man from the ruins of the fall ; restoring him to the favour of God by the immense blessing of forgiveness, and to the moral image of God by the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit.
But how, it may be asked, can the same acts pro mote the special ends of God's moral government, to which they seem rather to be hindrances, or at least exceptions ? They do so in various ways.
The great propitiation of Christ magnifies the law of God, by sustaining the penalty of it; whilst his previous obedience honoured all its precepts. Never was the inseparable connexion between sin and misery so exhibited as in the cross of Christ. Never was the holiness of God and his hatred of moral evil so manifested. Never was the honour of the divine government and its inflexible purity so demonstrated.
Nor does the way in which the blessing of pardon is to be received less clearly promote the same ends. For what attitude must man assume when he applies for the benefit? That of a culprit; that of a penitent, vindicating God and condemning himself; that of a rebel, returning to his allegiance, and admitting the equity of the law which he has violated.
And what must follow on his justification ? A life of obedience, from gratitude and love; the necessity
of which is not lessened, though the place it occupies is of course, from the whole scheme of salvation, changed. And does not this obedience, from a principle of love, vindicate and promote the ends of God's holy government, when it is produced by the grace of redemption, in those who were before open transgressors and rebels ?
Again : what is the very faith which justifies, but a holy principle, the source of all future obedience ; though in the act of justification it is only as the hand which lays hold of the Saviour's merits? And what are the grace and operations of the Holy Spirit, but a spring of renewed love and subjection to God ? And what are the manifestations of the last judgment, but the proofs of moral and religious character in man, displayed before the assembled universe ?
Thus admirably are the necessities of man supplied, on the one hand; and the ends of moral government, in the dispensations of the Almighty, established triumphantly, on the other : whilst the union of those apparently contradictory points illustrates that divine wisdom which pervades the whole doctrine of Revelation.
6. This impression will be strengthened if we consider that the revealed doctrines are at once DEEPLY HUMILIATING AND IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE CUN
The peculiar truths of the Bible are, indeed, most humiliating :—they lay man low; they strip him of his fancied righteousness, and imagined power; they empty him of the conceit and self-dependance with which he swells. A salvation by grace, a justification by faith ; a sanctification, the seeds of which are implanted by the Holy Spirit, and all the fruits of it matured by the same divine comforter-all this is most humiliating. Then the partial discoveries which the doctrines of Revelation make, oppose the pride of man's understanding : partial, not as to their
practical uses, but as to the whole compass of them, the various consequences which flow from them, and many circumstances with which they are connected.
The mysteries of Scripture, again--which is only another word for man's ignorance—humble man: mysteries as to the purposes of the Almighty; mysteries as to the manner of the divine subsistences in the holy Trinity; mysteries as to the entrance of moral evil ; mysteries as to the union of the two natures in the person of Christ; mysteries as to the operations of grace in accordance with the accountableness and efforts of man—these and other points, impenetrable to the human understanding, are no doubt most humiliating.
And yet, under the circumstances of the case, and as connected with the abundant consolations which flow from them, they prove the excellency of the very system which they seem to obscure: for had not this scheme been far beyond human capacities and discoveries, it need not have been revealed.
And in a communication from the all-comprehending mindthe infinite and eternal God-mysteries are the natural and necessary result of our limited faculties. How can man comprehend the whole will, and the manner of subsistence, and the modes of operations of the glorious Jehovah ? That a divine Revelation should, in some respects, be clothed with incomprehensibility, is one proof of its divine origin. I say in some re. spects; for the doctrines of Revelation are not mysterious in all their parts. The statements and facts are clear and intelligible; it is only in modes and essences that incomprehensibility is involved. As in the works of creation, though we cannot penetrate to the hidden nature of things, and in that view all is mystery; yet we can discern traces enough of a divine hand, to adore the unsearchable goodness and wisdom of the great Architect and Author. Nay, the very humility which these obscurities tend
to produce, is one mark of the divine excellency of Revelation; because the malady of man was pride, which these are especially calculated to cure.
And, then, WHAT SOURCES OF CONSOLATION are opened in these mysterious truths! Where is there a spring of comfort to man, which does not rise from a doctrine surrounded in some view with impenetrable darkness ? Whence any peace of conscience but from the mysterious sacrifice of the cross ? Whence the disposition and power to repent and seek God, but from the mysterious influence of the Spirit ? Whence the softest consolations of the heart in trouble, but from the mysterious communion of God with the soul ? And what is there so consolatory as that incarnation of the Son of God, which is shrouded with the deepest darkness ? It is in this mystery that are involved the condescension and pity of the Almighty. It is here that the invisible God becomes tangible, as it were, and perceptible to man. It is here, that the distance and dread which sin has interposed, are removed.
In short, the one stupendous act of the love of God in the gift of his Son, which is the distinguishing truth of Christianity, is so incomparably consoling, and at the same time so humiliating, as to form, from this united impression, the strongest evidence of its divine glory and excellency.
It is here the restorative character of revealed truth rises to the highest point-that all is shown to be summed up in an exhibition of divine love that every thing else is seen to be only preparatory to this, or consequent upon it. This is the epitome of the Christian doctrines. Redemption is the manifestation of the character of love in the ever-blessed God. The incarnation is, so to speak, LOVE ITSELF MADE MAN; whilst the operations of the Holy Ghost are a diffusion of the same divine love.
How does this consideration raise these internal
evidences ! how does it invest them with a matchless excellency ! how does it render the very mysteries which result from the infinite condescension of God, in taking our nature upon him, a part of the proof of their divine origin! how do the very depths of darkness, with which we feel ourselves surrounded in cer. tain points of view, enhance the consolation which flows in a full tide upon the soul, from the practical effects and tendencies of the doctrines which arise from them, and which guide and illuminate our path!
And here we might close the argument of this Lecture; but there remains one additional point of great weight, illustrating the whole of what we have been observing, and elevating the proof to a yet loftier height. For, besides these separate marks of glory and excellency in the Christian doctrine, we would call your attention to the MAGNITUDE AND SUBLIMITY OF THE GREAT DESIGN OF ALMIGHTY GOD, OF WHICH THEY ARE THE RESULT. A plan, formed before the ages, is revealed in the Christian Scriptures. Its greatness and sublimity may be judged of from the compass it takes, the position it occupies, the effects it has produced. This stupendous project of redemption appears immediately after the fall, and is pursued to the close of the divine canon; it involves in its course all the operations of a wonderful providence—all the miracles and prophecies of both Testaments; it proceeds onward still to the present hour; nor will it cease its progress till its grand consummation, in the conversion of the world and the glories of the latter days, and the giving up of the mediatorial kingdom to God, even the Father, “that God may be all in all.” 23
This adds incomparably to the whole evidence of
23 1 Cor. xv. 28.