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inward excellency in the Christian scheme. It is not merely a method of redemption emanating from the divine character, simple, sublime, harmonious, advancing the ends of moral government, deeply humiliating and consolatory—but it is a scheme forming part of a plan devised before the foundations of the world were laid, for the redemption of man from sin and misery by the Son and Spirit of God - a plan, of which the brief outline and pledge was given in the first promise of “the seed of the woman -a plan which the institution of sacrifice, the separation of Seth's posterity from that of Cain, the destruction of the old world, the covenant with Noah, the dispersion of Babel, and the calling of Abraham, were the first means of promoting--and which the sojourning of the chosen family in Egypt, their deliverance by the hand of Moses, and the dispensation of the law, with all its typical institutions, still further advanced 25—a plan which is the commanding principle of the whole Revelation-the clue which guides through all the mysterious dealings of the Almighty. The judges and kings, the princes and prophets; the sacred books of the different æras of the church; especially the divine prophecies from the first voice of Isaiah to the last accents of Malachi—all subserved this vast project, which unlocks, like a master-key, every part of Scripture. This comprehends all the miracles and prophecies which we considered in former Lectures. 26 This gives a unity and grandeur and importance to the doctrine of redemption, which heighten inconceivably its excellencies, and speak the divine hand from which it came.
The very conception of such a plan for accomplishing such holy benevolent ends, by means so extraordinary, and running through all the ages of time,
24 Gen. iii. 15.
25 Van Mildert. 26 Lect, VII., VIII., IX.
could never have entered any finite mind. The declarations of its general purpose, given four thousand years before the incarnation,—which, standing between the former ages and the present, is the grand fact uniting all the dispensations of the Almighty,could never have been made by man; or, if made, could never have been accomplished. Only an infinitely wise God could have formed such a project, stretching from the creation to the consummation of all things; and only an omniscient and omnipotent Being could have promised and effected the gradual accomplishment of it.
Man's plans are earthly, contiguous, narrow, variable, incomplete. Man's plans are, like himself, feeble and limited in project, low and debased in pursuit, partial and unsatisfactory in result. The plan of redemption is, like its Author, spiritual, exalted, uniform, extensive, successful. The plan of redemption is the centre around which, from the beginning of the world, all the works of providence and all the dispensations of grace have been revolving. The parts of the design which we see, are only a small division of the whole, and may assume, in our view, the appearance of disorder; but all is one glorious and consistent purpose. Time moves on, and fresh events develop something more of the roll of the divine will relating to it. We are yet in the midst of the unaccomplished series. The facts of the incarnation and of the supernatural propagation and preservation of the gospel in the world, assure us of the fulfilment of the whole design ; whilst the manifest state of the world and the church seems anxiously to wait for the blessing.
The very grandeur and consistency of the accom. plished parts of this plan declare its author ; and, when considered in connexion with the pure and benevolent object of it, the infinite contrivances apparent in its several divisions, and the divine interferences manifest in its progress, would of itself form a decisive,
independent proof of the Christian Revelation. But when this is joined on upon the vast inass of the external evidences, and is viewed only as a subsidiary proof, to a mind already convinced of the truth of the religion (which is the exact position which the internal evidences occupy,) the force which it possesses for confirming our faith is utterly irresistible. It wants no learning, no criticism, no long study, to perceive the energy of such an argument. Science and learning, indeed, are very important when duly employed, and on no subject more than religion. But the commanding truths of Christianity are open to all, just as its mysteries are incomprehensible to all. The glorious orb of day is not a more immediate and irrefragable proof of a beneficent and all-wise Creator, than the sun OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, as our Saviour is termed by the holy prophet,” is of the truth of the Christian religion. And as the poorest and most illiterate peasant can feel the warmth and light and joy which its rays diffuse, as gratefully as the inost learned philosopher, (though he cannot specuo late upon the theory of light or the laws of the planetary system ;) so can the humblest disciple as distinctly perceive the glory and excellency, the vital warmth and light and joy of the Sun of Righteousness, as the most profound Christian scholar, though he cannot detail the historical proof of it, or defend his religion by argument.
But, as in the case of the natural sun, no glory in the object can be perceived by him who wants the faculty to discern it; so can no moral excellency in redemption be perceived by him who has a mind darkened by pride and prejudice and habits of vice and worldliness. He wants the faculty. He must be directed to that preparatory work of self-observation, submission to the external evidences of Chris
27 Mal, iv, 2.
tianity, acceptance of all the contents of the religion on the authority of the religion itself, study of these contents on their own principles and by their proper light, prayer for the aid of the Holy Spirit-in order that his mind, being purged and strengthened, may be able to discern "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Much of what we have stated cannot but strange, inconsistent, extravagant to the unpractised and uninstructed mind of man in his natural darkness and prejudices, and making only some guesses at Revelation, as a blind man of colours. It is enough if we direct him to those introductory studies which shall lead him to the full light of truth, if honestly employed. The elements of every science must be first learned, before its last and noblest discoveries can be even conjectured, much less comprehended or judged of aright. Nor doth this ignorance at all lessen the real glory and excellency of these discoveries, as perceived by the humble and experienced disciple.
I appeal to every such disciple, WHETHER THE INWARD EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY, FROM ITS PECULIAR DOCTRINES, does not rise brighter and brighter upon his view, as he can enter into the
practical uses and bearings of them, and can dismiss from his mind the intrusions of forbidden curiosity. I ask whether every year doth not add something to his deeply-seated conviction of the infinite love of God in the gift of a Saviour for the redemption of man ? I ask whether the divine character from which all the doctrines of Revelation emanate—the simplicity and yet grandeur of those discoveries——their harmonytheir illustration of the glories of God's moral government--their humiliating as well as consolatory tendency, do not pour a flood of light upon his mind; do not fall in with all his conceptions of congruity and
28 Phil. iii. 8.
fitness in a divine proceeding, and strengthen all the results of external evidences ? I ask him whether, when he can most clearly disembarrass himself from matters of speculation, and, relinquishing à priori reasoning, can repose most entirely in the practical uses of divine truth, he does not most forcibly feel its elevating, sanctifying, consoling effects ?
Yes; this is the result of the whole subject which we have been reviewing,—the exhibition of the divine character of love in the gift of a Saviour invariably produces A CORRESPONDENT LOVE AND GRATITUDE To GOD ON THE PART OF THE TRUE CHRISTIANthe love of God to man is calculated, is designed to call forth man's love to God in return. Love to God is the natural consequence of such a display. Just as danger is calculated to excite fear; and proposed good, hope; and unexpected deliverance, joy; so such love, on the part of God, is calculated to excite the love of admiration and gratitude and repose, in the breast of man.2
And thus a divine excellency shines forth, not only from the separate characters of the doctrines of Christianity-not only from the great design formed before the ages, of which excellency they are the expressions; but also in THE IMMEDIATE EFFECTS AND RESULTS OF THE WHOLE, in man's obedient and grateful love to God, and devotedness of heart to his service.
Thus does Christianity elevate and ennoble man, aids his mental powers, gives him sublimity of thought and conception, raises him in the scale of moral and intellectual being, touches all the springs of his purest affections, and unites the lofty discoveries of the incarnation, with that practical love and obedience, in which they have their proper effects and consequences.