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understood by those who experimentally realise
No intellectual attainments, no verbal knowledge of the Word of God itself, can enable man-unconverted man-to realise the momentous importance of the cross. All that the most careful and accurate instruction can accomplish, must always fall infinitely short of the reality. Men may, and often do, by dint of mere intellectual enlightenment, see something of its glory; but its pre-eminent excellency, its all-absorbing interest, its paramount obligation and everlasting necessity can only be understood by him who is taught of God. Oh, there is an incalculable difference between the notions of the most enlightened and best-instructed unconverted man upon this subject, and those of the same individual, when, by the power of divine grace, he is given to receive into his heart the testimony of the Gospel. The idea which an intelligent observer of the heavens forms of the sparkling orbs which there present themselves, viewed in his reflector, differ indeed from those of the uninstructed rustic, who views them only with the naked eye. Aided by the calculations of science, he is able to form a correct opinion of the magnitude and comparative distance of a star, concerning which he would otherwise remain in total ignorance; but let us suppose, that in the course of his observations, he has suddenly discovered that one of these fixed stars which he has been in the
habit of admiring, is really not one out of many of similar magnitude and distance, but that it is no other than the central sun, round which the whole of the universe revolves, and from which all the rest of the mighty orbs derive their everlasting stability. How different, then, the idea he entertains respecting the object of his contemplation. He no longer thinks or speaks of it as a fixed star, but as the central sun, whose presence and position is absolutely necessary to the system, whose mighty influence is felt in the remotest quarters of the whole. 'Tis thus the Spirit of God enlarges the sinner's mind, and enlightens his understanding in reference to the cross of Christ. before, by the light of reason brought to bear upon the Scriptures, have admired it as something grand, and have acquired some just notions of its beauty : but now, how changed his feelings ! how enlarged his views ! It is no longer an object of admiration; it is the great object of wonder and delight. It is THE CENTRAL SUN, round which all else in the moral universe round which the very attributes of God himself revolve in unsullied majesty, and stability everlasting
The cross, doctrinally considered, may be viewed in a threefold light -1st, as the appointed means for the conviction of the sinner. 2nd, as the provision made for his justification; and, 3rd, as the efficacious means of his sanctification.
1st. Conviction of sin lies at the very foundation of reconciliation and fellowship with God. Self-righteousness and self-complacency, so deeply rooted in all our hearts, must be eradicated, before we can know what it is to be “reconciled to God.” Man must be brought, as the great preliminary to godliness, to know and feel himself to be ungodly; as the great essential to salvation, to know and feel that he is lost. How, then, is this to be accomplished ?-Where shall we find a power—a moral power adequate to the work? Some will refer us to the law, and say that here we are supplied with what we seek for ; that this is the means of conviction, and that by this we are to be brought as sinners to the Saviour. Well, granted that it is so. The law, which in a certain sense, and to a certain extent, is truly said to be the transcript of the mind of God, if once impressed upon the soul of man, must bring him to confess himself a sinner, and to cry out for mercy. But here the question arises, how shall that law be so impressed upon the sinner's conscience ? How shall he be given to discern its exceeding length and depth, and breadth and height ? How shall he be 80 taught the meaning of the law as to apply it to himself, and learn in it the lesson of his ruin? We point to the cross; we bid the sinner regard the Son of God—the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person—to behold the everlasting Father
stretching forth his hand upon this beloved Son, the holy, undefiled Jesus, and exacting from him from his crucified flesh, and stricken soul, the penalty of his violated law, and there to learn the majesty of the law of God, and the heinousness of that sin by which he has violated its commandments. Oh! how truly it may be said, that when Jesus bowed his anointed head, and yielded up his life as an atonement for human sin, the law of God was more magnified, its righteousness was more forcibly displayed, than it could have been in the destruction of ten thousand worlds. It is when I behold myself as crucified with Christ—when I survey his wondrous cross, and there behold the wages of my sin, that I learn the utter inadequacy of all that I can do or suffer, to atone for sin. I see how there was that in Christ himself, which could enable him to do so there ; to make compensation for that sin, which must otherwise consign me to the blackness of darkness for ever. When I behold the Lamb of God enduring the punishment of my transgression, I learn, for the first time, to view myself in all my own deformity, I see that what he suffered is justly due to me; yea, and must be exacted from me, either in my own person, or in his. I have such a realising sens
of my vileness, and of the inflexibility of divine justice, that were I the only sinner in the world, and all men pure besides, even I could not be saved except by the
sufferings of the cross. Such is the lesson which we learn from the cross of Christ, respecting sin, and the punishment which the curse of God inflicts upon the sinner-a lesson which human wisdom never taught, which human power never enabled man to receive-a lesson which can only be learned at that cross, which is THE WISDOM OF GOD, AND THE POWER OF Gon.
2nd. But that which is the exhibition of man's sin, is also the provision for his justificationthe means, the only means, by which his iniquity can be covered, and the sinner can be counted and treated as righteous before God. This is, indeed, as in the days of the apostles,
a stumbling-block” to the Jew and “ foolishness” to the Greek, “but to us, who are called, it is the power of God.” How, the wise men of this world ask, can one man's work atone for the sin of another?—or how can righteousness be imputed to one confessedly a sinner --what is the meaning of " imputed righteousness ?” Hear the word of the Lord in Rom. iv. 1-87“ What shall we then say that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God. For what saith the Scripture ? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh