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as he stands in need of it, and experiment on the patience of God just as far as his natural desires may carry him, so that when we look to the men of the world, as they pass smoothly onward, from the cradle to the grave, do we see each of them in a state of profound security as to his interest with God; each of them solacing himself with his own conception about the slenderness of his guilt, and the kindness of an indulgent Deity; each of them in a state of false and fancied peace with Heaven, while every affection of the inner man, and many of the doings of the outer man, bear upon them the stamp of rebellion against Heaven's law; each of them walking without uneasiness, and without terror, while, at the same time, each and all of them do in fact walk in the counsel of their own hearts, and after the sight of their own eyes.
THE UNION OF TRUTH AND MERCY IN THE GOSPEL.
PSALM 1Xxxv. 10.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
Ir was not by a simple deed of amnesty, that man was invited to return and be at peace with God. It was by a deed of expiation. It was not by nullifying the sanctions of the law, that man was offered a free and a full discharge from the penalties he had incurred by breaking it. It was by executing these sanctions on another, who voluntarily took them upon himself, and who, in so doing, magnified the law, and made it honourable. To redeem us from the curse of the law, Christ became a curse for us. It was not by God lifting off our iniquities from our persons, and scattering them away into a region of forgetfulness, without one demonstration of his abhorrence, and without the fulfilment of his threatenings against them; but lifting them off from us, he laid them on another, who bare, in his own person, the punishment that we should have borne. God laid upon his own Son the iniquities of us all. The guilt of our sins is not done away by a mere act of forgiveness. It is washed away by the blood of the Lamb. God set him forth a propitiation. He was smitten for our transgressions. He gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God. The system of the gospel no more expunges the attribute of mercy from the character of the Godhead, than it expunges the attributes of truth and righteousness. But all the mercy which it offers and proclaims to a guilty world, is the mercy which flows upon it
through the channel of that Mediatorship, by which his truth and his justice have been asserted and vindicated; and, while it reveals to us the openness of this channel, it also reveals to us that every other which the heart of man may conceive, is shut, and intercepted, and utterly impassable. There is none other name given under heaven, whereby man can be saved, but the name of him who poured out his soul unto the death for Without the shedding of his blood, there could have been no remission. And he who hath not the Son, hath the wrath of God abiding on him.
It is due to our want of moral sensibility, that sin looks so light and so trivial in our estimation. We have no adequate feeling of its malignity, of its exceeding sinfulness. And, liable as we are to think of God, that he is altogether like unto ourselves, do we think that he may cancel our guilt as easily from the book of his condemnation, by an act of forgiveness, as we cancel it from our own memory, by an act of forgetfulness. But God takes his own way, and most steadfastly asserts, throughout the whole process of our recovery, the prerogatives of his own truth, and his own righteousness. He so loved the world, as to send his Son to it, not to condemn, but to save. But he will not save us in such a way as to confirm our light estimation of sin, or to let down the worth and the dignity of his own charac. ter. The method of our salvation is not left to the random caprices of human thought, and human fancy. It is a method devised for us by unsearchable wisdom, and made known to us by fixed and unalterable truth, and prescribed to us by a su preme authority, which has debarred every other method; and though we may behold no one feature, either of greatness or of beauty to admire in it—yet do angels admire it; and to accom. plish it, did the Son of God move from the residence of his glo. ry; and all heaven appears to have laboured with the magnitude and the mystery of the great undertaking; and along the whole tract of revelation, from the first age of the world, do we be hold the notices of the coming atonement; and while man sits at his ease, and can see nothing to move him either to gratitude or to wonder, in the evolution of that mighty scheme, by which mercy and truth have been made to meet together, and right. VOL. IV.-11
eousness and peace to kiss each other,-it is striking to mark the place and the prominency which are given to it, in the councils of the Eternal. And it might serve to put us right, and to rebuke the levites which are so currently afloat in this dead and darkened world, did we only look at the stress that is laid on this great work, throughout the whole of its preparation and its performance,-and how to bring it to its accomplishment, the Father had to send the Son into the world, and to throw a veil over his glory,-and to put the cup of our chastisement into his hand,-and to bid the sword of righteous vengeance awake against his fellow,—and, that he might clear a way of access to a guilty world, had to do it through the blood of an everlasting covenant,--and to lay the full burden of our atonement on the head of the innocent sufferer,—and to endure the spectacle of his bitterness, and his agonies, and his tears, till he cried out that it was finished, and so bowed himself and gave up the ghost.
Man is blind to the necessity, but God sees it. The prayer of Christ in his agony was, that the cup, if possible, might be removed from him. But it was not possible. He could have called twelve legions of angels, and they would have eagerly flown to rescue their beloved Lord from the hands of his persecutors. But he knew that the scripture must be fulfilled, and they looked on in silent forbearance. It behooved him to under. go all this. And there was a need, and a propriety, why he 'should suffer all these things, ere he entered into his glory.
We shall offer three distinct remarks on this method of our redemption, in order to prove that it fulfils the whole assertion of our text, that it has made mercy and truth to meet together. and righteousness and peace to kiss each other.
First, it maintains the entireness and glory of all the attributes of the Godhead. Secondly, it provides a solid foundation for the peace of every sinner who concurs in it. And, thirdly, it strengthens all the securities for the cause of practical righteousness among men.
I. In darkness, as we are, about the glory and character of the Supreme Being, it would offer a violence even to our habitual conceptions of him, to admit of any limit, or any deduction
from the excellencies of his nature. We should even think it a lessening of the Deity, were the extent of his perfections such, as that we should be able to grasp them within the comprehension of our understandings. The property of chiefest admiration to his creatures is, that they know but a part, and are not aware how small a part that is, to what is unknown; and never is their obeisance more lowly, than when under the sense of a greatness that is undefined and unsearchable, they feel themselves baffled by the infinitude of the Creator. It is not his power as attested by all that exists within the limits of actual discovery; but his power, as conceived to form and uphold a universe, whose outskirts are unknown.-It is not his wisdom, as exhibited in what has been seen by human eye; but his wisdom, as pervading the unnumbered secrecies of a mechanism, which no eye can penetrate. It is not his knowledge, as displayed in the greater and prophetic outlines of the history of this world; but his knowledge, as embracing all the mazes of creation, and all the mighty periods of eternity.-It is not his antiquity, as prior to all that is visible, and as reaching far above and beyond the remote infancy of nature; but his antiquity, as retiring upwards from the loftiest ascent of our imaginations, and lost in the viewless depths of an existence, that was from everlasting.-These are what serve to throne the Deity in grandeur inaccessible. It is the thought of what eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, that places him on such a height of mystery before us. And should we ever be able to overtake, in thought, the dimensions of any attribute that belongs to him, -and far more should we ever be able to outstrip, in fancy, a single feature of that character which is realised by the living and reigning God,-should defect or impotency attach to him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto, would we feel as if all our most rooted and accustomed conceptions of the Godhead had sustained an overthrow, would we feel as if the sanctuary of him who is the King eternal and invisible had suffered violence.
And this is just as true of the moral as of the natural attributes of the Godhead. When we think of his truth, it is a truth