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Father saith, “Let all the angels of God worship him." Heb. i. 6. For though abased in this mysterious manner, still he is the Creator and God of angels: he is “God manifested in the flesh," 1 Tim. iii. 16. Immanuel, that is, God with us, is his name whereby he shall be called.
Here then, in this character, drawn not by the erring pencil of man, but by the Spirit of truth in the oracles of God: here behold the proper object of every repenting sinner's dependence. See with what just reason you may confide in him, who possesses all the attributes and perfections of the Godhead :-in him, who at the very time his appearance in our flesh was foretold, had his dignity proclaimed by the prophetic herald in this magnificent
“ Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder : and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace,” Isa. ix. 6.
Had it been only declared by the mouth of the Lord of hosts, that one of such infinite dignity would be favourable to all humbled and repenting sinners, and would plead in their behalf before his Father, even this simple declaration ought to engage the confidence of the guilty : it would be a sufficient warrant to justify their dependence on him. For if the Redeemer be really possessed of infinite perfections, he must be a fit object of confidence to the soul, supposing he were pleased to declare his merciful disposition toward it. But he has done far more than simply declare his good-will to perishing sinners; the depth of his humiliation, and the sacrifice of his life, present to us indisputable and most affecting proofs that the Redeemer is worthy of our highest confidence. For the same infallible record which assures us that he was in the form of God, worshipped and acknowledged as such in heaven; thinking it no robbery, no usurpation of glory, to be equal with God; assures us likewise, that in pity to a ruined world, he was content to live and die a substitute and surety for sinful man.
In the fulness of time, according to that counsel of peace between the Father and the Son, recorded in the fortieth Psalm the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, was born into the world with a body prepared for him by the power of the Holy Ghost. He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Instead of appearing in that royal character which the carnal Jews expected, as a visible conqueror of their political foes, he was made lower than men, and counted as no man! And though men of the lowest stations have generally the fewest troubles, his case was the reverse; the reverse both of the grandeur of princes, and of the tranquillity of the vulgar. Pre-eminence in the multitude and weight of sorrows was his only distinction. Yet a man of low condition, though overwhelmed with troubles, may possess a high reputation, at least one untainted; but Jesus descended below this, and submitted even to bear the imputation of being an impostor and a blasphemer. Nay, he stooped still lower, and not only stood as a criminal at the bar of Pilate, but appeared such, by imputation, before the Judge of the universe. " And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all :” whilst other condemned malefactors are charged only with the crimes committed by themselves, and with but a few of those; the Scripture represents this unparalleled Sufferer as oppressed with the crimes of multitudes, in number like the sands on the sea shore; a weight more heavy and terrible to sustain than we are able to conceive! But this we know, that the curse of the law was a weight sufficient to crush a world. We know that they who first experienced it found it to be intolerable: for when legions of angels, which excel in strength, abused that strength against the law, it sunk them from the highest heaven to the lowest misery of hell.
This weight Jesus undertook to bear for us; he was made sin, that is, a sin-offering, and a curse for us. He interposed his sacred body between the load of wrath from above, and us the heirs of wrath below. Instead of that high ineffable communion of love in which he dwelt with his Father, he was content to feel the exquisite sorrow of being forsaken of him. Till that distress never had Jesus made a request for pity: he sought none from Pilate; when the sympathising daughters of Jerusalem wept over him, he meekly advised them to reserve their compassion for themselves and their children. But now at this hour, when it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he, who was like a sheep dumb before the shearers, is dumb no longer; the Lamb of God, when brought to this dreadful slaughter, must open his mouth, and Pity itself must cry for pity. It was the blasphemous language of his murderers, “where is now thy God?” And behold, so exquisite are the pangs of his distressed soul, that something like the same language comes from his own mouth, he cries out, “ My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"
So particular is the Scripture testimony in describing the humiliation and death of the Redeemer: and not less explicit in ascertaining both the end for which he humbled himself to the death of the cross, and the everlasting benefits he thus secured to all his faithful dependents. Notwithstanding all the opposition he met with, both from the enemy of sinners and sinners themselves, he obtained a perfect conquest, and died with this transporting shout of victory in his mouth, “It is finished.” The debt of penal suffering, the debt of perfect obedience is paid to the law; the powers of hell are vanquished, and God is well pleased.
Ponder then upon this marvellous transaction; upon this horrible torment and death sustained, not by any angelic or created being, but by him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Consider the depth of his abasement, and the extremity of his anguish; all submitted to with no other view than to make an atonement for sin, and to purchase redemption, even the forgiveness of sin, for all who should ever trust in his name. Consider this fact, and then say, can even invention itself devise, or the most afflicted conscience desire a more sure Foundation to trust on for pardon and acceptance with God? What can the Law demand of you, either as an exemption from suffering its penalty, or as a title to eternal life, which this vicarious obedience and sacrifice of God manifest in the flesh, has not abundantly provided in behalf of all true believers ?
I will suppose your sins in their malignancy and number to be enormous, and to cry with the loudest cry for yengeance: still, if in anguish of spirit for them, you humbly trust to Jesus for remission, can they have such weight, do you think, to condemn you, as the blood of an incarnate God to take them away? Have your of
fences dishonoured God's law more than the obedience and death of the Redeemer have magnified it? Or have not those transgressions been fully expiated, for which the Lawgiver himself was put to death? Though you dare not risk your pardon on the vague notion of mere mercy, now that your understanding is enlightened, and your conscience faithful in its rebukes; though you dare not embrace the fashionable religion, which leaves such awful things as the justice of the Most High and the law of the Most Holy, destitute of their due honour; though you can never trust to obedience and future amendment as any atonement for past transgressions; yet stedfastly fix your eyes on the matchless ransom paid down by Jesus on the cross. See! there the glory of the holy God reconciled with the good of the humbled criminal. See there the justice of God more awful than if mercy had been excluded, and mercy more amiable than if justice had been dispensed with. See how vengeance and forbearance there meet together; vengeance on the person of the crucified Redeemer, and forbearance for his sake to every believing penitent. See there wrath and love kiss each other; wrath towards the divine Substitute, love to the insolvent and ruined sinner. By this con
honour done to the criminal is an honour done to the law, because he receives it only through the obedience and satisfaction paid to it by his Surety; and all the respect put upon the law puts respect also upon the criminal, because of the divinity of him who undertook to bear his curse and pay his debt.
Is not this ransom then a solid ground for peace to the broken in heart? A transaction in which God holds forth his only begotten Son, nailed to a cross, to be a propitiation for sin through faith in his blood, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of all them that believe in Jesus? Is it possible for the powers of darkness to form a cloud through the gloom of which this most glorious truth will not be able to dart light and comfort? May our souls open to receive it; it is a beam from the face of the Redeemer, to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
Further; Still stronger will the ground for confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ
take into your
bei view, the free and gracious manner in which you are in
vited to become a partaker of the blessings of redemption. The great generally sell even what they call their favours: long services or powerful recommendations are their inducements to confer dignity, or bestow wealth. But far otherwise, as our most impotent condition requires, is the case with respect to forgiveness purchased by the blood of Christ. No impossible or hard condition is previously required on the sinner's part: no works of righteousness are required to be first performed in your own strength, and then pleaded as your recommendation: no set of holy tempers, or stock of moral virtue, to be first acquired. All this righteous practice is to follow upon believing, and to be produced from strength and grace received through constant application to the Redeemer. The invitation runs in these most encouraging terms,
Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money;” (no one single qualification)"yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price," Isaiah lv. 1. - The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost,” to purchase pardon for rebels and enemies to God; of consequence, the only requisite to partake of his grace, is that
you behold yourself that perishing sinner that God saw you would be, when he delivered up his Son for our offences; and that you are glad to lay hold on this hope set before you. And surely the most fearful doubting mind cannot desire more encouragement to believe: the most dejected conscience cannot conceive a place of refuge more adapted to its distressed condition: nor can even the worst of sinners desire more gracious advances towards peace and reconciliation.*
* See Prayer the 6th.