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can never be reconciled to any just conceptions of the love and justice of God. Jesus himself did not view his sufferings as incompatible with his Father's love, but rather as one special reason of it.
" Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.” John x. 17.
8. These sufferings, as leading to the salvation of sinners, are worthy of God, because he brings the highest honour and glory to himself, by means of them.
To glorify our Creator was the end of our being. By sin we became totally disqualified for pursuing this end. . Now we disesteem his excellence; we maintain an implacable enmity against him; we live in habitual disobedience to his law; and we confer upon our idols that honour which is exclusively due to him.
On these accounts, he might, without any injury to us, have glo. rified-himself in our eternal condemnation. But this does not seem to have been compatible with the glory of the divine perfections. God will have himself glorified actively by the redeemed sinner. This is the design of the new creation. " This people have I formed for myself, and they shall shew forth my praise." Isaiah xliii. 21. Believers are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. The ground work of the new creation was laid in Christ's sufferings. This secured their pardon, the destruction of sin in them, and all grace to fit them for glorifying God. He left the whole human race to fall: part of them he allows to remain in that state, for the glorifying of his justice in their eternal punishment; the other part he recovers by the death of Christ, in order that they may glorify him in the practice of holiness. This channel being opened, love reaches the sinner, lays hold of him, and plucks him as a brand from the burning; over.
comes the natural enmity of his heart, and captivates the soul to God. “ We love him because he first loved us." i John iv. 19. The soul is then filled with wonder; and magnifies that love to which it owes its delivery. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God!" i John iii. 1. “ I will worship towards thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving.kindness.” Psalm cxxxviii. 2. Had Christ not suffered, the love of God had never been displayed; and it must have lost all that glory which it has in the salvation of the sinner.
Mercy, which otherwise had never appeared, acquires a revenue of glory through Christ's sufferings. To pardon the guilty, and to commiserate the wretched; to liberate the prisoner, and to supply the indigent, are the proper works of mercy. Had no sinner ever been saved, mercy had never been displayed; nor could it, in any sense, ever have been glorified; as it would never have been exercised about any object. It is difficult to conceive how God should overlook the glory of his mercy, more than any other of his perfections. Mercy must not, however, be glorified at the expence of justice. That being satisfied, mercy may receive the sinner to pardon. Mercy and justice meet together, and are glorified together; justice by the expiation of sin, and mercy by pardoning it. All the fruits of mercy are referred to the sufferings of Christ. " As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, have I sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." Zech. ix. 11. 66 The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Hence it is, that the believer sings of the mercies of the Lord,
The glory of justice is much enhanced through these sufferings. Had the sinner been punished in his own person, justice would have been glorified, but not in the same degree. The law was more magnified by the perfect obedience of a divine person, than it could have been by the perfect obedience of the most holy creature; and justice was more gloriously displayed, in the sufferings of Christ, than it would have been in the eternal punishment of the sinner. Though justice had glorified itself in the punishment of the sinner, it could never have received satisfaction. In the sufferings of Christ, we see the last demand of justice answered, and we hear it require no more: but in the punishment of the sinner, justice will ever be demanding, yet will never receive its demands in full; and therefore can never be so eminently glorified, as by the sufferings of Christ, who, on the conclusion of them, could say to his Father, " I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."
BEFORE proceeding farther in the prosecution of the doctrine, I shall deduce a few inferences from what has been discussed.
1. The malignity of sin must be very great. We are too apt to entertain trivial notions of it, from the very superficial manner in which we employ our minds about it. We often talk of the evil of sin-the infinite evil of sin, without knowing what we are saying, and without any proper impressions upon our hearts. Our minds are sometimes alarmed, by some apprehension of its penal consequences, while the intrinsic evil of it is entirely overlooked. Were we disposed, we might form some conceptions of the evil of sin, from the consideration of its dreadful penal consequences; because, that which brings such evil in its train, must it; you
itself be a very evil thing. However, as its malignity lies in its contrariety to the divine holiness, we ought to fix our thoughts here. God cannot, as we have seen, be reconciled to it; nor could he be reconciled to sinners, but through the punishment of it in his own Son. If you would see sin in a proper light, you must form just conceptions of God, as infimely holy. Hą. bituate your minds to close and frequent meditation on his holiness; and beware of resting in mere speculative notions, as these will never affect the heart, nor al. ter your views of sin. Study to obtain a spiritual sense and feeling of what God is. Aspire after conformity to his image; and to be holy as he is holy. Ia proportion as you acquire holy assimilation to God, your views of sin will correspond to his. You will hate
will find, in your new natures, an opposition to it, bearing some resemblance to that which is between God's holiness and it. His hatred of sin makes him seek its destruction, by the death of his own Son, by his Spirit and his word, in your souls, that you may be fitted for communion with himself. If your views and impressions of God are just and spiritual, and if there is a prevailing opposition to sin in your hearts, you will be anxious to have it destroyed. When God hates sin, he hates what is without himself; but your hatred is against something within yourselves; this should be a powerful motive to your mortification of it.
Your exertions to obtain just views of the malignity of sin, will prove of much advantage to your souls. Having felt its bitterness in your hearts, you will be watchful over its motions, and over such things as tend to excite and encourage it. They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” Gal. v. 24. It will have a powerful ten- . dency to humble you; to lead you to brokenness of heart; and, like Job, to abhor yourselves, and to repent in dust and ashes. You will put a high value on Jesus who has suffered so much for the destruction of sin, and your deliverance; and you will never make friends with that enemy which made his wounds so deep and his sorrows so bitter. It will tend to brighten the evidence of your adoption. As it is because God is holy that he hates sin, if you hate it, and in your hearts oppose it, you have a sure evidence that holy principles prevail there. The destruction of sin in your
hearts is part of the pleasure of the Lord, which is to prosper in his hand ; do you beware then lest you obstruct this, and hurt your own interest.
2. Another inference from the preceding subject is, that it must be a righteous thing in God to punish sinners for their sins. I do not here intend those per. sons for whom Christ died: their sins have already been punished, to the satisfaction of justice; so that pardon is secured for them: and as God has received full payment of their debt from the surety, he will not charge it again to their account. If it was worthy of God's justice to punish the sins of others in their surety, it cannot be unjust to punish sinners themselves; for unless the sinner might have been justly punished, it could not have been just to punish Christ; for the same obligation, which obliged the sinner to punishment, was tranferred to Christ; and if the obligation was legal in the sinner's case, so was it in Christ's. But there is even more than this; for if God's justice demanded the punishment of sin, it must demand it in the case of the unbelieving sinner. As sin, in its very nature, deserves punishment, nothing can be more equitable than to punish the transgressor,