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ing been witnesses and spectators of the whole amazing transaction. They take a high interest in its administration, and are greatly benefitted by its provisions.
The blessed God regards the expedient of the atonement as so fit a medium for giving a full display of the divine glories, that he reveals it to be the ground for creating the universe. He "created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by [means of ] the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eph. iii. 9—11.
The whole immense progress of the Mediator's career, from the throne to the manger, and from the manger to the cross, was “seen of angels.” They were spectators of his public entrance into heaven after finishing bis atoning work: and they were witnesses of his splendid triumph over spiritual wickedness in high places, when “having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them” in his cross and atonement.
These intelligences are now daily made acquainted with all the instances of conversion from sin to holiness among the sinners of our world. And they are informed of the progressive improvement which believers make in Christian character, and of the maturity of the Christian graces which has ripened them for “Abraham's bosom." The apostle Peter says, that angels generally (not the angels,) meaning all heavenly intelligences, take a high interest, complacency and delight in these subjects. He enumerates the salvation of man, the inquiries of the prophets, the sovereign grace of God, the work of the Spirit
, the sufferings and glory of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel, as the "things which angels desire to look into.” The original phrase is expressive of the intense energy and keen relish, with which they inquire into the doctrine of the atonement, and its relations. "Likewise there is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over
one sinner that re
As intelligent, holy, and benevolent beings, the atonement in all its designs and influences must be a source of pleasure to them. As intelligent beings they take an interest in the atonement, from the circumstance ibat it is a reasure in which the Father of wisdom and mind is swell pleased,” and over which he “joys with singing.' It is a subject, in grandeur and immensity, suited to the keen penetration, and the large comprehension of their glorious minds. The atonenient as the ground and medium of an inmense accession of good to the universe, cannot fail to interest and delight their minds, as amiable and benevolent beings Neither of these aspects of the atonement, bowever, would be desirable to their minds, were it void of a holy character
Because they are holy themselves, they rejoice in the atonement on account of the demonstration which it gives of the evil of sin; on account of its public expression of the beauty of divine holiness; on account of its vicarious virtue to expiate and sanctify guilty and sinful men; and on account of its practical tendency to deter accountable beings from sin, and to melt the hard heart to repentance. This diffuses "joy in their presence,” because that by repentance, through the atonement, the sinner is coming back into order and harmony with the universe; that bis repentance is reasonable, and due to the divine government; that by this process he is introduced into the circle of happiness and fellowship with God; and that eventually, he is to join them for ever as an associate in glory, and sharer in their joy.
If there be such "joy” among these intelligences now in their inquiries into this stupendous measure; if they are so delighted and entranced with its present unfoldings, developements, and evolutions, how will they be ravished with the glory of its splendid consummation. The apostle John represents them, as in that auspicious period, thrilling the vast universe with their rapturous songs. "And I beheld and heard the yoice of
many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen." Rev. v, 11-14.
The information which is communicated to the intelligences of other worlds, concerning the mediatorial transactions, in the church, and for the church, is intended to affect themselves, and to have a practical influence upon them as subjects of the divine government. Their great minds are capable of enlargement by exercise, of advancement in knowledge, and of growth in their love and admiration of the character of God. Their study of the atonement is calculated to strengthen their confidence in the righteousness and benevolence of the divine government, and to give them a clear insight into the heinous enormity of revolt and transgression. When they see the tremendous evil of sin, set forth in the sufferings of the Mediator, they perceive the justice of the eternal destruction for sin of their former compeers in glory, and feel high gratitude to sovereign grace for their own preservation in bliss. In their contemplation of what the mediatorial President has done for the universe, they feel themselves united more nearly and dearly to the system of which He is the centre and the glory: and they feel prompt and unshrinking to undertake any service, in his work, after his illustrious example. Probably by the information which they receive from the atonement, they become more aware and sensible of the value and worth of their own dignity and glory. Gabriel never knew the worth of his harp and crown, till he saw at what immense cost, the lost harp
and crown of a sinner were ransomed, among the scenes of Gethsemane and Calvary.
The Intelligences of other worlds are positively benefitted by sharing in the blessings of the atonement. “He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all hearens, that he might fill all things.” In this passage the blessed Redeemer may be considered either as taking his place, as the central Sun, in the midst of a vást system of heavenly places, to every part of which he diffused light and heat; or as, in his ascending progression, passing on his way to his throne, worlds upon worlds, and systems upon systems, strown amid call heavens,” scattering his blessings all around, and sanctifying and baptizing every world with "he blood of sprinkling." With what can be “fill all things in all heavens" but with the blessings of his mediatorial grace? It is to this the apostle refers when he speaks of "spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” This proves that the inhabitants of "heavenly places,” the intelligences who occupy all the celestial orbs of the universe, actually have “spiritual blessings,” and that these "spiritual blessings" are enjoyed “in” and through Christ.
It is not to be supposed that these intelligences are benefitted in the atonement, as it is a ransom for redemption from sin, for they never needed a deliverance: but they are benefitted by it, as it is the inedium of all divine communications. God has no medium, no way of blessing any being, in any world, but the mediation of Christ; and the whole circle of his mediation is around his atonement.
The benefits which they have derived through the provision of atonement are such as are fitted to their nature, rank, and character. They have had a greater nearness to their Maker who has made an approach to them in a created nature. They have a more enlarged acquaintance with the character of God in the various evolutions, in the full and free exercise, and, in the beautiful and glorious harmony of all the divine perfections. The application of their energies, and the employment of their ministry have been chiefly directed to the execution of the messages of mercy and grace. As social
. and benevolent beings they must regard it as a benefit to be having accessions of ransomed and holy companions, who will partake with them in the honors of the "heavenly places,” and who will unite with them in the services and praises of God and of the Lamb for ever and ever.
Christ the President of the Universe on the ground
of his Atonement.
The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being the president of all the ranks and grades of being in the universe. “God has set him at bis own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
We have such an High Priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, "a MINISTER of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Heb. viii,
. 2. Dr. John Owen has labored much to shew that “the sanctuary and the true tabernacle” here, mean the human nature of the Son of God: but the whole context, and the train of argument, make it evident that the apostle is speaking of the place into which Jesus has entered, that is, “into the heavenly places,” or “heaven itself.” In the "heavenly places,” Christ sits, the PUBLIC MINISTER, the “antistes sacrorum, -the official organ, "qui publicis officis præest,”--the president
*Ernesti, and Dr. Pye Smith.
Professor Moses Stuart.