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decreed for them to have the victory. This announcement, so far from lulling them to indolence and inactivity, acts upon them as a moral inducement to put forth the most determined and vigorous exertion of their agency
If a coward abuse this announcement to slink from effort; if the enemy abuse it, to charge it with presumption; such an abuse would not, in real life, be regarded as a fair argument against its practical influence. The actual tendency of the announcement is to produce manly effort. This instance illustrates the holy tendency of the scriptural exhibitions of the divine decrees, as a moral inducement to persuade men to obedience, and to perseverance in grace.
The Atonement the Foundation of the Divine Pur
The holy scriptures represent the atonement of Christ as the foundation of all the arrangements, counsels, and purposes of God. The system of the universe contemplated by the eternal mind, was a system intellectual and accountable; a system susceptible of the intrusion of sin; a system, nevertheless, not to be given up to the ravages of evil, but to be restored and repaired; and, consequently, a system to be altogether conveyed over to the hands of a Mediator, who should, by a compensative administration, establish eternal order and holiness.
The moral system of the universe could not, after the intrusion of sin, answer the end of its creation, without being restored or repaired. This restoration, therefore, forms one of its characteristics, and seems as essential to it, as its intellectual and accountable elements. No way of restoring or repairing it has been revealed, except that by a Mediator. As its restoration alone secures the end of its creation, and as this could only be accomplished by a Mediator, mediation is essential to the system. The whole arrangement forms one mediatorial constitution. The system of the universe was not even contemplated irrespective of a Mediator. The principles of mediation pervade the whole of it, entering into its creation and sustenance, government and restoration, and into ils eternal deliverance and glorification.
The entire arrangement of all the affairs of the universe is to be regarded as one grand mediatorial system, the ground and foundation of which is the atonement of the Son of God. By saying that mediation is essential to the system, I mean that it is on account of the atonement, as the ground of a compensative administration, that God carries on the affairs of his government. The whole of the manifold wisdom of God, exercised in the universe, is regulated entirely "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eph. iii, 9, 10, 11.
To ask what would have become of the moral universe,
had no atonement been appointed, is just as rational as to ask, what would have become of the material universe, had the principle of gravitation not been appointed. All the proceedings in the moral universe take for granted a mediatorial constitution, just as those in the physicial creation suppose gravitation.
In the scriptures the Lord Jesus Christ is often represented as "The ELECT,” “The CHOSEN of God," the only begotten, the FIRST-BORN of many brethren." The people of God are represented, as "chosen in him," and for his sake. The whole universe is described as under his sway: for he, as "the head of all principalities and powers, ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.”
It is one of the most prominent articles in the doctrines of the apostle Paul, that the atonement of Christ is the foundation of all the divine counsels, &c. that the whole system of the moral universe is one entire mediatorial constitution. “We know that the universe] all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the FIRST BORN among many brethren. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him, in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted IN THE BELOVED.
IN WHOM we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath PURPOSED in himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of time, HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in HIM. Whom he hath set at his 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 also in that which is to come; and hath put ALL THINGS [the universe) under his feet, and gave him to be the Head
ALL THINGS to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that FILLETH ALL IN ALL. 28, 29. Eph. i, 3—10, 20–23.
These beautiful passages exhibit the mediation of Christ as the centre of all the counsels and all the works of God—the Sun around which all the divine purposes and all the divine operations move.
The apostle John likewise represents all the divine purposes as being administered in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ. In the fifth chapter of the Apocalypse, the divine purposes and counsels concerning the universe, are considered as a book sealed with
» Rom. viii,
seven seals, the contents of which were to be developed and administered by one in the midst of the throne, who was a Lamb as it had been slain. The giving of the book to the Lamb represents the committing of the whole of the divine measures and counsels to the Son of God. The Lamb who takes the book is in the midst of the throne, in the very source and centre of all authority and favor, in the universe. In that centre of the universe he is “a Lamb as it had been slain,” a Lamb of atonement, the centre of the administration of all moral measures, to which all the plans, and all the decrees, and all the works, and all the ways of God have constant reference.
The Atonement an Expression of the Divine
The atonement is, itself, one of the counsels of God, and should be considered as a specimen of all his counsels; an index to their course, and a sample of their character.
The atonement is a public expression of the benevolence of the divine decrees.
In the atonement of his Son the eternal and blessed God unbosoms his purposes, and says, “Fury is not in me;" “I know the thoughts which I have thought concerning you, thoughts of peace and not of evil." Noth
. ing can be so revolting to humanity, and so repugnant to a heavenly mind, as an hypothesis that supposes the great God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from eternity brooding over a scheme or counsel of evil against the creature.
The counsel of God, ordered in all things and sure, is a counsel of peace, and not of evil. The evil is not in the counsel; “For God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that in two things
by which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation.” Where, then, do men find despair? Where do they find perdition? Certainly not in the counsel of God; for in this there is nothing but "strong consolation.”
God has no counsel against the salvation of any sinner. Let some one point out to us where that counsel is revealed. Let some sinner be mentioned who has perished in consequence of such a counsel. The whole counsel of God is for good, and for good only. It says, “Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Is it possible that God may have any secret counsel opposed to this public declaration? Has he any decree against his promises? Has he any purpose that contradicts his oath? I trow not. He cannot deny himself.
If nothing else will prove that the decrees of God, are not thoughts of evil, let the condescension of Bethlehem-let the death of Calvary, prove it: believe it for the very work's sake. The Son of God was delivered to death "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” And how did this counsel run? Take a specimen. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” Does the cross, then, express any thoughts of evil against the sinner? No; but it bears an inscription written with the blood of atonement, and addressed to men of all languages, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out." As the atonement itself is a measure of
benevolence, it is, as such, a specimen of all the counsels of God. Hear what the author of the atonement, says, “This is the condemnation,"—not that there is a forbidding attribute to destroy man—not that there is a settled decree of reprobation gone forth, but, “that