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4> tmsiakr confidence for demonstration; and not to :.3sigine, that the hasty conclusions of our partial uniformed understandings must needs accord with the decisions of infinite wisdom.
Human sacrifices were never appointed by the Lord, but were always the objects of his peculiar abhorrence: yet I apprehend, this did not imply, that it would have been inconsistent with his justice, to order the death of any man, in any way that he pleased. But as ever)' man deserves death for his own sins; so none could expiate the guilt of others, or properly typify the spotless Lamb of God: and since he was not pleased to institute such oblations, it would have been a combination of the most impious presumption with the most atrocious murder, for men of their own minds to have presented them.
But indeed, the life and soul of man are not his own, so as to be disposed of at his own pleasure independently of the Creator's will. If then any man could be found who had never sinned, and he could be willing to devote himself to death and destruction, in order to expiate the crimes of another, he would have no right to do it; and even could this be admitted and accepted, it would be no more than an adequate display of the divine justice, in the salvation of a single person, who had deserved the wrath of God. Nor can any reason be assigned, why the blood of an innocent animal could not take away sin, which will not also prove, that the temporal death of a mere man even if he were perfectly holy, would be utterly insufficient to expiate the guilt of a single transgressor, or to rescue him from eternal condemnation: much less then could it atone for the multiplied and heinous sins of unnumbered millions.
But if we admit the " great mystery of godliness," we then behold a divine Person, dwelling in our nature, as his holy temple; and possessing such a right in his body and soul, as no other man could possibly acquire. He voluntarily assumed his humanity, in sovereign wisdom and love, for this very purpose, with the concurring appointment of the Father and the omnipotent operation of the Divine Spirit, by whom k was produced and preserved perfectly holy. Having, therefore, honoured the law by an obedience of more value, than that of all mere creatures, he magnified its awful sanction, by enduring it, in his willing submission to the agonizing and ignominious death of the cross. Thus the justice of God was infinitely displayed, and every purpose was completely answered; though he was subject to no more than a temporal curse to redeem us from one that would have been eternal: and it became honourable to all the divine perfections, that being risen, and ascended into heaven, he should be exalted to the mediatorial throne, and exercise sovereign authority and almighty power, as dwelling in human nature, for the salvation of all those who believe in him.
The law of " loving our neighbour as ourselves," implies that we ought willingly to bear a less suffering, when we can by so doing preserve another from greater misery. The man Christ Jesus was under this law: and being able, through the union of his humanity with the Godhead, to rescue an innumerable multitude of the human race from eternal punishment, and to bring them to eternal felicity, by enduring temporal agonies and death for their sakes; it was essential to the perfection of his obedience, that he should thus suffer for their salvation. He was their voluntary Surety, who had undertaken to make payment for them; and he was uble to do it without impoverishing himself; so that he attained to his mediatorial glory, the perfections and law of God were honoured, and man's salvation was effected, "by his one oblation of "himself."
What then was there in this transaction inconsistent even with our ideas of justice? The creditor does not scruple to receive payment from the surety, when the original debtor is insolvent: his voluntary engagement makes him in that case the debtor; and, provided the payment do not much impoverish him, the requisition of it is not deemed censurable, even on the ground of humanity. Thus payment " was exacted" of our Surety, *' and he became answerable." Even if a man should willingly submit to a less loss or suffering, (as a large fine, or tedious imprisonment,) in order to rescue another from capital punishment: provided the vigour of the administration could be thus supported, it would not be deemed inconsistent with justice, that the innocent should suffer instead of the guilty, for, " volenti nonfit injuria."* A father hath been known to ofier so large a sum, to ransom the life of a son condemned for treason, that had it been accepted, he must have suffered exceedingly great
• No wrong is done to him who suffers willingly.
degradation: but the refusal in such cases is not grounded on the injustice of the innocent willingly suffering for the guilty; but on the insufficiency of such a compensation to the violated peace of the community.
Who then can deny, that the Lord had a right to provide in this manner for the honour of his own name, in pardoning and saving his rebellious Creatures? or that he hath a right finally to exclude from his favour all those, without exception, who persist in rejecting his method of salvation? But the allowance of these Rights of God, is intimately connected with the reception of two doctrines, which are of principal importance in christianity, viz. that of ' a real atonement for sin, being made by the vicarious sufferings and death of Christ, who is "God manifest in the "flesh;" and that of • justification before God by faith in Christ alone, and not by any of our own good works.' These are indeed necessary to distinguish living faith from that which is dead and unprofitable, and for other important purposes; but they can do nothing towards the sinner's justification: for, the true believer is already "justified by faith:'' but "the "wrath of God abideth on every unbeliever;" and none of his own works can avail him any thing for justification, so long as he continues in unbelief.
IV. The Lord hath a right to determine the qualifications requisite for those, who shall be at last received into heaven; and the manner in which they shall " he made meet to be partakers of that inheri"tance of the saints in light." The title to this bles.sedness is wholly the gift of God through Jesus Christ;
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and the mectness for it is an additional bounty, by .which they are made capable of enjoying it.
No employment or object can give delight, without we possess the capacity or appetite to which it is suited. Every animal is happy in its own element, and relishes the pleasures suited to its own nature: but transposition produces uneasiness, distress, and at length destruction. Some men find satisfaction in one course of life; others seek their enjoyment in a contrary pursuit: and, unless a change could be wrought in the state of their minds, they would be rendered very uneasy, if their situations and manners of life •were reversed. One man relishes the active scenes of publick life, another loves retirement: some delight in learning, others in dissipated or sensual pleasures: many have a taste for and are highly gratified with musick, poetry, painting, and sculpture, whilst others disregard such ingenious elegances, and are much pleased with plans of improvement in agriculture or jnechanicks. This diversity of tastes, these varied capacities of finding satisfaction in pursuits, which arc insipid and irksome to others, arise from the different state of men's minds, by nature, or through education and habit: and he, who entirely wants that peculiar turn of mind, which pertains to any employment or pursuit, is wholly excluded from the pleasure which other men take in it. He can have no communion with them, but is uneasy, out of his element, and a troublesome intruder, when he attempts to associate with them.
That state of the mind and heart which the scripture calls holiness, is precisely the. same to the soul.