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The importance to us of the revelation which God has given in the Incarnation cannot be overrated, because the moral perfections of His nature, which are there shown to us more perfectly than is possible anywhere else, are those which lie at the foundation of all our hope, and which are necessary as motives to all right action. They may be comprehended in unchangeable love and righteousness. The love is the most perfect paternal, which gives Himself for and to the son, and in doing this endures the greatest humiliation and suffering, which is borne that He may undo the harm which the prodigal son has done himself, and make manifest the stability of the government against which he has rebelled, and of the family he has forsaken. Who that has an inward consciousness of this can help coming to the conclusion of the Apostle Paul : 'He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him also, freely give us all things ?' Such a hope as this love inspires is not only necessary when a man returns to God with an adequate sense of his extreme folly and wickedness in rebelling against so august a King, by the violation of a law which had no other design but the
improvement and happiness of man, but also, in the ordinary need and in the exigencies of life, as he seeks the spiritual and material help which his case requires. Who, with a just sense of the infinite majesty of the Creator, could hope that, with the universe depending on Him, He would have respect to one so insignificant and unworthy? But when with Paul he realizes that 'He loved me and gave Himself for me,' he no longer fears, but is as sure that He will give His Holy Spirit and all good things, as a father will give bread to his hungry and pleading child. This display of pitying love is also the assurance of sympathy in all those cases of perplexity and undefined sorrow of which all men are conscious, and which, in proportion to their severity, are unutterable to man, but, unuttered, oppresses the heart. How can He, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, cast out any who come to Him for help, whose ear on earth was open to every appeal from the poor, the suffering, the bereaved, and the forsaken? And if this is needed for the help and comfort of man, and if every side of this Divine philanthropy is employed as a rest and strength, and if this is, moreover, the guarantee of all con
solation from other sides of Divine work, is it not evident that it is a correlative of our nature ?
It is equally needed as a prompter to all virtue. Every man who is conscious of this redeeming love of God to himself, feels that it has laid him under infinite obligation to serve and please Him, and has produced in him an overpowering desire, in the most effectual manner possible, to respond to the obligation. But how can his righteousness reach to the heavens ? What is he, what has he, which does not already belong to God? How then can the feeling find expression ? He who is the Redeemer of his nature is the Redeemer of his neighbour's, and of both because He is their Brother. To act with righteousness, truth, and benevolence to them is to do so to Him. And so thorough is the identification, that not a cup of cold water given to one of the least of them shall in
any wise lose its reward. With such numerous opportunities of service as the
presents, and with such a stimulus, how can any man fairly under the influence of this motive fail of being filled with the fruits of righteousness? In all this there is nothing mercenary,
because every such act is in conflict with selfishness; so that not only have we here a power prompting to all good to others, but one whose operation necessarily improves the doer, which again shows the naturalness of the entire course and cause of the action.
Equally important for us is an assurance of the righteousness of the King whose law we are required to obey. Unless we are certified that He has the right to rule, that His law is equitable in its demands and in its sanctions, and that it will be enforced in all cases without partiality, a nature like ours can never render obedience; but in proportion to our certainty on these points will be the heartiness of our obedient action. We cannot have a fuller confirmation than that which is presented in the culminating act of the Incarnation, which in all the sombre majesty of its sorrow is simply a vindication of the law, and which shows that so necessary is the law, that when the motive for its suspension was no less than the salvation of the race, yet for this reason it could not fail, but the penalty must be endured by the Substitute that the sinner might be free. And the certainty of the sanction is confirmed by the unwavering obedience to the law by
the Substitute, through the most difficult of human lives.
Corresponding with this demonstration of the Divine righteousness, is its effect on those who accept the reconciliation.
the reconciliation. All such persons, as the consequence of the love of God personally manifested to them, love God, and thus instinctively love His law and obey it, not so much from conformity to an outward precept, as from the inward impulse of the nature 'created anew after God in righteousness and true holiness.' And while this renewed nature remains, its possessor cannot commit sin. There is no power for righteousness equal to this. So strong was it in the Apostle Paul that he said, “Through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.' And of others he declared, • They that are of Jesus Christ have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof.' Similar testimony has been borne ever since by those who have a conscious fellowship with the Redeemer as the declarer of the Divine righteousness.
We have already seen that the moral and spiritual results above mentioned are not the immediate consequence of what the Redeemer