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did fall upon Jesus Christ"_"so all the wrath that should have fallen upon them, fell on Christ, &c.”—He charged upon him, and imputed to him all the sins of all the elect, and proceeded against him accordingly. He stood as our surety, really charged with the whole debt, and was to pay the utmost farthing." "The Lord Christ (if I may so say) was sued by his Father's justice unto an execution, in answer whereunto he underwent all that was due to sin, &c.”—“Christ underwent not only that wrath (taking it passively) which the elect were [actually] under, but that also which they should have undergone, had not he borne it for them.”
I have quoted enough. An atonement of such a commercial character is made to appear a measure of niggard calculation, and dribbling mercenariness. It will be a glorious day for the doctrines of the gospel, and for practical godliness, when commercial views of the death of Christ shall be rejected both by Christian divines and Christian churches.
ON THE ATONEMENT IN ITS RELATION TO THE
PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
All Providence centering in the Atonement.
I have already considered the atonement in its relation to all works of God, considered as the productions of his wisdom, power, and goodness, and as the abodes of intelligent beings, and theatres of divine dispensations. In that chapter, no immediate regard was had to the administrations of providence in this world. In order, therefore, to a due examination of the atonement in all its bearings and influence, we shall now proceed to consider it in its relation to the providence which God exercises over our world.
PROVIDENCE is that wise oversight and holy care which the blessed God exercises over all beings, so as to preserve, direct, and order, all their agencies, for the good of his whole empire, and for the display of his own glory. It is the divine disposal and administration of all the works, and of all the events of time. Time is always shifting its scenes, and, in every change, is producing fresh characters, and successive works. Every moment of time is thronged with agents, and crowded with events. All things, and all beings are at work, and are at work for God, under his cognizance, management, and control. All are working out some amazing plan, of which the operations of every individual is an underplot, and of which, the progress and the upshot shall be according to the wisdom of God, and the good pleasure of his will,
The foundation of providence is the existence of God. If there be no God, there can be no providence. Providence without the oversight of infinite intelligence is a fortuitous concourse of events, a series of plots without a meaning. Heathen historians, both ancient and modern, would be puzzled to answer the questions.—What can be the meaning of their histories? For what purposes have all these events come to pass ? What is to be the final upshot of all the movements and changes in dynasties and empires ? History without a providence is an idle tale, a cypher without an integer, a number of unconnected links, but no chain. Divine providence, on the contrary, gives unity, worth, energy, and weight to all the events of history, by connecting each and all with the infinite superintending mind of God.
As heathen philosophers rob history of its importance and glory, by separating it from the providence of God; so, many Christian divines rob providence of much of its beauty and worth by severing it from the mediation and the atonenient of Christ.
It has long been the fashion in theology to consider the divine government, as consisting of three kingdoms or provinces, called the kingdom of nature, the kingdom of providence, and the kingdom of grace. The same fashion has represented the kingdom of grace alone, as connected with the atonement of Jesus Christ; supposing the kingdom of nature and the kingdom of providence to sustain no relationship to his mediation. I believe such distributions of the divine empire to be human, unscriptural, and, therefore, untenable. The advancement of natural philosophy has banished from the science of chemistry the old orthodox principles of "the four elements,” and it is now full time that the progress of scriptural theology should have abolished the human arrangements of the three divine kingdoms. If, however, these arrangements only mean that nature, providence, and grace are imperia in imperio—wheels within a wheel,-works and events of various diameters
thrown around one Centre, and that centre, the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, such distribution and such language would be admissible. It is making either of these provinces independent of the central throne, that makes such a division inadmissible and blameable.
To separate nature and providence from the mediation of Christ, is to put asunder what God has united. What is nature but the original constitution of all things? What is the original constitution of all things, but the state in which they were created by Christ, and for Christ? And this is mediation. What is providence? Is it not Christ upholding all things, and governing all things? Is it not all things consisting and holding together in Christ? Providence, then, alienated from the mediatorial administration of Christ, is not the providence of the scripture. And nature separated from the work of Christ is not the "course of nature," mentioned in the scripture as a theatre for the scenes of redemption; and as an apparatus of means for the good of them that love God.
Nature, providence, and grace, then, are three immense wheels in one machinery,—the cogs, and revolutions of each, catching and influencing those of the others, and all put in motion by the blood of the great atonement. God does not one thing as the God of nature, another thing as the God of providence, and a third as the God of grace. Such language is just as proper as that he does one thing as the God of vegetation, another as the God of geology, and a third as the God of astronomy; or one thing as the God of the earth, another as the God of the moon, and another thing as the God of the sun. He is of one mind, and his system is one. Any one of his dispensations, like a stone thrown into a lake, produces, according to its weight and importance, circles which tell on other portions of his works, and in other places of his dominion.
The atonement of Christ is an event to which all providence refers. “The hour” of atonement was the hour for which all hours were made. It was the hour to which all preceding providences looked forward, and to which all subsequent providences look backward. It was in the fulness of time, at a crisis which providence had matured, that Christ offered the atonement of his death. In this atonement, as the centre of power and influence, Christ stands, amid the numerous revolutions of providence, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
The mediatorial administration of Providence founded
on the Atonement.
The sacred scriptures regard the atonement of Christ as the ground and reason for committing the administrations of providence into his hands.
Let us hear what Jesus Christ himself says, “All power is given to me in heaven and earth.” Mat. xxviii. 19. In this passage Christ regards himself as the President of the entire universe. He declares his power to be universal. He has authority over heaven, to employ all its intelligences in his service, and to dispose of all its happiness and honors according to his sovereign will and pleasure. His authority extends over all the earth, over all beings and things, over all times, works, and events, and especially over the probation and the destinies of man. This language does more than merely assert the universal domination of the Redeemer, it gives also an intimation of the harmonious administration of this immense power. The power exercised in heaven is not opposed to the interests of the earth; and the authority employed on earth is subservient to the great interests of heaven. It is by the influence of the atonement that the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The whole language of the New Testament is an echo of this regal proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Mediator is "King of kings, and Lord of