« ÎnapoiContinuați »
The administration of Providence subservient to the
ends of the Atonement.
If all the movements in the physical universe are put in subserviency to gravitation, it is valid to argue that gravitation is connected with all the arrangements of matter. By a similar train of reasoning we can prove a connection between the atonement of Christ and all the arrangements of providence. The fact of such a connection is established both by the testimony of the scriptures, and by the whole aspect of the dispensations of providence.
i. The whole design and aspect of the atonement, is "good will to men;" and to this, the whole administration of providence is subservient.
The entire character and history of providence are summed up in one inspired sentence: "all things work together for good.” "All things" in the universe are at “work." All things are at work “together," in order and harmony. The product of the harmonious cooperation of all things is "good.” This aggregate of good produced in the universe, forms the portion and inheritance of "them who love God." The workings together of good agents produce an immense accumulation of good; and even the workings of bad agents are over-ruled for good. Indeed all the evils in the universe arise from agents not working their proper work; but even this is made subservient to the production of good upon the whole.
It is a fact which should form the doctrinal creed of every man, that in the whole machinery of providence, there is not a single wheel made and intended to produce evil. Every wheel, and every revolution of every wheel, is intended, placed, and fitted to produce good, and to produce nothing but good. It is true, indeed,
that the results of providential revolutions may and will be for evil to some; nevertheless, the reason of this is not in the movements of providence, but in the character and attitude of sinners themselves. The workings of any piece of machinery may be good and productive of good, but if a drunken or a heedless man throw himself within its cogs, the fault of the result cannot be ascribed to the working of the machinery. Picture to yourself a thief at his wicked work, skulking in darkness, and grasping his booty. Will he remain long on the scene of wrong to enjoy his prey? No. See how all the stars of heaven move in their coursesthe great globe itself rolls in rapid and mighty movement-see, how the sun travels in the greatness of his strength. All these stupendous movements are positively good, and produce good. They are for evil to the spoiler; simply because he is a spoiler, and at a wrong work; they are for good to every honest man, who is at his proper work. Every friend of sin is like a besotted man entangled in the meshes of a good machinery, whose revolutions will eventually crush and destroy him. He is out of his place. The author of the machinery never intended him to be there, and therefore the blame of the evil consequences is not to be ascribed to him. An evil doer is like a thief and a robber, whose pursuits are not in harmony with the "course of nature," and therefore the course of nature, and the revolutions of providence are against him.
History and experience testify that in the present mixed administrations of providence, mercy, and judgment, like ingredients in a medicine, or like a thunderstorm in the atmosphere, operate for the public good, and altogether wear an aspect of benevolence and kindness towards man. Judgments are never sent without warnings, which are like the voice of mercy crying before the trumpet of judgment. Judgments keep up a constant memorial of the rectitude of the governor, and a testimony to his concern for the public welfare in shewing that he is as much determined to defend good laws, as he was disposed to make them. These judicial interpositions restrain men from great evils, and really prove blessings to many families, and to many neighborhoods by removing a root of bitterness, and an evil example from among them. Even the severest infliction of judgments leave more criminals behind than they sweep away, that the others may have a season for repentance. Judgments come very gradually, and when they do come, God never stirs up all bis wrath, and he never afflicts with the greatness of his power." If even the judgments executed in the administrations of providence have such an aspect of benevolence and "good-will to man,” what must be the character of the mercies which providence with open hand lavishes on the children of men? In the dispensations of providence, mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have embraced each other.
It is the atonement of Jesus Christ, that gives to divine providence this character and aspect. The atoning Mediator is, in priority of arrangement, the first in the series of the blessings of infinited providence, the first bubbling in the well-spring of the stream of favors, the first stone in the building of mercy. It pleased the Father to make him the magazine of all fulness of blessings, and it is out of his fulness that we all have received. It is because God spared not his own Son, but delivered him for us all, that he will with him freely give us all things. All blessings and mercies are dispensed in higs.
, It is only so far as our mercies are employed in harmony with the mediatorial work of Christ, that they prove real blessings unto us; they are otherwise traps and snares to our ruin. All good things, and sure mercies, are contained in the New Testament of Christ. No blessing has ever come to man, but what is contained in the Testament, and the Testament with all its blessings and mercies, is sealed with the blood of the atonement.* The Lord Jesus Christ is constituted the sovereign of providence. In this character he sits on the right hand of God, and dispenses his favors. Blessings are dispensed by him, not by his divine authority, but by his mediatorial power; and his mediatorial power is, alpha and omega, founded in the atonement of his death.
2. The subserviency of providence to the designs of the atonement, becomes more evident when we consider that providential dispensations are administered with a special reference to the interests of the church of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ is himself "the heir of all things, and all his people are "joint heirs with him." God has placed the Mediator in the throne of dominion at his own right hand in the heavenly places, and has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church." Therefore, the apostle says elsewhere, “ All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
Our blessed Savior in his intercessory prayer in the garden refers to this bearing of his mediatorial government generally, on the interests of the church especially. “Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life, to as many as thou hast given
* In unison with these sentiments, are the views of the heavenly FLAVEL. -"Christ is the channel of grace and mercy; through him are all the decursus et recursus gratiarum, all the streams of mercy that flow from God to us, and all the returns of praise from us lo God.
The purchase of all those mercies which providence conveys to us, is by his own blood: for not only spiritual and elernal mercies, but even all our temporal ones, are the acquisition of his blood. Look, as sin forfeited all,
Christ restored all those mercies again to us by his death. Sin had so shut up the womb of mercy, that, had not Christ made an alonement by his death, it could never have brought forth one mercy to all eternity for us. It is with Him that God freely gives us all things.” “So that whatever good we receive from the hand of providence, we must put it on the score of Christ's blood; and when we receive it we must say, it is the price of blond: it is a mercy rising out of the death of Christ: it cost him dear, though it came to me freely.". "These sweet mercies that are born of providence every day, are the fruits of the travail of his soul.”—Flavel on Providence, vol. iv., p. 450. Ed, 1820.
him.” This passage, while it shows that the mediatorial dominion of Christ is of wider diameter than his church, proves that the exercise of all his mediatorial authority and sway, is subservient to the interests of his people. The entire history of divine providence is an evidence of this special subserviency. The early history of the Jewish church shows how much the civil politics and the external condition of the nations of the earth were subservient to its protection and establishment. When the church has been in circumstances difficult, painful, and critical, providence in an unthought-of manner interposed to supply suitable means and proper instruments of deliverance-as in Egypt and Babylon, at the introduction of Christianity, and at the Reformation. The plots, and designs, and machinations of men and of nations, laid down with malicious craftiness, and nerved with wealth and power, have been, by a mediatorial providence, suddenly frustrated and destroyed. The dispositions of councils and states have been as rivers of water in the hand of providence, directed, or moderated, chastened, or over-ruled for the furtherance of the church of Christ. Some instances of particular providences in the lives and labors of individual members of the church supply the most decisive and interesting specimens of the manner in which the administration of the world is subordinate to the benefit of the church.
3. One marked design of the atonement of Christ is to magnify the law, and make it honorable. To this high design all the dispensations of providence are subservient. This is the end aimed at in the inflictions of Judgments on individual men and on communities, in the institution of sacrificial rites wbich have prevailed among all nations, in the miraculous revelations of the divine mind and will to prophets and other messengers, in the prompt and suitable answers that have been given to prayer, in the promulgation and ministrations of the gospel in the world, in the holy lives of renewed men, in the eternal punishment of incorrigible rebels, and in the glorious rewards of the heavenly state.