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the supreme wisdom of God. The longer any great design is in preparation, and the more numerous the expedients and events, which, though apparently unconnected, yet all tend to the production of a common end, the greater is admitted to be the skill of the contriver. Now, in the measures which for four thousand years were preparing for the mysterious sacrifice of the Cross, what wisdom is manifested! The gradual revelation of this mystery from the first dawn of promise in the garden of transgression, to the full blaze of light in the predictions of Isaiah and Malachi, is an evidence of this. The successive dispensations of the covenant of grace to Adam and Noah and Abraham and Moses ; the separation of a particular person as the father of the faithful and the progenitor of the Messiah ; the selection, first of Jacob, and then of Judah, from the descendants of Abraham ; the whole economy of Moses, calculated in the highest degree to preserve the memory of the original promise—are all manifestations of the wisdom of God. Such also is the institution of sacrifices, as a type of the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ once for all, by which the leading feature of the future Gospel dispensation was perpetually presented to the mind, and an ex, pectation of a real sacrifice maintained. * We may discern a still more remarkable evidence of wisdom in the method by which GOD
BEČURES THE INTERESTS OF HOLINESS, AT THE SAME TIME THAT HE PROVIDES FOR THE PARDON OF SIN, BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST. There appeared to be an irreconcilable breach between God and man. Whatever pleas mercy might put in, justice and truth seemed absolutely to ' overthrow them. Though mercy might sue for the pardon of the transgressor, yet holiness opposed to it the interests of the moral government of God. Now, in the mystery of the cross of Christ, these different claims are adjusted. Justice triumphs in the death of the surety, mercy in the pardon of the transgressor. Justice is honoured in the sufferings of the Son of God, and mercy in the application of those sufferings to the offender. God now deals with our sins in a way of infinite severity, and with our persons in a way of infinite compassion. The greatest hatred of sin and the greatest love to the sinner-eternal love and eternal hatredare manifested at one and the same time. God is just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. O stupendous display of wisdom! The law and holiness of God as the supreme legislator, are more honoured in the sufferings of the eternal Saviour, than they could have been by the uninterrupted and perpetual obedience of men and angels; and the glory of the divine attributes is
thereby more illustriously exhibited to all intelligent creatures, than if every transgressor had personally endured eternal punishment !*
But the wisdom of God further appears in
VICTORY ACHIEVED OVER SATAN IN THE VERY ACT BY WHICH HE APPEARED TO TRIUMPH OVER THE SAVIOUR. Never did the powers of darkness seem to obtain such a victory as in the scenes of Gethsemane and Calvary. Till then the prince of darkness and his angels had trembled before the divine and beneficent power of the Son of God. But, in the crucifixion, they appear to triumph. Satan tempts Judas to be tray. Christ: he succeeds. He provokes the Jews to demand his crucifixion; the conscience of the Roman governor is overpowered, and the innocent Saviour is condemned. Already the hosts of darkness anticipate the final overthrow of the kingdom of the Messiah. The despised Redeemer is scourged and buffetted and mocked and spit upon. His disciples forsake him and fly. He is nailed to the cross. Thieves are his companions in suffering. He is deserted even by his heavenly Father. The crown of thorns, the nail, the spear, the vinegar, appear all to conspire to accomplish the designs of hell. At last the Saviour gives up the ghost. But in the
* See Charnock on the Attributes'; Art. Wisdom of God.
very act in which Satan and his servants appear to subvert the throne of the Messiah, they establish it. The very act which they designed for the destruction of the infant church, redeemed it. In that very act in which they imagined they had undermined the kingdom of Christ, they rụined their own. They did only whatsoever God's hand and counsel had determined before to be done. Satan fell like lightning from heaven. The Saviour, through death, destroyed him that had the power of death. He spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them on the cross. Salvation was thus accomplished, the sacrifice was offered, the purchase made, the prophecies fulfilled, and the way opened to the exaltation, and glory, and eternal reign of the Mediator.
The wisdom of God may again be discerned in his having made the SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, WHICH WERE THE MERITORIOUS CAUSE OF SALVATION, THE EXAMPLE WHICH WE ARE TO FOLLOW. The astonishing transactions of redemption might have been events in which we could discern the power and wisdom of God; but which, , like the wonders of creation, we were little concerned to imitate. But is it not an additional display of the wisdom of God, that the Cross is our pattern, as well as our propitiation; that we are to be crucified with Christ and conformed to. his death, as well as to rely on the atonement
there offered for iniquity? And what can inflame our love and supply such motives to the mortification of sin, as the death of our Saviour? It engages our duty, as much as it secures our happiness. Every act of faith is a spring of love, and constrains us to live, not unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again.
Another evidence of the wisdom of God in the cross of Christ is, that THE DOCTRINE OF IT IS DESIGNED ESPECIALLY TO COUNTERACT THE VERY SIN BY WHICH MAN ORIGINALLY FELL. Man fell by pride, he is restored in a way of humility. He fell by self-dependence, he is saved by selfrenunciation. We lost ourselves by a vain desire after wisdom, we return to God by the foolishness of the cross. As we sinned by presumptuous curiosity, the wisdom of God humbles us at the very root of the tree of knowledge; and compels us to renounce the pride of our understanding and submit to faith. Every thing connected with the cross of Christ opposes the reigning evil of our fallen hearts. Human wisdom receives not the doctrine. Human pride comprehends nothing of it. Repentance begins in hunnility, faith moves in it as its proper atmosphere, claiming nothing but from the undeserved mercy of God; prayer is the breathing of humility, justification is a free gift, salvation is of grace, holy pbedienee is the fruit of submission: - Every