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What Sentiments then it behoves us to entertain of our Blessed Lord in this Respect are, that he voluncarily, and of his own Accord gave up the Ghost upon the Cross, and died in that Nature, which was capable of dying, offering it up, as, a Sacrifice instead of all, who are of that Natyre. Even human Reason can discover, if the Divine had not thought fit to make it an Article of Revelation, that, as Christ Jesus the eternal Son of God was holy and innocent in the most perfect Sense, he could not be obnoxious to Misery and Suffering, but by his own Act and Choice ; because the Demerit of enduring natural Evil springs originally from the Guilt of doing moral Evil. It was a just Observation of the Psalmist, that the Rod of the Ungodly cometh not into the Lot of the Righteous (c), and therefore, says Christ, doth my Father love me, because I lay down any Life, that I might take it again; no Man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself (d).
And as he had such Power, so the Use, he made of it, was for our Salvation : Quite unconcerned about his own Ease, he gladly
yielded (c) Pf. cxxv. 3. d) St. John x. 17,18.
yielded to the Tortures of the Cross for the SERM. Joy, that was set before him ; the Joy! I. which nothing less than boundless Goodness could relish, of rescuing Multitudes of otherwise loft Souls from endless Perdition. His Love, as immense as his Nature, induced him freely to lay down his Life for the Redemption of Mankind, and to spill his most precious Blood, as an Atonement for a whole World of Sinners. Nor did the Effect fall short of his gracious Intentions ; for his single. Death was equal to the Death of all Men, or rather of inconceivably greater Value and Merit; and if the whole Race of Mankind had been left to perish everlastingly, their Destruction could have been no more, than that of so many humane, finite Creatures, whereas Christ's was the Diffolution of a Person truly Divine, of whom it may with great strictness of Expression be affirmed, that his Enemies crucified the Lord of Glory, God manifest in the Flesh.
The Deity, it must be ever acknowledged, was impassible in him: However being so strictly united to his Humanity, as to constitute but one Person, it added an unspeakable Value to the Sufferings, he chose to ungergo : Those Pains of Death from his
Serm inherent Dignity, and their own Intenseness 1. became infinite in Degree, tho' short in Dura
tion, and proved an ample Commutation for that eternity of Torments, to which Sinners had exposed themselves. : : ?: .
Hence we are brought to know and understand, how to Wretches justly abandoned to the Gloominess of Despair, there arises the glorious Sun-line of Hope; ---- how an exorbitant Load of Guilt, which the Contractors would to endless Ages have in vain laboured to throw off, comes to be discharged at once by their Security ; ---- how God's deepest Hatred of Sin, and his overflowing Compassion towards Sinners are made consistent, ----and how the most heinous Transgressions of the Law are forgiven without derogating from the Legislator's Authority. :}
But remove this chief Corner-stone, and what a weak tottering Building must we raise on Supposition, that there was no Sacrifice, or an incompetent one made for Sin ! all is dark, and confused in any Scheme of Religion, we can frame, the Divine Attributes clash with one another,---Wickedness is rather encouraged than suppressed, -the Restraint of God's sovereign Power
instead of being established, is weakened : --- Serm.
And whoever fees not the Necessity, as well I. e as the Blessing of an infinite Saviour, must be reduced to the Dilemma of allowing, either that God is angry with his offending Creatures without Cause, or is ' reconciled to them without Reason.. ......
... We should therefore most firmly be per
fuaded, that---as nothing short of such an - inestimable Sacrifice, as the Death of Christ, could have compleated Man's Redemption, so neither could God's utter Abhorrence of all moral Turpitude be otherwise shewn, nor a fufficient Guard placed to the Authority of his providential Government, ---paft Tranfgressions would not be atoned for, nor future prevented. 'Had he forgiven Offenders without inflicting any Punishment for their Offences, what must have been the Event ? Why, Iniquity would have been established, as it were, by a Law, and God's supreme Jurisdiction exposed to the Contempt of every bold and infolent Invader. Or had he demanded fome Satisfaction for the daring Provocations, which were offered to him ; the less he had been content with, the less Weight would have been secured to his Laws by-it. To have admitted a small
Serm. Atonement for the greatest Offence must
Authority, as to have exacted none at all;
And such was the Death of our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ ; in whom the most intimate Union of the Divine and human Natures both enabled him to suffer, and rendered his. Passion a compleat Sin-Offering ; ic enhansed his temporary Sufferings into a full Equivalent for chole endless Miseries, which we had deserved.
Nay, what is much more, it must from the Event be admitted, that his Atonement was fo inconceivably valuable, as not only to countervail the Punishment due to our Sins, but even abundantly to over balance it : Since it has certainly merited for us God's