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of the Captain of our salvation ! Oh! the all-conquering power of his love! The critics are in raptures on the bravery of Homer's Achilles, who engaged in the expedition against Troy, though he knew he should never return. But how much more worthy to be celebrated is the heroic love of Jesus, who voluntarily exposed himself to infinitely greater sufferings, when he foresaw them all, and knew what would be the consequence !
The language of raised passions is abrupt and hurrying; and in such language does our Lord here speak. Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?
“What petition shall I ask of my Father ? such an hour of distress is a proper time to address him. But what shall I say to him? shall I yield to the reluctance of my frail, human nature, that would draw back from suffering ? shall I urge the petition my feeble flesh would put into my mouth, and say, , Father, save me from this hour ?" Father, dismiss me from this undertaking, and resign the glory which thou wouldst gain by the execution of it? Father, if it be possible, save sinners in some easier way; or let them perish, rather than that I should suffer so much for them? Shall this be my petition ? No; I cannot bear the thought, that my Father should lose so much glory, and the objects of my love should perish. It was to suffer for these important purposes that I came unto this hour. For this I undertook to be the sinner's Friend and Mediator; for this I left my native paradise, and assumed this feeble flesh and blood; for this I have spent three-and-thirty painful years in this wretched world, that I might meet this dismal hour. And now, when it is come, shall I fly from it, or shall I drop an undertaking which I have so much at heart, and
* This sense is more easy if we read, Πάτερ, σώσον με έκ της ώρας ταυτης, as a question. The original will bear it; and so Grotius, Doddridge, &c., understand it.
in which I am so far engaged? No; this petition I will not urge, though it be the natural cry of my tender humanity. What then shall I say? Father, glorify thy name. This is the petition on which I will insist, come on me what will. Let the rabble insult me, as the offscouring of all things; let false witnesses accuse me, and perfidious judges condemn me, as a notorious criminal; let the blood-thirsty murderers rack me on the cross, and shed every drop of blood in my veins, still I will insist upon this petition; and not all the tortures that earth and hell can inflict shall force me to retract it; Father, glorify thy name : display the glory of thy attributes by my sufferings, and I will patiently submit to them all. Display the perfections of thy nature, exhibit an honourable representation of thyself to all worlds by the salvation of sinners through my death, and I will yield myself to its power in its most shocking forms. Let this end be but answered, and I am content. This consideration calms the tumult of passions in my breast, overpowers the reluctance of my human nature, and makes it all patience and submission.”
I intend, my brethren, to confine myself at present to this part of my text, this petition on which Jesus insists, and in which his mind acquiesces after perplexity and hesitation : Father, glorify thy name.
And it evidently suggests to us this important truth, that the divine perfections are most illustriously displayed and glorified in the method of salvation through the sufferings of Christ.
This truth I shall endeavour to illustrate, after I have premised that it is most fit and proper that the glory of God should be the last end of all things, and particularly, that it should be his own principal end in all his works. He is in himself the most glorious of all beings, the supreme excellence, and the supreme good; and it is infinitely fit and reasonable that he should be known and ac
knowledged as such, and that it should be his great end in all his works to represent himself in this light. It is but justice to himself, and it is the kindest thing he can do for his creatures, since their chief happiness must consist in the enjoyment of the supreme good, and as they cannot enjoy him without knowing it.
Selfishness in creatures is a vile and wicked disposition, because they are not the greatest or best of beings; but for God to love and seek himself above all, is the same thing as to love and seek what is absolutely best; for such he is. The aims of creatures should reach beyond themselves, because God, the supreme good, lies beyond them; they should all terminate upon him, and should not fall short of him, as they cannot fly beyond him, because he is the supreme excellence, and it is not to be found anywhere else. But for this reason he must aim at himself, if he aims at what is absolutely best; for he only is so. For creatures to aim principally at their own glory, to set themselves off, and make it their end to gain applause, is vanity and criminal ambition, because they are really unworthy of it, and were formed for the glory of another, even of the great Lord of all. But for God to make his own glory the highest end, for him to aim at the display of his attributes in all his works is more decent and just, and infinitely distant from a vain ostentation, because there is nothing else so excellent, and so worthy of a display: his perfections deserve to be represented in the most illustrious light, and demand the highest veneration and love from the whole universe. In short, for God to aim at his own glory in all his actions, is but for him to do justice to infinite merit, to display thę most perfect beauty, to illustrate supreme excellence, to exhibit the supreme good in a just light, to procure honour to what is in itself most honourable, and to represent the true God in the most godlike manner: and what can be more fit or decent? a lower end than this would be unworthy of him. This is of more real worth than the existence or the happiness of ten thousand worlds. And this is the end which he has uniformly pursued in all the steps of creation, providence, and redemption. This particularly was his end in the permission of sin, and in the form of his administration towards our guilty world, through a Mediator. As, on the one hand, we are sure that he is not at all accessary to sin, as its proper producing cause, so we may be equally sure, on the other hand, that it has not entered into the world without his permission : that is, it could not have happened if he had hindered it. Now there were undoubtedly very good reasons for this permission; and one appears evident, namely, that if sin had never entered, it would have been impossible in the nature of things, that some of the divine perfections, particularly his punishing justice and his forgiving grace, should be displayed in the conduct of his providence towards his creatures. Pardoning grace could never be displayed, if there were no sin to be pardoned; nor vindictive justice, if there were no crimes to be punished: and, consequently, if moral evil had never been permitted, these perfections must have been for ever idle, concealed, and as much unknown, as if they did not belong to the divine nature. But now there is room for the various economy of providence towards guilty creatures, and particularly for the mediatorial scheme of salvation to our world. And I now proceed to show, that in this scheme all the perfections of God have an illustrious display, and are represented to the greatest advantage.
Here I would consider this scheme, both absolutely in itself and relatively, as a part of the grand administration towards the rational world. In the latter view, I shall consider it but briefly, and therefore I shall begin with it.
Considering it relatively, as a part of the divine economy towards the rational world, it concurs with the other parts, to show the amiable and wise variety of the divine government, or in how many ways God can answer his ends, and display his perfections in his dispensations towards his creatures.
The Scriptures give us an account of the divine conduct towards two sorts of reasonable creatures, angels and
And from thence we may also learn the wise variety of the divine dispensations towards them. A part of the angels were preserved in their primitive state of holiness, and a part of them were suffered to fall into sin. But the whole human race was permitted to fall, and not one of them continued in their original state of integrity. A part of the angels are happy for ever; and so is a number of mankind. But here lies the difference: the angels are continued in a state of happiness, from which they never fell; but the saved from among men are recovered from a state of sin and misery, into which they fell, to a state of happiness, which they had entirely lost. The angels are entitled to happiness upon the footing of a covenant of works, to which they have yielded perfect obedience; but men are saved entirely upon the plan of the covenant of grace, on account of the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them and accepted for them, though it be not originally their own. The angels having never offended, have no need of a Mediator, or of redemption through his blood. But it is through a Mediator only that guilty mortals have access to God; and they owe their salvation to his death. As to the fallen angels, there was no Saviour provided for them; but to us is born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. They were never placed in a second state of trial, or under a dispensation of
grace, but given up to irrecoverable ruin immediately,