N.Y.) Murray Street Church (New York.

Discourses delivered in Murray Street Church : on Sabbath evenings during the month of March, April and May, 1830 online

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heart." Seneca, one of the best of the philosophers,
and the tutor and victim of Nero, lived in Rome while
Paul was there ; but they belonged to two difierent
Avorlds.

" No man hath seen God at any time ; the only be-
gotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, lie
61



482 GOD EXALTED, DISC. XIII.

hath declared him." "No man knoweth — who the
Father is but the Son and he to whom the Son will
reveal him." Christ is called " the Word," becciuse it
is by him that God expresses all his mind. It was he
that built the universe, " and without him was not any
thing- made that was made." It was he that governed
the world from the beginning, and the providence of
God is the providence of the Mediatorial King. He
gave the law at Sinai. He sent out his Spirit to indite
the Old Testament and the New, and to illumine by
his influence the minds of men. By his incarnation,
hfe, ministry, and mediatorial work, he has thrown
God upon every eye. He came out to be thus, " the
image of the invisible God ;" and the only God known
to our world is the God that shines '' in the face of
Jesus Christ." He imparts all the practical wisdom
which his people possess.

Thus the Gospel admits none of the powers of dis-
covery so proudly claimed by ancient and modern magi,
but brings the whole world, hke Mary, to sit at the feet
of Jesus and hear his words.

(2.) Our righteousness. Under the first covenant
justification was the judicial act of pronouncing one
just ; and the ground of it was a perfect personal hoU-
ness or righteousness. The terms justification and
righteousness are transferred to things under the new
covenant very unhke the other, but bearing some ana-
logy to them. Justification now means the treating
of a sinner as just, by his pardon and acceptance to



DISC. Xm. < REATURKS HUMBLED. 483

eternal life ; and that which is the ground of this
gracious justification is called his righteousness.

There is nothing to which men more strongly adhere
than to the claims of their own merit. They even ex-
pect wages from God for services rendered, and say
with Bellarmin, " Give unto us, O I^ord, for we have
given unto thee." This self-righteousness is at war
with truth and justice, and must he put down hefore the
sinner will consent to receive, or God can consistently
bestow, salvation b)^ grace. The whole texture of the
Gospel is fitted to put dow n this arrogant pretender, to
annihilate the last lurking pride of man, to cover sin
with eternal disgrace, to vindicate the rights and claims
of God, to sustain his empire over a subject universe,
and to manifest all his glory in the highest conceivable
degree.

To accomplish these ends, God took the ground that
he would not pardon a single sinner till Christ had
died in his stead ; that he would not deal out to one of
Adam's race, either a crown of glory or a cup of water,
but as the reward of the perfect obedience of liis Son ;
and that he would deliver neither the pardon nor the
positive good but to the intercession of the Mediator.
How these resolutions supported the law and condemned
sin and abased pride, I am now to show.

[1.] The atonement. " Think not," said Christ,
" that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets ; I
am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say
unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one



484 (40D EXALTED, DISC. XI II.

tittle shall iii no wise pass from the law till all he ful-
filled." The prophet had said, " He will magnify the
law and make it honourable."

Christ died in our stead to answer, so far as the law^
is concerned, the very end of our punishment. What
is the end of punishment as the law is concerned ? To
go back a step further, why is a penalty annexed to a
law ? It is to make it law rather than ad\dce. With-
out a penalty it would have no commanding authority.
The empire of the law against murder rests on the as-
surance which all draw from the penalty, that if they
murder they shall die. And why is the penalty exe-
cuted ? For the same reason for which it was annexed ;
for if not executed it is nothing. Why is that mur-
derer executed ? to give empii-e to the law by convincing
all that if they murder they shall die. Supposing one
has murdered and his brother offers to die in his stead,
and does die by the direction of the king ; are not the
spectators as much convinced that if they murder they
shall die, as though the criminal himself had suffered ?
To dispense pardon to all reformed murderers from
generation to generation, and to offer it beforehand on
that condition to all the murderers of a world, without
exacting any equivalent for theii- punishment, would
annihilate the law against murder. If we were to be
pardoned, it was necessary that some other measure, as
expressive as our punishment, should be taken to con-
vince the universe that God was determined to support
his law by executing its penalty on future transgressors.



DISC. XJII, CREATURKS IIUMHLED. 485

The execution of his beloved Son expressly in our
stead, by a stroke laid on by the Lawgiver, because by
the Lawgiver he was commanded to receive it, made
this impression as strongly as it could have Ijeen made
by the eternal perdition of aU Adam's race. And this
solemn declaration, that sin should not go unpunished,
loudly "condemned sin in the flesh."

[2.J The obedience of Christ. The oriirinal principle
on which God set out in his government over this
world, was not to issue a single positive good, after man
was set out in existence, but as the reward of a perfect
obedience ; for all was forfeited by a single transgression.
It would put more abundant honour on the law to pre-
serve this principle under the dispensation of grace.
Accordingly arrangements were made for Christ to be
placed under law, and perfectly to obey it, and in reward
of his obedience to receive all the positive blessings in-
tended for the human race in both worlds, including all
that was necessary for a state of probation. So the
man who labours in your field, is content to receive his
wages in garments for his chilcken, which he could by
no means wear himself. To all these blessings, as
soon as he had fulfilled his obedience, he had a covenant
right, and took them out of the hands of pure God-
head, and held them by a mediatorial claim; and
these, together with the Church itself, and I may add,
the universe, constitute the inheritance of the " Heir of
all things." Every morsel of food which we receive
belongs to the mediatorial estate, and comes to us



486 GOD EXALTED, DISC. XIII.

because first given to him ; and it ought to be the
sweeter to us on that account. Not a shower descends
upon the fields, — not a stalk of barley waves in the
harvest, but sends forth a voice, " Not for your sakes do
I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you : be
ashamed and confounded for your own ways." A title
to heaven and all the privileges of son ship come in this
way. The "First-born" inherits the whole estate by
his own right, and we come in under hun as "joint-
heirs." Because he lives we live also. He arose and
ascended by his own right ; l3ut he came out of the
grave as the head drawing the members after him, and
has gone to prepare a place for us.

This is the great doctrine of justification by grace,
which makes so conspicuous a figure in the New Tes-
tament, and is so abasing to the pride of man.

[3.] The intercession of Christ. As the high priest
entered once a year into the holy place with " the blood
of goats and calves," and with the names of the twelve
tribes upon his heart, to intercede for them before the
Lord; so Christ, "by his own blood," has entered
" into heaven itself," there " to appear in the presence
of God for us." There " he ever liveth to make inter-
cession " for us : that is, his desires, and the silent influ-
ences of his atonement and obedience, (the latter in-
volving his covenant claims,) continually rise up before
the throne. This is only carrpng out the same respect
for the law so conspicuous in the two preceding mea-
sures.



DISC. XIII. CREATURES HUMBLED. 487

But the soul-humbling and God-exalting process is
not yet ended. Not only are the atonement, obedience,
and intercession of Christ thus provided, in a way to
support the rights and claims and government of God,
to condemn sin, and cover pride with eternal confu-
sion ; but no man is allowed to share in this salvation
until, from the bottom of his heart, he has approved of
all these measures and all thek expressions ; until he
has taken back all his proud speeches against God and
bent his imperious head to his Maker's feet, and owned
that he never had any cause to rise up so loftily against
his Creator ; until, with his face in the dust, he has
justified God in condemnmg him to eternal infamy, and
has heartily approved of the whole character and go-
vernment of him whom he has always called a tyrant;
until he feels that the air is too good for him to breathe,
and the dust is too good for him to wrap himself in,
and that he deserves nothing but everlasting shame
and contempt ; until he is willuig to come down on
his knees as a beggar and ask for a crumb to keep him
from starving, and to be saved by free grace and for
the righteousness of another ; until he feels it sweet to
be thus abased, and covets it more than he does the
throne of an arch-angel; until he exalts God above
every other object and gives him all the gloiy of his
salvation.

Even pardon itself buries the sinner still lower in
the dust. " That thou mayst remember and be con-
founded and never open thy mouth any more because



488 GOD EXALTED. DISC. XIII.

of thy shame, when 1 am pacified towards thee for all
that thou hast done, saith the Lord God."

Tliis is none of that poverty of spirit which involves
degradation. It is only viewing things according to
truth. Holiness cannot fail to feel thus in a creature
that has sinned. If holiness is dignity, this abasement
of a soul that has been found in arms against infinite
goodness and dying love, outtops the dignity of kings.

The pardon and acceptance connected with this tem-
per, are that justification by faith which holds so high
a place in the Christian system, and which confessedly
strips all the glory from the sinner and gives it to God.

III. The same tendency of the Gospel appears in
its application. Christ is made of God unto us sancti-
fication, " that, according as it is written, He that glo-
rieth let him glory in the Lord."

As the race were condemned by the law to the curse
of eternal abandonment, the Spirit could not come to
men without the mediation of Christ. By his atone-
ment he made it consistent with the honour of the law to
set this curse aside, and as the reward of his obedience
he obtained this positive good for men. He told his disci-
ples, " It is expedient for you that I go away ; for if I
go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but
if I depart I \\nll send him unto you." " For the Holy
Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not
yet glorified." But when he ascended on high, among
his other gifts he received this for men, " that the Lord
God might dwell among them." And within ten days



DISC. Xiri. CREATURES HUMBLED. 489

he sent out '^ the Lord" the " Spirit" to abide in the
Church forever. As he had given bonds for the pay-
ment of the price, he received this purchased good in
Eden, and apphed it to the sanctification of all the saints
of the Old Testament. This is the origin of all the
holiness that has ever been found in our world since
the fall.

The heathen philosophers depended on the self-de-
termining power of the will for all their personal virtue,
and on their self-taught ethics for the reformation of the
world. And even many who have been baptised have
contended earnestly for this independence of the human
will. In opposition to all these proud aspirations, the
Gospel casts the world for sanctification on the Spiiit
of God and the purchase of Christ.

Nor is this all. In their spiritual death it finds no-
thing in them to aid their resurrection, — nothing but
what is opposed to life, — and ascribes to God, not only
the whole power, but a conquering powei', — " the work-
ing of — mighty power," as great as that " which he
wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly
places." This casts them dead and helpless into the
•hands of a sovereign God, and leaves with him, in the
most absolute sense, the decision of their fate. " There-
fore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy," and
whom he will he resigns to judicial hardness. He be-
stows salvation m\ whom he pleases, and withholds it
from whom he pleases,— holding this reason over a
62



490 GOD EXALTED, DISC. XIII.

subject and trembling world, " Is it not lawful for me
to do what I will with my own ?" No antecedent cir-
cumstance of dispositionor purpose or virtue or wisdom
or learning or station or biith or any other known
thing in sinners themselves has the least influence. It
is all of grace, — free, sovereign grace. For the discri-
mination he has a reason ; but to hold them down to
their place and to assert his absolute supremacy over
them, he will not tell them what it is. " He giveth
not account of any of his matters." Intrenched in
infinite wisdom and rectitude, of wliich heaven and
earth are filled with proofs, he wiQ have them know
that he wiU do what he will with his own without
explaining hunself to them ; and then- busmess is to
submit in sdent adoration. Thus he takes the liighest
possible stand of authority, and puts them down as low
as sinners can lie under a sceptie of mercy ; and makes
them love to Ue there and see hmi enthroned, and love
to find their heaven in the dust.

Is it not for the order and happmess of a family that
the rights of a wise and benevolent father should be
admitted, and if government is any thing to the family,
that they should be mamtamed 1 As God created all
tilings for the gratification of his benevolence, the whole
is his absolute property, and he has the most perfect
right, while he respects the rights of creatures, to do
what he will with his own universe. He is entitled to
love, gratitude, and praise, and has a right to require
thesie of hid creatiues, and to bind together and tranquil-



DISC. XIII, creaturp:s humbled. 491

lize the universe by the exercise of his authority. And
it is infinitely important to the harmony and happiness
of the whole, and particularly to the union of creatures
with him, that his rights should be fully admitted and
maintained. And if ignorance and prejudice are not
to be taken in as counsellors, the government of infinite
wisdom and love ought to be absolute. And it serves
all these purposes to inure creatures to ^ubmit to his
providence without a question, and to his law with no
other question than to ascertain his will. Upon tliis
principle it was that in the commencement of his go-
vernment over this world, he selected a tree and forbad
all approach to that, with no other reason assigned than
that it was his sovereign will : and if it was a small
matter to legislate about, so much the better for that :
the less the apparent reason for the prohibition, the
more obvious the claim to unquestioning obedience.

Thus every part of the Gospel is calculated to abase
the pride of man, to break and subdue and humble the
sinner, to support the rights, the claims, the government
of God, and to give all the glory to him. Whatever
light or holiness or title to salvation we possess, comes
from God through the Redeemer. We are ignorant
and foolish, he is our wisdom ; we are guilty, he is
our righteousness ; we are depraved, he is our sanctifi-
cation ; we are in bonds, he is our redemption. In
every part the character of God appears most glorious,
and that of man most deformed. And all this exhibi-
tion is made that God may be seen as he is, — that men



492 GOD EXALTED, DISC. XIII.

may know him and know their obhgations to him,
and grow up into eternal union with him, — and that
all holy creatures may see his glory and take their
proper place at his feet, and go in to constitute a united,
happy, and glorious universe.

Whatever brings out God to view exalts him, abases
sinners, and humbles and blesses the creation. Let us
then see what and how much of God is revealed in the
plan of salvation.

In the first place, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
are brought out to view in their own proper and infi-
nitely unportant characters ; a distinction never whis-
pered to the universe in any of his other works. In
the next place, his inflexible resolution, at all hazards,
to support his moral empire over the creation, comes
out ; disclosing his infinite attachment to all the princi-
ples of his law and to the happiness which it subserves,
and thus manifesting his holiness, justice, and benevo-
lence. In the next place, his amazing compassion and
mercy and patience and condescension and accessible-
ness and truth are brought to light : his power too, in
subduing the carnal heart, in restraining, bounding,
and defeating all the machinations of Satan, in con-
quering all his enemies and carrying their counsels
headlong, in forcing them unwittingly to prop his
throne and execute his decrees and help fill the universe
with his glory.

But the wisdom elicited is that on which I wish
chiefly to dwell. This wonderftil plan of the incama-



DISC. XIII. CREATURES HUMBLED. 193

tion was the forming of a connecting link between
finite and infinite natures, and filling up the whole
chasm between God and us. It was bringing down
the infinite God within the reach of creatures, — was
bringing out the invisible God to the view of creatures,
— was concentrating, as it were, the omnipresent God
to a point and throwing all his glories from the face of
Jesus Christ. It was laying out the divine perfections
upon a human scale, and expressing them through hu-
man organs and amidst human relations, — the most
inteUigible way of exhibiting God to men. And the
angels themselves, we are taught to believe, more fami-
Haiiy apprehend God, and more easily hold intercourse
with him, for this medium of vision and communion.

By the union of two infinitely dissimilar natures in
one Person, the wisdom of God contrived to make an
infinite Person mortal ; and by that means found out
a way to punish sin and let the sinner go unpunished ;
to support his law without executing its penalty on the
transgressor, and even to give it more authority than
though it had been hterally executed.

He confounded the wisdom of men by the triumphs
of that very weakness which provoked their contempt,
and by making, in various ways, the most unpromising
means lead to the most splendid success.

He so shaped the Gospel, that, in every part, it
should be at war with pride, and touch it in every ten-
der spot, and call into the field every arm of that foe,
and exhibit it before heaven and earth in the hideous



494 GOD EXALTED, DISC. XIII.

attitude of warring against all the love and authority of
the Gospel. A system so calculated to cause that atro-
cious enemy to writhe under unwelcome authority,
under unbearable humiliations, under overwhelming
disgrace, — to rage and blaspheme and assault the hea-
vens, — ^was fitted to make a thorough experiment upon
the human character and upon the nature of sin, and
to bring out both in a way to set off, before a wondering
universe, the double glory of justice and mercy.

He pressed into the service of his cause all the agents
in the wicked world ; — the poUcy of kings, the pride of
philosophers, the craft of priests, and the very ferocity of
bloody persecution. " The wrath of man shall praise"
him, either by stringing a harp in heaven or by hghting
the fires of his justice in hell. The sins of the elect
shall praise him. The more one of that number has
dishonoured God, the more God will be honoured in
his salvation.

He defeated all the stratagems of Satan and effectu-
ally bruised the serpent's head. The greatest dishonour
cast upon God, was made to redound to his gieatest
glory : the greatest contempt cast upon his law, was
made the occasion of the greatest honour done to the
law. Satan meant to rob God of the glory of creating
the human race ; but by the instrumentality of thai
very foe, God obtained more glory by the human race
than angels, men, or devils ever thought of. Satan
aimed to ruin a world which God, in all its virgin love-
liness, had reared ; but God will raise up, from the



DISC. XIII. CREATURES HUMBLED. 495

ashes of the old, the new heavens and new earth, in
more than their original glory. Satan envied a race
made to fill the place of his legions in heaven ; but that
very natme which he sought to destioy, is advanced to
the thi'one of the universe. He thought to make men
his slaves ; they will be his judges and sentence him to
endless torment. Elect man is a gainer by his own
ruin. His sin is made the occasion of higher advances
in holiness ; for to whom much is forgiven the same
ioveth much. His misery is made the occasion of liis
greater blessedness ; for a taste of wretchedness gives a
higher relish for happiness, and the gieat object of en-
joyment is more fully revealed, and he will be forever
transported with gratitude to his Redeemer. He has
become more sensibly dependant on God for hohness
and happiness, because he receives both as the purchase
of Christ, and because he has been raised from the
depths of sin and misery. By means of his union with
the incarnate Son, he is brought into a closer union
with God: "That they all may be one; as thou,
Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be
one in us. — I in them and thou in me, that they may
be made perfect in one." When Satan had nailed the
Saviour to the cross, he thought he had trimnphed ;
but he only pulled the building down upon his own
head. The weapons with which Christ went forth
were hke the sling and the stone, they were poverty,
reproaches, sufferings, and death. He prevailed by
becommg weak, and conquered by dying. As the



496 GOD EXALTED, DISC. XIII.

head of Goliath was severed by his own sword, so Christ
prevailed against his giant enemy by the cross ; "and
having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a
show of them openly, triumphmg over them in itP In
a word, God has made the seduction, sin, and ruin of
man the occasion of all the good resulting from the
work of redemption.

And finally, the wisdom of God appears in that
capital measure to vindicate his own impartiahty, the
appointment of the Friend and Brother of man to be
his Judge. " The Father — hath given him authority
to execute judgment also because he is the Son of
man.^'*

In view only of a small part of this wonderful plan,
the apostle exclaims, " O the depth of the riches both of
the %visdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable
are his judgments, and his ways past finding out."
The very angels "desire to look into" these "things."
Indeed we are expressly told that God " created all
things by Jesus Christ, to the intent that now unto the
principahties and pow ers in heavenly places, might be
known hy the Church the manifold wisdom of God."
This then was the design of creation, — that the divine
wisdom, (which is intellect and knowledge duected to
practical ends by moial attributes,) might be mani-
fested to the angels, and by a parity of reason to the
whole creation, by the work of redemption. This
shows that the wisdom here unfolded is greater than the
angels possess, and greater than they see displayed in



DISC. XIII. CREATURES HUMBLED. 497

any other world. They are put to school on this pla-
net, in distinction from all other worlds which they
visit, to learn " the manifold wisdom of God."

In short, all the perfections of God, (unless we are to
except the exliibitions of his justice in hell,) are more
displayed in this work than in any other work or in
any other world, and perhaps more than in all otlier
ways, and so far as we can see, more tha'^ could have
been exhibited by any other means. The whole will
form a constellation of glory the most dazzling that
ever met a created eye, — a glor}^ that will consti-
tute by far the greater part of the happiness of the
creation.

Why should you think that this grandest of all the
exhibitions of God will be shut up in the nut-shell of
a single world ? Why should you thus degrade Christ
and his work ? Have we no revelation on this subject ?
We are distinctly enough told that all the worlds of



Online LibraryN.Y.) Murray Street Church (New YorkDiscourses delivered in Murray Street Church : on Sabbath evenings during the month of March, April and May, 1830 → online text (page 30 of 31)