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denying to the innocent that grace, which he conferred upon the wicked. The victim, on whom the sentence of his displeasure fell, was his own son, the partner of his nature and deity, who first assumed by his own spontaneous act our nature, in order that he might bear the burden, to which we had been proved unequal. When he had in that nature done and suffered all, that the law of God exacted from it, the justice of God no longer compelled him to exact it from us also; and a way was made for the exercise of that mercy, which could not have been displayed, if justice must be violated, to give scope to it.
It is this union of different natures in one person, this display of opposite perfections in one act, that invests the atonement of Christ with its peculiar glory. The holiness of God is vindicated by the same interposition, which screened the offender from punishment; and the eternal father records the awful severity of his justice in the very transaction, which proclaims to the universe, that his name is Love. When it is seen, that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son for
its redemption, his mercy is displayed in the most conspicuous and affecting light. But mere mercy is a quality, which, as a righteous governor, he does not choose to exercise: and, when we find, that, rather than let sin go unpunished by a mere act of sovereign pardon, he permitted his own beloved son, in whom he is always well pleased, to undergo its penalty, the punishment of a whole world of transgressors could not so signally manifest his hatred of sin as that one example and specimen of its just and inevitable consequence. that scene of united wrath and love, Mercy and Truth were met together; Righteousness and Peace kissed each other: and yet, though these conflicting attributes were thus reconciled, mercy still shines forth, as the prevailing virtue; for Mercy rejoiceth against Judgment.
We have come, therefore, (I trust) my brethren, to these conclusions. God created man upright. That state of entire conformity to his will was the original righteousness and perfection of our nature. But, when Adam once disobeyed his maker, that act of dis
obedience was the original sin of our nature. Since that first sin, there has not been a just man upon earth, who doeth good, and sinneth not. To this remark one exception, and one only, has occurred. Jesus Christ alone among the sons of men has obeyed the law of God in all its extent and purity. But Jesus Christ was not only the son of man, but of God; and he assumed our nature, in order that he might fulfil the law, which we had broken, and submit to the punishment, which we had incurred. When he had done this, the justice of God declared itself to be fully satisfied by raising him from the dead, and exalting him to the right hand of the father, who, having laid on him the iniquity of us all, is thenceforward free to receive us back into favour, and willing to shew mercy to those, whom sin had exposed to his just and holy indignation.
How then may we avail ourselves of this amnesty? How may we become partakers of this great salvation? This is the next question, which comes before us.
Acts x. 43.
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
IF it be true, brethren, that we have all failed of rendering a just obedience to the law of God, and are consequently subject to his holy displeasure, if on the other hand it be also true, that in order to deliver us from the sentence of this wrath, the son of God condescended to assume our nature, fulfilled in it the law, which we had broken, submitted to the punishment, which we had deserved, and thus made a way for the exercise of the divine mercy to sinners, it cannot but be a most interesting inquiry-How may you and
I avail ourselves of this mercy? How may it be sought, obtained, and secured?: and this is the inquiry, which has been reserved for the subject of our meditation this morning. May he, on whom the lord hath laid the iniquity of us all, make known to us all, and enable us all to follow and to attain the only and certain way of salvation!
To the inquiry, now proposed to you, the text affords a full, distinct, and particular answer. 'To him' (that is to Jesus Christ) 'give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall ' receive remission of sins.'
Under the circumstances, in which human nature is placed, it has been already observed, and indeed it is exceedingly obvious, that the first and most indispensable blessing, required for our restoration to the favour of God, is remission of sins. And this blessing would seem to be designed for all men in the mercy of God, when it is declared, that the lord hath laid on his own son the iniquity of us all: for, if he bore all our sins, surely it must have