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boding and terror. This, says Justice, is but the natural fruit of sin. And is it too much, that the sinner shall eat of the fruit of his own way? that he shall be left to reap what he has himself sown? If he render himself unfit for communion with God, is it too much if he be denied that communion ? if he provoke God's frown, is it too much if he be left to feel that frown? If he take fire into his soul, can he complain if he be left to feel it burning there?
But further Justice pleads : Has not the Infinite declared that sin shall be thus punished ? Has not the word gone forth from thy lips, O Eternal Sovereign ! that “the wages of sin is death :" that the soul that sinneth, it shall die ?" Hast thou not uttered this from thy throne, and incorporated it into thy law for the government of the universe ? Has not every angel heard it? And has it not gone forth to all worlds ? Has it not rolled and reverberated through the arches of these heavens, for the instruction and warning of every creature, and as one of the grand truths for the guard of the moral universe—“The soul that sinneth, it shall die ?" Is not this, in part, an exponent of the moral feelings, the moral nature of God? How, then, shall thy word be disregarded? How can the utterances of thy lips be set aside ? Hath the Infinite said, and shall he not do ? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? What will angels say, if the word of the Eternal be broken? What will the universe say? Who will credit again the message that cometh forth from the throne ? Who will believe again that Jehovah is true? Who again will tremble at his threatening, or fear to sin? Man pardoned, his sin unpunished, himself treated with favor in violation of the Law, the foundations of government are destroyed; the eternal throne is dishonored; the veracity of the Infinite is broken; the universe as the tidings extend, will lose their confidence in their King, and rebellion and confusion will be encouraged in every world. If one sinner may escape a righteous recompense, and that in violation of a solemnly uttered sentence, then may another, and another; and the government of the Infinite, the eternal Supreme, is undermined, and passes away for ever!
So Justice reasoned again. And Heaven saw and felt the cogency of her plea. If the INFINITE, she says, will have a government, he must have a law. And if he will maintain his government, he must adhere to his law, and carry out in practice the declared recompenses of good and of evil, as cases arise requiring them. He must honor his law; he must honor his throne ; he must maintain his own veracity. “ A God of truth, and without iniquity,” it is declared of him, “just and right is he." And he must show himself thus, in order that the universe may rest in peace and quietness under the shadow of his wings; move on in safety, and rejoice in his dominion. Man--Justice repeats-cannot be pardoned. He has sinned; and he must feel the consequences of his sin. To release him, would be a wrong done to every holy being in existence. It would render the standing of every other being less secure. Jehovah's treatment involves fundamental principles-princiciples underlying the universal whole. And those principles violated in his case, the universal whole must feel the deranging influence.
Man, then, must die. Even Mercy can say no more. Even she herself is convinced that favor to him would be cruelty to the whole universe besides. She bows in silence, though still sorrowing at the destruction which awaits him. Man is bound, and delivered over to the executioner's power, and the sword of justice is lifted over him.
At this awful moment, another scene arrests attention. From the light inaccessible which surrounds the throne, and stretches far back in its insufferable brightness-a light before which ten thousand suns, condensed into one, would cease to shine and become black as sackcloth of hair ; from that light there comes forth a Personage, unseen before, partaker in the Godhead. With "the Ancient of days” he had been for ever, -as one brought up with him :" and "his delights had been with the sons of men." With infinite pity, he approaches the eternal Sire, and says: On me be the wrong of Man. On me, sovereign Judge! place man's burden. Of me let Justice er. act her utmost claims on man's account. I my life will give for his ; will drink the bitter draught prepared for him. On me the violated law shall have its course. By me, descending to the world of sin, and dwelling in fiesh like its lost inhabitants, and yielding up my life a sacrifice to thee, in their behalf, shall law be honored, and veracity and equity sustained, and man, accepting the proffered favor, shall live.
Deep silence was in heaven. Rapt wonder and awe held its circling throngs. The Eternal Sire assented to the Son. A light, a glory shone, such as heaven itself had not before seen. Mercy and Justice bowed together before the throne, and bowed together before the wondrous Deliverer, and owned him for their Lord. Justice herself wept : (she never wept before). Her claims were met, and in a way that made even her heart relent. And suddenly, bursting from all the lips of the blessed, there went up a song, in strains like the voice of many waters, and like mighty thunderings, and harpers harping with their harps, saying, Allelieuia ! “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !" "A Just God, and a Savior !” “Mercy and Truth are met together : Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other !"
Thus “ MERCY REJOICETII AGAINST JULGMENT."
But the vision presents one feature more. Man must hear what Heaven has devised in his behalf. On the Great Messenger, in his errand to the world, Mercy and Justice are both attendants : Mercy pleased to see the work for which her spirit sighed go forward, and Justice pleased to see no jot or tittle of her claims abated.
Mercy, in the earth, shows herself still allied to heaven. Everywhere she speaks soothingly to human woe. Everywhere she calls men to avail themselves of the great salvation. She leaves no place where human beings are to be found, unvisited. She goes even into loathsome dungeons, and dens of crime and misery, pointing the victims of sin to Him who saves the lost. She is on the embattled plain, pleading with the contending hosts to stay their vengeful strife, and both, repenting of their own sins, to bow in unison before the Prince of peace. She is with the highwayman on the land, and the pirate on the seas, and the evil-doer in every place, warning against the nefarious deeds which drag down their perpetrators to the lake of fire, and bidding them turn, and “flee from the wrath to come.” She is in every chamber of sickness, and abode of sorrow, speaking of Him who assuages pain, and wipes the mourner's tears, and prepares mansions where sorrow does not come. She is with man under all visitations of judgment and correction, whispering in his ear the divine instruction they are intended to convey, and urging obedience to their monitions. She accompanies every message of the gospel, with a heart in deep sympathy with every call, with every argument of persuasion, with every appeal. She rejoiceth over every sinner that repenteth. She witnesses, with throbbing delight, the spreading, rising kingdom of redemption : and will stand, at last, at the right hand of the Judge, beholding the grand result, in multitudes which no man can number, gathered from every kindred, and people, and tongue, and nation, into the realms of glory; the grand result of new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, compared with which “the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind;" the grand result, accompanied with the loud acclaim of triumph : the universe bursting forth in rapturous praise : “He hath done all things well !"
Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."
So Mercy shall see her desire accomplished. While Justice, through all this scene by her side, is not less pleased to see her own claims all met. No truth is sacrificed. No bright attribute of Jehovah is tarnished. No principle of equity and good government is violated, or weakened. On the contrary, all is strengthened. Even Justice herself never appeared in such brightness before, never received such honor before, as is reflected back upon her from the wondrous work of redeeming love. Mercy triumphs to the advantage of her very rival, as well as of herself, and the dying race of man.
I see, says the considerate man, where my hope of eternal life, and the hope of my race, must begin. Not in justice. If justice carries through her claim upon us, she cuts us off
, and sends us to endless death. Not in mercy, simply and alone considered. Mercy has no plea strong enough to prevail in behalf of a sinner like man. If she should screen man, at the expense of justice, the very throne of the Eternal would be sullied, and his character tarnished, and his universal dominion shaken and destroyed. Our hope of eternal life must begin in the interposition of the Son of God. When I hear a voice from the excellent glory, saying, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, but a body hast thou prepared me : Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me : I delight to do thy will, O God !" then I look up, and begin to see how a sinner may live. When I read the gracious declaration of a later time, that God has so loved the world, that he has given his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;" then I see how a sinner can live. When I turn my eye to Calvary, and behold there the great Victim, groaning, bleeding, dying, amidst the darkened heavens, and rending rocks, and quaking earth, and under the hidings of the Father's face, forcing from him the cry, “My God ! my God! why hast thou forsaken me ?" and learn elsewhere the cause of this to be, that “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all,"—that “he bare our sins in his own body on the tree;" then I see how a sinner can live.
« Oh! the sweet wonders of that cross,
I learn hence, says the devout Christian, my obligation. I am at the communion-table. This is not an empty ceremony. It is not a mere fraternal act, or token of kindred feeling among the participants. This, indeed, it is : but it is also much more.
It is a memorial of the Son of God, in whom
new foundations for communion are laid. It is a memorial of him, in that great hour, when he offered himself in heaven as man's Redeemer. It is a memorial of him in that great hour, when he came to execute the purpose of his love :-when first he appeared in the flesh, and angelic voices sung, “ Glory to God in the highest ; and on earth peace, good will to men !" and when afterward, on Calvary, "he, through the eternal Spirit, offered up himself without spot to God,” for the life of the world. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God!" “Herein is love : not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” This communion is a memorial of him now in heaven, preparing a place for his chosen, that they may, after a little while, be with him there for ever. Here I think on his humiliation in leaving the abodes of light for this dark world. Here I think on his toils, his pains, his death, the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear ; the untold agonies of Gethsemane, and the still deeper woes of Calvary, when his spirit sank beneath its mighty load, uncheered with the Father's love : and here I think on his expiring groan, when the heavens were hung in mourning, and earth quaked to her centre, in sympathy with the great sufferer. And now what shall I render for the Father's love? And what shall I render to the eternal Son, for his interposing mercy in my behalf ? ( how pregnant with meaning is the voice of inspiration, “ Ye are bought with a price ; therefore glorify God, in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” Surely my bonds are infinite, and indissoluble. “ The love of Christ constraineth me.” May I never forget that I am purchased. May I never forget the price paid for me. May I live answerable to the immortal hopes thus open before me, and before my needy race. O God ! seal me for thine ; and make me faithfully, unceasingly, eternally thine !
Let no man hope for heaven without a Saviour. Justice cannot save you. She can only condemn. Mercy, in itself alone, cannot save you. She has no power to remove the condemnation of the law, or to wash the spirit and make it meet for heaven. There is no hope, but in the Son of God. As he himself says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.' And as the apostle says. “ There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved ;" “ who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption." Let every one see here the only ground of hope. “He that hath the Son of God, hath life. He that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” " But the wrath of