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no redemption themselves, yet they can as fully discover the character of God, as exhibited in this work, as if they themselves were the objects of it. And that they do in fact feel a lively interest in this extraordinary transaction, is proved by the whole evangelical history. When the Divine Redeemer was about to make his appearance upon earth, the communication of the joyful tidings was not considered as unworthy of the noblest of these exalted spirits. An angel appeared to Zacharias, the father of the harbinger of our Lord, and announced his birth. And Gabriel himself was commissioned to inform the virgin Mary, that she should be the mother of the promised Messiah. When the Saviour was born, an angel, surrounded with the glory of God, came down and announced the event to the shepherds of Bethlehem; and, immediately, he was joined with a great multitude of the heavenly host, who united in singing an anthem worthy of the occasion; GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, AND GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN." And that the holy angels are intensely exercised in the study of this interesting subject, we learn from the apostle Peter, who, speaking of the prophetic declarations concerning the sufferings of Christ,” says, WHÍCH THINGS THE ANGELS DESIRE TO LOOK INTO." The mode of expression in the original is much more emphatical than in our translation. Eίς & επιθυμουotv åyyedol tapakútar, which may be thus paraphrased, “Into which sufferings of Christ, the angels pry with the most fixed and profound attention." The literal meaning of the verb here used is, “to stoop down,” as if to survey with the deepest attention; and this manner of expression was probably borrowed from the attitude of the golden cherubim on the mercy-seat; for their faces were so placed, as to look inwards and downwards, on the propitiatory, (ilashprov.) These cherubim are thought, by most commentators, to be emblematical of the angels; and as the blood of the great annual atonement for the sins of the priests and all the people, was sprinkled on this propitiatory; so their faces turned downwards to this object, may represent the very idea which the apostle Peter intended to express, in the words cited above;
amely, that the angels are absorbed in the contemplation of
e work of redemption. There is also a testimony, in the
ritings of Paul, from which we learn, that the manifestation of the wisdom of God to the exalted spirits of heaven, was one great end aimed at by the interesting transactions which stand connected with the Christian church. It is this, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places, might be known ey THE CHURCH, the manifold wisdom of God.” And this, perhaps, is the very best answer to the infidel objection to redemption by the Son of God, derived from the magnitude of creation. This world, it is true, is but a speck in the universe, but it is large enough to furnish a thcatre for a most glorious exhibition of the divine attributes. And the knowledge of the stupendous work wrought here, will not be confined to our race, but is made known to other intelligent beings, whose elevation in moral dignity, and whose happiness, will be advanced by every increase of knowledge, and by every new manifestation of the glorious character of God. It is not, therefore, an unreasonable supposition, that the exaltation, glory, and happiness of the whole intelligent creation, will be greatly enhanced by the exhibition of the divine perfections, in the redemption of man. Moral grandeur does not depend on the magnitude of the theatre on which the work is exhibited. But this whole objection, however plausibly it may strike the mind at first view, is a mere prejudice, without the least foundation in reason; for, the very same thing might be objected to a world, many millions of times larger than ours. All magnitude is merely comparative. Supposing that the great end of God in redemption, was the manifestation of his own perfections, no conceivable advantage could accrue from having a larger world for this exhibition. The planet Jupiter, is said to be a thousand times larger than our earth; but, can any body suppose that the glory of God in redemption would have been greater, if that had been the theatre of the work? This globe may be invisible to the inhabitants of distant planets; but, this might be the fact in regard to a globe of any size; for the visibility of objects de
pends on their distance, and the kind of organs with which they are viewed. It might, with just as much reason, be alleged, that this world was too large, as that it is too diminutive; for there is an infinitude below us, as there is above us. This is an objection precisely similar to the one against creation, because it did not occur sooner. But it may be asked, why should this earth be selected for such a wonderful display of the divine attributes. This is a question, which, like thousands of others, we cannot answer, simply on the ground of our ignorance. It might as reasonably be asked why such a world as this was ever created; why it occupies a middle place and not one of the extremes in our system; or why it should form a part of the solar system, rather than a position in some distant part of the universe. It might be inquired, why such a being as man was created and placed upon earth; and why he should have a frame so curiously and wonderfully wrought; and why he should have been made a compound being, consisting of matter and mind. But all such questions are foolish and vain. Our knowledge is very much limited to facts; the reason why they are as they are, we must generally leave to be examined by beings of a higher order of intellect; or to a time when our minds shall be so invigorated and enlarged, that we shall be able to comprehend what is now involved in obscurity.
It is alleged, that the work of redemption is too strange and wonderful to be credible, by a rational mind: but what is there in the heavens above, or on the earth beneath, which is not wonderful ? Take the minutest atom which floats in the sun-beam, and analyze it. Compute the number of its parts. Tell all its relations and affinities; and endeavour to comprehend its essence. Take the humblest vegetable which grows out of the earth, and describe its structure, its wonderful organization, and the admirable apparatus by which it is rendered capable of selecting from millions of particles, those which are adapted to its own growth, development, and fructification.—Or, to rise still higher in the scale of being, dissect any one of the various tribes of animals, con
sider its organization, its senses, its instincts, its means of subsistence and defence, and the extraordinary laws of its propagation; all which are peculiar in each distinct species; and then tell me, is there any one thing in the universe, which, when attentively examined, has not enough of the marvellous connected with its mode of existence, to confound the reason of the greatest philosopher? If we adopt the principle of rejecting any thing merely because it is wonderful, we must at once descend into the regions of Pyrrhonism, and become universal skeptics; or we must plunge still deeper, into the yawning abyss of atheism; for what can be more wonderful than the existence of an eternal, omnipresent God? But even atheism can furnish no refuge for those who are determined to believe nothing which is wonderful. The only recommendation which atheism has is, that it leaves the region of wonders for that of gross absurdities, and reason-revolting contradictions. 6 THE FOOL HATH SAID IN HIS HEART, THERE IS NO God." The only safe course for man to pursue is, modestly, soberly, and diligently to exercise his rational faculties; and cautiously and firmly to rely on the evidences of truth which may be presented; not pretending in any case to determine whether a proposition is true or false, by an abstract contemplation of its apparent reasonableness, but judging of every thing by the evidence which attends it: unless in those cases, where there is a manifest absurdity or contradiction in the terms of a proposition, for such propositions can be established by no kind of proof; neither are they ever attended with the evidenoe of truth.
It is freely conceded, then, that the work of redemption is wonderful; and if it were not, it would have no analogy to the other works of God. It is a thing of surpassing wonder, that God should send his only begotten and well beloved Son, to die an ignominious death for vile rebels; but there is a grandeur in this marvellous transaction that indicates, that this is no “cunningly devised fable,” but the wonderful device of a Being, every thing connected with whose existence fills the reflecting mind with astonishment. The more wonderful then, the stronger the marks of its divine origin;the more like its wonderful Author.
We have already spoken of the interest which the celestial inhabitants have taken in the great events connected with redemption, which have taken place upon earth; but, may we not suppose, that in heaven, this marvellous work is the theme of their thoughts and their praises? This does not rest on mere conjecture; for, in the Revelation of John, the veil which conceals this HOLY OF HOLIES, has, in some measure, been drawn aside; and a distant and emblematical view of the interior of the upper temple has been afforded. Among the most conspicuous objects beheld in this high and holy place, even in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders,
STOOD A LAMB AS IT HAD BEEN SLAIN." That redeemed saints in heaven should claim a relation to this slaughtered Lamb, we were prepared to expect; for those white robes, in which they shine so brightly, among the heavenly hosts, were washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb: and we are not surprised that they should unite in a never-ceasing song of praise, “unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever, amen.” But, perhaps, we should not have been so ready to suppose, that the other inhabitants of heaven, who have no part in the son of David, as needing no redemption, should form a part of the general chorus, to sound forth the praises of Immanuel ;-of "Him who was dead and is alive again, and liveth for evermore." But, so it is, “And I beheld,” says John, “and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, worthy is THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing; and every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I