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They had been hurled at once from thrones of light, into chains of eternal darkness. And no unfallen spirit in the universe doubted, at the awful moment of this judgment, its perfect justice; but all, as they looked on the dark and deserted orbits of these lost morning stars, felt that God had done what "became" his holiness and supremacy. But, could they have felt thus, if the next race of sinners had been pardoned on mere repentance? Two such different modes of treating sin could not have been thought equally well of. If the first was not too severe, the second was too lenient for both could not become the same God. Angels must, therefore, have hated the one if they loved the other. For, look at the facts of the case a river of life flowing down to our world from the very throne of God; and a river of wrath flowing down to hell from the same throne. This admits of only one explanation, viz. that the blood of Christ flowed for fallen man, and not for fallen angels. On no other principle can we account for, or harmonize with the character of God, the freeness of the salvation offered to us. Eternal happiness offered to one race of sinners, and eternal misery inflicted on another race of sinners, would be an eternal anomaly in the moral government of God, but for the atonement made by Christ on our behalf. But now, no holy nor wise being can wonder that grace reigns by the blood of the Lamb of God. They may and will eternally wonder that he shed his blood for us; but they cannot wonder that it made salvation sure or free. Nor can they wonder that Satan and his angels are not redeemed, seeing it was by opposing this scheme of redemption they sinned and fell. "Satan," says Christ, "abode not in The Truth ;" and therefore, the Saviour took not on him the nature of angels, but the nature of man.
3. It became God to redeem man, and confirm angels, in such a way as to leave no possibility of imagining that any higher happiness could be found out, than the voluntary gift of God conferred. The rock on which finite beings would (but for the atonement) be always in danger of splitting, is, the idea that more might be known than is told them, and more enjoyed than is given them. Man and angels split upon this rock. Nor does it seem possible to keep out this rock from the ocean of glory itself, but by placing the Rock of Ages in it. Neither words nor warnings seem enough to produce an eternal and universal persuasion, that there is nothing better beyond what God allows. Indeed the more a finite being has of rank or bliss, the more he is in danger of being tempted to suspect that he could get higher on the scale. They have never studied mental power, who do not understand this fact: and hence,
all the mist and dust thrown around the origin of evil. Curiosity
is its real origin.
One grand object of redemption was, therefore, to throw open all that can be known or enjoyed. And this the atonement of Christ does fully and freely. It is sensible and decisive proof to the universe, that He who spared not his own Son, but gave him up to save man and seal angels, will, with him, freely give "all things." Thus his unspeakable gift being the very uttermost length that Infinity could go to, it must be eternally seen and felt that there is nothing beyond: for this throws open the whole character of God, and the whole range of possibility; and thus will put an end for ever to all doubts and experiments.
4. It became God to redeem man, and to confirm angels, in such a way as to render the impartiality of his love to both for ever unquestionable.
Accordingly, it is as sons that he will bring men to glory-the very rank which all the unfallen spirits in all worlds hold. The redeemed, therefore, can never be jealous of angels, nor angels of them. Neither cherubim nor seraphim can be slow to welcome, nor ashamed to love, those whom Christ loved and washed from their sins in his own blood. This is a distinction which no angelic rank can ever eclipse, or lessen. Our nature, united to Godhead in the person of Christ, and perfected in ourselves, will, at least, equal all angelic nature in power and purity; and thus secure an equal place before the throne.
In like manner it will be for ever impossible for redeemed men to envy confirmed angels: because on both the image of God will be equally bright; the smile of God equally sweet; communion with God equally intimate; the mysteries of God equally open; the glories of God equally familiar; and all the range of heavenly enjoyment equally free. This will be a universe of harmony and happiness! Yes; and the cross of Christ will be the central pillar on which all its eternal weight of glory will hang. Under and around that immortal pillar, sin shall never revive, nor error occur, nor strife divide, nor emulation estrange, nor death enter, nor pain be felt, nor weariness experienced; but life, love, joy, and holiness, flow on for ever, perfect as the bliss and being of God.
THE SOURCE OF TRUE PEACE.
BY CHARLES GILBERT.
ISAIAH Xxvi. 3.- Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
ALL things hang suspended from the throne of God, from the principalities and powers who dwell in his immediate presence, through all gradations of intellectual, moral, and animal life, down to the meanest insect that flutters in the air. Not only has He called them into existence, but He must preserve them in that state; for He that could create by the word of his power, could also annihilate the whole universe of creatures he has formed. But though it is a fact so self-evident, that all things "live, and move, and have their being in Him;" yet such is the depraved state of our common nature, that we are disposed to consider ourselves independent, and to say, "Who is the Lord that I should trust in him?" But there are two ways by which we are taught to feel our dependence; the first is, by the events of his providence, when he lays his afflicting hand upon our health, property, or relatives; then the most depraved of the sons of men are often brought to acknowledge the Divine hand: but this is only transitory; let but the heavy hand of his judgments be removed, and immediately they rise to their former pride and self-sufficiency. The second method is by his grace operating upon the minds of men, by which he shews them their own impotence, insufficiency, and entire dependence upon himself. This is permanent, because it arises rather from internal principle than external circumstances; and it will increase,-the further a Christian goes, the more he will feel the spirit of a child, "who dares not go a step alone." This chapter is described as a song exciting confidence in God; and here we have the blessedness
of exercising our trust in him : "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
I. A state of mind to be described.
II. A gracious assurance to be considered.
III. An intimate connexion to be established.
I. A state of mind to be described: "Whose mind is stayed on him."
This attitude of the mind is sometimes represented as looking toh im, believing in him. It has been very beautifully described by Solomon, when he transfers the act of the mind to that of the body, and inquires, "Who is this that cometh up out of the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?" This is an act that includes in it, This is a
1. A renunciation of dependence on the creature. hard lesson, and who can learn it? It is one that human nature never acquires in any other school but in that where Christ is the great teacher and all his instructions go to this one point,-to annihilate the spirit of self-dependence, in any of its forms. What is the language of his providence? Does it not constantly teach us the folly of leaning on any thing below the sun; while it exhibits the utter instability of all that is mortal, whether it be vigour of intellect, strength of constitution, the influence of wealth, or the enjoyments of friendship? But while his providence thus teaches us, the instructions of his word urge the same duty do we not there hear the admonition, "Trust not in man, or in the son of man, in whom there is no help?" Yea, he expressly affirms by his prophet, "Cursed is man that trusteth in man, or that maketh flesh his arm." And the lessons that "the Holy Ghost teacheth," impress the same duty upon us; the tendency of the whole is to remove every prop on which we may lean, short of the throne of God. With such instructors, the Christian will be taught how to distinguish between gratitude for his mercies, and dependence upon them the former he will feel to be his pleasure, but at the latter he will tremble as idolatry, for he knows God" will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to graven images ;" and, therefore, he will exercise a constant vigilance against that to which he feels his nature so prone, and be careful lest he trust in the creature more than the Creator. This feeling is strikingly illustrated in the case of the Psalmist: "Some trust in horses, and some in chariots: but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God, and in his name we will set up our banners;" as though he had said,-in his attributes, as a
rampart of impregnable defence, will I place my confidence, amidst all the dangers that may assail me. This includes,
This describes the
He is taught the
2. The exercise of filial dependence on God. general frame and attitude of a Christian's mind. necessity, in a fluctuating world like this, of having some solid ground to rest upon; and at all times to have his mind reposing there. In accordance with this, he is described as dwelling in the secret place of the Most High"-not occasionally residing there, but dwelling there; and our Lord, therefore, "likens him to a wise man that built his house upon the rock," placed his hope and dependence constantly there. "I have set the Lord always before me," said David; kept my eye constantly fixed upon Him in all the necessities of which I am the subject; in all the dangers to which I am exposed. It is a golden thread which runs through the whole life, more or less powerfully evinced. Is the cup of temporal mercies not only full, but running over? His hope is in Him for its continuance. Is he perplexed? He is not in despair; still he leans upon the infallible Guide of Israel, who has said, "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not." Does he go out and return home in safety?" The Lord has preserved him in his going out and coming in." Does he sleep and arise in health? It is because he recognises the same power sustaining him. If a Christian hears the word, his prayer is, "Lord, teach me to profit." These words describe the daily actings of a good man's mind: he has in some measure learned the lesson our Lord has taught—" Without me ye can do nothing." Besides this, there are special seasons when it is peculiarly exercised. Life does not present one uniform and unvarying course, but is sometimes marked by distressing calamities. There are times of great national distress," when the earth is removed, when the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, when the pestilence walks in darkness, and the destruction wastes at noonday." And, besides this, there are seasons of personal trial, when we can with truth affirm, "All thy waves and billows are gone over me;" when unbelief may suggest to us as to the patriarch, "All these things are against me." This will apply to our worldly cares and our spiritual conflicts: a darkness may surround us which admits not a ray of light. These are events that try the truth of our principles, as the roaring billows try the firmness of the hold which the mariner may have taken of the rock. We may profess to trust in God, but trials prove the firmness and stability of our trust. Happy is it to be taught to say, "When my heart is overwhelmed within me, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I am." "At what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." As the