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thing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
The gospel of Christ is the doctrine of reconciliation between God and man. By reconciliation is meant, the renewal of peace between two parties at variance. Our original parents, before their apostasy, were in a state of peace and friendship with the Source of being, and Lord of the universe: but, by the first offence, they lost that peace, and forfeited that beatifying friendship. Your iniquities have separated between you and your God-They rebelled, therefore was he turned to be their enemy. -This alienation, on the part of God, consists in the holiness of his nature; which forbids a guilty creature having communion with him.-In his determination to punish for sin. It is the judgment of God, that they who commit sin are worthy of death— In the sentence of his law. Cursed is every one that is guilty of disobedience. Now, where the loss of peace and friendship is begun, on the one part, by criminal offence; and continued, on the other, by displeasure and a purpose to punish; to make reconciliation, is to propitiate, or to turn away the anger of the party offended.* It should be observed, however, that when we speak of God's anger, of his wrath, and of his being reconciled, though completely warranted so to do, by the language of inspiration; the terms must be considered as allusive to what is common among men; and as respecting the harmonious display of all the divine perfections, in the salvation of sinners: but by no means as inferring mutability, or the least alteration, in the nature, the will, or the purposes of God.
* See Job xlii. 7, 8, 9.
The blessing of reconciliation is presented to view, in the tidings of heavenly mercy, under a twofold consideration: that is, of GOD being reconciled to man, and of MAN being reconciled to God; both of which are essential to human happiness. It is of the former, however, that the inspired writers, in different modes of expression, most frequently speak; and in the displaying of which, evangelical truth is principally concerned. Of such vast importance, indeed, is the reconciliation of God to man, that the gospel would cease to be glad tidings-it would lose its nature, and fail to deserve its name-did it not announce the gracious method in which reconciliation, thus considered, is effected.
Here, then, we behold God, in the Person of the Father, invested with the character of a righteous governor, justly offended with man, denouncing death, and revealing wrath, as the desert of his apostasy, enmity, and rebellion; but as graciously providing, accepting, and exhibiting to sinners an all-sufficient propitiation, in the substitutionary death of his own incarnate Son. To this the sacred writers refer, when they speak of Messiah making reconciliation for iniquity-reconciling both Jews and Gentiles to God, in one body by the cross -making peace by the blood of his cross-reconciling enemies to God, in the body of his flesh through death and making reconciliation for the sins of the people. Thus, also, concerning the typical -sin-offering, in the time of Hezekiah: They brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: and the priests killed them, and
they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for Israel."*. In these and similar passages the reconciliation immediately intended, must respect God as an offended Sovereign, and a righteous Governor-must respect the claims of his penal justice being completely satisfied, on the behalf of those for whom the Messiah died as a substitute, when he offered himself an atoning sacrifice.
It is not, indeed, in the sacred volume, any where expressly said, that God is reconciled to us, by the death of Christ; but that we are, by his death, reconciled to God: and this the Socinians plead, when opposing the doctrine of atonement by our Lord. To which we may reply, The reason probably is, because God is the party offended. For, so to understand it agrees, not only with the express language of Jesus in a similar case, but also with vulgar speech. With the express language of Jesus. Thus he speaks: If thy brother have aught against thee, go thy way, and be reconciled to thy brother, by appeasing, or turning away his anger. With vulgar speech. For if a superior be justly provoked by one that had received great kindness from him; the offender is commonly urged, without delay, to obtain reconciliation, if possible by lawful means, to the offended party. So, were we to hear of a convicted rebel, who had recently trembled with apprehensions of suffering torture and death, being reconciled to his injured sovereign, by the mediation of an illustrious personage; the first impression made on our minds, if
* Daniel ix. 24. Ephes. ii. 16. Colos. i. 21, 22. Heb. ii. 17.
2 Chron, xxix. 23.
the report was believed, would be, that, on some consideration or other, the prince had laid aside his displeasure, and exercised pardoning clemency toward the revolted subject.-We will now consider the apostolic testimony in a passage or two, including not only the reconciliation of God to man, but also of man to God.
Wonderfully gracious, and highly instructive, is that apostolic saying, If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.* Let us review the admirable declaration. Reconciled when we were enemies. Consequently, while considered as in an unconverted state; while under the full power of natural depravity, and in spiritual death. Reconciled to God: as a righteous governor, as maintaining the rights of eternal justice and the honours of his holy law. Reconciled to God by the death of his Son: He, as our voluntary sponsor, being made sin, and made a curse for us. In his vicarious death, sin being condemned and punished, the Most Holy solemnly sanctified his great name; or, in the most emphatical manner, publicly declared himself, his government, and his method of saving sinners, to be inviolably just. Thus, under the character of Universal Governor, is GoD reconciled to rebellious men.
Then it follows: Much more, being reconciled. This is manifestly contrasted with, when we were enemies; and, if I mistake not, respects the reconciliation of man to God, by the renovation of his desperately depraved heart. In truly believing the
*Rom. v. 10.
divine testimony concerning the death of Christ, as the only and all-sufficient expiation of human guilt, the reconciliation made by that vicarious death, between God as a just sovereign, and us as revolted subjects of his dominion, is received;* his revealed character is approved; and we are, in our own hearts, reconciled to him.-Yes, Jesus having, by his propitiatory death, perfectly and for ever expiated the whole aggregate of our guilt, even when we were enemies; and we, in the prevailing. turn of our hearts, being reconciled to the holiness, the government, and the grace of God; much more, being in a state of holy friendship with him, shall we be saved by that life which, as our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, he ever liveth to make intercession for us. For, to suppose that the Son of the Highest should lay down his life to reconcile enemies, and that, when become the friends of God, he should abandon them to endless ruin, is the firstborn of absurdities. That be far from him! The thought be far from us! No: as, in the superabundance of his grace, when he was rich, for the sake of his people, he became poor, that they through his poverty might be rich; so when, for his own sake, he is again made rich, he employs, as a priest upon his throne,‡ all his official authority, glory, and power on their behalf.
The doctrine of reconciliation, relative to each view of the subject, is also laid before us in the following remarkable passage. All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by
*See Rom. v. 11. margin.
Zech. vi. 13.
+ Heb. vii. 25.