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that no similar judgment would be inflicted during the present constitution of things. The reason expressly assigned is, that God knew, what soon appeared to be the fact, that human depravity is incurable by such means. (Gen. viii. 21.) To prevent that depravity, however, from ever so prevailing against revelation as it had done in the antediluvian world, a new method of preserving the true religion in order to the full execution of the great purpose of Heaven was resorted to. This was the separation of the posterity of Abraham in the line of Isaac and Jacob, to be the depositaries of divine truth, and of all instituted ordinances, till Messiah should come. At the time of separation, when the Gentiles were judicially given up to their apostasy, their interest in the gracious department of the purpose was notified,—the future blessing of all nations in Christ. Agreeably to this, God, while they existed solely under his absolute government, “ winked at the times of their ignorance,” almost shut his eyes to their state, never inflicting upon them such judgments as their crimes might have justified ; nay, “ left not himself without witness of (his intended as well as present) goodness among them, giving them rain and fruitful seasons from heaven.”—The patriarchal or family form of the church gave place to the national, and this in its turn was to be succeeded by the ecumenical or universal, in a dispensa
a tion suited to all nations. The government, during its national state among the Jews, was theocratic, and exercised by Messiah, whose deputies the kings of the house of David were, as David himself confessed him his Lord. (Ps. cx. 1.) This government he exercised not only among the Jews, but over the nations around them, defending his chosen people, giving them success against the enemies of the true religion, or employing these for their correction as circumstances required. But it was foretold, both in the Psalms and the Prophets, that when the national form of the church should give place to the universal he would assume the theocratic government, divested of every thing pertaining to its national character, to hold and exercise it directly in all its predetermined plenitude of glory and power. As the Jewish worship and government were thus ascertained to be preparatory, so we learn from the Psalms and the Prophets, that the same respect was had to his coming and reign in all the exterior arrangements of providence among the apostate nations. The changes produced by the four great monarchies were intended not only to demonstrate the necessity of his mediatorial administration, but to settle the world in the most proper state for its commencement, to foreshow the very course of judgments by which it should be characterised, to favour the extension of his spiritual kingdom under it, and in fact, to provide one great sphere for the manifestation of his power in judging and overthrowing the various forms of opposition to the true religion,—for such a sphere was furnished by the fourth or Roman monarchy, which, instead of being removed when his administration commenced, was allowed to remain and become the scene first of pagan hostility, and then of antichristian corruption and persecution.
2d, After his exaltation, when he was “set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” and invested with “ all power in heaven and earth," the subservient administration assumed a new aspect, and introduced a new order of things. Christ's official right to all nations was recognised. He received authority to institute the ordinances best fitted for fully accomplishing the divine purpose with regard to salvation, and to accompany them with the requisite influence of the Holy Spirit. As given to be head over all things for the sake of the church, he received authority also to superintend and regulate all the
process by which their restitution from the unnatural state into which they have been thrown by sin should be effected, and the triumph over moral evil completed.
The Scriptures ascertain the basis, describe the process, and foreshew the result of the general administration with which Christ is officially invested.
We find its basis, which is all along kept in view, distinctly notified in the very first oracle of mercy. This oracle, though concise and somewhat obscure, as only a text for future illustration, was admirably calculated to convey a just view of the divine purpose in all its extent. It was given, not in a promise directly addressed to man, but in the denunciation of a curse of destruction on the devil and his works. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” said God to the serpent, “ and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."* Here we perceive, 1st, That a triumph was intended. 2d, That it was to be gained by a previous warfare, a protracted conflict between different parties and opposing interests, which should render it the more illustrious. 3d, That the subject in whose destruction it was to consist, was that being who had not only become the seducer of the human race, but to whom the origin of sin or moral evil is ascribed, and in whose operations, on whatsoever
Gen. iii. 15.
ground permitted, its odious malignity is most completely exemplified. 4th, That while the triumph was to be perfected, or most illustriously displayed in salvation, deliverance from moral evil and all its effects, the subjects of this salvation, were to be human beings, not the prince and powers of darkness. 5th, That the triumph was to be aggrandised by its being gained in human nature over which Satan had prevailed,--and in this world, which he had converted into a scene of warfare against the Most High,—and through the medium of sufferings, implying, as was afterwards shown, an infliction of that very curse by which he seemed to have entailed irremediable destruction on the whole human race. Thus had God “ chosen weak things to confound the mighty,” that the demonstration of divine power might be the more conspicuous, and that all the glory might redound to it. He had determined to show “ the excellence of his name in all the earth,” by “ perfecting praise” as if from “ the mouths of babes and sucklings,” ordaining strength “ because of the enemy and avenger,” by means the most unlikely for accomplishing his purpose.
" What is man,” that God should put * all things under his feet !” What is weak fallen human nature, that God should make it, as assumed by the Saviour, and the only characteristic of all the saved, the medium of his triumph, presenting it in all its original perfection, and exalting it, even in consequence of the fall, to the highest honour, power, and felicity, of which a created subject is susceptible !*
Agreeably to the terms in which the divine purpose and plan were first disclosed, we are told, “ The Son of God was manifested,” or came in the flesh, “ that he might destroy the works of the devil ;” that “ through death” he might destroy even the devil himself “ who had the power of death” in regard to all its judicial infliction, or the awful extent in which it had been incurred as the penalty of sin. When the fulness of the appointed time arrived, he was made of a woman, and made under the law,” that he might deliver from the curse of the law.t. The bruising of the serpent's head was first to be accomplished by him as “ the seed of the woman," that is, descended, according to the flesh, of Eve “ the mother of all living,” and then it was to be exemplified in all those who, through the faith of the Gospel, should be interested in his victory. But it could not be accomplished by him so as to be
• Compare Ps. viii. with the exposition, Heb. ii. 6–10.
completely exemplified in them, except in the way of his submitting to be made a curse for them, or fully satisfying all the demands of divine justice. It was on the cross, accordingly, " he spoiled the (hostile) principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."* The victory was gained just by the consummation of the great sacrifice of atonement; for this it was that made void the right of Satan to retain or regard the chosen as “ lawful captives -criminals, in common with others, judicially consigned to his
power as the executioner of divine wrath, without hope of release. To illustrate the destruction of the devil and his works by the sufferings of the appointed Saviour, according to the primary import of the first oracle, there had been appended to the sacrificial system, which proclaimed the expiatory nature of his death, the temporary ordinance of the Brazen Serpent, which as decidedly foreshewed its victorious character. “ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so was the Son of Man to be lifted up.”+ If by crucifixion the overthrow of power was intended, then the crucifixion of Jesus, which was the fulfilment of the type, instead of proving his destruction, became the crucifixion of all his enemies,- of every form indeed in which moral evil opposed or withstood the purpose of salvation. When we look to the cross, we see there “ the old man crucified” by the very sacrifice which expiated guilt, in order “ that the body of sin and death might be destroyed in us." I “
And, since the strength of sin"—that which gives it its power to condemn, and in consequence of this its right to resign, “is the law,” we see also the law, as thus
“ against us,
“ taken out of the way, and nailed to the cross." On the same principle, we see the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, crucified,—despoiled of his power to harm or eternally ruin the heirs of salvation. Thus was the Captain of Salvation “ perfected through sufferings” for bringing the many sons who were given him to glory. And these are “ the seed of the woman” federally represented by him, in whose persons the divine triumph shall be finally and fully exemplified, when “ the God of peace, shall bruise Satan under their feet” also, and when human nature shall appear in them not only restored to its original perfection, but crowned with a glory and honour which it could never have attained by the primitive constitution of things.
Coloss. ii. 15.
+ Jobn üïi. 14, 15. $ I Cor. xv. 56. Col. ii. 14.
Now, just by ensuring salvation, the most illustrious display of the divine triumph over moral evil, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, became the basis of an administration calculated to overthrow the visible empire of Satan in the world, and effect the intended restitution of all things. Such an administration became necessary for carrying into accomplishment the very design of his death. How should the heirs of salva. tion be gathered out of every land, unless God should give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession? How should the gospel of the kingdom be preached in all the world, unless the power of removing every obstruction were committed to him? How, amidst all demonstrations of human depravity, when allowed to run its full course in error, superstition, immorality, tyranny, and persecution, should the church have been preserved, extended, and elevated to her promised glory in the earth, unless all power had been given into his hand? Hence, speaking of the virtual effect of his death, he said, “ Now is the judgment of this world ; now the prince of this world is judged and cast out.” The same event which rendered such an extensive administration necessary, rendered him worthy of receiving it, and justified its direction under him to all the other objects of the divine
,-even to the ultimate liberation of the creature from the bondage of corruption. His title to this honorary reward had been certified in the covenant of promise. And now, having overcome in our nature, and being a divine person capable of sustaining in that nature all the of ficial power and glory comprised in the reward, he is set down with his Father on his throne.”+ Because he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The PROCESS of the administration thus conferred upon him, is unfolded chiefly in the prophecies of Scripture. In the ancient prophets, (excepting Daniel,) certain condensed or general views are given, each applicable to the several periods in which the nature and design of the process is most strikingly exemplified, but at the same time calculated to conduct our
• Is. liii. 10, 11, 12.