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saved ; (Acts iv. 12 ;) but the minute operation of this cause, to produce this effect, is what we do not pretend to know, nor are we bound to answer ; but we are bound to believe God on his Word ; and he has said, that the peace is made, and made by this blood.
And yet there is a fact, known to every Christian who is not merely nominally so, that has some tendency to throw light on the influence of the death of Christ.
The man who believes that the death of Christ was necessary to his salvation, that the sin of man created this necessity, and that he is himself a sinner; when his mind looks to Calvary, he sees the Son of God, bumbling himself to the shameful and painful death of the cross, and feels that all this is endured for him, his heart exclaims, “ my Lord and my God;" and, know. ing that God freely gave up his Son for us all, he sees the reasonableness of the apostolic conclusion, that with him God freely gives us all things ; (Rom. viii. 32 ;) and in conformity with the same spirit, he knows the power which gives all, and gives freely, will never take away aught that would have been good longer to enjoy. Is this man reconciled to God? His understanding tells him he has cause only for gratitude and praise ; and instead of his being simply reconciled to God, his wonder is, can the God of infinite moral purity be re. conciled to him? Thus the subject of reconciliation is brought before us, and the question may be asked with earnest honesty : will God in very deed be reconciled to such a polluted sinful creature as man is? If by this is meant, will God be reconciled to the sin of man, we answer, it is impossible, for he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. (Hab. i. 13.)
He is the sinner's friend, but the enemy of sin. Were God the friend of sin, he would be the enemy of man ; for sin is the destroyer of the happiness of man. All sin is the work of the devil, and for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jchn iii. 8.) Who then can suppose that the
pure God will be reconciled to sin ? Who, but a madman ever advocated such a sentiment? Far be it from us.
The reconciliation spoken of in our text, is not that of God to sin, a thing impossible, nor even of God to man, at least so far as that it might imply that he ever was the enemy of man; no, it is the reconciliation of man to God; of man, the offender, seeking death in the error of his ways, to God, the giver and sustainer of life, and God himself the reconciler. Well may it be said of him, that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways and thoughts higher than ours. (Is. lv. 9.) This rt conciliation is the same as the ce. lebrated doctrine -up atonement. To atone is derived from at one, as the etymologists remark, to be at one, is the same as to be in concord; to reconcile, is to make to like again to make to be liked again-to make any thing consistent-to restore to favour. * Where is the difference, if any, between reconciliation and atonement ?
We will now inquire, what is the extent of this recon. ciliation, or atonement ? and we think we are perfectly safe in saying it is for all mankind; first, because all mankind stand in need of it ; «second, because no man is excluded from it in the text; third, because it is
asserted in the text, that God, by Christ, will reconcile all things to himself.
We may, perhaps, be told, that all does not necessa. rily mean every one. We know this ; but we beg that it may be considered, that it is the efficacy of the atone. ment, by the sacrifice of Christ, that is the subject of our text. And when we find God spoken of as the Saviour of all men, as well as specially of them that believe ; (1 Tim. iv. 10 ;) when we see Jesus, by the grace of God, tasting death for every man, (Heb. ii. 9,)
two quotations, though taken from different parts, are not in opposition, but in concord; both refer to the great sacrifice alluded to in our text; and if both are in concord, then is God the Saviour of all and every man; and a stronger mode of expression we can hardly conceive, to express the whole, without the exception of any, than all and every. Our understand. ing of the extent of the reconciliation is supported by
'm, I say, whe. ther they be things in earth, or thing?". ven.” What are we to uniorstand by things in heaven ? is it not the spirits of just, or justified men made perfect ?* (Heb. xii. 23.) And what by things on earth but those who are yet in the body, and need the application, by faith, of that blood which cleanseth from all sin ? We have examined our text somewhat minutely, though briefly, and what is the result ?
First. That God takes pleasure in the salvation of man ; that it is not a matter of indifference with him.
Second. That man is not so free, that he can ultimately prevent God from accomplishing his gracious
purpose ; nor so bound, but that he is reasonably ac. countable to God for his actions.
Third. That there is a finished and a progressive salvation : the first, by the death of Christ ; for we ut. terly disclaim every way that would impair this, all the philosophy of men that would tend to make unnecessary this only way which God hath appointed, and all that negative divinity that rests in the rejection of error, in. stead of the belief of the truth. And we see the progressive salvation, in the spread of the Gospel, and the peace and joy of the believer.
Fourth. The divine assurance, that God is the Sa. viour of all and every man.
How delightfully will this work of God be accom. plished before our admiring eyes, when the vision of John shall be perfected, " 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 saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. (Rev. v. 13.)
When the creation is restor’d,
Sin, death, and hell, will Christ destroy,
All creatures then as one shall join,