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wisdom of God in a mystery, because it is the preaching of the cross, through which wisdom is displayed, "We preach Christ crucified," says the Apostle,"the power of God, and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. i. 23, 24..
THE adversaries of grace only manifest ther own folly when they aver, That there can be no wisdom in the scheme of salvation by the death of Christ, because it is affirmed, That there was no other way by which it could be done. But much of the wisdom of the scheme arises from this very consideration. Where there are many different ways of doing any work, it is more easy to hit on one of them, than if there was but one way. And it requires less wisdom to compare various known ways of doing the same thing, and to judge which of them it may be most proper' to adopt, than to discover another which will be preferable. But where some very important, extensive, and complex design is to be accomplished, the nature of which is entirely new, and the means of executing are unknown, and lie much out of sight, the more profound will that wisdom be which devises means fully adequate to accomplish it. It is so here. What finite mind, contemplating the condition of sinners before God, and the divine character, would ever have thought of an economy of the ever blessed three-that one of them should become incarnate, by the union of the divine and human nature in his person-that, in the assumed nature he should die an accursed death, as the legal surety of sinners, to expiate sin, appease divine wrath, and procure salvation for sinners? No creature, even the most intelligent, could know, without immediate revelation, so much of the nature and character of God as to enable him to suppose the pos X
sibility of such a scheme. The holy angels, who excel in knowledge, struck with the stupendous plan, contemplate, with astonishment, the consummate wisdom which it diplays.
WHEN We view the operations of grace, in the salvation of sinners, and the way in which means are ordered and adapted to promote it; in the destruction of the enemies of the church; in securing believers from falling away, notwithstanding the united efforts of Satan, sin and the world; and when we contemplate that glory which redounds to God from the whole scheme, may we not exclaim with the Apostle "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Rom. xi. 33. The effects of divine wisdom, in conducting the work of our salvation are extensive and astonishing, but they all result from the breaking of the Lord's body; and it will be the exercise of the spiritual guest, at the holy table of his Lord, to discern him as the great effect of divine wisdom, and the grand mean by which it is so gloriously displayed in the scheme of grace. If he does not discern this he is not truly worthy of his honourable seat, and privilege.
3. THE Lord's body ought to be discerned as the most glorious effect and display of the divine love. This remark leads us to consider the love of God both as it relates to himself and to sinners.
THAT he acted from love to himself, in forming the plan of salvation, and appointing the death of his own Son, cannot be denied by any who consider his nature and the testimony of Scripture concerning him. If he had not been influenced by love to himself, to his honour and glory, the work of salvation might
sinners, but his
For this end he Mercy insists to
have been an easy matter. One sovereign act of mercy might have pardoned all sin, and free grace completed the sinner's salvation without any satisfaction. But he regarded his holiness, his justice, his authority, his law, and his honour; all of which had been trampled upon by the sinner. He not only loved to glorify his mercy in saving holiness and justice in punishing sin. appointed the death of his own Son. be glorified in pardoning the guilty, justice insists on having satisfaction. These claims are equally good and equally regarded by God; and that both might be obtained the Son of God is appointed to die. Thus God acted from love to himself or a regard to his own glory. This was the great end at which Christ aimed in his incarnation state, and in the work he came to execute. "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee." John xvii. 1. He wished much to have his sufferings completed, agreeably to the will of his Father, because he knew that his honour and glory depended so much upon them; he, therefore, applied to him to carry him honourably through the work. With relation to what part of his Father's will he had already executed, as well as what was before him, he said, "I have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." ver. 4. In connection with this, the whole work of salvation is declared to be for the glory of God. "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Jesus Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." Phil. i. 10, 11. This love, then, is eminently displayed in the broken body of the Lord
Jesus, because in his death justice was glorified, by manifesting implacable opposition to sin, and mercy found a way of relieving the sinner. This ought to be carefully observed by the believer in celebrating the holy supper, as his great aim, after the example of Jesus, should be to advance the glory of God.
THE crucified Saviour is also the effect of the divine love to sinners. This is subordinate to the other. Had their salvation brought no glory to God, it had never taken place. This was the way he chose for glorifying himself, and repairing the dishonour he had received by sin. Love to sinners, though subordinate to God's love to himself, is real and inconceivably great. Where love is genuine it consults the interest of its ob ject, and as far as possible actually promotes it. Sinners, then, have no room left to question the truth of the divine love, seeing their interest is so effectually promoted by it. "I have loved thee," says God," with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." Jer. xxxi. 3. The first grand fruit of this love is Christ; "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." But in order that the exceeding greatness of this love might be more strikingly displayed, and that we might enjoy the fruits of it, the Son of God must die, his body must be broken. "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. v. 8. In the appointment of the Son to be the Surety of sinners, this love first appeared; in his death it was most gloriously displayed, and through this channel it incessantly flows in all its blessed effects unto sinners. Influenced by this love," God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, that with him he might free ly give us all things." Rom. viii. 32.
BUT the love of Christ himself is not to be overlooked here. Though the primary operative principle was love to his Father, his love to sinners was also very great. He is the good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. A stronger proof of love could not be given than the Son of God gave in dying for sinners, his implacable enemies. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John xv. 13. The holy supper ought to be considered and celebrated as a memorial of his love, as much as of his death, because his death was the fruit of his love, and afforded a very glorious display of it.
WHILE the believing communicant commemorates the death of his Redeemer, he ought not to overlook that display of divine love exhibited in it. His happy intercourse with the Mediator, and with the Father through him, in that ordinance, must be in a participation of divine love. It is a feast of love. Love is the life and substance of the entertainment. the banner of love is displayed. This ought to warm his heart, and blow the flame of love, which many waters cannot quench nor floods drown, so as to fit him for communion with God in his love. "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." But if Jesus had not died this love had never been displayed, nor the effects and fruits of it enjoyed by sinners: we should then contemplate this love in his death, and the bitterness of his sufferings ought to induce us to relish it more cordially. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you:
John xv. 9.
continue ye in my love.".
4. IN discerning the Lord's body, we ought to take a view of the nature of the new covenant, according to which the work of salvation is carried on. This cove