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trated in His plans; or if we represent that He has undertaken purposes which He knew at the time would disastrously fail; we deny to Him infinite knowledge and wisdom.
Nothing but ignorance can be disappointed, and nothing but consummate folly can undertake a purpose that it knows will fail."
We hold this to be certain : God created man for an angelic destiny. Could He have foreseen that the existence He was about to confer unasked would, because of any contingency, or the non-fulfilment of any condition, result in neverending loss to millions upon millions of human souls, or even to one soul, He never would have breathed into the nostrils of that silent form of clay the breath of life, and thus quickened it into being. There is none other rational and satisfactory conclusion, therefore, than this one, that man was created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; and that sin was permitted to come in and enslave the souls of all men, not that it should thwart the design of Infinite Wisdom and Benevolence, but rather that it should subserve their purpose, and give occasion one day to loudest and gladdest thanksgivings and hallelujalis. The correctness of this conclusion is shown by the fact, that no sooner did sin enter into the world, with its consequent guilt and shame, than a Redeemer was promised, or One who should be incarnated in human form, and through death destroy the devil (sin personified), and in the end enthrone holiness and heaven in all hearts.
We have been looking at this Christ of Prophecy: Is the Christ of the New Testament the fulfilment of the prophetic words only just now before us? The story of the Evangelists is indeed of a man who was born in a stable, who went through lise strangely burdened and afflicted, who consorted for the most part with poor and outcast people, who forgot his own sorrows in ministering to the sorrows of others, whose great heart broke in agony so heavily was it laden with others' griefs, and who in the end died a death of torture and shame on the cruel cross. And yet he was the interpreter of the prediction : “ His name shall be called Wonderful, the Ever
lasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” He was not a common man, a man only humanly begotten and humanly endowed. His was an exceptional origin and character, his work and dignity far superior to any of an earthly kind, and his a divineness which could not be ascribed to the greatest and best among men. We see also that there is almost a repetition of the foretelling words in the later liistory: He died for the ungodly – he gave his life a ransom for sinners — he was a propitiation for the sins of the world - we are justified by his blood — he bore our sins in his body on the tree lifted up from the earth that he might draw all men unto himself.
Now the word " atonement" means union with God, or it means reconciliation. And we find it written plainly everywhere in the New Testament that the cross of Christ, representing his sufferings and death, or all that is mcant by sacrifice on his part, is the medium o reconciliation. Thus we are said to be reconciled to God by the death of His Son, and to have peace though his blood. As our atoning sacrifice, he becomes the way to God, and therefore to pardon and peace ; first, because through the offering of his soul for sin, he shows us the awfulness of sin; and second, because in the same way he is a full and most touching revelation of the Father, showing in this affecting manner how God loved the sinner, so tenderly indeed that he would even die for him if that were possible.
Up to this point it is made plain enough, that the Divine Man of the prophets and the Christ of the New Testament are one and the same. In his birth, his life and death, Jesus of Nazareth was a fulfilment of ancient Prophecy and Prom
The actual history reads like the proplietic history. A disclosed Plan had been so far worked out - an all-comprehending Purpose so far consummated. When, now, it is further said of Christ in the way of prophecy and promise that he should bruise the head of the serpent, Sin ; that in him should all the families of the earth be blessed ; that unto him the people should be gathered ; that he should bring forth judgment unto victory ; that bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows, he should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied ; shall we say that it is uncertain of fulfilment ? that here there may be a break in the execution of the Divine Plan ? that contingencies may arise, which even God could not foresee and make provision for, preventing the Infinite Love from having its way, and winning all souls to itself at last? Shall we seek a refuge in some philosophical deduction or metaphysical puzzle, and cheat ourselves with the fancy that we are safe and warm ? The testimony of the Gospel is, that in Christ things are universally to be gathered ; that it is the pleasure of the Father, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to Himself; and that finally, when the last enemy, death, is slain, and the grave robbed of its victory, the triumphant Saviour will, with his redeemed, become subject unto the Father, and God shall be all in all. Here, again, the Christ of Prophecy and the Christ of tlie New Testament are identical ; the same redeeming Son of Man, the same triumphant Son of God.
To our human sight there may be many and mighty hindrances in the way of this universal redemption, and it is possible that vast periods of time must elapse, myriads of ages, before Christ shall have finished his work and taken away the sin of the world. Evil is strongly entrenched in the hearts of men, and yields but slowly to the assaulting forces of light and truth and love. Still if God be true, and Christ be true, and the Gospel of the Holy Spirit be true, the moral and spiritual forces of the universe, operating through their many appropriate channels, and irresistible in their potency, must triumph in the end.
We are quite content to put our Universalism alongside the the theory of Uncertainarianism, and to submit the question to honest minds: Which of the two do you regard as most satisfactory? which best calculated to lead you to love God and trust in Him? which the fullest of cheer and consolation for dark and sorrowful hours ? which of the two could you best take home to your hearts as a blessing and a joy? We
lies can say,
are indeed dying men. To-morrow we may be gone. Everywhere we see death busy. There are few or none of our homes which his shadow has not darkened. Not many fami
66 We are all here." Shall we all be gathered home at last ? and there be no parting any more ? and no tears be shed forever? Or shall heaven be made up of the fragments of broken households ? is it possible that it shall ? What a heaven that would be! And what a result of the mission of him who appeared on the earth to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows on his loving heart! It is not such a hcaren, neither such a result, that the Gospel discloses to our view. It is not to a Saviour's defeat, but to his victory, that it bids us look forward. He will gather all into the Father's House at last, and to the embrace of a Father's love.
The fatal defect in the Gospel of Uncertainty is, that while it calls God by every tender name, and assures us that He has no frown upon His face, no hardness or hatred in His heart; it represents Him as indolent, indifferent, not seeming to care that unsaved souls shall doom themselves to an eternity of wandering and wretchedness. He will never shut the door of hope against His impenitent children, nor interpose any obstacle to their return ; but by some curious metaplıysical setter, forged and clasped by Himself, He is prevented from interposing effectively in their behalf. He can do nothing but wait. Possibly they may all come home at last — He cannot tell - even before His own eyes there is a blinding veil — and it is impossible that He shall cause the “flag of hope” to wave “over the place of future punishment.” A strange Father this! a strange love that will not fasten upon its oliject with a never-relaxing hold, and by its decisive interposals, turn lost feet into the heavenward path! The Uncertainarian makes the mistake of supposing
• That we can form to ourselves an idea of the character of God, independently of all considerations of His actual doings, and even against what we conceive to be His doings; that, in this respect, it is indifferent to our understandings what ad
ministration we ascribe to God, if we only use becoming language of Him.
It appears to us that it is the supposed matter of fact which we contemplate underneath the language, it is this which chiefly affects us, in all cases, and not the mere verbiage. We may say that God is good, -infinitely good and benevolent, holy, just and true,- as all men do say. We may call Him our Father, our Friend; we may contend with all earnestness that these endearing terms are strictly true of Him.
But if, while we speak of God in all these becoming phrases, we at the same time recognize on His part a system of administration which is of a different nature, it is this administration, and not the words, that reflects on our minds the image of what He actually appears to us." 4
Say, now, that eternal destiny is with God a hap-hazard matter, that nothing is determined, that endless weal or woe are mere happenings, and that it is useless and of no consequence to inquire what the end shall be; and what conception will this view naturally form in the mind respecting the Divine character, though we may exhaust all terins of beautiful and tender meaning in its description ? Will it not empty the word Father of its holy and touching significance ? and convert Love into the synonym of Indiffere:ce or Neglect ? “ He that latlı seen me,” said Christ,
seen the Father.” We learn of God by what He is. And we are called upon to notice that Christ does not wait for us to go to him; he comes to us. His mission is of one seeking the lost
of an incarnate love everywhere busily employed in finding those who have missed the homeward path. Thus we are assured that it we are lost, we are not abandoned ; that if we do not care for ourselves, there is a sleepless and unwearying love to care for us. And this will always be as true as now; in any world as true; in eternity as in time. We may well believe, therefore, that all obstinacy shall finally relent, all sinful pride be humbled, all stubbornness be broken down, the bolts and bars be withdrawn), and the Father and His Christ enter into all souls to abide as welcome guests forever.
4 Dr. Hosea Ballou.