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I. THESE sufferings were the perfecting of the Son's witnessing for the Father, being the perfected manifestation of the life of love as sonship
towards God and brotherhood towards man.

The trial of our Lord's love to men, and its triumph in the prayer on the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,"--and the trial of His love to the Father, and trust in the Father, of which the final and perfected expression was these words in death, "Into thy hands, O Father, I commend my spirit,"--were accomplished together by one and the same elements. The power of the life of sonship and of conscious oneness with the Father in His mind towards His brethren, to enable Christ to abide in love, and overcome evil with good, is in truth that which we have now been contemplating. The sense of His Father's fatherliness was the strength in which He manifested this perfection of brotherhood. For that perfection of brotherhood was just His following of the Father as a dear child,--and all He suffered in this path came to Him as doing His Father's commandments, and abiding in His love; and thus was the Father in all this glorified in the Son. The very words, "Father, forgive them," testify how within the light of the Father's love and favour the Intercessor abode while suffering,--finding in that favour strength 274 to suffer, and not only to suffer, but to intercede. And as the experience of the utter weakness of suffering flesh was necessary to the completeness of the trial of His love to men, so was it also essential to the development of perfect trust in the Father,--for there remained to the sufferer no strength but the strength of faith.

The outward history of the hour and power of darkness we have detailed to us by the Evangelists. We have not, however, much from them to help us to see that "hour" as from Christ's side. But there is a portion of Scripture, one of the Psalms, which is usually received as having this special interest to us, and which therefore is taken in supplement of the gospel narrative; and our Lord's own partial quotation of this psalm on the cross, as well as its own contents, seem to justify our so receiving it. I refer to the 22nd psalm, which I shall now venture to use in this way--being the more desirous to do so, because, while I believe that it is altogether confirmatory of the view now taken of the cup given our Lord to drink,--I mean especially as a permitted trial of the faith of the Son in the Father, and not an expression of wrath in the Father towards the Son,--the first words of the psalm, as quoted by our Lord, have been the words chiefly rested upon as the intimation to us of our Lord's having been the object of such wrath,--an interpretation which seems to me a violent straining of these words, taken alone; but which, if we take them as a part of the psalm, and to be understood in harmony with it, is altogether untenable, being indeed directly opposed to the tone and character of the psalm, as a whole. Its concluding verses, by the largeness of the reference to men, connect this psalm with the character of the crops as a trial of the love of brotherhood in Christ. But the first and larger portion of it places the suffering


Saviour before us as an individual sufferer, drinking the bitter cup given Him to drink, and uttering the trial of faith which He is experiencing in drinking it.

The psalm opens with a cleaving appropriation on the part of the Sufferer, of God as His God: "My God, my God." He asks God, His God, why He leaves Him in the hands of the wicked, and interposes not on His behalf, delaying to answer His prayer: "Why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the voice of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night-season, and am not silent." He refuses any explanation of this silence that would be dishonouring to God: "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." He refers to God's former justifying of faith in the case of others of old: "Our fathers trusted in thee; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered. They trusted in thee, and were not confounded." But the acknowledgment of God is delayed in His case as it had not been in theirs, and the delay is exposing the sufferer to contempt and scorn, and the bitter reproach that His professed trust in God has been a delusion, or a false pretension: "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn. They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him." Therefore does the tried one go back on that which God has been to Him,--therefore does He fall back on the faithfulness of God, as the "faithful Creator:" "But thou art He that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's



breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb. Thou art my God from my mother's belly." Thus His faith is strengthened, and the prayer, the delay in answering which has been the subject of the opening question, is renewed; for His hope in God, His God, is not let go: "Be not thou far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help." The trouble is very great. The outer circle of His being is possessed by His enemies. He turns from it to that inner region, where God's nearness is to be known, for elsewhere there is no help: "Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped on me with their mouths, as a ravening and roaring lion." And this is while the depths of the utter and absolute weakness of humanity are proved by the Sufferer as by one cast entirely upon God, and who puts not forth one effort on His own behalf, nor gives place to one movement of self-relying energy or self-dependent strength of the flesh: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death." Thus low in suffering at the hands of the wicked is He brought. "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." All this is permitted to the wicked; for "they would have had no power at all, unless it had been given them from above." All this is received as therefore to Him from God: "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death." But God is Himself to Him "His God'' still; so He is only the more cast upon God, made the more to cleave to Him: "But be not 277 thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thou to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth."

And now we meet the returning answer of prayer,--the justification of the Sufferer's unbroken trust,--the clearing up of God's faithfulness and truth in the whole transaction: "Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." His experience of God was not found to be in contradiction to God's justification of the trust of the fathers, to which He had referred. That of God to which they were witnesses, has been, through the divine dealing with Him, only more deeply revealed:--as we see in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the testimony of the cloud of witnesses, connected with that of our Lord Himself, as "the author and finisher of faith," i. e., He whose faith perfects the revelation of that in God which we have to trust. Therefore he proceeds, "Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him: and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel. For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard." Then follows the expression of the purpose, to declare to men what in this great trial of faith He has been experiencing of God's faithfulness, and a prophesying of the result that would follow, viz., universal trust in God, who had not hid His face from the afflicted, but had heard His prayer: "My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear Him. The meek shall eat, and shall be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord, that seek Him: your heart shall live for ever. All ends of the world shall remember 278 and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee," &c.

The character of this psalm as a whole is, therefore, quite unequivocal, viz., a dealing of the Father with Christ in which the cup of man's enmity is drank by Him to its last drop, in the experience of absolute weakness,--the true weakness of humanity realised, whereby scope is given for the trust of sonship towards the Father; and we may add, considering the reference to men and their salvation with which the psalm closes, the love of brotherhood to men. But trust in God, personal trust, is that of which the trial is most conspicuous as pervading the psalm,--trust in utter weakness,--trust in the midst of enemies,--trust which the extremity of that weakness and the perfected enmity of these enemies tries to the utmost,--trust which the Father permits to be thus tried, but trust, the root of which in the Father's favour, has not been cut off, nor even touched by any act of the Father, or expression of His face as if He were turned into an enemy,--as if He looked on the suppliant in wrath,--as if He regarded him as a sinner, imputed sin to him. Not this, not the most distant approach to this. Nay, on the contrary, language is put into the mouth of the tried one that would seem to preclude the possibility of such a misconception, as completely as if chosen for that purpose; and the very ground on which the exhortation is given, "Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and praise Him, all ye the seed of Israel," is, "For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from him; but when he cried unto Him, He heard," leaving no place even for that negative wrath, if the expression be not a contradiction, which, in clinging to the idea that the cup given to Christ was the cup of the Father's 279 wrath, while yet shrinking from what such words should mean, has, as we have seen above, been set forth as a hiding of the Father's face.

A measure of freedom of pleading with the Father while drinking of the bitter cup, is, indeed, here recorded, which is of the same character and has the same special impress of a life upon it which the words, "if it be possible let this cup pass from me" as used in the anticipation of drinking it, have. But that we are to see here an interruption of the continuity of that life which was in the consciousness of the Father's favour, an exception to the experience of abiding in the Father's love because keeping His commandments--that a moment had arrived in which the confidence was disappointed which He had expressed when He said, "Ye shall flee every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me,"--that having said, "I lay down my life that I may take it up again, therefore my Father loveth me," the love of which He thus spoke was not His strength in dying, but that He tasted death under the Father's wrath; of this, or anything in the most distant way suggestive of this, there is no trace.

And this remains true whatever width of meaning we may give to the expression "hour and power of darkness." Many have dwelt upon the part that he who is said to have the power of death, viz., the devil, may have had in our Lord's sufferings on the cross and in all this season. Considering the manner of trial which he was permitted to be to our Lord at His entering on His ministry, there is nothing that we need be repelled by in the thought that, in the invisible, a part of the trial appointed for our Lord may have been a permission to him to express his malice. But on this supposed element in the cup given Christ to drink, I must be 280 silent as to positive statement, not seeing that anything is revealed. Only this much may be confidently asserted, that anything permitted now could only be what that permitted formerly was, that is, a trial of the faith of sonship; for indeed as to the former trial, while the devil is represented as met by the Saviour with quotations from Scripture for which the tempter's appeal to Scripture was one reason, we shall lose much if we do not mark that the bringing forth of the meaning of the words quoted by the enemy, by placing them in their true harmony with other passages, is a use of Scripture for which no verbal knowledge of Scripture can qualify, but of which those alone are capable who are the children of wisdom. That the fiery darts of the wicked of which so many have had experience, may be a participation in one element of their Lord's cup, it is not difficult to understand. But if so, these fiery darts have been met by Him with the shield of faith in the Father's fatheriiness, and can have had nothing at all to do with the real aspect of the Father's face towards Him; nor could any supposed amount of such an element as this in His cup, be in the smallest degree an approach to what has been conceived of as the wrath of God. This is certain, as neither could any suffering from this supposed source, whatever its amount, be consistent with the idea of penal suffering, any more than any other element of suffering which was painful because of the holiness of the sufferer,--however it might accord with the purpose of making our Lord perfect through sufferings as the Captain of our salvation and He who led our captivity captive.

If the 22nd psalm help us to conceive more truly of what our Lord felt while suffering at the hands of the wicked, it must, in the measure in which it does so, add to the value to us of the words of forgiving intercession 281 which He uttered on the cross,--as all unadvised depreciating of what men's treatment of Him was to Christ must lessen their value. In proportion, also, as this psalm presents to us the trial to which the faith of sonship in Christ was subjected, it helps us to realise the victory of that faith which is revealed in the peace of the words in death, "Into thy hands, O Father, I commend my spirit." But the triumphant close of the psalm, and its large prophetic intimations, shed important light back on the purely individual tone of the earlier part of it. We are not told in the psalm itself what the answer to "the cry of the afflicted" has been: only the language of supplication so accords with what is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews, (v. 7,) of our Lord's having "In the days of His flesh offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and being heard in that He feared,"--that we cannot hesitate in assuming the relation of these passages, or in connecting the last with what is said in the 21st psalm, ver. 4, "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it Him, even length of days for ever and ever;" an answer according with the peace of the words, "Into thy hands, O Father, I commend my spirit." The comfort of this answer is indeed, so far as the language goes, as purely individual as the tone of the agony and the pleading. Yet the prospect for men which is seen to open to the suppliant, reveals an interest of all men in the answer of His prayer, as well as the consciousness of a relation to all men in the previous suffering in which the cry was uttered, the divine response to which, is thus salvation to men. So that, notwithstanding of the individuality of the tone of the earlier part of the psalm, we are justified in ascribing to the sufferer an inward sense of His relation to all men corresponding with the expression 282 used by Him in anticipating His sufferings: "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me,"--a reference such as the words imply, "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross." Notwithstanding, therefore, of the individual tone of this psalm which, at first sight, does not seem to accord with its unquestionable reference to the crucifixion of Christ, we see in its close, that it indeed belongs to Him who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, and who, having made peace by the blood of His cross, came and preached peace to them who were afar off, and to them that were near.

But it is not only as indicating to us that the interests of all humanity were involved in that suffering and that cry of the afflicted, and in the divine response to that cry, that the latter part of this psalm is so important. It is still more important, as shedding light upon the atonement by the representation made of the way in which the happy result as to men which is prophesied, is to be accomplished. It is the Father's acknowledgment of the faith of the Son, which, being made known to men, is to cause "all the ends of the world to remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations to worship before him." However much the afflicted One whose cry had been heard, was, as the Holy One of God, separated from all men; however it might be assumed that He had grounds to plead in prayer peculiar to Himself; however free also He was from all that cause of fear and hesitation in lifting up the heart to God in prayer, which ordinary men are conscious to as sinners: still His prayer must have been offered on a ground that all may occupy, and from which sin need exclude none. This is clear; otherwise, that His prayer was heard, would not have been that Gospel to a sinful world, which it is here set forth as being. We must believe 283 that any sinner of the human race to whom the nature of that cry and the grounds of it, and that which it sought from God, would be revealed in the Spirit, would see in the divine answer what would quicken faith and hope towards God in that sinner. He who in coming to this world had said, "Lo I come to do thy will, O God,"--who could, as to the fulfilment of this purpose, say to the Father, "I have glorified thee on the earth, I have declared thy name, and will declare it," is seen here at the close of His course, as one holding fast the beginning of His confidence, and in this last trying time, and while subjected to the hour and power of darkness, sustained by the simple faith of that original fatherliness of the Father's heart, which He had come forth to reveal and TO REVEAL BY TRUSTING IT.

Thus, the Holy One of God, God's holy child Jesus, having glorified his Father on the earth in all living righteous fulfilment of His will, now perfects His glorifying of the Father's Name, by being seen trusting in that Name alone when brought into the extremest need of a sure hold of God,--trusting simply in that Name, and not raising a claim of merit on having so perfectly honoured that Name. The sinless One is seen trusting simply in that Name which he had come to reveal to sinners, that they also might trust in it, and be saved; and thus the Father's response to that trust is preached as the gospel to the chief of sinners. When one who has seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and who through Christ has faith and hope towards God, invites a brother sinner to share in his joy in the Lord, to share in his confidence through Christ, it is not an uncommon reply to be told, "But you are much better than I am. If I were only as religious as you are, and obeyed God as you seem to do, I should cherish hope." And when such a person 284 replies, "But you do not understand the secret of my peace. I am not trusting to my own merits. I am trusting simply and entirely to the free grace of God: the mercy of God revealed in Christ, and which has just the same relation to you that it has to me, is the source of all my peace. I indeed do seek to please God. Indeed I seek my life in His favour. But I do so altogether in the strength of that mind and heart of God towards me which the gospel reveals, and my doing so is only my welcoming of the salvation which is given me in the Son of God;"--he has often the pain of finding all he thus urges going for nothing, because it is set down as only Christian humility on his part,--only the effect of the high standard which he is setting before himself; and so, while it is thought to be very becoming in him to be thus humble, yet it still is felt that he must be trusting to that in which he is seen to differ from others; and so his peace is no gospel to those who feel themselves so unlike him.

To meet this is painful and embarrassing when one would say with the Psalmist, "O taste and see that God is Good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." But it may surely serve to clear up this matter, and to remove all darkness from the subject of peace with God, to consider that our Lord Himself at the last as at the first, trusted simply and purely in the fatherliness of the Father. "But thou art He that took me out of my mother's womb. Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts." That which is not understood while men's conceptions of salvation are self-righteous, whether they are still flattering themselves with the hope that they are in some measure succeeding in recommending themselves to God's favour, or are less or more disturbed by the sense of failure in this attempt, is the simple nature of 285 trust in God as the response of sonship to the heart of the Father apprehended by faith. The oneness of sonship as perfect in Christ, and as in measure in us through participation in Christ, I have sought to keep before my reader's mind all along. To understand this oneness is what is needed to enable us to understand how the Father's response to the cry of the Son, as "the afflicted one," the trial of whose faith is so far set before us in this psalm, is expected to have power, being made known, to cause "all the ends of the world to remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations to worship before Him."

II. The sufferings of Christ, which thus perfected His witnessing for God to men, had an equally close relation to His dealing with the Father on our behalf,--giving its ultimate depth to His confession of our sins, and the excellence of a perfect development of love and faith to His intercession for sinners, according to the will of God.

The expectation as to the great results that were to follow, because "God had not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither had hid His face from Him, but when He cried unto Him He heard," with the expression of which the 22d psalm concludes, is in effect the preaching to us of the gospel that God has given to us eternal life in His Son;--for it is the declaration that the knowledge of the Son's trust in the Father will introduce us to the fellowship of that trust. But we are to learn from what we know otherwise of that cross of the Redeemer, which, in one aspect of it, this psalm so sets before us, how this should be so. It was in making His soul an offering for sin that this terrible trial of the faith proper to sonship came to Christ. He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised, for our iniquities,--that which


He suffered was the chastisement that was to issue in peace to us and His stripes were for the healing of our souls; for He suffered the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,--bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. In accomplishing these results, we have now seen that, in order to the perfection of the work of Christ as witnessing for God to men, it has appeared to the divine wisdom necessary to subject His love and trust towards the Father, and His long-suffering forgiveness in bearing the contradiction of sinners against Himself, to the trial of the hour and power of darkness. Nor was the bitter cup thus appointed by the Father for the Son less important to the full development of the other element in the atonement, viz., the dealing of the Son with the Father on our behalf, as confessing our sins and making intercession for us, according to the will of God.

The intercession of forgiving love in the words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," has already engaged our attention, as it was the expression of Christ's own forgiveness of His enemies,--and so also a part of His testimony for the Father, as He says, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." But contemplating our Lord as bearing us on His Spirit before the Father, and dealing on our behalf with the righteousness and mercy of God, confessing our sin with that confession which was the due response to the divine wrath against sin, and interceding for us according to the hope that was for us in God; this prayer on the cross,--"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," belongs to the perfecting 287 of this intercession of redeeming love in making our peace with God--that peace which, because perfected on the cross, is set forth to us as made there.

It is obvious that all, by which the pressure of our sins on the Spirit of Christ was increased, and He was brought into closer contact with them, and deeper experience of the hatred of the darkness to the light, must have given a continually deepening character to Christ's dealing with the Father on our behalf;--giving an increasing depth to His response to the divine condemnation of our sin, causing that response to be rendered in deeper agony of spirit, and, at the same time, rendering His persevering intercession a casting Himself more and more on the further, and deeper depths of fatherliness in the Father. Adhering to the conception of a progressive development of the eternal life in our Lord's human consciousness, and looking at all that was appointed for Him by the Father, as adapted by the divine wisdom for the end of forwarding this development, we indeed see abundant reason for that perfected personal experience of the enmity of the carnal mind to God to which our Lord was subjected. Without this the Son could never have proved in human consciousness, as we have just been contemplating Him as doing, the forgiveness that is in love;--or the strength to overcome evil with good, which brotherly love can exercise, sustained by the faith of sonship trusting in the love of the Father; or the sufficiency that is in the Father's favour for the life of sonship, however absolutely cast upon God. And so neither without this could an adequate confession of man's sin have been offered to God in humanity in expiation of man's sin, nor intercession have been made according to the extent of man's need of forgiveness.


Therefore, though not as filling a cup of penal suffering, yet as essential to the living reality of a moral and spiritual atonement for sin, are all those painful experiences which President Edwards has so fully entered into in his illustrations of Christ's suffering for our sins, when He bore them in His own body on the tree, to be weighed equally by us also. I have already noticed the limits which Edwards has recognised as to be observed, in conceiving to ourselves the elements of the inward mental sufferings to which our Lord was subjected while the malice of the wicked was poured upon Him from without,--being thankful that he has recognised such limits; nor, as I have said above, is it to his representation of the amount of Christ's sufferings, or of their nature, that I object, but to the conception that these sufferings were penal. Assuming that idea to be precluded, as urged above, by the very nature of the sufferings endured, I am only the more anxious that we should not come short in our apprehension of the terrible reality that was in these sufferings, or of the real and necessary proportion that was between our sins and that wounding to which Christ submitted, in making His soul an offering for sin.

The peace-making between God and man, which was perfected by our Lord on the cross, required to its reality the presence to the spirit of Christ of the elements of the alienation as well as the possession by Him of that eternal righteousness in which was the virtue to make peace. All the considerations that had a claim in the truth of things to be taken into account must have been taken into account: and, though God's wrath against sin was not felt by the Son of God as coming forth against Himself personally, as if the Father saw Him as a sinner; yet must that wrath in the truth of what it is, have been present to and realised by His 289 spirit;--and though He suffered not from it as "having its revenges inflicted on Him," yet must the realisation of it and confession of its righteousness, in perfect sympathy with that righteousness, have been a suffering proportioned to His spiritual perfection; and while He interceded in the faith of the infinite love of the Father and knowing that the will of God was our salvation, yet must the love that was taking this form have suffered in itself, while interceding, all the pain proper to the heart of perfect sonship, in its sympathy with the feelings of perfect fatherhood against which His brethren had sinned. Surely the soul that was made to be filled with the consciousness which these thoughts imply, was made a sacrifice for sin. Surely, while freed from all that it is so impossible to harmonise with the faith of a true consciousness in this great transaction--either in contemplating the mind of the Father towards the Son, or the mind of the Son towards the Father, which is implied in the imputation of our sins to Christ, and the assumption that His sufferings were penal--there is seen still in this great peace-making an awful coming together, in the inner man of the Son of God, of moral and spiritual elements; the harmonising of which in the result of peace between man and God--a peace in God realised in humanity for man to know and partake in, a peace to be preached to the chief of sinners--has been a work of love, in which the Son of God is seen bearing the chastisement of our peace; suffering for us, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.

Let it not seem to any as if, while rejecting the conception of penal suffering as the atonement, I were still anxious to keep the idea of suffering before the mind; and to raise as high as possible the conception of that suffering, as feeling a demand for suffering in the 290 history of the pardon of our sins to be what is to be ascribed to God, a demand for suffering as suffering. That would indeed be to cherish indirectly the wrong conception of atonement, deliverance from which I feel so important. I am only anxious that the elements of the dealing of the Son with the Father in His intercession for us should be realised by us, so that the mind of God in relation to us and our sins should be truly apprehended; and the hatefulness of our sins, as well as our personal preciousness to the Father of our spirits, be revealed to us through the apprehension of the elements of the peace which Christ accomplished on the cross. Nothing can be more vague or practically unsuited to the real need of our spirits, polluted with the pollution of sin, than the kind of meaning associated with our being "washed in the blood of Christ," while the thought of the shedding of His blood is the thought of the punishment of our sins, as endured by Christ for us. The nearest approach to a meaning which the common prayer, "to be washed in the blood of Christ," has, as used in this connexion, is, I think, the expression of the feeling in the suppliant that he deserves wrath, and a recognition of the sufferings of Christ for his sin as the only ground on which he can expect pardon; and a certain element of self-despair, and of hope in free grace, may be present, and, I doubt not, often is present in this form of thought. But if the blood of Christ be to our thoughts the spiritual reality which was in Christ's making His soul an offering for sin, then, to be washed in the blood of Christ must be to have the moral and spiritual elements of that offering revealed in our spirits, so bringing us into spiritual harmony with them, making us to partake in them; which, to call a spiritual cleansing is no figure of speech, but the simplest and most 291 natural expression for a spiritual reality. But in this view every element in the great peace-making, which the Gospel proclaims as having been altogether and perfectly successful, and as resulting in a true spiritual peace for man,--a peace for man to be enjoyed in fellowship with the Father and the Son in the Spirit,--is of the utmost importance; and to leave any one element out unembraced by our faith, is to be practically without the knowledge, and so without the use of a part of the unsearchable riches which we have in Christ.

In the full and clear apprehension of the moral and spiritual atonement made by the Son of God,--in the faith of the peace made by Him on the cross, then perfected,--but in relation to which He was all along "the blessed peace-maker," it is most surely felt that the true and perfect atonement, expiation, and satisfaction for man's sin is known; that we are in the light of it; and that that light is the light of life.

As respects what the atonement is in itself, and Christ's consciousness in making it, we see that, if Christ had been literally, as Luther has attempted to believe, made the reality of sin for us,--if He had been in personal consciousness the one sinner, guilty of all the sins of all men, and, under this load of guilt, had sought, in the strength of conscious perfect righteousness, the Father's face; such confession of the evil of sin, such entrance into the Father's mind regarding it, such responsive unity with the Father in the condemnation of it, as we have been ascribing to Him as presented by Him to the Father with reference to our sins, would have been the atonement He would have made; and such trust in the fatherliness of the Father, as we have assumed to have encouraged and sustained His intercession for us, would have been the strength 292 of hope in which He would have made that atonement. Therefore, being the holy one of God, and separate from sin, in personal consciousness as well as in reality, yet bearing our sins on His heart before the Father, dealing with the Father's righteousness and mercy on our behalf, asking for us that which was according to the Father's will, we feel that the confession and the intercession made by Him--divine, while human--must have been made with the consciousness of its suitableness, and the assurance of its acceptance. "I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." Psalm xxxii. 5.

As to ourselves and the light in which we see all that concerns our relation to God, in contemplating the Son's dealing with the Father on our behalf, if we understand the elements of that which we contemplate, we must feel that it is what, could we have offered it to God, was due from ourselves; and that, could we have offered it, it would have been an atonement such as no endurance of punishment could ever have been: this we must feel, though at the same time we feel that to have made it was as impossible for us as to have made ourselves divine; while yet we also see that we must partake in it, and must have its elements reproduced in us, for that these elements constitute the mind in which we who have sinned against God, and been rebellious children, must return to the Father of our spirits if we are to return at all; that Christ is indeed the way and the truth and the life; that no man can come to the Father, but by Him.

In the way opened for us into the holiest by the blood of Christ, we see what in its own light is discerned by us to be at once a way into the holiest, and the only way. In exercising faith in that blood we are consciously under a cleansing and purifying power, 293 the only power that could cleanse and purify us, but as to which we feel that it has in itself no limit, and that its result in us will only be limited as the measure of our being yielded up to it is limited. In our begun life of sonship through the faith of the Son of God, in our feeble lisping of the Father's name,--we have consciously the earnest of the eternal inheritance. The perfecting of our conscience as worshippers by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, we discern to be the commencement of that experience which will hereafter utter itself in the song, "Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

Finally, when from thus contemplating the atonement as accomplished by Christ, and seeing ourselves in its light--realising how hopeless our state had been apart from it, while conscious to the living faith and hope towards God which the faith of it is quickening in us--we lift up our thoughts to the Father, and consider what the great work of redeeming love has been to Him, and hear in relation to it the testimony of the Father to the Son,--"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him," we are, indeed, filled with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Seeing the Father in the Son,--seeing the eternal, divine elements of the work of the Son in the Father, seeing that what we are contemplating is, indeed, but the perfect doing of the Father's will, the perfect declaring of His name--raised up by the faith of the will of God as done,--of the name of God as declared to the apprehension of the Eternal Will, the Unchanging Name, we understand the complacency of the Father in the Son; we understand the excellence in 294 the sight of the Father of the work of Christ, viewed simply in itself, we understand how it pleased the Father to bruise the Son and put Him to grief, we understand how the Father saw it good to put into the hands of the Son of His love the cup concerning which He had prayed that if it were possible it should pass from Him;--for we understand how, viewed in itself, the revelation of love in all its long-suffering, forgiving, self-sacrificing might and depth, was a result worthy of God to accomplish, even at so great a price; while yet we understand that this neither was nor could have been but in relation to the further results which this revelation of the name of the Father contemplated,--that it was as being "bringing many sons to glory," that "it became Him of whom are all things, and by whom are all things, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." And the oneness of sonship, the identity of the life of sonship, as seen accomplishing the atonement and as partaken in by men through participation in the atonement, and the excellent glory of the hope of sonship in its inheriting of the Father,--as it is said, "heirs of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,"--is to us the full justification of the Father in all that travail of the soul of Christ, of which our salvation is the fruit.

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