Billeder på siden

important an occurrence as the barbarous and ignominious execution of a derided, unpitied, and forlorn malefactor, we see produced consequences of the most stupendous import, naturally, though astonishingly, drawn forth the one from out the other. For from the vindication of God's honour is derived the propitiation for sin, and by the propitiation for sin, the third grand purpose in this work of wonder is fully and effectually accomplished; namely, the spoiling of the power of darkness: because an accepted atonement for transgression totally counteracts the whole operations of the evil one, by obtaining pardon and eternal happiness for all who do not wilfully enlist under his banner; for all who comply with the proposed terms-love of virtue and hatred of vice. (Micah iii. 2.) By the ratification of this wise and benignant treaty, his kingdom is depopulated, his machinations confounded, his inferiority clearly demonstrated, his power destroyed, and his impious impotence rendered most illustriously conspicuous, by the frustration of his schemes having solely resulted through his own devices. taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (1 Cor. iii. 19.) The wicked one is snared in the work of his own hands. (Psalm ix. 16.) The judgment of our world being thus triumphantly decided (by human nature having proved victorious,) its prince cast out, (John xii. 31,) and evil completely overcome by good; it became unquestionably expedient, that the great celestial Conqueror, "whose heavenly love had outdone


hellish hate, should give the utmost possible publicity to his vast exploit, and expose the impotence of his infernal foes: and this we have the most ample testimony to assure us He immediately did. For having spoiled principalities and powers, (having utterly subverted the intentions of all their malign projects,) He made a show of them; and He did it openly; triumphing over them in it. (Col. ii. 15.) Now, if we reflect on the volume wherein this assertion is contained, perceive its declarations, like its author, to be vast, comprehensive, infinite, and observe the unqualified manner in which the word' openly' is therein on this occasion used, it appears clearly intended to lead our speculations far beyond the limits of a globe, which was, at this amazing era, covered with darkness, and its inhabitants by gross darkness; (Isa. lx. 2;) and who, notwithstanding the light that had sprung up on them, still lay in darkness, for the darkness comprehended it not. (John i. 4, 5.) That this was their gloomy state at this eventful period, the history continues distinctly to ascertain; for we find the noble Sufferer's departing breath employed in pleading the ignorance of the cruel and deluded multitude, who were such principal actors in the doleful scene. (Luke xxiii. 34.) The princes of our world had also their conduct, on the same account, in some degree exculpated; for had they known, they would not have crucified the

* Milton.

Lord of glory. (1 Cor. ii. 8.) This wise and gracious Master did indeed, at a juncture when the minds of his most intimate associates were all in amazement at the mighty power of God, (having recently descended from the glorious mount of transfiguration, and beheld some further instances of miraculous operation,) endeavour to give them some insight into the nature and design of this wonderful event, prefaced by an admonition calculated to arouse their earnest and most anxious attention; for while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears, for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men, and suffer many things but they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not, and they feared to ask him of this saying. (Luke ix. 43, 44, 45.) That they continued in this unenlightened state at the awful crisis of his apprehension, their behaviour at that distressing moment fully evinced; for they forsook him, and fled. (Mark xiv. 50.) Nor do they seem to have conceived any just comprehension of this great transaction, even when some time had elapsed subsequent to its fulfilment; for it is then again recorded, that they understood not those very Scriptures by which it had been foretold. (Luke xxiv. 45.) Of whom, then, was the vast assemblage composed, who beheld that most wonderful of all spectacles, the death of Christ?

Reason has already suggested, and the gospel, with its accustomed condescension, ascertained;

for when that stupendous detail of mysteries, comprised in the mystery of godliness, are particularized by St. Paul, the following remarkable assertion," seen of angels," is included in his enumeration; and the concluding declaration, 66 received up into glory," pretty plainly explains this preceding one to have been the grand introductory of that great event. (1 Tim. iii. 16.) The interpretation of this passage is not, however, left to human intellect, for we find the highest possible degree of illumination reflected on it by the subsequent writings of St. Peter, who in plain terms announces the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, to have been that amazing spectacle into which the angels desired to look; (1 Pet. i. 11, 12;) and with which, according to our best and most learned paraphrast's explanation of the information just cited from St. Paul,* they had, beyond all doubt, been gratified. It must not here pass unremarked, that the word 'desire' does by no means convey the full sense of the original expression, which signifies desire to bend down, implying anxious, earnest desire; and in this light has ever been considered by our ablest commentators. Orton mentions the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, as objects "which the angels desired intensely to look into." Doddridge, that they desired to" bend down for the purpose of contemplating

“He was seen of angels, and gazed at by them, in various circumstances of his life and death, as a most astonishing and instructive spectacle."-Doddridge's Exposition of 1 Tim. iii. 16. + Sacramental Meditations, p. 252.

they inIt is

and prying into."* Blackwall, that " quired into with attentive curiosity." therefore proved (we think beyond all controversy) to have been the angelic inhabitants of far distant regions, who were honoured by viewing the wonderful display, who formed his glorious train when He ascended up on high, and led captive in triumph his infernal foes; (Eph. iv. 8;) not any particular order of transcendent dignity; not a select and peculiarly favoured assemblage: for if this resplendent manifestation of the Creator's glory and consummate wisdom were objects which the unerring mind deemed requisite to most publicly evince unto the highest of his celestial ministers, it is not unreasonable to suppose that an equal necessity must have existed for this exemplification unto every individual intelligent

* Doddridge's Exposition, vol. vi. pp. 226. 228. + Blackwell's Sacred Classics, vol. i. p. 431.

We did, in a preceding page, observe the unqualified manner in which it is asserted in the Colossians, that when Christ had spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly and the passages just quoted, we conceive, fully establish the justness of this observation. It is indeed recorded in the Acts, that God raised him up the third day and showed him openly, (x. 40, 41 ;) but on this occasion the word 'openly' is clearly used in a very limited sense, and is so explained; for it is immediately added, "Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God." This partial information, therefore, relating to our world, does in no wise interfere with the unlimited declaration respecting the other, and which we have found so powerfully and incontrovertibly supported both by reason and Scripture, which evidently represent the death of Christ and the glory that should follow, as events most intimately connected with the invisible world.

« ForrigeFortsæt »