But however little is known of God’s reason for the existence of sin, and guilt, and misery, we do know for certain that law is, and sin is, and guilt is, and misery is; and we know with equal certainty that the evil of sin has created a posture of affairs which can only be effectually met by the atonement of Christ. This atonement the Divine Sovereign has admitted, and the admission is a prime article in the plan of grace.

That the Supreme Ruler possessed the sovereign right to admit an atonement, provided always a substitution could be found having every essential quality to give it validity, there ought to be no doubt. But the possession of the right would not oblige to exercise it, and did not. The admission was an act of high and pure sovereignty, and the sovereign act was a pure favour. In the use of this sovereign prerogative, the sentence of the law was dispensed with, the supreme Lawgiver was subordinated to the supreme Ruler, and distributive justice gave way to commutative justice. But for the Sovereign putting this prerogative in action, the sinner must have been subject to the penalty of his wrong under the award of justice, in his own person. But on the employment of this sovereign right, an act of commutative justice followed, which is unique in its kind, which is chargeable with no injustice, which brings no ultimate loss to the Substitute, which, more than anything else, illustrates the excellency of the law, which secures a respect for the law, and which satisfies the claims of the law on behalf of innumerable criminals who otherwise would have miserably perished for ever under its just sentence. Herein is wisdom, and “here-in is love,” blended with sovereignty. The functions of the Judge, of the Lawgiver, and of the King, are harmoniously discharged in respect of criminal defaulters, and yet the offenders are saved. “The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; he will save us.” This testimony finds its most illustrious meaning and fulfillment in the admission of the substitution of Christ. The King subordinates the Lawgiver and the Judge, and yet exalts and glorifies them by the subordination. Provision is made by the King for a higher manifestation of the Lawgiver by a magnification of the law otherwise unattainable, for the awards of the Judge to be executed so as fully to meet the justice of the case, and for righteousness and life to be secured to myriads of transgressors. “Great is the mystery of godliness.”


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