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THE GREATNESS AND CONDESCENSION OF GOD.
PSALM CXLV. 13, 14.
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and lifteth up all those that be bowed down.
WHAT we admire in these verses, is their combining the magnificence of unlimited power with the assiduity of unlimited tenderness. It is this combination which men are apt to regard as wellnigh incredible, supposing that a Being so great as God, can never concern himself with beings so inconsiderable as themselves. Tell them that God lifteth up those that be bowed down, and they cannot imagine that his
imagine that his kingdom and dominion are unbounded;—or tell them, on the other hand, of the greatness of His empire, and they think it impossible that He should uphold all that fall. If you represent Deity as busied with what they reckon insignificant, the rapid impression is, that He cannot, at the same time, be equally attentive to what is vast; and if you exhibit Him as occupied with what is vast, there is a sudden
misgiving that the insignificant must escape His observation. And it is of great importance, that men be taught to view in God that combination of properties which is affirmed in our text. It is certain that the greatness of God is often turned into an argument, by which men would bring doubt on the truths of Redemption and Providence. The unmeasured inferiority of man to his Maker is used in proof, that so costly a work as that of Redemption can never have been executed on our behalf; and that so unwearied a watchfulness as that of Providence can never be engaged in our service. Whereas, no reason whatever can be derived from our confessed insignificance, against our being the objects whether of Redemption or of Providence-seeing it is equally characteristic of Deity, to attend to the inconsiderable and to the great, to extend His dominion throughout all generations, and to lift up those that be bowed down.
It is on this truth we would employ our present discourse, endeavouring to prove, that human insignificance, as set in contrast with divine greatness, furnishes no argument against the doctrine of our Redemption, and none against that of an universal Providence.
Now a man will consider the heavens, the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which He hath ordained, and he will perceive that the earth on which we dwell is but the solitary unit of an innumerable multitude. It appears to him as though, if this globe were suddenly annihilated, it would scarcely be missed from the firmament, and leave no felt vacancy in the still crowded fields of the heavens. And if our earth be thus so insignificant an unit that its abstraction would not disturb the splendours and harmonies of the universe, how shall we think that God hath done so wondrous a thing for its inhabitants as to send His own Son to die in their stead? Thus an argument is attempted to be drawn from the insignificance of man to the improbability of Redemption; one verse of our text is set against the other; and the confessed fact, that God's dominion is throughout all generations, is opposed to the alleged fact, that He gave His own Son that he might lift up the fallen.
But it ought at least to be remembered that man was God's workmanship, made after his image, and endowed with powers which fitted him for lofty pursuits. The human race may or may not be insignificant. We know nothing of the orders of intelligence which stretch upwards between ourselves and God; and we are therefore incompetent to decide what place we occupy in the scale of creation. But at the least we know, independently of Revelation, that a magnificent scene was appointed for our dwelling; and that, when God reared a home for man, He built it of the sublime and the beautiful, and lavished alike His might and His skill on the furniture of its chambers. No one can survey the works of nature, and not perceive that God has some regard for the children of men, however fallen and polluted they may be. And if God manifest
a regard for us in temporal things, it must be far from incredible that He would do the same in spiritual. There can be nothing fairer than the expectation, that He would provide for our well-being as moral and accountable creatures, with a care at least equal to that exhibited towards us in our natural capacity. So that it is perfectly credible that God would do something on behalf of the fallen ; and then the question is, whether any thing less than Redemption through Christ would be of worth and of efficacy? It is certain that we cannot conceive any possible mode, except the revealed mode through the sacrifice of Christ, in which God could be both just and the justifier of sinners. Reckon and reason as we will, we can sketch out no plan by which transgressors might be saved, the divine attributes honoured, and yet Christ not have died. So far as we have the power of ascertaining, man must have remained unredeemed, had he not been redeemed through the Incarnation and Crucifixion. And if it be credible that God would effectively interpose on man's behalf; and if the only discoverable method in which he could thus interpose, be that
Redemption through the sacrifice of his Son; what becomes of the alleged incredibility, founded on the greatness of God as contrasted with the insignificance of man? We do not depreciate the wonders of the interference. We will go all lengths in proclaiming it a prodigy which confounds the most masterful, and in pronouncing it a mystery whose depths not even Angels can fathom, that, for the sake of beings inconsiderable as ourselves, there should have been acted out an arrangement which brought Godhead into flesh, and gave up the Creator to ignominy and death. But the greatness of the wonder furnishes no just ground for its disbelief. There can be no weight in the reasoning, that because man is so low, and God so high, no such work can have been wrought as the Redemption of our race. We are certain that we are cared for in our temporal capacity ; and we conclude, therefore, that we cannot have been neglected in our eternal. And then-finding that, unless redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ, there is no supposable method of human deliverance—it is not the brightness of the moon as she travels in her lustre, and it is not the array of stars which are marshalled on the firmament, that shall make us deem it incredible that God would give his Son for our rescue: rather, since moon and stars light up man's home, they shall do nothing but assure us of the Creator's loving-kindness; and thus render it a thing to be believed—though still amazing, still stupendous --that He whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and whose dominion endureth throughout all generations, should have made himself to sin for us, that He might uphold all that fall, and lift up all those that be bowed down.