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to follow God as dear children, we would really walk in the footsteps of the Son of God, that it is so important that we should realise the part which the intercession of Christ has in the atonement. Our doing so is, I would venture to say, even more needed in reference to the nature of our prayers, and that we may be found really praying according to the will of God,—according to the light of the gospel,—according to the knowledge that the true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth, for that the Father seeketh such to worship Him. Small as the amount of prayer is, its usual character is a still sadder subject of thought than its small amount. I mean its being so much a dealing with God simply as a Sovereign Lord, a Governor, and Judge, and so little a dealing with Him as the Father of our spirits. There is much feeling that “power belongeth to God alone,” combined with the encouraging persuasion that “to Him also belongeth mercy” moving to prayer, and sustaining prayer, which yet is not enlightened and exalted by the knowledge of God as a father, and the apprehension of our true wellbeing as all embraced in the sonship which we have in Christ. Reader, let me ask you, do you pray as a child of God whose first and nearest relationship is to God your Father, — whose most deeply felt interests are bound up in that relation, in what lies within the circle of that relation contemplated in itself? do you pray as one to whom the mind of God towards you and your own mind towards Him are the most important elements of existence, and whose other interests in existence are as outer circles around this central interest, —so that you see yourself, and your family, and your friends, and your country, and your race, with the eyes, because with the heart, of one who “loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and mind, and soul, and strength ?” Is this at least your ideal for yourself, what you are seeking to realise,--to realise for its own sake,
-not for any consequences of it in time or eternity? for whatever the blessed consequences of its realisation will be, they shall be far, and for ever inferior and secondary to itself.
· THE ATONEMENT, AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE DETAILS OF
THE SACRED NARRATIVE.
DEGARDING the atonement as the development 10 of the life that was in Christ, I have now consi- : dered its nature in the light of that life,—and the unity of a life has, I trust, been felt to belong to the exposition offered. But the life of Christ had an external history, and took an outward form, from the successive circumstances in which our Lord was placed, from the manger to the cross, according to the divine ordering of his path. And while this history can only be understood in the light of that inward life of which it has been the outward form, the contemplation of the outward form must help our understanding of the inward life; and if the view taken of the nature of the atonement be the true view, must both confirm it and illustrate it.
We are thus prepared to find the outward course of life appointed for the Son of God, as that in which He was to fulfil the purpose of doing the Father's will, determined by the divine wisdom with special reference to that purpose. Another condition, also, we expect to find fulfilled in the circumstances in which the Son is seen witnessing for the Father, viz. that they shall accord with the testimony of the Father to the Son. The witnessing of the Son for the Father would have manifestly been incomplete as to us without the Father's seal to it. But this sealing was an essential part of the divine counsel,—not only that outward testimony, however solemn and authoritative, which was in the
words of the angel to Mary, the voice from heaven at the Lord's baptism by John, and again on the mount, but that also to which these special testimonies of the Father to the Son in humanity direct our minds, viz. that testimony of the Father to the Son in the Spirit which always is, and out of which all responsibility for faith in the Son of God arises, being that on which such faith must ultimately rest. With this testimony of the Father to the Son, as well as with the witnessing of the Son for the Father, the divine ordering of our Lord's path would necessarily accord; so that, however the aspect of that path, judged according to the flesh, might seem in contradiction to the words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," seen in the light of God it would be known to harmonise with that acknowledgment. What would accord with the Father's testimony to the Son must manifestly be one with what would accord with the Son's honouring of the Father in our sight; so that we have not really here two conditions to be fulfilled, but one only; nor does the need-be that there should be fitting scope for the manifestation of brotherhood in relation to men, add any new element, seeing the unity of sonship towards God and brotherhood towards men. But it is important that we approach the consideration of the course of our Lord's life, realising that we are to contemplate it in relation equally to the Father's acknowledgment of the Son, and to the Son's witnessing for the Father,—“No man knoweth who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.”
This, therefore, is the aspect in which we are to contemplate the actual history of the work of redemption. We are to contemplate it as the Son's witnessing for the Father by the manifestation of sonship towards
God and brotherhood towards men, in circumstances which divine wisdom ordained with reference to the perfection of that manifestation, and which we are to see in the light of the Father's testimony to the Son.
As our Lord “increased in wisdom and in stature,” so the elements of the atonement gradually developed themselves with the gradual development of His humanity, and corresponding development of the eternal life in His humanity. The sonship in Him was always perfect sonship. At no one moment could He have said more truly than at another, “The Son doeth nothing of Himself; but whatsoever things the Father doeth, the same doeth the Son likewise.” But submitting at once, both to the Father's inward guidance, “opening His ear as the learner, morning by morning,” and to His outward guidance, “not hiding His face from shame and spitting," Christ's inward life of love to His Father and love to His brethren was constantly acted upon by the circumstances appointed for Him, receiving its perfect development through them: so that, tracing our Lord's life as thus a visible contact with men, while an invisible abiding in the bosom of the Father, and endeavouring to realise the bearing and operation of outward things upon His inward life, we may expect the light of the atonement to shine forth to us with increased clearness, as the light of that life which is the light of men.
We are not told much of the course of our Lord's life before He entered on His public ministry; we may say we have its general character in the words, He “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man." His doing of the Father's will, His following God as a dear child, had then that attraction in the eyes of men, which goodness often has, while it commends itself to men's consciences without