The Penning Pastor: The Clearest Mirror for Seeing Our Flaws

Here, as in a glass, we see the evil of sin, and the misery of man. The greatness of the disorder may be rationally inferred from the greatness of the means necessary to remove it. Would we learn the depth of the fall of man, let us consider the depth of the humiliation of Jesus to restore him. Behold the Beloved of God, perfectly spotless and holy, yet made an example of the severest vengeance; prostrate and agonizing in the garden; enduring the vilest insults from wicked men; torn with whips, and nails, and thorns; suspended, naked, wounded, and bleeding upon the cross, and there heavily complaining, that God had for a season forsaken him. Sin was the cause of all his anguish. He stood in the place of sinners, and therefore was not spared. Not any, or all, the evils which the world has known, afford such proof of the dreadful effects and detestable nature of sin, as the knowledge of Christ crucified. Sin had rendered the case of mankind so utterly desperate, that nothing less than the blood and death of Jesus could retrieve it. If any other expedient could have sufficed, his prayer, that the bitter cup might pass from him, would have been answered. But what his enemies intended as the keenest reproach, his redeemed people will for ever repeat as the expression of his highest praise, “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” Justice would admit no inferior atonement, love would not give up the cause of fallen, ruined man. Being therefore determined to save others, he could not, consistently with this gracious design and undertaking, deliver himself. —John Newton, Works

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