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God has never been unfriendly toward man. love is infinitely beyond that of an earthly parent. Man is regarded by Him with pity, even when dead in trespasses and sins.' All heaven is in his favor. The greatest enemy the sinner has in the wide universe, is—himself! With his own hands, he kindles a fire in his own breast: and though he may fly from every human tribunal, he cannot escape from his God, nor from-himself!
Several ideas seem to be associated with the term Advocate:
I. It supposes a cause to be tried.
The above seem to be the most prominent ideas, though not covering entirely the whole ground. A few general remarks are all that can be expected.
The cause to be tried is the rebellion of the world. The parties are God and man. The witnesses-but there are none for two reasons. Ist. The Judge knows all things. 2d. Every mouth is to be stopped, and the whole world is to become guilty before God. The Judge is the Creator and Father of all mankind.
Paul, in his masterly and comprehensive manner, presents in one single sentence both parties, the Advocate; and the object of the ministry: 'God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.'* Jesus stands between God and man, moving by an exhibition of divine love, and his own sufferings, a world to
* 2 Cor. v. 19.
love Him by whom he was sent. He makes the most affecting appeals, not to the Judge, but to the criminal. He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.'
It has been supposed by many, that the Judge was angry with the sinner, and that the Advocate came to reconcile Him. Admitting this view of the character of God, we must see that He is wholly disqualified to judge the world. To illustrate : suppose we enter a court of justice, and discover the judge on the bench full of fury and wrath, anxious to condemn the criminal. Would not every one say that he was unfit for his station ? It would appear still more awful if the judge should stand in the relation of father to the culprit! And it is in this relation that God stands to every transgressor. It follows, therefore, that the Father of spirits will inflict no punishment that is not intended for the best good of the sinner.
The services rendered to the world by the Advocate far exceed those of any being who has ever been on our earth. He labored and died for all men. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.'* But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.'t It is the highest point of human love to sacrifice life for a friend. But Jesus died for his enemies. Had God waited for the world to love Him before He gave his Son to die, He might have waited forever. Man was dead in trespasses and sins. As well might we expect the graves to open,
and the dead to come forth without the aid of Omnipotence, as for the world to arise from moral death without the life-giving power of God.
What reward did the Advocate receive for his immense labors and sacrifices? From man he received only ingratitude and reproach. There is one point too often overlooked, which forever establishes the purity of the Saviour's character. Among all the exertions of his power, and all his miracles, he never made the least attempt to enrich himself! Hear him, when addressed on a certain occasion, by one who would follow him. The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.'* Where is the Advocate who would spend a whole life in a cause, and die to promote it, and all this for his enemies? Was ever such love exhibited before?
But the Advocate will see his labors crowned with success. He will receive the heathen for his inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. The sinner will at last submit to Jesus, for every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father. But we find that we are rapidly entering on the broad and endless theme of universal reconciliation. Language fails, conception is exhausted. “Blessing and honor, and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever.'
* Luke ix. 58.
III. ALPHA AND OMEGA.
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the begin. ning and the end.'
Rev. xxi. 6.
These appellations, which are as remarkable for their condescending simplicity as for their majestic sublimity, occur only in three other instances, and all in this highly figurative book, ch. i. 8. 11;* xxii. 13.
A very popular commentator has the following criticism on the titles here applied to the Redeemer :
This mode of speech is borrowed from the Jews, who express the whole compass of things by aleph and tau; the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet : but as St. John was writing in Greek, he accommodates the whole to the Greek alphabet, of which alpha and omega are the first and last letters. With the rabbins mealeph vead tau, " from aleph to tau," expressed the whole of a matter, from the beginning to the end. So in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 17. 4. Adam transgressed the whole law, from aleph to tau : i. e. from the beginning to the end.
'Ibid. fol. 48. 4. Abraham observed the law from aleph to tau; i. e. he kept it entirely, from beginning to end.
* This whole clause is wanting in ABC; thirty-one others, some editions; the Syriac, Coptic, Æthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it out of the text. -A. Clarke.
'Ibid. fol. 128. 3. When the holy blessed God pronounced a blessing on the Israelites, He did it from aleph to tau ; i. e. He did it perfectly.'
There is a sublimity in these words which it would require volumes to illustrate, but as our plan requires great brevity that each title may be considered, we shall be obliged, in this instance, as in many others, to omit many thoughts that may present themselves. That the reader may see the great beauty and force of these names, we will direct his mind to the transporting view which the glowing pencil of prophecy has predicted : 'And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;
and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. How grand ! How transporting is this language! The mind is at once carried beyond all the scenes of time to that bright and beautiful period when the vast family of