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CONFLICTING ASPECTS OF GOD.
the darkest and most alarming class. Hence, their slowness to receive the plainest declarations of the love-the compassion—the gracious aspect of God to all.
They cannot, for example, reconcile the revealed love of God to all—the gracious aspect to the entire family of man—with those scriptures—which describe the “ anger,” or “ wrath of God,” as actually existing towards the rebellious. Can love and anger, say they, exist at the same time in the same mind ?
Now, without staying to examine here the full meaning of the alarming expressions in question---let it be at once replied-undoubtedly they may ;-as we see from ten thousand instances in the human family. Look, for example, at the most affectionate father, who has just heard of some daring act of disobedience on the part of his son,-and who is summoned to correct, and if possible remove the evil. Does the anger, and the strong manifestation of displeasure on the part of the father, destroy or lessen the deep love of his inmost soul to his son ? The thought were absurd. Surely king David was many times angry with his wicked-rebellious son Absolom, and felt deepest abhorrence at his
LOVE AND ANGER EXIST TOGETHER.
parricidal,-his murderous wickedness. But at his untimely death, under the darts of Joab -let the father's piercing lamentations witness the intensity of his love! Thus, we see how parental love and anger, as well as hatred of character, may exist, at the same time, in the same mind; though, from our limited capacity -we may not, at the moment of anger or indignation, be distinctly conscious of the other. But it is there.
GOD'S BOUNDLESS LOVE IN RELATION TO MAN
To comprehend and harmonize the different or apparently conflicting expressions in Scripture of God's aspect to sinners,—it is of the utmost importance to remember that God sustains a twofold relation to man. And, though the expression of each may appear sometimes contradictory of the other,—they are yet in perfect harmony.
First—He sustains a PARENTAL relation. He is the FATHER of their spirits — views them, notwithstanding their rebellion, as his offspring-with all the compassion of paternal solicitude. Thus, he exclaims in reference to the kingdom of Israel—“I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” And thus also Paul, in his address to the Athenian gentiles, quotes with approbation, an expression of certain of
THE PARENTAL ASPECT OF GOD.
are also his offspring.” “ Forasmuch then,” added he,“ as we are the offspring of God--we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver.”
Now, it is under the PARENTAL ASPECT that His love to the world is continually manifested. Thus, when the Pharisees indignantly wondered at our Lord's friendly aspect to the publicans and sinners—the very outcasts of society ;-and regarded this fact, in the pride of their hearts, as quite enough to countervail all his credentials of Messiahship-he at once vindicated himself, by appealing, first-to the deep interest which the shepherd who had lost his sheep, and the woman who had lost her silver, respectively took in the loss or danger of that which was their own; and, next, especially-by picturing out the unutterable solicitude and compassion of a father for his prodigal son. In this lovely narrative, he delightfully showed, how the ungrateful wickedness, and lengthened perversity of the latter,--never did lessen or destroy the deep-rooted, all-absorbing, parental affection of the former.
But, where would have been the point and force of this overwhelming appeal, if such a parental compassionate love did not still burn
OUR SAVIOUR'S VINDICATION.
in the heart of God to His entire-fallenrebellious offspring in this world—or if Jesus himself did not possess all the longings of a tender heart to each of them ;-if they were not in a word—his own property, for whom he was about to pour out his atoning blood ?
Thus, he indirectly exclaimed to his wicked -self-righteous opposers — "you would not blame the shepherd, for anxiously seeking, and at length rejoicing over his lost sheepnor the woman for the care which she manifested for her lost money—nor for her gladness when she found it;—you would not condemn the father for his joyful exultation over the prodigal just returned to his right mind and to his father's house. And why? Because all of them rejoiced over the restoration of that which was their own. Why, then, do you blame me for seeking any one of these poor souls? They are mine. You do not feel your relation to them, for sin has destroyed your love-has hardened your hearts—and led you to echo the murderer's cry, “Am I my brother's keeper ?' But, I feel my relation to each of them. I have no sin, and my heart