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UNITY IN VARIETY AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE FRAMEWORK
"Unity is a precious diamond whose grains as they double, twice double in their value.
We come, now, to the framework of Redemption, as it is placed before us in the Bible. The first thing that strikes us, is the exceeding variety of the channels through which it is conveyed to us. We have books written by different persons of different ages, characters, and countries, and so utterly dissimilar in style and structure, that judging merely from the surface no man could imagine that they breathed the same spirit, or, had the same object in view. But when we examine things more closely, when we pierce the superficial covering, and arrive at the substantive contents, we find the ground-work to be simple, continuous, and uniform. We find Christ Jesus to be the foundation of them all.
He is the subject of the history—the promise of the prophecy—the Wisdom of the proverb—the Bridegroom of the canticle—the end of the law--the solution of the type and parable—the song and salvation of the psalm-and the hope, and the help of the people of God of every age, country, character, and condition.
Nothing can be more diversified in shape and colour than the caskets and the envelopes ; but, when we open the lid, or, undo the folding, the same jewel, sparkling now more faintly, and now more brightly, is detected at the bottom of them all. Thus we arrive at a feature similar to that stamped upon the framework of Creation
-a Unity of plan under a surface of apparent dissimilarity and confusion !
Again, notice the various dispensations, and modes of worship, which are placed before us in connection with the believing people of God. Nothing can be more different in form and circumstance. Nothing can be more similar in substance and in spirit.
Look at righteous Abel, presenting the firstling of his flock before the Cherubim, and the flaming sword, at the East end of the garden of Eden-at the Patriarch assembling his family round an altar of stone, on the savage mountain, or, in the solitary valley—at the Jews in the land of Egypt, sprinkling their doorposts with the blood of the Paschal Lamb, or, in the wilderness following the pillar of cloud and fire, or, in the land of Canaan, thronging to a magnificent Temple with the blast of silver trumpets, the floating of incense, and the pomp of a numerous and gorgeous Priesthood. Look at Daniel praying at an open window in Babylon without Altar, Priest, or, Sacrifice. Look at John the Baptist in the desert, with a form of worship rude as his girdle, and wild as his locusts, and his honey. Look at the Disciples breaking bread in an upper chamber at Jerusalem, at the beloved Disciple in the Spirit in the Lord's day before his Temple, in company with his associates, and then at the many-coloured sections of the Church of Christ down to the present hour, and, surely, it is scarcely possible to conceive anything more diversified. The flowers of the earth are not more different in attitude, and colour, shape, and circumstance. They are so widely different that men of learning and acuteness—not well acquainted with the Scriptures have actually concluded that different modes of obtaining the Divine favour had been prescribed in different ages of the world. Yet, when we take off the variegated vestments, and exainine as in the case of the animal, the solid structure on which they rest, nothing can be more uniform than the substance and the spirit.
There is abundant demonstration, both from the express statements of Scripture, and from the nature of each successive dispensation, that from the first to the last in any age, and in every land, “ There was none other name under heaven whereby men could be saved but the name of Jesus Christ.” The sacrifice of Abel denoted Christ's better blood of sprinkling. The Patriarch on the rugged mountain-side rejoiced to see His day, and he saw it, and was glad.” The prophet beheld His glory and spake of Him. The Jewish leader esteemed “the reproach of Christ” greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. The Baptist pointed to the Lamb of God. The Apostle Peter, speaking of those servants of God who went before him, used this remarkable expression, “ We believe that through the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they."* St. Paul, in the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews, after enumerating the individuals and their diversities in such numbers as almost to overpower his readers, speaks of them all as actuated by the same principle, animated by the same hope, made strong out of the same weakness, claiming the same strength, working the same righteous- . ness, eating the same spiritual meat, drinking the same spiritual drink, unmindful of the world from which they came out, and all with one heart seeking a better country, that is, an heavenly.
No forms of existence can be more dissimilar than these various dispensations ; yet we never find ourselves among such original, or, totally different modes of worship as to indicate that we have come into the province of another Saviour, or, another way of Salvation.
We never find a new way of acceptance with God. We never find sin exalted, or, the service of God disparaged. The same order of things attends us wherever we go. The same atonement—the same way of access—the same spirit of adoption—the same peace of heart and holiness of life. Amid boundless varieties Christ was all and in all. To the eye of faith He died in every
sacrifice. He ascended in every cloud of incense. His name was in every Jubilee shout. His majesty and mercy were symbolised in the altar at the East end of Eden. They were made known also in the Holy of Holies, as in the dazzling revelations of Glory which floated before the beloved disciple. Thus in Redemption, as in Creation, we have Unity in Variety. One plan and purpose is seen emerging from that which, at first sight, appears to be irreconcileable diversity and confusion.
This analogy affords no warrant for the dogmatic theology of Exclusive Church pretensions. The existence of a religious, domineering corporation, denouncing all outside its pale as hopelessly cut off from the blessings of Redemption, finds no warrant or counterpart whatever, in the Divine workmanship in Nature, and it is equally