Divine holiness is best exhibited in the cross of Jesus. Not hell itself, dreadful and eternal as is its suffering—the undying worm, the unquenchable fire, the smoke of the torment that goes up forever and ever—affords such a solemn and impressive spectacle of the holiness and justice of God in the punishment of sin, as is presented in the death of God’s beloved Son.
An eminent Puritan writer thus strikingly puts it—”Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon this wicked world—nor the flaming furnace of a sinner’s conscience—nor the irrevocable sentence pronounced against the rebellious devils—nor the groans of the damned creatures—give such a demonstration of God’s hatred of sin, as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son!”
Never did Divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans. This He Himself acknowledges in that penitential psalm, when God turned His smiling face away from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? But thou art holy.”
Such an impressive view of God’s holiness the angels in heaven never before beheld—not even when they saw the non-elect spirits hurled from the heights of glory down to the bottomless pit, to be reserved in chains of darkness and woe forever! Jesus was the innocent One dying for the guilty ones—the holy One dying for the sinful ones!
Divine justice, in its mission of judgment, as it swept by the cross, found the Son of God impaled upon its wood beneath the sins and the curse of His people. Upon Him its judgment fell—on His soul its wrath was poured—in His heart its flaming sword was plunged—and thus, from Him, justice exacted the full penalty of man’s transgression—the last farthing of the great debt!
Go to the cross, then, my reader, and learn the holiness of God. Contemplate the dignity of Christ—His preciousness to His Father’s heart—the sinlessness of His nature. And then behold—the sorrow of His soul—the torture of His body—the tragedy of His death—the abasement—the ignominy—the humiliation—into the fathomless depths of which the whole transaction plunged our incarnate God! And let me ask, standing, as you are, before this unparalleled spectacle, “Can you cherish low views of God’s holiness, or light views of your own sinfulness?
Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)