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all. And we know that the grace of Christ has made many righteous ;-many recorded in history, many within the range of our knowledge. (2) The sin of Adam brought condemnation upon the race ; the grace of Christ has brought justification to many. (3) The sin of Adam leads to deaththe grace of Christ to "eternal life.” (4) The influence of grace far transcends that of sin. “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.”
I. IT WILL SUPERABOUND IN RELATION TO THE INDIVIDUAL MAN. Take the case of one of the most corrupt sons of Adam - he may be a Manasseh, or a Saul; and if grace take possession of his mind, you may say grace will “much more abound" there. First: The influence of grace there will be of a higher kind. Life-giving. Anything can destroy. Justifying. One sin condemns. Secondly: The influence of grace there will be of a mightier kind. Sin can never attain a mastery over every part of human nature. It can never carry with it the conscience. The conscience is ever, and will be ever, against it. But grace carries with it conscience. Take Paul as an illustration.
II. IT WILL SUPERABOUND IN RELATION TO THE AGGREGATE RACE. It must be confessed that up to the present moment sin has had the sway. But consider—that it is highly probable that the generations of those that have appeared on earth, will be far out-numbered by those that are yet to come.
The following things suggest this :-First: The gradual method of God's procedure --Creation, Civilization, Redemption, are all gradual. Secondly : The state of past generations. Thirdly: The representations of scripture. Fourthly : The omnipotency that is on the side of grace.
III. IT WILL SUPERABOUND THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE OF GOD. First: It will spread new and brighter views of God's character through the universe. Secondly : Enhance the moral force that binds to holiness in the universe.
Brothers, be cheered ; grace shall abound much more. It shall “much more abound” in the individual. It shall lift him from the abysses into which sin had sunk him to eminences and joys superior to any that he had forfeited through the fall; it shall place his nature in closest union with the Godhead. It shall“ much more abound” over the wide race. Though sin hath abounded hitherto, grace will one day win the victory; it shall reach the throne and grasp the sceptre, and reign over unnumbered generations :-of its kingdom there shall be no end.
It shall “much more abound” through the vast universe. Sin threatened to darken the Divine character, weaken the force of moral government, and introduce anarchy into God's holy empire; but grace shall bring out the Divine glory with a new and brighter effulgence. As noontide buries in its flood of light the smoking lamp, or as the advancing tides whelm the putrid bubbles on the shore, so grace shall cover and conquer sin.
SUBJECT :--The Martyrdom of Stephen : the Dark and Bright
Side of Piety.
“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God ; and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him ; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”--Acts vii. 54-59.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-third.
ONE can scarcely read this deeply interesting narrative without being struck with three very extraordinary things :
First: The professed patrons of religion engaged in banishing it from the world. The persons engaged in the martyrdom of Stephen were, “ The chief council of the nation,” &c. What gives a peculiar enormity to this crime is, that it was done in the name of religion. Secondly : The most eminent future apostle of Christianity an accessory to the martyrdom of one of its most eminent disciples. Perhaps Saul was of the agents of the Jewish council ; for the witnesses who, according to custom, had to cast the first stone,“ laid their garments at his feet.” We read of him afterwards. “And Saul yet breathing out threatenings," &c. (Acts viii. 1.) This teaches (1) How the conscience may be perverted.
Saul was a “ Pharisee of the Pharisees.” He thought he was doing God's service. An action is not essentially right because the author believes it to be so. (2) How concealed the spirituality of the law may be from the most diligent student. Paul knew the letter of the law, but he had not as yet learnt the alphabet of its spirit. “The letter killeth," &c. (3) How sovereign and almighty is the grace of God. Christ selected this Saul to become His great apostle to the world. " He is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham,” &c. Thirdly: The most useful man of his time is allowed to be stoned out of the world as a blasphemer! This is very extraordinary. Why should it be?
Stephen appears before us in two very opposite lightsas a victim and as a victor. Though he was crushed, yet he conquered. We may look at this portion of his history as exhibiting “ the dark and bright side of piety.”
We observe :
I. THE DARK SIDE OF PIETY. You here have Stephen in
lamentable position. The nation opposed to him, and he dying under a shower of stones.
The world has ever hated vital Christianity. She lives under its frowns and curses, and sometimes is subject to the utmost indignity, and even fatal violence. “ The world hateth you,” &c. There were two causes which led to this result. First: He had
obtained convictions which clashed with the prejudices and worldly interests of his contemporaries. These convictions referred to Christ. Secondly: He exerted himself faithfully to declare those convictions. “Ye stiff-necked," &c. Had he kept them to himself, compromised them, or endeavored to tone them down to the corrupt spirit of his age, he would have avoided such an end as this. But he was true to the true thing in him ; he flashed his convictions on the rotten spirit of his age, and thus set it on fire with wrath. Thus it will always be. The true man must have the frown of the world.
We observe :
II. THE BRIGHT SIDE OF PIETY. Piety looked upon from the world's side of things is rather a miserable object, --but not so when viewed from the spiritual side. First: His being was in vital connexion with God. “Filled with the Holy Ghost.” God was in him. This does not mean anything miraculous. We are commanded to be "filled with the spirit;" that is, to have God's disposition, &c. Paul in suffering had this, and said, “We glory in tribulation,” &c. Filled with God, as the Holiest of all with the Shekinah, as the body with the soul, as the loving child with his parent. Secondly : He had a glorious vision of heaven. “ He looked up
stedfastly to heaven and saw the glory of God,” &c. Having God within him, everything without was full of God. heavens opened,” &c.
If God be in thee, the material will withdraw its curtains, and the spiritual universe will beam forth. A true inner light will brighten the outward universe into glory. Thirdly: His spirit was invested with the sublimest magnanimity. His enemies were “cut to the heart," they were exasperated, they “stopped their ears," they " gnashed their teeth.” But how calm is he. He is the conqueror. He can pity them, and
“Lord lay not this sin to their charge," &c. Fourthly: He had a delightful departure from the world. (1) He commended his spirit to Christ. “Lord Jesus receive
pray for them.
my spirit.” (2) He fell asleep. " And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” The death of the good is the spirit going to Christ, and the wearied body to the refreshing slumbers of the grave.
Had we this Stephen-like piety we should feel that suffering is blessedness, that death is life, that time is eternity.
“Our earth is but a grain of sand
That tumbles in the surging sea !
Time breaks upon eternity.”
SUBJECT :-Being and Well-Being:
6. With thee is the fountain of life; in thy light we shall see light." - Psa. xxxvi. 9.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-fourth.
LIFE and LIGHT are the greatest blessings of which we have any conception. All feel life to be valuable. “Skin for skin," &c. What would life be without light ? A world without light would be cold, dark, and monotonous. God is the source of both. I. HE IS THE SOURCE OF BEING. “ Foun. tain of life.” The word fountain suggests :-(1) Causation. (2) Plenitude. (3) Activity. II. HE IS THE SOURCE OF
He is the light-the blessedness of being. His revealed character is the light of the soul. Two things are necessary to make light a blessing :-(1) A healthy visual faculty. If the eye of the soul is not sound, light may be a pain, a curse. (2) Beautiful objects of vision. If the eye is made to look upon the monstrous, and the horrific, light will be a bane.