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But whilst this Evil One is seeking our ruin, the “God of all grace," is seeking our everlasting good. I shall use these words now to illustrate the wonderful love of God towards humanity. His wonderful love is seen :
I. IN CALLING US TO THE HIGHEST CONCEIVABLE DIGNITY. " Who hath called us into his eternal glory.” “His glory." First: He calls us to glory. All men are seeking glory in some form or other.
They have an instinct for it. What wars have been fought to secure
To this we are called. Secondly : He calls us to His glory. To an identification with Himself; so that His excellencies are ours; His blessedness is ours ; His possessions ar glory ours. The dignity to which He calls us is to sit down on the throne with Him; to inherit the glory of our Lord, to be changed into the same image from glory to glory, is the destiny to which He calls us. Nothing lower.
“ His glory." Not the tawdry glory of wordly magnates and potentates that merely dazzles for a moment the vulgar eye; not even the glory of His wonderful creation, blazing through all its starred and sunned firmament, with the lustre of His throne; but His own glory; the glory of Himself. Thirdly: He calls us to His eternal glory. Paul describes it as a
“ far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." All the glory of men is as the fading flower or the falling meteor. And even the glory of these glorious heavens will pass away like smoke. But His glory is eternal. The crown is unfading; the inheritance is “incorruptible." What love, then, does He display in calling us, enemies to Himself, transgressors of His laws, and rebels against His government, to this “ His eternal glory” ! His wonderful love is seen :
II. IN EMPLOYING ON OUR BEHALF HIS BELOVED Son. How does He call us to His eternal glory? “By Christ Jesus.” Christ is the logos—God's word—God's calling word to man; the organ through which the Infinite speaks to fallen humanity, and invites it to His eternal glory. "It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things," &c. “The God of all grace” calls us to His eternal glory. (1) By the moral beauties of Christ's character. (2) By the elevating power of His doctrines. (3) By the mighty attractions of His cross. “Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us," &c. His wonderful love is seen :
OUR SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT.
III. IN RENDERING THE TRIALS OF LIFE SUBSERVIENT TO
“After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect," &c. Perfection must be regarded, of course, as the grand design. Observe two things :First: The progressive stagestowards this perfection:-“Stablish, strengthen, settle." Though there is a great similarity in the meaning of these terms, there is yet a difference, and the difference indicates the gradualness of the advancement. The first may mean a firmness of moral purposes; the second, a growth in moral force; and the third, a confirmation of moral character. Observe :--Secondly: The bearing of trials upon this spiritual progress. It is certainly suggested that trials are to help the soul on through these stages. They are to do something to "stablish, strengthen, and settle." They are to act like storms upon the oak, to deepen the roots and strengthen the fibres. God overrules physical evil for spiritual good. He causes “all things to work together for good.” “Our light afflictions which are but for a moment." His wonderful love is seen :
IV. IN INSPIRING OUR SOULS WITH THE SENTIMENTS OF
“ To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” First: Here is a soul rendering a service manifestly right. All things are His, absolutely and for ever His. Practically to recognizethis fact, and ascribe all honor and power to Him, must be a right and proper thing. This is the work of heaven. Secondly: Here is a soul rendering this manifestly right service with a jubilant heart. It comes out in joyous music. Now this state of mind, which is heaven itself, implies, the effectuation of a great change in the human soul. Unregenerate men never feel thus, never act thus. Who effected this change? “The God of all grace.”
Brother, learn from this subject :-First: The beautiful propriety of true religion. What is it? Simply this : The cordial response of the soul; the answer of the heart to the “call” of God " by Christ Jesus.” Learn :-Secondly : The glorious destiny of the good. They are to inherit the very glory of the Infinite—“ His eternal glory." What are palaces, sceptres, crowns, and all the pomp and pageantry of the mightiest monarchs to this ? Learn :- Thirdly: The moral purport of life. Why are you here? To eat and drink, to amass wealth, to play the part of the sensualist, the ambitious or the vain! This may be your practice. This, alas ! is the practice of millions. But this, I assure you, is not the moral purpose of life. Life is a moral school in which you should train yourself for a blessed future. You are here to be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Learn :-Fourthly : The terrible monstrousness of sin. Sin is a reckless violation of our nature, a sacrifice of our interests ; it is the everlasting NO to infinite love. He calls, we refuse. We were made to rise in light, and to expand in power ; but sin robs us of our pinions, and presses us down with its millstone weight. We were made to be succored and blessed by the sympathies of the holy and the good ; but sin ruptures the ties, and links us to the degraded and the lost. We were made to anticipate higher and still higher joys for ever; to have the region of hope widen and brighten with ages; but sin enwraps us in an atmosphere of cloud and storm.
The Gospel Ministry in its Man-ward and God-ward Aspects.
“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish : to the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of life unto life.”—2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Fifty-eighth.
The apostle speaks of the minister of God as a chieftain engaged in a campaign of stirring interest, often achieving illustrious triumphs, and sometimes experiencing most saddening defeats. The text leads us to consider two things :
I. THE MAN-WARD ASPECT OF THE TRUE GOSPEL MINISTRY. Its bearing on humanity is two-fold and of surpassing moment, -a matter of life or death to all; it is either "the savour of death unto death, or of life unto life.”
The allusion is here to ancient warfare. It was customary to strew the roads, through which the triumphant general in returning from his victories passed, with flowers, and to draw after him in his victorious car, in chains, those of the greatest distinction and celebrity, whom he had taken captive. Some of these captives were to be saved, and some were to perish; to those who were to be saved, the fragrance of the flowers would be sweet and refreshing, but to those who knew they were to perish, those flowers would emit an offensive and deadly odour. Such is the allusion. First: Consider the vivifying influence of the true ministry. Men, in their unregenerate state, are spiritually dead ; the vital principle of the soul, supreme love to God, is extinct; and the whole spiritual nature, like a corpse, is prostrate, the creature of external influences, and loathsome to behold, The Gospel is the quickening power. It is the vital shower that is to refresh the parched desert; the trumpet that is to awake the dead; the recreative breeze that is to stir the valley of dry bones. As by nature's sun and showers God creates the new life of spring, so by the gospel ministry Heproduces new spiritual life in the souls of men. Secondly: Consider the deadly influence of the true ministry. It is “the savour of death unto death,” as well as “the savour of life unto life.” There are three unalterable principles which render it certain that the men who reject the gospel will be injured by it. One is founded in eternal justice, and the other two in the moral constitution of man. The first is this :- T'hat the greater the
mercy abused the greater the condemnation. The Bible is full of this truth. “ Unto whomsoever much is given,” &c. "If I had not come and spoken unto them,” &c. “Woe unto thee Chorazin," &c. “ And thou Capernaum,” &c. “He that despised Moses' law," &c. The second is this :- That man's susceptibility of virtuous impressions decreases in proportion to his resistance of them. The third is this :- That man's moral suffering will always be increased in proportion to the consciousness he has that he once had the means of being happy.
From these three undeniable principles the gospel must prove “the savour of death unto death” to those who reject its overtures and resist its impressions. Every fresh sound of it decreases the moral sensibility and augments the guilt. From “death to death” they pass under its influence. The hearing of the gospel puts a man on a new level in the universe. To have heard its accents is the most momentous fact in the history of man.
Do you say you will hear it no more ? But you have heard it. This is a fact you cannot deny ; which
you will ever remember; which you will always feel. You can no more blot out the consciousness of the fact than you cau blot out your existence ; no more destroy its influence than you can reverse the wheels of nature. If the gospel does not save you, better you had never heard it,-better you had never been born. When I think of the terrible influence of the gospel upon those who reject it, I tremble at the moral condition of our country. Oh Britain, Britain ! the scene of temples ; the land of Bibles ; the home of Evangelists ; under whose lovely sward sleeps the sacred dust of gospel poets, martyrs, preachers, and reformers without number,-how great is thy responsibility! How