« AnteriorContinuar »
express image of his
“ so loved the world," that he assumed our nature, undertook our cause, bore our sins, sustained our deserved punishment; and, having done and suffered all that the case required, he is now gone before, “to prepare a place,” John xiv., for all that believe in him and obey him. Man lay under a double incapacity for happiness; he could neither keep the law of God in future, nor satisfy for his past breach and contempt of it. To obviate the former, Jesus Christ performed a perfect unsinning obedience in our stead. To remove the latter, he became “ the propitiation of our sins;" yielded up his life as a prey into the hands of murderers, and poured forth his precious blood, in drops of sweat in the garden, in streams from his side upon the cross. For this he endured the fiercest temptations of the devil, the scorn, rage, and malice of men, and drank the bitter cup of the wrath of God, when it pleased the Father to bruise him, and make his soul an offering for sin. His love carried him through all; and when he had finally overcome the sharpness of death, he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. In few words, he lived and died for us when upon earth : nor is he unmindful of us in heaven, but lives and intercedes on our behalf. He continually executes the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, to his people; instructing them by his word and Spirit; presenting their persons and prayers, acceptable to God through his merits ; defending them, by his power, from all their enemies, ghostly and bodily; and ordering, by his providence, all things to work together for their good, till at length they are brought home, to be with him where he is, and to behold his glory.
II. From what has been said, we may justly infer, in the first place, that “this is,” as the
Apostle styles it, “a faithful saying.” When man first fell, God,“ in the midst of judgment remembering mercy,” declared, ùnsought and undesired, “ that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;" Gen. iii. In every succeeding age, he confirmed his purpose by types, promises, prophecies, and oaths. At length, in the fulness of time, Christ, " the Desire of all nations,” came into the world, fulfilled all that had been foretold, and encouraged every humble penitent sinner to come unto him, that they might have life, pardon, and peace.
To doubt, or to deny, his readiness to save, is, so far as in us lies, to “ make the word of God of none effect;" it is “ to charge God foolishly,” as though, like the heedless unskilful builder in the Gospel, he had begun to build that which was not to be finished. If, after all that is set before us, it is possible for any soul to miss salvation that sincerely desires it, and seeks it in God's appointed way, it must be because the Lord Jesus Christ either cannot or will not save them. That he cannot, is flatly false; for “all power is his in heaven and in earth ;' Matth. xxviii.; and it is particularly said, that “he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him ;" Heb. vii. : and that he will not, is as false; for he himself hath said, “Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out.” John vi.
We may infer, secondly, that this doctrine is not only faithful, but “ worthy of all acceptation.”. And here, methinks, I could begin anew. A point so much mistaken by some, and neglected by most, rather requires a whole, or many discourses, than to be passed over in few words. The most high and wise God has esteemed the redemption of mankind so precious, “that he spared not his only Son;" Rom. viii.-And are there any amongst us, in a
land of Gospel light and liberty, where the words of wisdom are sounding in our ears every day, that dare make light of this message, just give it a hearing, and return to their farms, their merchandise, and their diversions, as though this unspeakable grace of God called for no return? Alas! “ How shall we escape, if we neglect this salvation ?” Heb. ii. “ He that despised Moses' law died without mercy.” It was dangerous, it was destructive, to refuse him that spoke upon earth; take heed how you trifle with Him “that speaketh from heaven!” To such as neglect this, " there remains no other sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of fiery indignation that shall devour the adversaries;" Heb. x. Let none of us think it is well with us, merely because we were born and educated in a Christian country, have means of instruction in our hands, and enjoy frequent opportunities of presenting ourselves before God in public worship. To thousands these, so far from being advantages, will greatly aggravate their condemnation, and point the sting of the never-dying worm. Better were it for us to have been inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, Luke x.; yea of Sodom and Gomorrah, than to appear in judgment with no better plea than this. Neither let us speak peace to ourselves, because we are not so bad as others, but perhaps live decently and comfortably, are useful in society, and perform many things that are commonly called good works. If these works spring from a true love of God, if they are framed according to the rule of his word, if they are performed by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, they are undoubtedly good, and shall be rewarded before men and angels : if otherwise, you have already your reward, in the complacence of your own minds, and the approbation of friends and acquaint
añce. The Christianity of the New Testament imports more than all this. It is, to believe in Jesus Christ; số to believe in him, as to obey hit in all his commands, to trust him in all his dispensations, to walk in his steps, copying out the bright example of his love, meekness, patience, self-denial, and active zeal for the glory of God, and the good of mankind. It is, from a consciousness of our utter inability to perform these great things, to depend continually upon the promised aid and direction of his Holy Spirit, to seek this assistance by frequent fervent prayer, to offer ap ourselves daily as living sacrifices unto God;--and, finally, when we have done all, to be deeply sensible of our unworthiness of the least of his mercies, to confess ourselves unprofitable servants, and to place all our hopes upon this faithful saying, " That Jesus Christ eame into the world to save sinners."
Thus, from the consideration of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatness of our misery by nature, and the wonderful things he has done and suffered for our redemption, we may learn the complete security of that salvation he has provided, the extreme danger of neglecting it, and the folly and presumption of attempting to establish a righteousness of our own, independent of Him “ who is appointed of God unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;' 1 Cor. i. In setting these things before you plainly and faithfully, I trust I have delivered my own soul. Time is short, life is precarious, and perhaps, to some, this may be the last opportunity of the kind that may be afforded them: God grant we may be wise in time, that, “ to-day, while it is called to-day," we may hear his voice. Then we shall understand more of the text than words can teach us; then we shall experience “ a peace which
passeth all understanding,” Phil. iv,; "a joy" which " a stranger intermeddleth not with,” Prov. xiv.; and a hope “ full of glory,” which shall be completed in the endless possession of those
pleasures which are at the right hand of God,” Psalm xyi. ; where sin, and its inseparable attendant sorrow, shall cease for ever; where “there shall be no more grief, or pain, or fear," Rev. xxi.; but every tear shall be wiped from every eye.
ON THE CHRISTIAN
AUTs xi. 26, latter part. -And the disciples were called Christians first al Antioch. The evangelist Luke, having contributed his appointed part to the history of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, proceeds, in the book we style the Acts of the Apostles, to inform us of the state and behaviour of those faithful followers he left behind him on earth, when he ascended, in the name and behalf of his people, to that heaven from whence his love had brought him down. We are informed, that the gracious promises he had made while he was yet with them, began soon to take place; for, " when the day of Pentecost was fully come,” Acts ii., the Holy Spirit descended powerfully upon them, qualified them for preaching the Gospel to the whole world, and gave them an earnest of success, in making their first essay the happy means of converting about “ three thousand souls.
The first believers, who “were of one heart and one soul, who continued stedfastly in the Apostle's doctrine, and had all things in common,” would probably have been well content to have lived to