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shalt live ;” and that being broken, it was gone by for ever.
It was due, therefore, to the honour of God, against whose authority the sin had been committed, that man, if restored at all, should be restored, not by any device or wisdom of his own, but simply by the will and contrivance of Almighty God. And this it is which Holy Scripture expressly makes known.
It shews us the real nature of sin in its dreadful consequences, which we all feel in this world, and in the final punishment of sin which will take place in the next. But the strongest proof of what sin is in itself, is shown in what was deemed necessary to atone for it.
From all that Scripture teaches, it plainly appears, that Almighty God deemed it necessary, that before man could be forgiven, there must be “a sacrifice for sin,"
The types and shadows of the law, following up the first promise given to Adam, and remembered and upheld by the Patriarchs ; the allusions and express assurances of the prophets, all point to some dreadful catastrophe, and are for ever teaching us the awful truth, that, “ without shedding of blood there could be " no remission.".
We also learn that this redemption was not for fallen man to accomplish. This great work of mercy and love was planned, begun
and perfected on our behalf, by God Himself. In a manner utterly beyond our comprehension, “ God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself;" and well is it for us that the Divine mind devised and perfected what no created being could have accomplished. It becomes us to receive with humble gratitude and reverential awe, the great scheme of our redemption; to ponder, with deep self-abasement our own fall which rendered it necessary; the wisdom of God which contrived it; and the unspeakable love of God, which fulfilled it.
We must not take up the consideration of what our redemption is, in the view of understanding more than is plainly revealed thereof; but it must be urged upon us as a strong and ruling principle of gratitude and obedience. It is throughout, a deep and an unfathomable mystery:“without controversy,” saith the holy apostle, “great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh; justified in the spirit; seen of angels; preached unto the gentiles ; believed on in the world; received up into glory.' Without, therefore going beyond what is written, in searching into the hidden knowledge not revealed, it is for us to receive with real humility this inestimable never-failing pledge of our Creator's love and
* 1 Tim. iii. 16.
reconciliation; and, of our redemption firmly to believe, that, when the great and mysterious sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ were all undergone; when His unerring obedience
weighed in the balance of the sanctuary,” in the dying assurance of the great propitiatory Himself, our complete redemption was finished.” Then, may we firmly and with much consolation believe, that “there is, therefore, now, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”* The Lamb is slain ; the sufficient sacrifice is accepted, and we are free; bought unto pardon with the very price which God appointed, which God provided, which God Himself paid on our behalf.
Let us now proceed in the second place, to consider how fearfully necessary it is that this great work of our redemption through Christ should be rightly understood.
That this part of the subject is not to be passed over, is manifest, when we consider, how many among the professors of Christianity there are, who seem to be as little affected in mind or conduct by the great truths of the Gospel, as if they had no other concern in them than simply and outwardly to acknowledge that they are true. To think
* Rom. viii. 1.
with comparative indifference upon these stupendous mercies is, indeed, a temptation common to us all; a great and continued temptation, until the soul be arrived at that maturity of faith and knowledge, when it shall be enabled, with more lively interest to discern those things, which can only be “ spiritually discerned.'
For proof of this, let each examine his own heart, and we shall all have cause to remember, how cold and unaffected we have been, long after the time when we professed to know what the Gospel is. But this strange and cold reception of the greatest mercy ever bestowed upon man, ill becomes us, and, indeed, subjects us to the just judgment of losing it for ever. For if we remain thus indifferent to the saving truths of our holy religion ; if they do not more and more manifest themselves to our inward affections, and, as the only infallible proof thereof, more and more appear by their fruits in our daily life and conversation, it is indeed high time that we suspect ourselves; that we well consider whether our present faith in believing be any thing more than the faith of those named in the parable; who received the seed, the truths of the Gospel, either “ by the wayside,” or
upon a rock,” or and briars," and not “ in an honest and good
heart.” In this infinitely important matter, which all acknowledge to be important, if we remain cold and indifferent in heart and life, how can it be said that as yet we believe or understand it all ? Real belief must be seen in its fruits. In human concerns it is always so seen. If great good be done for us by our fellow creatures, we well remember and understand it; and if we do not shew some proportionate thankfulness, we become marked in our characters, as monstrous, and unnaturally devoid of gratitude.
How is it then, that for some very trifling good done to us by a fellow creature our warmest feelings and best affections shall be instantly called forth, when this stupendous proof of God's love towards us in taking our nature upon Himself, and so dying that we might be forgiven and rendered eternally happy-how can it be that this, of all other good, should be almost forgotten, coldly believed, seldom applied in things of infinite concern to ourselves?
Let us take this thought to our souls, that if the great act of divine love, which “God, in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself,” shewed upon the cross, make little or no impression upon us; if our lives be otherwise passed in daily habits, in daily wishes and desires, in daily teinper and behaviour one to