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THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sbis, and to rise again for our justification; grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth, through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
THERE are two very important respects among others, in which the public services of our church accord with the Scriptures, and which shew that the former are a pure stream issuing from the fountain of the latter. The first of these is the use which is made of Christ in our liturgy. He is "ALL IN ALL" throughout her forms: "the Alpha and Omega, the begin"ning and the end, the first and the last," in all her confessions of faith, her supplications and thanksgivings. "Without Him" our church, like a genuine branch of the true vine, "can "do nothing." The second point of resemblance here referred to between these closely parallel lines, the Liturgy and the Bible, is the end for which Christ is introduced. He is introduced for practical purposes. In both these volumes an intimate connection is constantly maintained between doctrine and experience, faith and holiness, justification and sanctification. Christ is not made a nominal but a real Saviour—a Saviour from the power as well as the guilt of sin. The sun of righteousness is exhibited, not with a painted radiance that yields no influence, but "with healing in his wings." From the destructive tenets of the self-justiciary and the antinomian our church is equidistant and equally abhorrent.
Enamoured of the subject which has lately been presented to view, a crucified and risen Saviour, our church again* calls our attention to this two-fold object. Like Lot's wife, but under the influence of far different motives from those which actuated that unhappy woman, she looks back from behind her. As she is passing from Calvary and the garden of Joseph towards mount Olivet, she again and again takes a retrospect of those awful and jayful events which she has before commemorated. As she passes onward, Christ is "her theme, her inspiration, "and her song."
Our collect for the first Sunday after Easter reminds us anew of the great love of God in giving "His only Son to die for our sins, and to "rise again for our justification;" and on this review it founds a prayer for sanctifying grace.
The preface of our collect is couched in the words of St. Paul, Romans iv. 25, where he speaks of Christ as "delivered for our offences, "and raised again for our justification." We shall not here repeat what has been already said on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesos Christ. But as the subject of justification thereby has not been brought immediately before us in our meditations on either of the preceding collects, we shall now make a few remarks on this most interesting topic.
* " The Sunday after Easter, commonly called Dorai'-' nica nova, and Dominica in Albis, was observed with l' great solemnity (in the primitive church) as the conclu"sion of the Paschal Festival." Bingham, vol. ii. page 3)8.
Justification is the reverse of condemnation, and the necessity of, the former supposes the antecedent existence of. the latter. Whatever view we take of Christ, while we are reminded of His love and of our obligatious to Him, we are also reminded of our natural guilt, misery, and helplessness. And indeed Christ can be the object of our faith and love only as this recollection exists in our mind and is lively. "They that are whole need not a physician, "but they that are sick." We put our trust in Him according to the degree in which we perceive our need of Him. If that perception or consciousness be deep and abiding, the eye of the soul will be directed to Jesus, and fixed on Him with eager and persevering attention. We love Him in proportion as we are sensible of the love wherewith He hath first loved us. Love to Christ is not to be distinguished from gratitude for favours received, It does not appear that the Scripture has any where spoken of a disinterested. Jove as occupying the bosoms either of men or angels, 7rom the nature of things this is exclusively an attribute of Him who cannot be benefited by His creatures, nor be laid under any obligations to them. Let us therefore advert to the necessity of justification, before we explain its nature. For such a review will be calculated for utility both to saints and sinners. It will conduce to enliven the gratitude and joy of the former, and to excite the latter earnestly to seek after the inestimable benefit of acceptance with God for and "through the merits of "His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
We.aJI lie by nature in a state of condemnation on account of our sins original and actual; that is ,tq sayj we we.re-.the objects of Divine wrath, and exposed to the "vengeance of eter"nal fire." The justice of God peremptorilydemanded satisfaction, and His truth bound Him to fulfil His awful threatenings. Such was the state of mankind independent of the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was an impossibility of averting "the wrath to come" by any sufferings or obedience of our own. It was not therefore without the most urgent necessity that Christ interposed. He did not become incarnate, live and die, for the purpose of effecting what might have been effected without His aid. We were "without strength, when Christ died "for the ungodly,"~^utterly destitute of ability to make atonement for sin, or to render ourselves acceptable to God. Legal sacrifices were inefficient, for "it was not possible that the "blood of bulls and of goats should take away "sin." No tears, no sorrows, no penances of the transgressor could avail to expiate his guilt, because the requisition of the law was perfect obedience, and no provision was made in it for a commutation of its claim. The vicarious obedience of an angel, if an angel could have been found who would have undertaken our cause, must have failed of accomplishing the work of redemption; for the evil of sin, as an offence against God, is too heinous to be removed by the sufferings of a creature, and whatever a creature can perform for God is due on his own account, and can therefore have no superfluous merit to be imputed to another. Our case therefore was desperate without Christ. Every ray of hope which the human mind receives must be reflected on it from the atoning cross. We profess to be Protestants, and as such to believe that " there is one Mediator between