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will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.
My ways are not as your ways, neither are my thoughts as your thoughts, saith the Lord. How strikingly and blessedly is that illustrated in the peace restored between God and man ! Who is the first to seek reconciliation here ? Does God stand upon his dignity, his honour, the justice of the case ? If ever any might, it was He. But did the great God sit aloft on his imperial throne, surrounded by holy angels, saying, Let these sinners come to me; the offence was theirs, and the humiliation must be all their own ? No. He takes the humiliation to himself, and might be supposed to be the injurer, not the injured. Veiling his majesty, and leaving heaven to seek our door, he stands there, knocks there, waits there ; nay, with an infinite kindness and condescension, he goes down, as it were, on his knees, beseeching us, as if it were a favour done to him, to be reconciled. 66 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." How hard are your hearts, if you can resist such love!
Some talk as if we were saved just because Christ paid our debt, representing God's share in the transaction as little else than that of a severe, stern, unrelenting creditor, who takes no interest in his imprisoned debtor beyond letting him out when the surety has taken up
the bond. Is this true? Is it fair to God? True? It is utterly false. Salvation flows from a higher source than Calvary. It has its fountain, not in the cross of the
incarnate Son, but in the bosom of the eternal Father. These hoar hills with their time-furrowed brows, that ocean which bears on its face no mark of age, those morning stars which sang together when our world was born, these old heavens, are not so old as the love of God. It dates from eternity. Eternal ages before the Law was given, or broken, or satisfied, he loved us. The central truth of the Bible, that on which I lay the greatest stress and rest my strongest hopes, is this, that God does not love us because Christ died for us, but that Christ died for us because God loved us. I do not disparage the work of Christ; far be such a thought from me.
Yet Christ himself is the gift of divine love, the divine expression of our Father's desire to be reconciled. The Lord of angels hanging on a mother's bosom, the Creator of heaven and earth bending to a humble task, the judge of all standing accused in the place of common felons, the Son of his Father's love nailed amid derision to an ignominious cross, death rudely seizing him, the dark grave receiving him, we owe to the love of God. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlast
What love do we owe bim who so loved us !
III. To make our peace with God, Jesus Christ laid
down his life.
I have seen one who had roughly reckoned up the cost of the gems, the rubies, pearls, emeralds, diamonds,
that studded the golden arches of an earthly crown, stand astonished at its value. And yet, in point either of cost or brilliancy, what is that to the crown any ransomed beggar or saved harlot wears in heaven? Imperial diadems are nothing to the crown of glory. In the sanctuary balances a saint weighs heavier than a sovereign. And there is more value in the crown of a redeemed infant, one of these little ones, than in all the glory of all the holy angels. A word made them, He said, and it was done; heaven was full of them. But to make a saint, he who never left his throne to make or save an angel, descended on our world in the form of a servant, and, more amazing still, hung dead on a cross in the form of a sinner. The price of our pardon was nothing less than what the apostle calls the blood of God. He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. To restore peace, and open up a way of reconciliation, to save us from the perdition of that bottomless pit, Jesus took our sins upon him, and poured out his soul unto death.
An ancient historian tells us that, at the siege of Babylon, Darius condemned to the cross three thousand captives. Another relates how, when Alexander inflicted long-threatened vengeance on Tyre, he crucified two thousand prisoners, and that crosses stood on her bloody shores thicker than ship masts in her crowded harbour. And when the Roman let fly his eagles against Jerusalem, Titus, measuring out to the Jews the measure they had meted to Jesus, gave them crosses enough, "good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and
running over.” A spectator of the scenes, the dreadful, tragic scenes, amid which Judah's sun set in blood for ever, tells that wood was, wanting for crosses, and crosses were wanting for bodies. Yet had Babylon's, Tyre's, Jerusalem's, all these crosses been raised to save you, and on each cross of that forest, not a man, but a dying angel hung, had all heaven been crucified, here is greater love, a greater spectacle. God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Purchasing our peace at such a price, God has done more for you and me than for all the universe besides, . Creator of earth and heaven, he threw suns from his hand like sparks shot from the fire, and, as a potter turns off clay vessels from his wheel, he fashioned the worlds, and sent them away spinning in their orbits; but here is a greater work. If Nehemiah's words were ever specially appropriate to any lips, it was to those that maintained unbroken silence amid the taunts and insults of the cross.
When they cried, If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross, I do not know that our Lord so much as felt the insult, that in that hour it troubled him. It might be but a pebble flung into a storm-tossed ocean, adding nothing to the turmoil, nor so much as felt amid the roar and swell of breakers. It might be but the sting of a miserable insect on the cheek of one who bestrides in battle a fallen friend, his shield ringing with blows, and his flashing blade sweeping down the foe around him. It might be but a feather added to that mountain burden of sin and wrath beneath
which Christ's great soul was bowing; yet, had it pleased our dying Lord to answer the taunt, I can fancy him bending from the cross to say, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot.come down ;" I have a world to save, therefore I cannot save myself; without shedding of blood is no remission. Poor scoffer! no cross for me, no crown for thee.
Well may we say with Moses, I will turn aside, and see this great sight. What spectacle so wonderful, so affecting? Behold, how he loved us ! Around that cross let faith fling her eager joyful arms. Embrace it. Oh! clasp it with more than a lover's ardour; in life and death, cling to it like a drowning man, whom the waves cannot tear from his hold.
In making our peace with God, Christ had a great work to do. It is finished; and ours, like his, closes not save with life. We may sometimes think of an aged Christian as one seated on the bank of Jordan in the serene evening of a holy life, waiting the summons, looking back on the world without a regret, and forward into eternity without the shadow of a fear. We fancy him, by the eye of faith, piercing the thick mists that hang over death's dark flood, and, as he descries the “shining ones” walking on the other shore, we fancy him stretching out his eager arms and crying, Oh, that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest !” But the picture is more beautiful than true. In working out their salvation with fear and trembling, in carrying forward, through the help of the Holy Spirit, the work of sanctification, God's people will feel the need of